Listener Post: Landon (KF4CAU)

SP600Dial3Landon’s radio story is the latest in our series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Landon for sharing his personal radio history:

Landon (KF4CAU)

PopularElectronicsMy interests in SWL’ing began back when I was a teen, in the 1970’s. I was inspired by two of my maternal uncles, who as teens, had started out pretty much as I was at the time, when they were teens in the 1960’s. One of them had also given me his collection of 1960’s era ‘Popular Electronics’ and ‘Electronics Illustrated’ magazines, which were filled with information about the hobby of radio monitoring.

The neighbors next door to my grandmother, an elderly couple, had a shortwave radio, which I can remember listening to out on their patio in the summer. Another neighbor of mine, had an old AN/GRR-5 military receiver, which I was infatuated with.

I spent much of my childhood monitoring the AM Broadcast Band, seeking out far away stations, until I finally got my own shortwave radio.

I had acquired a used transistor radio that had some of the shortwave bands on it, and began picking up what I could. Transistor radios were a new thing back in those days.

ANGRR-5Finally, when I turned 16, I got my first job as an orderly at the local hospital. I saved my money, and purchased my own AN/GRR-5 from Fair Radio Sales. I was hooked! I still have that radio today.

I remember I used to salivate over the Allied Radio, Lafayette Radio, and Radio Shack catalogs, dreaming of someday owning a ‘good’ receiver, like the Realistic DX-160. And today … I have one that I purchased on e-Bay! Yes, it’s outdated, but I purchased it more for nostalgia, as well as listening to now and then.

Through the years, I’ve purchased and owned a lot of shortwave radios, and now, as a licensed amateur radio operator, I own some of the latest equipment. Yet, I like going back and listening to the ‘old school’ equipment for the nostalgia of it all.

Realistic DX-160 (Source: Universal Radio)

Realistic DX-160 (Source: Universal Radio)

Last night (Jan 31, 2015), I sat with my 15 year old son, who has recently gotten an interest in shortwave and ham radio. As we sat there and he scanned across the SWL bands, I saw myself, and I saw the excitement in him that I had begun with. His first experience last night was tuning across the bands with the 70’s era Realistic DX-160!

Some of my favorite memories are tuning in HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and receiving QSL cards from far away stations. Today, decades later, I still have those QSL cards, program guides, and yes … the collection of 1960’s era radio magazines my uncles gave me.

Some things change, and some things never will.

Many thanks, Landon, for sharing your memories with us!

If I ever find a AN/GRR-5 in good shape, I will snatch it up! You must have had some great memories listening to that military receiver. Amazingly, Fair Radio Sales, in Lima, Ohio, is still very much in business. I hope to visit their store next time I’m in the area (possibly for the Dayton Hamvention).

Ironically, you mention the Realistic DX-160 and only a couple days ago, Dan Robinson shared a video of a DX-160 he recently purchased that was still “NIB” (new in box). The DX-160 is a great rig, as Dan demonstrates in this video:

Thanks again, Landon, and I encourage other SWLing Post readers and contributors to submit their own listener post!  Tell us how you became interested in radio!  

Update: for more background on Landon’s DX-160, read this additional post.

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5 thoughts on “Listener Post: Landon (KF4CAU)

  1. Landon KF4CAU

    Since having shared my original story this past weekend, my son spent the majority of this weekend huddled around the DX-160, spending several hours listening. Considering modern day distractions of the xBox, the internet, and other things that seem to keep our young folks occupied today, I think that’s quite an accomplishment.

    Although I had stung up a temporary antenna for the radio, I am thinking now that as soon as the weather permits, I’ll set up a more proper antenna for the radio, and use that as a teaching moment, to show Seth how to set up a nice long wire antenna for SWL, or even for HF receiving/transmitting. That should also improve the reception of his new ‘toy’.

    I think his experience this weekend playing with the old DX-160 also has inspired him more to work on his ham radio ticket. He’s studying and taking practice tests online for the technician level.

    I failed to mention, that my eldest son, Drew who is now 20 became a licensed ham operator at age 11. His call is KI4NGR. I had worked with him at a much younger age, and I have to say, had more patience back then.

    I’m glad to see Seth showing an interest in the hobby, and to see the excitement he seems to demonstrate, just as I did when I was his age.

    Landon KF4CAU

    1. Thomas Post author

      This is a brilliant follow-up, Landon. Thank you.

      As you know, getting the ticket now is more convenient than ever. I have two 8 year old girls that I’ll begin working on soon, too!



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