Category Archives: Nostalgia

1961 Film: “Tuning In Radio Sarawak”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adid, who writes:

Hi Thomas, I just watched this very interesting DX film about RADIO SARAWAK.

It’s a behind the scenes look at radio in the tropics, with great vintage gear.

I don’t think it was FM as it’s was much expensive and coverage is limited. But on the other hand we don’t see the large MW antennas

What do you think?

Click here to view the film at the Imperial War Museum website.

Good question, Adid. The FM band wasn’t widely included on radios until the late 1950s and early 1960s. Since this film dates from 1961, I imagine some of those new transistor/valve radios could have included FM, although I imagine mediumwave was the choice band for regional broadcasts.

Hopefully, an SWLing Post reader can shed some more light on Radio Sarawak’s history! Please comment!

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RadioTapes.com: a treasure trove of airchecks from the Minneapolis/St. Paul markets

Cassettes

Photo by Ar Meftah

One of our contributors on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive, Tom Gavaras, has been sharing some brilliant airchecks. I also discovered that Tom runs an amazing site simply chock-full of Minneapolis/St. Paul airchecks. Tom writes:

Hi Thomas,

[…]As an FYI … I own/run a website called RadioTapes (www.RadioTapes.com). It features more than 2,000 airchecks of Minneapolis/St. Paul radio stations dating back to 1924. You will also find some shortwave recordings that I previously posted (on the Special Postings page).

In addition to my collection, the website includes airchecks provided by more 100 contributors. RadioTapes also has a Facebook page with 1,400 followers.

Post readers: I strongly suggest you check out Tom’s amazing archive of airchecks.  If you ever lived in or DXed the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, you’ll certainly hear some familiar voices and IDs.

Thank you Tom!

Click here to check out RadioTapes.com.

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“NIST Radio Station WWV Celebrates a Century of Service”

NIST radio station WWV from the air. Each of the six frequencies the radio broadcasts in has its own antenna, each one surrounded by a white safety fence. The tall antenna for the lowest frequency has a flashing white strobe on top (in the left foreground) to make it visible to aircraft pilots.
Credit: Glenn Nelson, NIST

(Source: NIST Blog via Eric McFadden)

NIST Radio Station WWV Celebrates a Century of Service

By Laura Ost

What technological application has had musical, timekeeping, navigational, scientific, traffic-control, emergency-response, and telephone applications?

Answer: WWV, one of the world’s oldest continuously operating radio stations.

NIST received the call letters WWV a century ago, in 1919. Since then, it has operated the station from several different locations — originally Washington, D.C., then a succession of locales in Maryland, and now Fort Collins, Colorado.

The programming is rather dry but very, very useful. WWV broadcasts time and frequency information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to millions of listeners worldwide. The station broadcasts standard time (aka Coordinated Universal Time) and standard frequencies (e.g., at 5, 10 and 15 megahertz) for use in calibrating radio receivers, alerts of geophysical activity, and other information.

WWV broadcasts on six different shortwave frequencies because transmission effectiveness and reception clarity vary depending on many factors, including time of year, time of day, receiver location, solar and geomagnetic activity, weather conditions and antenna type and configuration. Broadcasting on different frequencies helps to ensure that the radio transmission can be received on at least one frequency at all times.

Over the years, WWV has had a startling number of applications.

“Historically, WWV will always be interesting because of the huge role it played in the development of radio in the United States by allowing broadcasters and listeners to check and calibrate their transmit and receive frequencies,” says Michael Lombardi, leader of NIST’s Time and Frequency Services Group.

“Today, WWV still serves as an easily accessible frequency and time reference that provides information not available elsewhere,” he says. “For example, along with its sister station, WWVH in Hawaii, WWV provides the only high-accuracy voice announcement of the time available by telephone [by calling 303-499-7111 or — in Hawaii — 808-335-4363]. These phone numbers receive a combined total of more than 1,000 calls per day.  Both the radio and telephone time signals are used by many thousands of citizens to synchronize clocks and watches, and also by numerous industries to calibrate timers and stopwatches. We also know that WWV is highly valued by scientists performing radio propagation studies because it provides them with accurate time markers on six different shortwave frequencies.”

NIST time and frequency broadcasts are also available via the internet, of course, but the internet is not always available. Radio broadcasts can also support celestial navigation (i.e., using the stars to set one’s course) and can provide backup communication of public service announcements during disasters or emergencies.

WWV is also popular with amateur radio (aka ham radio) operators, who use the broadcasts to get geophysical alerts — indicating how far high-frequency radio signals will travel at the current time and receiver location — as well as to tinker with their electronics and teach young people how radio works.

As a ham operator said on NPR, WWV is “the heartbeat of shortwave radio. When something goes wrong, you check WWV to see if you’re picking up their signal. And you know then that everything’s OK. Maritime operators, military operators, amateur radio operators, we all listen to and use WWV regularly.”

Many technical papers and even books have been written about NIST’s radio work. One such book, published by NIST, is Achievement in Radio.

The radio broadcasting craze started after World War I. NIST, then known as the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), got the call letters WWV for its experimental radio transmitter on Oct. 1, 1919.

A 1919 newspaper story recounted that NBS experimented with broadcasting “music through the air,” transmitting tunes played on a Victrola record player several hundred yards to an NBS auditorium. That demonstration might have been sponsored by military laboratories then operating at NBS.

WWV began broadcasting in May 1920 from Washington, D.C., at a frequency of 600 kilohertz. The first broadcasts were Friday evening music concerts that lasted from 8:30 to 11. The 50-watt signal could be heard about 40 kilometers away.

Among many other relevant activities, NBS supported the public’s use of the novel technology by publishing instructions on how to build one’s own radio receiver. The agency’s 1922 how-to publication cost 5 cents.

A legacy of impact

WWV and WWVH had a broad impact on the world in their early years, as the 1958 NBS annual report indicated:

The radio broadcast technical services are widely used by scientific, industrial, and government agencies and laboratories as well as by many airlines, steamship companies, the armed services, missile research laboratories and contractors, IGY [International Geophysical Year (PDF)] personnel, satellite tracking stations, schools and universities, numerous individuals, and many foreign countries. They are of importance to all types of radio broadcasting activities such as communications, television, radar, air and ground navigation systems, guided missiles, anti-missile missiles, and ballistic missiles.

NIST has conducted several surveys of WWV users. Many people rely on WWV to set the clocks and watches in their homes, as indicated by regular increases in calls to the telephone time-of-day service whenever Daylight Saving Time starts or ends.

In one interesting example of the NIST radio station’s impact, WWV time codes were used in a 1988 project by the city of Los Angeles to synchronize traffic lights at more than 1,000 intersections. City officials estimated that this project saved motorists 55,000 hours a day in driving time, conserved 22 million gallons per year in fuel, and prevented 6,000 to 7,000 tons of pollutants per year.

“It’s not easy to think of a lot of technical services offered by the government that have stayed relevant for 100 years, but WWV is about to do just that,” Michael Lombardi says.

WWV history highlights

WWV has been very useful to the general public and to many industries and government agencies over the years, as indicated by the newly published article, “A Century of WWV,” by NIST electronics technician Glenn Nelson. Following are some of the station’s highlights:

1919—First public announcement of call sign WWV being assigned to NBS in Washington, D.C.

1923—First WWV broadcast of standard frequencies to help users calibrate their radios. (In subsequent years, the station began broadcasting at higher frequencies, as well, to get better transmission and reception.)

1931—The WWV broadcasting station moves to College Park, Maryland.

1933—The WWV station moves to Beltsville, Maryland.

1936—The FBI asks NBS to conduct tests using WWV to determine the feasibility of using one transmitter to cover the entire country. (Such a system was eventually ruled out.)

1936—In response to requests, WWV broadcasts its first musical note. Such tones are useful to piano tuners, for example, and in later years to the police for calibrating radar used to check vehicle speeds.

1937—WWV begins broadcasting time interval signals.

1939—Pioneering NBS effort to reflect WWV transmissions off the moon. It didn’t work then but the military later accomplished it. (It turns out that bouncing signals off the moon is easier and scientifically more useful if done with lasers.)

1943—NIST begins using quartz crystal oscillators to provide greater accuracy in setting standard frequencies.

1945—WWV begins broadcasting the time using telegraphic code.

1948—NBS’ second high-frequency radio station, WWVH, begins operating in Maui, Hawaii (later moved to Kauai), in order to broadcast to the West Coast and to ships and countries throughout the Pacific Ocean.

1950—WWV voice announcements of standard time begin.

1954—The NBS Central Radio Propagation Laboratory moves to Boulder, Colorado, and the quartz crystals are flown to Denver and driven to Boulder (although WWV still broadcasted from Maryland).

1957—WWV broadcasts its first solar-storm and geophysical data alerts.

1960—WWV becomes the nation’s first radio station to place a digital time code in its broadcasts.

1961—The WWV station moves to Greenbelt, Maryland

1963—NIST’s low-frequency radio station, WWVB, goes on the air from Colorado, to broadcast accurate standard frequencies needed by satellite and missile programs.

1966—WWV moves to Fort Collins, Colorado, and begins broadcasting from there.

1967—The second is internationally redefined to be based on the vibrations of the cesium atom, and NIST’s radio stations begin broadcasting Greenwich Mean Time rather than the local time at the stations. (Several years later, WWV and the other stations begin broadcasting Coordinated Universal Time, as they do today.)

1971—WWV begins offering the time of day by telephone, gets 1 million calls per year by 1975.

1980s—GPS and the internet are introduced, offering new and more accurate ways to distribute time and to support navigation, and NBS is renamed NIST.

[…]

Click here to read this full post with accompanying photos via the NIST Blog.

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DX-Philately: Stamps of Radio Stations by Continents and Countries

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Lennart Weirell, who shares the following announcement:

DX-Philately: Stamps of Radio Stations by Continents and Countries

The 5th edition of one of the most complete listing of radio and DX related stamps is now available now used in 8 countries in 3 continents. The size of the file is about 1.1 MB and it lists about 400 radio stamps from 124 radio countries and list the stamps per continent and country with date and Michel No. and motive. You can also mark which stamp you have in your collection, unused or used and it is easy to modify with new editions. See also my posting 2016-11-29.

Those who are interested please contact me via e-mail at lennart@weirell.se.

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The radio man of Kumartuli

Set against this unlikely backdrop, Amit Ranjan Karmakar’s little shop is easy to miss. In his mid-60s, the ‘radio man’ of Kumartuli sits surrounded by radio sets of all sizes and vintages. (Express photo: Shashi Ghosh)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Elliott, who shares a link to this short but fantastic photo pdoc about Kumartuli’s radio man, Amit Ranjan Karmakar.

Click here to view at The Indian Express.

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Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio extra program from September 08, 1984

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who writes:

Rosebud Reservation location in South Dakota

One of Glenn Hauser’s more interesting “extra” programs to me over the years was his radio 1981 summer vacation recordings to South Dakota (near the Nebraska border).

Attached is the entire WRNO recording of that program (which aired on Sep 8, 1984). This was before he “air numbered” the programs.

Station KINI web site (station active today) : https://www.rosebudmedianetwork.com/
Stream : http://listen.streamon.fm/kini

Click here to download the audio.

Amazing, Dave! Thank you for sharing this recording.

Post Readers: Keep in mind that you can still comment on this WOR post for a chance to win an Eton Mini receiver! This giveaway will close on Friday, September 27, 2019.

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Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio reaches a milestone

Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio will air episode 2,000 this weekend.

The thirty minute World Of Radio show, which covers all things DX, debuted in 1980 on WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and moved to shortwave outlets two years later. Glenn Hauser has faithfully produced the show since then.

SWLing Post Executive Producer, Scott Gamble, contacted me recently and wrote:

In 1980 I was a freshman in high school when my parents gave me a shortwave radio for Christmas. This was during the heyday of international broadcasting, and it opened up an entire world of content that my teenage brain was excited to soak up. I’m not sure exactly when and where, but I soon after stumbled across Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio program immediately became a fan. Glenn’s unmistakable style and ability to jam so much news into a short broadcast provided a wealth of programming information in an era where access was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today. Glenn’s weekly broadcasts kept us all informed about schedules and content, and shortly after I became a subscriber to his Review of International Broadcasting publication. RIB provided a fascinating deeper dive into programming, politics and people behind the broadcasts, forever expanding my worldview and I’m sure thousands of others.

Writing about this in 2019, on the eve of the 2,000th episode of World of Radio, it is a testament to Glenn that his work has evolved so well into the digital age, and shows that even in a world where unlimited information is constantly available via the internet, curation and expert commentary are still highly valuable commodities. I still enjoy listening to WOR (as a podcast) every week. Congratulations, Glenn!

Thank you for sharing that memory with us, Scott. I also started listening to World of Radio in my youth. In the 1980s, I had no friends that were into shortwave listening and didn’t have the means to join any of the listener clubs, so World of Radio was my window into all that was DXing.

Share your WOR memories and comments to win an Eton Mini!

If you comment with a memory or positive message about World of Radio, you will be entered in a contest to win a Grundig Edition Eton Mini shortwave receiver. I will pick a commenter at random next Friday (September 27, 2019) and ship them their prize! (Congrats to Robert Graham who won our last giveaway).

This prize was donated by the good folks at Universal Radio.

The giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere in the world (although if international, you may be responsible for any duties/taxes paid in customs clearance).

Good luck and congratulations to Glenn Hauser and his World of Radio!


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