Listener Post: Fred remembers discovering the shortwaves

Radio Japan QSL (Source: Fred Waterer)

Many thanks to my buddy, Fred Waterer, who shared the following message with friends on Facebook and has kindly allowed me to post this here on the SWLing Post. I thought it would make a welcome addition to our Listener Posts category.

Fred writes:

On a hot humid day in July 1978, much like today, I discovered what would become a life long avocation. International broadcasting aka shortwave radio. I was playing around with a radio belonging to my father.

It was a Nordmende, manufactured just after WW2, everything on the radio, the dials and buttons were all in German. The summer before, I had figured out that UKW was FM and listened to it off and on, despite the fact it only went up to 100 MHz. No Rock 102 or CHUM-FM on this baby.

But on that day 40 years ago, I pressed KW, kurzewellen, German for shortwave. I turned the dial and heard a woman speaking English. Not unexpected. A few minutes later she identified the broadcast as coming from Radio Sofia, Bulgaria! I was astounded!!

Radio Sofia QSL (Source: Fred Waterer)

The rest of that day I tuned around and heard the BBC, and Radio Moscow, HCJB in Ecuador, Radio Prague, Radio Canada International and so many more. It was the beginning of what has become a life long hobby/obsession.

(Source: Fred Waterer)

In 40 years I have heard everything from the mundane to the dramatic. Lectures on Soviet grain production. The invasion of the Falklands. The fall of the Soviet Union. Wars. Elections. Assassinations. Music. Literature. Jamming. Propaganda. Three filing cabinets full of program schedules, reception logs, magazines and other goodies. Binders and boxes full of QSL cards, stickers and pennants. Bankers boxes full of audio recordings. That day in July 1978 changed my life. 40 years passes way too fast. Oh well, now it’s onwards to 50 🙂

Amazing, Fred! Yes indeed, for many of us one moment of discovery makes for a welcome lifelong companion!

Let me know if you’d like help digitizing those off-air recordings–I’d love to add them to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

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

Spread the radio love

2 thoughts on “Listener Post: Fred remembers discovering the shortwaves

  1. adi

    I also started about that time, and I do have that R.Japan and Sofia’s QSLs.
    I started with Sony cassette recorder that had SW but…. I hardly did any records. later I had AR88 and SP600 on loan for few months each.


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