BBC Radio 4 – Lights Out: Call Signs

My dear friend and SWLing Post community member, Volodymyr Gurtovy (US7IGN), has been featured in another brilliant documentary on BBC Radio 4 called Call Signs.

This documentary was produced by the talented Cicely Fell with Falling Tree productions for BBC Radio 4. Note that Cicely also produced a BBC Radio 4 Short Cuts earlier this year featuring Vlad as well. Enjoy:

BBC Radio 4 Lights Out: Call Signs

A man, a Mouse and a morse key: the story of a radio amateur in Kyiv as the Russian invasion unfolds.

When his wife and two children flee Kyiv to escape the war, Volodymyr Gurtovy (call sign US7IGN) stays behind in their apartment with only his radios and the family hamster, Mouse, for company.

Before the war, he used to go deep into the pine forests, spinning intricate webs of treetop antennas using a fishing rod, catching signals from radio amateurs in distant countries.

Prohibited by martial law from sending messages, he becomes a listener, intercepting conversations of Russian pilots and warning his neighbours to hide in shelters well before the sirens sound. After three months of silence, he begins transmitting again. Switching his lawyer’s suit for a soldering iron, he runs a radio surgery for his friends and neighbours, dusting off old shortwave receivers and bringing them back to life.

During air raids, he hides behind the thickest wall in his apartment, close to his radios, their flickering amber lights opening a window to another world. A story of sending and receiving signals from within the darkness of the Kyiv blackout.

Music: Ollie Chubb (8ctavius)
Producer: Cicely Fell
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

Listen to Call Signs on BBC Sounds by clicking here, or via the embedded player below:

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6 thoughts on “BBC Radio 4 – Lights Out: Call Signs

  1. Derek

    I listened to Vlads story on 1/5/23. It was fascinating and sad at the same time. One of the greatest stories I’ve heard and from the heart of a brother ham. I will listen again many times. I hope you make it through Vlad and reunite with your family soon. I wish you luck, Hale Ukraine… Thank you so much Thomas for making this available through and God Bless.

  2. Pekka J. Poutiainen

    Great ! 30 years ago I´d tuned for some radio amateur transmission from Zagreb. It was a WAR time there, no electricity ,only radio amateurs generator working !

  3. 13dka

    It’s hard to comment on this. Such a nice, sensitive guy, everything he said is so relatable, independent of the unimaginable circumstances that brought Volodymyr to us via this “BBC’s finest” program. He is “one of us” and I guess many of us can understand at least a little bit how radio can be a friend in hard times, a crutch, likely more than people not having a radio hobby. And then minute by minute the unimaginable circumstances, an anonymous, more or less distant war becomes imaginable, personal and close.

    To avoid mentioning how it really made me feel about Volodymyr’s world being ripped apart and the cracks propagating from there through the rest of the world, that it took me there for 30 minutes and made me feel these things is certainly why I this is such a fine piece of radio.

    I can also wholeheartedly recommend reading this:

  4. Richard Langley

    What a great item! Vlad is so eloquent and the podcast was very well produced including effective use of stereo. We wish Vlad all the best. ????? ??????? !

  5. mangosman

    The podcast really shows the value of radio particularly HF radio compared to mobile phones and the internet.

    The supply of electricity is a huge problem for phones and the internet. They can be prime targets, particularly power stations and the Internet Service Provider’s computer installations. At least solar/wind power into batteries as well as a petrol generator are feasible particularly for low power tranceivers. They are also capable of concealment.

    Digital broadcasting from DRM can transmit sound, text and pictures over thousands of km away from the conflict. The electricity consumption of new receivers has substantially reduced due to the use of switch mode power supplies and Class D audio output stages contained in a shielded enclosure and electronic filtering of all connections.


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