Guest Post: The National Association of Armchair Adventurers (NAAA)

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.

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7 thoughts on “Guest Post: The National Association of Armchair Adventurers (NAAA)

  1. Mario

    Imagine putting 50 cents in an envelope (probably two quarters or five dimes taped to a piece of cardboard) and sending it off to become a member. Back then Zip Codes weren’t even used. The old advertisements from vintage magazines are entertainment in their own right. Thanks Bob and Thomas.

    1. Michael Black

      Hasbro had something in the sixties related to GI Joe. I forget how much I sent, not much but for a seven year old I didn’t have much money. I got one maiking, and that was it. I thought there was going to be more, so I think they just ended it prematurely.

      I now get the “National” bit, a reference to the radio company’s name, not because it was nation-wide.


  2. Michael Black

    I can’t say I ever noticed this, though I’ve spent lots of time with those okd magazines. Was it a nce shot deal, or an ongoing campaign?

    Maybe it was aimed at the young, the ones who had no choice but to buy those realky low end receivers. I know I emptied my bank account to buy my first shirtwave receiver in 1971.

    Hallicrafters of course just had ads about exotic places. And they had a record cheap that you couid buy to hear the sounds of shortwave. Hallicrafter dials often had exotic places printed in them, implying you coukd use that cheap S-120A to hear Tibet on that frequency, or Antarctica over there, or tune here and here transcontinental aircraft traffic. Never mind that the dial wasn’t accurate for frequency, and selectivity and sensitivity were so bad that you couldn’t hear much.

    Things were so much better a year later when I had a long term loan of an SP-600, which wasn’t perfect, but so much better than that S-120A junk. I don’t recall Hammarlund having gimmicks to sell receivers.


  3. Cap

    “National Association of Armchair Adventurers ”

    What a great name, sounds like a group I would have belonged to 🙂

    1. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

      …when indoor SWL becomes possible. Seriously, with all the RFI in a typical house these days, it ought to be a picnic bench adventurer. Sigh.


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