Updated release: “At The Tone: A Little History of NIST Radio Stations WWV & WWVH”

AtTheTone

Almost five years ago, I wrote about a unique collection of archived recordings called At The Tone: A Little History of NIST Radio Stations WWV & WWVH.

Producer Myke Dodge Weiskopf recently released a new and expanded edition of At The Tone which is now available for purchase and download.

Myke describes the update:

“The new edition significantly expands on the previous CD reissue from 2009. It incorporates a bunch of tapes sourced from the original announcer tracks made by Jane Barbe herself for WWVH, as well as a handful of vintage broadcast recordings previously left out of the set. I’ve also taken the opportunity to clean up and remaster the set overall, so it’s a much more cohesive listening experience as a body of work.”

Click here to purchase the new digital edition of At The Tone.

Please comment!

Myke is also giving away a free download of At The Tone to a lucky SWLing Post reader!

Simply comment on this post, noting the first time you heard WWV: note both the year and the model of receiver used.

For example, I would comment: “The year was 1976 and the receiver was an RCA Model 6K3 console radio.”

Myke will pick a winner from the comments next Wednesday (November 25th). If the winner has already purchased the expanded edition of At The Tone, Myke will reimburse the purchase. Good luck!

44 thoughts on “Updated release: “At The Tone: A Little History of NIST Radio Stations WWV & WWVH”

  1. Gary Donnelly

    I am fairly sure that the first time I heard the time standard was on the flightline at Andrews AFB in the winter of 1963-64. I had just gotten out of avionics school at Keesler AFB and was stationed at Andrews. I was checking out a BC-348 (?) on a C-54 aircraft.

    Gary Donnelly

    Reply
  2. John Wingard WB4GLJ

    The first time I heard WWV and WWVH was in 1965. I was in high school and had just finished building a 3-tube Lafayette KT-135 Explor-Air regen receiver from a kit. Had a long wire antenna from my bedroom window to a tree in a vacant lot next door.

    Reply
  3. John Fitzgerald

    The year was 1969 and the radio a Hitachi WH837 portable with an external wire antenna. I was a student living in Morecambe UK right by the sea at the time. The station has been part of my life for propagation info and accurate time ever since.

    Reply
  4. Tom Kelly N7NSS

    I’d have to say the first time I heard WWV would have been in 1999 or thereabouts. Picked up a very used RAX-1 aircraft receiver from Fair Radio Sales, and was giving it a run-down to see what it did or didn’t do. For a radio that was run into the ground, it worked well, used ~35 ft of wire strung up into a nearby pine tree for a makeshift antenna. Pretty crude setup, but it worked fine. Heard WWV on 10Mc and 15Mc as I recall…

    Reply
  5. Tom Smigielski

    Sometime in 1974. I borrowed a friends Kmart SW radio. My father and I fired up that marvelous device, extended the long telescopic antenna and hunted down WWV, my first QSL. Many, many years later I listened to WWVH while on vacation in Hawaii. On nights when the bands were barren of signals I would dial in WWV as background noise. Pretty bizarre to think that a time reference could act as a calming device!

    Reply
  6. Shawn

    It was Christmas morning, 1982, and I had received a stack of old-time radio shows on cassette (I was a nerdy, nerdy 11-year-old) and a Panasonic R-5310 boom box to play them on. This great radio included 3 shortwave bands, and once I had unwrapped it and plugged it in, I tested them out. WWV was one of the only signals I could pick up with the whip antenna in my room, but it helped to build my love for all things radio which continues to this day.

    Reply
  7. John Dolan

    The Year was 1968, I was 13 years old and it was Christmas day. I had just received a shiny new Hallicafters S-118 from my dad WB4YAL. My dad and I got a wire up in a tree and routed into my bedroom window. I turned the rig on and gave it a chance to warm up.

    As I tuned around I heard all the big guns such as VOA, BBC and Radio Moscow. Then as I got to 10 megacycles, I heard BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…I yelled for my dad and have came in laughing and explained that this was WWV and they provided time info and you could align radio equipment with their accurate signal.

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  8. Chris Crosby

    1973 when I was 10 years old. I bought a WWII Army BC312D Jeep radio [built in Fort Monmouth NJ, 10 mins from where I grew up] & used to listen to it on 15MHz or lower, since it only covered to 18MHz.
    I used it to learn about the BFO & how it worked…
    I finally built antenna to “look” at WWVB the other night on 60KHz, using my Elad S2, I could actually see the 19 bits of data…
    I’m still learning from NIST, 42 years later

    Reply
  9. Kenny B

    The first time for me was around 1978, I was ten years old and was always wanting to plug in my dads Radio Shack or Realistic DX-160 to see what it would do. It was in the basement with just some sort of whip on the backside and it had a separate speaker. It was just sitting there on a table, never used so I went for it. It had to be that I picked up either 10 or 15 mhz because he was a work during the day. I kept spinning the dials and flipping a few switches and bam, there it was, man I thought I just picked up some sort of military station, just too cool. I was hooked on something I had absolutely no idea about. That’s where my shortwave addiction began and here I am still being addicted to it.

    Reply
  10. George - NJ3H

    I remember listening to WWV when it was in or near Greenbelt Md around 1964. I lived not too far away in a small town, Cheverly, Md. The radio was a small transistor radio that had the AM band and a SW band as well. Unfortunately, I do not recall the name of the radio. But I always enjoyed setting my wind up watch to it every day.

    Regards,
    George, NJ3H
    Stephens City, Virginia

    Reply
  11. Dan H

    I tuned in WWV for the first time during the summer of 1962. I was nine years old and lived a few miles north of Salmon, Idaho. The radio was my Dad’s WWII surplus Hammarlund RBG CHC 46140. I used WWV to calibrate the RBG tuning dials so I could listen to weekly catechism lessons from Vatican Radio. Nonetheless, I learned to enjoy listening to shortwave. I still have the RBG.

    Reply
  12. Mario Filippi

    Oh, around ’67 with a Zenith Transoceanic 1000 bought for me by my beloved father. Ah yes, WWV, a classic staple of the shortwave bands.

    Reply
  13. Tom Servo

    To the best of my recollection, it would have been 1984. My dad acquired a Panasonic RF-2600 portable receiver and through it I was introduced to the world, as well as WWV. I remember hearing it rather clearly from Tuscaloosa, Alabama on 5, 10 and 15 Mhz and more rarely on 20 MHz. As a kid I remember being curious about the announcement mentioning 2.5 MHz, as that radio did not tune that low. What was I missing!? I always thought it was strange how during some times, I could hear a female voice preceding the male announcement. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I got back into the SWL hobby and learned that it was WWVH being heard behind WWV!

    Despite my break from SWL from the mid-90s to just a few years ago, I’ve always kept a SW radio around and have used WWV to set clocks, even into the “atomic clock” and smartphone era of today. It’s just habit, and it’s easy.

    Just last month I fulfilled a goal of mine, getting a QSL card from the NIST. I received it for hearing their “experimental” broadcast on 25 MHz in October.

    Reply
  14. KC Alewine W0VP

    The first time I heard WWV was in 1970 on a battery operated Unelco 1914 Shortwave Radio that my parents purchased from Sears for my 13th birthday! It came with three sets of plug-in coils (ANT and OSC) and it was probably the greatest gift I ever received (the equivalent of Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB Gun for me)! It was the first in a long line of shortwave receivers that I’ve owned over 45 years. And I still tune in WWV from time to time (heh heh) but it’s really more for the memories that it still brings back to me than for setting my watch.

    Reply
  15. Jeff Montgomery

    As I best recall, it was in 1974 on a Radio Shack DX150 with a long wire out my second story window. I still have the radio although the PS caps need replacing

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  16. Brian R

    That would have been 1986 with a Magnavox D1835 portable, which I still have. It only covered the 10 and 15 MHz signals. I used it for timekeeping for amateur astronomy and for the solar/geomagnetic reports. WWV is still a good frequency calibrator for software-defined radios and I can never resist a quick listen whenever I’m on shortwave.

    Reply
  17. Joel Resnick

    The first time I received WWV was in 1956 just after I got my Novice license (WN2NMG). I received WWV on a home brew four tube receiver using a long wire dipole antenna. The first receipt of WWVH was in 1957 on the same receiver.

    Reply
  18. Curt Schwarzwalder

    It was 1971 on a Realistic DX-120 “Star Patrol” from Radio Shack that I received for my eleventh birthday in New Jersey. My watch was always accurate after I discovered WWV! Of course it was useful for calibrating the dial as well. I was amazed when I discovered the female voice I sometimes heard in the background was all the way from Hawaii.

    Reply
  19. Bryce Parsons

    The first time I heard WWV had to have been the evening of December 25, 1996. I was ten years old and had just read about SWLing in Muse Magazine, and my interest was piqued. So while visiting my grandparents for Christmas, my granddad (Jim, K5ROV) pulled me into his radio room and found a few shortwave stations on his ham radio transceiver (probably a Yaesu; I can’t recall the model), including the time signal stations.

    Reply
  20. Charles Ferguson

    I first heard WWV in 1972 on a Radio Shack ‘Astronaut 8’ shortwave radio, that I received for Christmas. Shortwave was fascination, and I obtained a Novice ham license the following year. Some of the announcements, such as the solar flux value at 18-minutes-past-the-hour were valuable for propagation indicators back then (wayyyy before internet).

    Reply
  21. Chuck

    1975, on a GE World Monitor. It wasn’t really my first time with WWV, but close to it. I had taken my multiband radio to a Christmas re-union with aunts, uncles, and cousins. The cousins were all younger, and the grown-ups to old, so I was sitting in a corner with my headphones on, scanning the shortwave bands. I happened to be sitting on WWV when my aunt said “Hey, Chuck. What are you listening to tonight?” I just pulled the headphone plug, turned up the volume, and played “tock, tock, tock, PEEP, toooone.” Then I put the phones back in, and smiled at her. If she suspected that I was weird before that, now she had her proof.

    Reply
  22. Richard Langley

    I must have first heard WWV shortly after putting together the Knight-Kit Span Master I received for Christmas 1963. I still have my log books from my high school days, which include an entry for Radio Habana on 29 December 1963 for which I subsequently received a QSL card. But I guess I didn’t log all my receptions. The first entry for WWV is dated 3 June 1966 in the last year of WWV’s operation from Greenbelt, Maryland (on government land that subsequently became the site of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center). I have a QSL card for the reception of the 5 MHz signal featuring a drawing (in pink) of the Jefferson Memorial. The next entry is dated 1 December 1966, the first day of WWV’s operation from Fort Collins, Colorado. I have one of the special QSL cards issued for confirmation of first-day reception for my report on the 20 and 25 MHz signals. I’m sure I heard WWVH early on too but my first log entry is dated 29 March 1967. I never did QSL them.

    Reply
  23. Dean Bianco

    1970, on a Longines Symphonette multi-band portable. I was rather surprised to hear a “radio clock,” so to speak. As a young teen who had just begun to discover the world of shortwave radio, WWV and its cousins, among them CHU and JJY, made me keep at this new past time as these time stations provided variety to the international broadcasters I had begun to log. This only made my enjoyment of the hobby that much better.

    45 years later, I am still in love with shortwave listening. I caught the radio bug, and it it’s still with me!

    Reply
  24. Pingback: Video: Shortwave listening and radio astronomy | The SWLing Post

  25. Jackie

    In the early 1980s, while still in my teens, I used to catch WWV 10KHz on a Montgomery Ward GEN-1474A receiver. Still listening to shortwave today, except now I have a Tecsun PL310 and a Kaito KA1102.

    Reply
  26. Edward

    I did dig up my “reel to reel” tape of the format change on July 1 1971 at 0:00 utc. Now I have to get belts for the player so I can listen to it. It was originally received on a Hallicrafters S-20-R

    Reply
      1. Edward

        It is on an old oddball rim drive recorder. It would not play at the correct speed using a standard capstan drive reel to reel drive. But I am working on it. I have a QSL card from WWVH for that same date.

        Reply
  27. Frederick Moe

    The first time I heard WWV was in 1980, when my roommate at the time played it incessantly on a radio he kept in his bedroom. The time at the tone … was the soundtrack to my life for over a year!

    Reply
  28. Pingback: WWV History: Richard’s QSL cards | The SWLing Post

  29. Justino Losada

    The first time I listened to WWV was in 1997 with a SONY 7600 receiver while I was living in Madrid, Spain. I was just a 16 yo teen and since then I always loved that lond of magic that let us listen to very distant stations 😉

    Reply
  30. Mike Barraclough

    The year was 1964 I was 12 and my receiver was a Marconi CR346, a model that I can’t find anything about online. I’d been tuning around medium wave for some years to find other stations than the BBC, which had at the time a radio monopoly in the UK, only broadcast three channels only one of which had a few hours each week of pop music that I wanted to listen to. I came across many international broadcasters from Europe that announced they also broadcast on shortwave. In particular I listened to Peter Skala of Radio Prague’s weekly DX programme which gave a lot of information on shortwave broadcasting. The set came from a local radio/TV dealer, this was a small coastal resort and fishing port and as well as general radio and TV sales/repairs he also got equipment for the local radio amateurs and fishermen. I think it was a second hand one from a fishing family. I came across WWV most likely on 15MHz, thought this was much better than having to phone the speaking clock or wait for a time check on domestic radio. Peter Skala was the radio name of Oldrich Cip who founded the HFCC and is still on its steering board.

    Reply
  31. George - NJ3H

    So who was the lucky person? Would be nice to know. It obviously wasn’t me. Probably listening to WWV got me into shortwave listening. Think of the free time I would have had without hearing them. Lol

    Reply
  32. David O'Banion

    I first heard WWV in the mid-1970s.

    I think my dad was trying to find out whether or not
    I might be interested in amateur radio.
    He borrowed a Mosley CM-1 (!) from someone he worked with
    and set it up with a (too-) short single-wire antenna in the garage.

    He didn’t say very much about it, nor did he offer any help
    or advice, and the ONLY signal I could ever get it to receive
    was WWV on 15 MHz.

    I can’t remember how many months that radio sat there,
    occasionally being turned on and its knobs played with,
    but eventually it was returned to its owner.

    In 2011, without thinking of that long-ago episode,
    I finally decided it was time and got my Tech license.
    Some months later I upgraded to General,
    but due to financial limitations and other factors,
    to this day I’ve operated only on 2 meters.

    In any case, I still I use WWV to set my watch
    and to know the precise time of the beginning of each new year.

    David O’Banion
    KJ6QKV

    Reply

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