Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Colegrove, who shares the following guest post:
National Association of Armchair Adventurers (NAAA)
as recalled by Bob Colegrove
Those of you who were into SWLing in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s may remember the NAAA. It was an engaging promotional effort by the National Radio Company to generate interest in shortwave listening. This was done through ads run in magazines such as Popular Electronics, and displays in stores. Yes, shortwave radios were once sold in brick and mortar stores. The very proper gentleman depicted below, replete with khaki uniform, pith helmet, jackboots and calabash pipe is none other than Sir Oswald Davenport, Chairman of the Board, and a consummate SWLer of his time who never left the comfort of his own armchair in order to tour the world as it was virtually possible to do at that time. For those too young to appreciate the connection, a “davenport” was a genericized trademark meaning couch or sofa in today’s parlance.
As the ad indicates, for fifty cents you were admitted to the Association. This included a nice booklet containing an introduction to shortwave listening by Jack Gould, radio-TV critic for the New York Times, a sampler of stations ‘currently’ broadcasting around the world, log sheets and a large certificate of membership suitable for framing and signed by Sir Oswald himself.
The certificate reads, “this is to certify that (name) is a privileged member of the National Association of Armchair Adventurers… and is hereby entitled to explore the four corners of the earth, to sail the seven seas, to cross, in the comfort of a favorite chair, the six continents and to visit freely without passport, the 260 countries of the world. Permission is also granted to eavesdrop, whenever possible, upon aircraft and satellites in outer space, ships at sea, the activities of local police and fire departments and the conversations of radio amateurs throughout the world. This experience in international espionage entitles all members to pose with authority as experts on world affairs and to expound at large on the solution of all problems. Membership and participation in all privileges is authorized for a lifetime of pleasure, or as long as said member is the owner of a National Shortwave Receiver.”
The radio depicted in the ad was the then new National NC-60 Special, a 5-tube ac/dc, entry level receiver, which was a direct competitor of the Hallicrafters S-38E. This writer recalls standing in front of the two mentioned receivers on display at the local ham shop in downtown Indianapolis in 1959 trying to decide on which radio to invest his hard-won sixty dollars. The salesman wasn’t pushy, it came down to a coin flip, and the Halli came home with me. Although I’ve never regretted it, I still wonder what exotic mysteries lay behind the NC-60’s dial. Although my pen-and-ink name has long since faded, the NAAA certificate still hangs prominently in the shack.