Can you help John identify a vintage shortwave radio book–?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John (KC8RZM), who writes:

I wonder if anyone at SWLing can help me identify this book on shortwave listening from my childhood.

It was an older book when I checked it out from the local library mid-1970s but what I remember specifically is that it had a cartoon of a truck driver delivering, and by delivering I mean dropping on the ground, a new shortwave receiver plus the horrified look on the new owners face. The caption read (from memory) “here’s your new radio buddy (or pal).”

I checked that book out of my local library and pestered my parents to buy me a short wave radio kit.

Assembled the kit (probably inhaling a decent amount of lead vapor from the soldering) and started listening.

VOA was one of the first stations I heard and thought…what an interesting place the US sounds like compared to the small isolated Scottish village I grew up in (21-mile journey to school each way on narrow twisting roads that sheep could freely roam on, and did, all the time), what with all that NASA stuff going on there. I can still hear in my head the VOA host that presented a show on jazz.

So that book, SW listening, and VOA started me on the road to becoming an American citizen!

What a fantastic story behind that book, John! I hope one of our amazing readers can help you identify it! Please comment with any helpful info!

UPDATE: Bob solved the mystery! Click here to read the update.

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13 thoughts on “Can you help John identify a vintage shortwave radio book–?

  1. Paul Evans

    There were so many editions of this book, it’s no wonder that image collections at DuckDuckGo, Bing and Google show none of the cartoons! I did quite a long search because this too rang bells, I think having seen the book when first licensed in 1972. Well done and it’ll be interesting to see them again! 🙂

  2. John

    That VOA program on jazz was “Voice of America Jazz Hour”, hosted by Willis Clark Conover, Jr and he worked at VOA for over 40 years.

    He was a really interesting and important figure in the world of jazz, helping keep jazz alive in Eastern European countries during the Cold War and I’m sure introduced this uniquely American music to millions of listerners in the Eastern Bloc and provided them, via the airwaves, a picture of what America represented that transcended the politics of the time.

    What a great radio voice he had, I can still hear it in my head, clear as anything.

  3. Bob LaRose

    I’ve got a copy of the book! – “Better Shortwave Reception” by William Orr, W6SAI. My “First Edition” is dated 1957. It has both cartoons as you mentioned. It was probably the earliest SWBC book I had, that’s why I remembered it.

    Maybe someone can tell me how to post scans of those cartoons here.

    1. John

      Hey Bob,
      Yep, remember that other cartoon as well.
      What a nostagia blast this is.
      Thanks for helping me identify this volume, a copy is on its way!

  4. John N4RVR

    The book is Better Shortwave Reception by William I. Orr.

    Amazon lists it.

    I have a copy and it is one of my favorites. I still refer to it. And the cartoon is one of my favorites. I also like the one with the wife telling her husband “I don’t care what time it is in Fiji. It is time for you to climb out of the dugout and come to bed.”

    1. John

      Hey John,
      That’s the one!
      I remember that other cartoon as well.
      Thanks for identifying this book from my childhood.
      I’m ordering a copy now, soon be getting a copy of the ABC’s of Shortwave Listening as well. Oh well, it was only $4.00.


  5. Ulis Fleming

    John…. good luck on the book search! Like you, as a kid of 11, I got interested in radio upon finding a book at the Public Library about Shortwave Radio Listening. I checked that book out a bunch of times and read it over and over. I learned about propagation, SWL reports, QSLing, antennas and cool looking radios I’ve never seen before. It was magic! I don’t remember the book’s title but what I do remember is it had a list of popular broadcaster frequencies. My radio, my Dad’s 1950s Telefunken HiFi, had a very inaccurate dial but I was lucky enough to know what meter band I was on. This is where the frequency I used list in the book came in handy. I finally wrote and received my first QSL card! Ironically 40 plus years later on the 25 Meter Band this station still regularly uses this frequency. Anyone want to take a shot at the station or frequency?

    Happy Listening!

    1. John

      Hi Ulis,
      I’ve been doing more searching around and think it’s possibly this book:
      ABC’s of Shortwave Listening by Len Buckwalter.

      I notice it’s gone through several printings but found an image of a hardcover edition that rings a bell. There’s a copy of that edition on Amazon for sale but it’s listed as only in acceptable condition and a bit pricey so meanwhile I’ve ordered a used copy of one of the paperback editions for $4.00. If this is, indeed, the book I remember then I’ll keep a lookout for a copy of the hardback that’s in better condition and snap it up.

      I used to sit at my bedroom desk at the window (slung an antenna out there) for so long, hours on end, that the neighbors over the road wondered to my parents what possible mischief I could be getting up to that warranted grounding me to my room so often; “Oh, that’s just his shortwave radio he’s listening to” they were told. My parents surely knew the attraction that little receiver had over me, threats to remove it for misbehaving were taken very seriously! Sometime around discovering that book at the library I also discovered another interesting little volume titled “How to Make Your Own Fireworks”… but that’s a whole other story involving two small fires (quickly extinguished though). Public libraries were the “internet” of the day for enquiring young minds intent on exploring for new sources of fun and knowledge, risks to life and limb be damned!
      I’ll let everyone know if the above book is the one I remember when it arrives.
      Meanwhile, if anyone can confirm my guess, let me know.

      John (KC8RZM)
      PS; Thanks Thomas for including my post on the site!

    2. Bob LaRose W6ACU

      Radio Habana 11760kHz!

      Their initial frequency was 11770 starting in April 1961 but moved to 11760 fairly early on..


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