Category Archives: Nostalgia

Radio Waves: Radio Facsimile from the 1930s, Public Radio Saving Print, Unlicensed Experimental LW Radio, and RIP Tony Middleton & Milburn Butler

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


A Look Back at the Radio Newspaper of the Air (Radio World)

Radio facsimile technology never fully caught on, but what if it had?

In the beginning, there were newspapers.

And then radio arrived, challenging the newspapers’ journalistic monopoly.

At first, many newspapers fought the new competitor, refusing to print radio news or program schedules. But some went in the opposite direction, deciding to operate their own radio stations to augment their businesses. And finally, a few brave pioneering publications went even farther: They tried to deliver their newspapers via radio facsimile.

In the early 1930s, radio facsimile looked like the dream application for newspapers. They could use their own local radio stations to deliver newspapers directly to consumers during overnight hours. It would eliminate the cost of printing and distribution and shift those costs onto consumers, who would provide their own printers and paper.

This led several radio stations and newspapers to experiment with facsimile transmission during the late 1930s.

THE FINCH SYSTEM

The person most responsible for this technology was William G. H. Finch. He worked for the International News Service and set up their first teletype circuits between New York, Chicago and Havana. He became interested in facsimile machines and eventually amassed hundreds of patents. [Continue reading the full article…]

How public radio is trying to save print (The Verge)

Why Chicago Public Media and the Chicago Sun-Times are exploring a merger

The Chicago Sun-Times needs help. After being bought and sold several times over the last decade, the 73-year-old paper is looking for a more stable home to continue its award-winning reporting — and it may have finally found it in an unexpected place: a radio station.

Chicago Public Media, which owns the radio station WBEZ, is currently in talks with the Sun-Times to merge. A final deal would combine their newsrooms and audiences in hopes of creating a financially stable enterprise for both teams. Similar mergers and acquisitions have become a common way to bolster the struggling print industry, but if radio were to take on a major newspaper, that would be a first.

“Audio is a growth business,” says Jim Friedlich, chief executive of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, who advised CPM on the potential merger. “Now Chicago Public Media and other media with audio roots have both the wherewithal and the self-confidence to take a bold step like this.”

Since 2004, US newspapers have shut down at a rate of 100 per year, a pace that’s only accelerated since the start of the pandemic. To stay afloat, some smaller newsrooms have given up independence, being bought by news conglomerates or becoming joint entities with other local outlets — and public radio and TV stations have increasingly offered themselves up as partners. New York Public Radio acquiring the website Gothamist was one of nine similar deals in recent years, triggering researchers to document the trend by creating the Public Media Mergers Project. Public radio has been a particularly strong force, holding its ground amid digitization and the podcasting craze (partially because it’s participated in it), and it might be strong enough to help print do the same thing. [Continue reading…]

The low-down on long-wave: Unlicensed experimental radio (Hackaday via the Southgate ARC)

In the 125 years since Marconi made his first radio transmissions, the spectrum has been divvied up into ranges and bands, most of which are reserved for governments and large telecom companies. Amidst all of the corporate greed, the ‘little guys managed to carve out their own small corner of the spectrum, with the help of organizations like the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Since 1914, the ARRL has represented the interests of us amateur radio enthusiasts and helped to protect the bands set aside for amateur use. To actually take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to transmit on these bands, you need a license, issued by the FCC. The licenses really aren’t hard to get, and you should get one, but what if you don’t feel like taking a test? Or if you’re just too impatient?

Well, fear not because there’s some space on the radio spectrum for you, too.

Welcome to the wonderful world of (legal!) unlicensed radio experimentation, where anything goes. Okay, not anything but the possibilities are wide open. There are a few experimental radio bands, known as LowFER, MedFER, and HiFER where anyone is welcome to play around. And of the three, LowFER seems the most promising.

LowFER, as the name would suggest, contains the lowest frequency range of the three, falling between 160 kHz and 190 kHz, with a whopping wavelength of around one mile. Also known as the 1750-meter band, this frequency range is well-suited for long transmission paths through ground wave propagation, a mode in which the radio signals move across the surface of the earth. This can easily carry even low-power signals hundreds of miles, and occasionally through some atmospheric black magic, signals have been known to travel thousands of miles. These ground wave signals also travel well across bodies of water, especially salt water.

Read the full Hackaday item at:
https://hackaday.com/2021/10/19/the-low-down-on-long-wave-unlicensed-experimental-radio/

RAE bids farewell to its historic English voice, Tony Middleton (RAE)

We regret to inform our listeners that our colleague Juan Antonio “Tony” Middleton passed away in Buenos Aires due to health complications, at the age of 82. His distinctive British accent is part of the history of RAE, where he hosted the English-language program for almost three decades. English-speaking listeners around the world remember his warmth and clarity on the air, not to mention his classic opening line: “This is the international service of the Argentine Radio”.

Born in Argentina and son of British immigrants, he ventured into acting in the English language with the group “Suburban Players”, while he was engaged in various commercial activities with his family. In 1981 he had the opportunity to join RAE as a substitute, thanks to his impeccable English and his pleasant voice. In 1983 he joined as a regular and went on to become head of the English-language department at the station, until his retirement in 2008. [Continue reading…]

Milburn Garland Butler Dec 1, 1935 – Oct 10, 2021 (Dignity Memorial)

Mlburn Garland “Gil” Butler was born December 1, 1935 in Bradenton, Florida. He attended local schools, where his mother was a teacher. He grew up in a community where electrification was still being developed, where the Saturday morning movies were an all-day entertainment for kids, and where families would gather in the town square on Sundays for band music and ice cream. After a brief stint in the Army (serving as a quartermaster at a base near Washington, D.C.), Gil Butler went to college in Colorado, returning to Florida where he graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in radio engineering. Along the way, he met and after a whirlwind courtship married Judith Bunten, who would become his lifelong companion. Gil Butler began working as a DJ at a small radio station in Bradenton, Florida in the early 1950s, spinning disks from the very beginning of Rock and Roll. His love of music of all sorts, from Jazz to Rock to Classical, his collection evolved through several formats (LP, cassette, CD, and MPs), and his special chair was always surrounded by the music he would enjoy while reading in the evening. Professionally, Gil moved up to larger stations and more challenging positions in radio and television; working for radio stations around the Tampa Bay area. His first TV gig was as a general reporter for WTVT in Tampa. From there, he moved to WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan, before moving to Silver Spring in the Washington D.C. where he worked as a White House Correspondent for local CBS affiliate, WTOP, covering Washington politics under presidents Nixon and Ford. During this period, Gil appears briefly in Timothy Crouse’s The Boys on the Bus (a recounting of the White House Press Corps during the Nixon Era). He was one of the six “Knights of the Green Ottoman,” named for an item of furniture in the 1972 White House press complex, where the newsmen would gather and share notes. In one passage, he is described: “Gil Butler… the reporter for TV station WTOP, who was chuckling over a volume of Mencken…” This description will surprise no one who knew him, as Gil was a voracious reader. He was always in the middle of a massive nonfiction volume about politics, military history or the Space Race. After WTOP, in 1978, Gil began his ultimate career at the Voice of America, the United States Information Agency’s international radio network. Over a nearly three decade career with Voice of America, he covered 68 countries, working abroad in Cairo, Egypt, Beiruit Lebanon, Beijing, China, London, England, as well as covering the State Department and Pentagon during his time at home between foreign assignments. At the Voice of America’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, Gil received the Meritorious Honor Award for his work in Cairo covering the assassination and funeral of Egyptian President Sadat and its aftermath. Twenty-seven years later, Voice of America News ran a story looking back at that work and the restraint and integrity he exercised in waiting for confirmation before reporting that Sadat had been killed. [Continue reading…]


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Jeremy’s Hammarlund HQ-100AC: 57 years and going strong!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jeremy Clark (VE3PKC), who writes:

Thomas:

Got kind of nostalgic [last week] as it was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I did a video about my Hammarlund HQ100AC which I got for a Christmas present in 1964, 57 years ago. It still works!

Best Regards

Jeremy Clark VE3PKC

Click here to view on YouTube.

This is wonderful, Jeremy. There’s simply nothing like our boat anchors and vintage radios that continue to work perfectly and pump out amazing, warm audio. There was no such thing as “planned obsolescence” back then! Our radios like the HQ100AC will long outlast us!

Thanks again, Jeremy! I hope your HQ100AC enjoys a even more time on the air and keeps you warm this winter.

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Rare 1968 Radio Dzaoudzi QSL card fetches $158 at auction

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who writes:

In recent years, a number of records have been set for QSL cards from former shortwave stations around the world. The latest example shows that there is still strong collector demand for one of the rarest stations on the air from Africa, Comoros Islands.

In this eBay auction, a classic photo QSL from the station at Moroni went for $158. That’s in the high end for QSL auctions — there have been higher, for example for QSLs from the former AFAN station at McMurdo, Antarctica, and for some other African and Asian cards.

This card shows the 90 meter band shortwave frequency for the station, 3,331 kHz which as veteran DX’ers who are still around recall could be heard with great difficulty from 0300 UTC when the station signed on for morning programming. The other frequency of 7,260 kHz was also heard, though the 90 meter frequency was the easiest for U.S. DX’ers.

– Dan Robinson

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your insight, Dan. What a fascinating find!

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eBay find: Mint NOS Barlow Wadley XCR-30

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

Thomas – Check out this NOS Barlow Wadley XCR-30 on eBay. I have never seen one of these in this condition!!

Photos

Listing Description

Offered is a MINT condition, brand new Barlow-Wadley XCR-30 Mark 2 receiver manufactured in 1974. This particular unit is in the original box, has never been used and is in pristine shape. It’s just like someone would have received it when buying it new nearly 50 years ago. Until a few months ago, it was still sealed in the original plastic and my initial intention was to leave it like that. However, the tape on the plastic had become brittle with age and no longer was adhering to the plastic. I therefore decided to remove the receiver long enough to get a series of photos and carefully placed it back in the plastic. All original accessories and documentation are included: one bag with the operating instructions, original warranty (guarantee) card, and extra log cards; another bag with the the plugs for the user to make the following items: grey plug (earphone), red banana plug (external antenna), black banana plug (grounding/earth), and grey plug (external power supply).

If you are searching specifically for an XCR-30, it’s most likely you know that this receiver was considered state-of-the-art and rather famous when first manufactured. The receiver uses what is known as a Wadley loop which is a clever method of obtaining frequency stability. There are various articles online which go in to greater detail regarding this receiver as well as the theory and significance of the Wadley loop. This receiver has a frequency range of 500 kHz to 30 MHz and which is covered in 30 separate bands of 1 MHz each.

Due to the age of this receiver it is being sold as-is with no guarantee of its operability in the future. Also, it is very much recommended that it be properly serviced prior to any attempt at powering up. At a minimum, all electrolytic capacitors should be replaced.

This receiver will be well packaged with extra layers of cardboard and packing peanuts around all sides, top and bottom for protection during shipping.

On Sep-20-21 at 18:39:31 PDT, seller added the following information:
Please note: I have NOT installed any batteries into the receiver. That’s what “never used” means in the title and description.

Wow! What a find, Robert. Thank you for sharing it with us. I bet this listing will go much higher in price–it’s rare to see a mint NOS Barlow Wadley XCR-30 on eBay. I would love an XCR-30 some day, but this will surely go beyond my bidding comfort level! Indeed, I’m very curious how high it will go!

Click here to view this XCR-30 on eBay.

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Sam found where genealogy and radio meet

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Sam Alcom (KB3DFJ), who shares the following guest post:


Genealogy and radio meet

by Sam Alcom (KB3DFJ)

Who knew two of my hobbies – genealogy and radio – would joyfully collide in such an unexpected way?

My grandfather died in the 1950s when I was just a few months old, so I didn’t know him, let alone have some misty recollection of him. Seemingly, our only connection was the DNA bloodline though my father.

But as I dove into my family’s history, one web search led me to William H. Alcorn and 3ADJ. What the heck was 3ADJ? I dug deeper and found Amateur Radio Stations of the United States, U.S. Department of Commerce, Radio Division from June 30, 1924. Both of us were hams!

He was licensed as amateur radio station 3ADJ in Port Norris, N.J. with authorization to operate up to 50 watts.

I found him and his 3ADJ callsign again listed in 1925 in the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service publication. The “3” in his sign threw me for a brief loop, but I learned that in the early days of radio Southern New Jersey was part of the third call district along with Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, certain counties of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

The worldradiohistory.com website, a goldmine for anyone delving into all aspects of broadcasting’s past, led me to more publications where I spied my grandfather in the late fall 1925 edition of Radio Listeners’ Guide and Call Book and the 1926 edition of Citizens’ Radio Call Book and Complete Radio Cyclopedia.

The last radio trace I find was in the June 30, 1927, edition of the Amateur Callbook.

It was around this time that the U.S.  began using “W” to start callsigns and I wondered if my grandfather continued with his radio hobby under the new designation. I looked up W2ADJ and found William Czak of West Brighton, N.Y., owning that sign. Likewise, W3ADJ belonged to the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. Both were from 1929.

I dug a little deeper to learn if he possibly had been an amateur prior to 1924, but I saw 3ADJ licensed to Horace Derby of Norfolk, VA., 1920 through 1923.

His amateur radio interest appears to have started sometime after 1921 and a stint in U.S. Navy as a Seaman Second Class and then seems to have waned – at least license-wise – as marriage and the first of my aunts, uncles and my dad were being born.  I wonder if my dad had known about his dad’s radio hobby. In all the years I’ve been a licensed ham and bono fide radio nerd, he never mentioned it.

Of course, learning on this radio connection to my grandfather raised a host of other questions. Did he enjoy CW as much as I do? What kind of contacts was he making with 50 watts? Would he have admired the WAS and DXCC award certificates hanging on my wall? Would my hefty binder of shortwave QSL cards impressed him?

So, I’ll keep poking, looking for more radio connections. Who knows, maybe, somewhere, there’s a 3ADJ QSL signed by my grandfather.

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Cities and Memory: “Remix and reimagine the world of shortwave radio”

I’m absolutely chuffed to announce that the excellent Cities and Memory sound project has partnered with the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive for an all-new take on the soundscape of cities, and YOU are invited to be part of it.

From Cities and Memory:

Open call – remix and reimagine the world of shortwave radio

Shortwave radio is one of the most fascinating sonic worlds – capturing vital moments in world history as well as pirate radio, clandestine stations, secretive number stations and military and spy radio, all of humanity is there to be listened to at the turn of a dial.

We’re delighted to have teamed up with The Shortwave Radio Archive to present 100 incredible recordings from the history of shortwave radio all over the world for artists to remix and reimagine.

Shortwave Transmissions is our latest global project, and we’re calling for sound artists and musicians to get involved by reimagining shortwave radio recordings from across the world.

Here’s how to get involved:

    1. Email us to let us know you’re interested – and we’ll send you the database of recordings to choose from.
    2. Let us know your top two choices, and we’ll allocate one of those sounds to you to work with.
    3. Create your composition – it must contain some elements of the original recording in some form, but otherwise is a completely free composition (music, sound art, radio art, composition, narrative storytelling – everything is valid!).
    4. Submit your composition – the final deadline will be Sunday 14 November.

There are some incredibly rich recordings to work with as source material – here is just a sample selection:

    • Recordings from the mysterious “numbers stations” around the world
    • Coverage of world-changing events such as 9/11, the invasion of Kuwait, Kennedy’s assassination, Tiananmen Square protests, the death of Fidel Castro and many more
    • Rare international recordings from St. Helena, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica
    • Recordings covering a huge period of time from 1934 through to the present day
    • Space travel documented, including the Sputnik, Apollo and Challenger missions
    • Recordings of famous voices such as Winston Churchill and King George V
    • Station IDsinterval signals and final broadcasts from radio stations

Compositions will be presented in the Shortwave Transmissions project in late November and to thousands of listeners across the Cities and Memory podcast, and a selection of compositions will be chosen for an accompanying album release

Sound artists and mixers, jump in to the Archive and see what you can unearth from the depths of our audio. We hope you’ll want to part in what we believe will be one of the most intriguing projects we’ve launched; in partnership with Cities and Memory, there’s no doubt it can be.  We look forward to your contributions!

Click here for full details at Cities and Memory.

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Radio Waves: Is the Titus II Still Alive, Navajo Broadcasters Make History, Portalo Stranah, and R.I.P. Sir Clive Sinclair

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Dennis Dura, Zarpo, Maxime, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Is the Titus II portable Android tablet shortwave SDR close to release? (RTL-SDR)

The PatronX Titus II SDR is something we’ve been posting about several times since 2016, but in the end it was never released and assumed to be vaporware. However, we found that the website for the Titus II SDR was updated only a few weeks ago, and pricing details have been added advertising $120 and $150 for two versions of the product. But on the new website there is no store, just an email link to contact sales for ordering information. We contacted that email two weeks ago for more information but have not received a reply back yet.

The PantronX Titus II was advertised to be a portable Android tablet based SDR that would feature a 100 kHz – 2 GHz tuning range, and software that focuses on HF digital DRM decoding, as well as DAB on VHF. Computer rendered images show the tablet housed in a portable carry enclosure with two speakers. [Continue reading…]

Two Navajo broadcasters make history announcing D1 college football game in Navajo language (KRQE)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two men from the Navajo Nation made history at Saturday’s Rio Grande Rivalry game, with a first-of-its-kind radio broadcast in Albuquerque. For the first time ever, two men from the Navajo Nation announced a D-1 college football game in the Navajo Language.

Continue reading

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