Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Haluk Mesci, who shares the following guest post:
AGA is the agha of radios…
by Haluk Mesci
Full disclosure: Contains nostalgia of ‘my parent’s radio’ and some 36 ‘and’s…
I was born and raised in Turkey. Throughout some part of my primary and secondary school years–between 1960 to 1968–we enjoyed listening to an AGA tube radio in the family room.
Although AGA is mainly Swedish as far as I know, I re-discovered a stock photo of it on agamuseum.nl which is Dutch:
I remember, at age 9, trying to listen to a live broadcast of a soccer match between Fenerbahce–my favorite team–and the French team of Nice: There was a ‘Nis’ -Turkish spelling- on the MW screen, so there had to be a broadcast, right? Wrong.
I learned much later that it wasn’t that easy on radio. (Alas, my team was devastated 5-1 anyhow.) Similar ‘search’ for ‘Russian Sputnik sending messages to the world’ yielded nothing but strange sounds like ‘a diesel engine working loudly’… I wasn’t a silly kid, but nobody taught us basic radio then.
Years passed and my family relocated to Samsun, another city by the Black Sea, because of my father’s work. I was about to graduate from ODTU and there was the famous leftist (anti-US etc) ‘boycott’s of 1968 and later, I had to go live with my parents while my university courses remained suspended.
Ironically, the city had a US radar base; the base had a low power MW radio station broadcasting news and music -rock and country etc- 24 hours in English to the base staff: AFRTS 1590 kHz.
Shortly thereafter, the base was closed and the radio station went off the air, maybe because of the boycotts and the political winds in Turkey, so I had to look up another such station.
A family portable (another simple looking but mighty transistor radio but cannot remember the brand name, might be Ve-Ga or something) came up with three main treasures:
Arne Skoog’s weekly ‘Sweden Calling DX’ers’, a Radio Nederland program on shortwaves which sent out basic introductory brochures on shortwaves, and a strange station playing heavy rock and identifying itself as ‘Radio Europa Libera’…
I figured out very quickly that R. Europa Libera was in Romanian, run by Americans (viz. CIA) and that there were similar transmissions in other languages directed to other Iron Curtain countries.
I started to sending reception tips to Arne Skoog at SCDX, catching stations like ETLF and HCJB on the portable.
But hang on, this is not about me getting the SWL bug. It is about the AGA.
So, the university still closed, up came the family AGA, glowing in the long hours of the night and I started hearing places like Radio New Zealand! The antenna? My mom’s array of zinc (?) wires hanging out of the long balcony overlooking the Black Sea, brought in to my room and attached with an alligator clip to the radio!
Anyway, the boycotts end. I manage to graduate doing three non-stop terms in a row!
I move to Istanbul and start working in advertising. My parents eventually move to Istanbul too, but AGA is no more. I hate that I was too busy to find out what happened to it.
Well, I manage to get someone to bring me a SONY ICF-6700W from Germany, and I start DX’ing more easily and seriously, QSL’ing Radio Sutatenza’s, Ecos del Torbes, Radio Brasil, from S. America; Benin’s, Mauritanie’s and Rwanda’s, Tchad’s from Africa…
More years passed and I retired, relocate to Canada but continued teaching advertising and creativity in a Turkish university, got more serious as well with vintage receivers, joined a small Whatsapp and Slack group of Turkish SWL’s.
Yes yes, coming to AGA…
We do a podcast with the admin of the group on how I started in the hobby, where I describe my AGA exhilaration in detail.
A couple of more weeks go by and my friend Sahin Korkmaz–an avid listener and collector of radios–from the group directs my attention to an AGA on a Turkish second-hand site:
It is in fact the AGA model I kept mentioning, sharing photos!
I urge Sahin to buy it for me (and keep till I make it to Turkey) at the price he sees fit if the radio is ‘clean’ and revivable. Not only he buys it bargaining a bit, but he also gets a local old master of vacuum tube radios to look to diagnose: ‘It is very clean, all original parts, and it works. Only one certain amplifier tube needs to be replaced.’ The two small bulbs that light the dial should be renewed but that is nothing.
Sahin searches and finds out that that tube is a universal one and found easily. Well, he doesn’t like over-spending so he figures out that the old Master has some tubes at home. He drives the master, finds the tube (master cannot see that well anymore) and a couple of spares too.
Voila! The AGA of my childhood and youth becomes alive, warping an immense span of time, becomes ‘My AGA’ as Sahin tests it for MW and SW with his random wire, flooding me with videos of reception and sound quality from Kayseri, Turkey where he is right now. Meanwhile in Canada, where I am, my laptop screen becomes hard to see because of the tears I shed.
I am currently stuck in Canada, not travelled for almost two years, but with the first chance I get to go work at Izmir University of Economics, I will get my hands on ‘my parents’ AGA’ that Sahin brought back to life…
Once a copywriter always a copywriter, I will wrap up this nostalgic story with the historic AGA slogan used in Turkey:
Read ‘AGA is the agha of radios’…
Thank you for reading and 73’s.