Category Archives: Nostalgia

Radio Waves: Absolute Radio’s Switch-Off, Pirate Database, Little Pea Island, Zero Power Transmitting, and is AM Radio Dead?

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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, JP, NT, and Paul for the following tips:


Hear Absolute Radio’s 200KW Transmitter Switch Off Forever (YouTube)

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Don Moore’s Photo Album: Cuenca, Ecuador (Part One)

Cuenca Cathedral

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Don Moore–noted author, traveler, and DXer–for the latest installment of his Photo Album guest post series:


Don Moore’s Photo Album: Cuenca, Ecuador (Part One)

by Don Moore

For me travel is all about seeing new places and having new experiences. When I retired in 2017 my plan was to spend the next fifteen years visiting new countries and new places in countries I already knew. Is that a viable goal? Three years ago while crossing the border from Ecuador to Colombia I shared a taxi with Dutch man who, like me, was traveling overland by bus with just a knapsack and a suitcase. And two weeks earlier he had celebrated his eightieth birthday. I don’t remember his name but he’s my hero.

The pandemic put a pause on travel but I’m happy to be back on the road. I’m currently in Ecuador, the country where I’ve spent more time than anywhere except the United States and Honduras. After landing in Quito at the beginning of December I visited four provinces I hadn’t been to before, including spending three nights at the bohemian beach town of Montañita where I had some good DX. I like seeing new places but there is also something to be said for returning to a familiar place that holds a special meaning. For me that place is where I am now – Cuenca, Ecuador.

My ex-wife and I finished our Peace Corps service in 1984, flew home to get married, and then in January 1985 flew to Quito, Ecuador to begin a long journey that would take us overland all the way to Buenos Aires and back. On our way to Peru in late February we stopped for a few days in Cuenca and fell in love with the little city. We visited Cuenca again in July at the end of our travels. When we left I knew we would be back but I never could have imagined the circumstances that would lead to that next visit. In 1997 we returned with our seven-year-old daughter to adopt a six-year-old son. We spent almost three weeks in Cuenca doing all the required paperwork but we had no complaints as we enjoyed being there so much. I clearly remember sitting in a park one day and commenting that Cuenca would be a perfect place to retire in someday. I was only ten years ahead of my time.

La Voz del Río Tarqui

Cuenca was home to several shortwave broadcasters over the decades but La Voz del Río Tarqui was probably the best known to my generation of DXers. The station was founded in 1960 by Manuel Pulla but didn’t begin its shortwave service on 3285 kHz until 1982. My loggings of the station run from July 1982 through 1997 but I believe they were on shortwave for a few more years after that. (Don’t confuse La Voz del Río Tarqui with Radio Tarqui, a sometimes broadcaster from Quito on 4970 kHz.)

La Voz del Río Tarqui in 1985. The facilities inside were no more impressive than the outside of the building was.

La Voz del Río Tarqui takes its name from the famous Battle of the River Tarqui. After the new countries of South America gained their independence from Spain there was often disagreement over just where the boundaries were that they had inherited from Spanish rule. Ecuador was in a union with present-day Colombia and Venezuela until 1830 and during this time Peru claimed much of present-day southern Ecuador, including Cuenca and Guayaquil. In 1828 a large Peruvian army occupied Loja, to the south, and a few months later marched north to complete their conquest. In February 1829 General Antonio de Sucre, a hero of the war of independence, met the Peruvians on the banks of the Tarqui, twenty-five kilometers south of Cuenca. Both sides suffered heavy losses but Sucre’s army routed the Peruvians. Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Loja remained a part of Ecuador. Continue reading

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Paul spots a Lafayette HE-30 in the film “Robbery”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Steckler, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie “Bullitt”, starring Steve
McQueen, and shot on-location in San Francisco. The centerpiece of
that movie was a thrilling car chase through San Francisco; McQueen
did a lot of the driving himself. The director was Peter Yates, who is
English. He went on to direct “Breaking Away”, every cyclist’s
favorite movie.

Yates had directed an earlier movie, “Robbery”, a fictionalized
account of the Great Train Robbery of 1963. I purchased the DVD, and
watched that one tonight. That movie also featured a harrowing car
chase, this time through London. After robbing the train, the crooks
hole up in the basement of an abandoned building on a Royal Air Force
airfield. To keep tabs on the cops, they’re monitoring the airwaves
with what appears to be a Lafayette HE-30.

I’ve attached a screenshot of the scene which shows the radio most
prominently (sorry, it’s a little fuzzy).

Here’s a description of the radio:
http://www.valveradio.net/radio/lafayette-he-30.html

What a beautiful radio! Thank you for sharing this, Paul. I’ve never seen Robbery, so I’m adding it to my watch list!

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Dan notes a beautifully restored vintage Zenith in “Hunters”

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

Following up on the item about the Grundig SAT 700 in a scene of Last of Us, the series “Hunters“, with Al Pacino, about Nazi hunters, featured a beautifully restored Zenith wood cabinet radio in the second to last of 8 episodes.

The Zenith is seen sitting between an elderly German couple who were helping to hide a Jewish family from the Nazis.

Hunters is an excellent, if sometimes hard to watch, series which brought Pacino back to TV. The scenes with the Zenith radio were almost as long as the one in Last of Us containing the Grundig 700.

What a gorgeous Zenith, Dan. Thank you for sharing this and your notes about Hunters.

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Radio Waves: Binghamton Wireless Landmark, Broadcast Intrusions, LICWC on the BBC, and Blocking Radio Waves

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 (K2DCD), Ulis (K3LU), Blake (K8LSU) for the following tips:


Radio history was made in Binghamton and one landmark still stands (Press Connects)

It was 1913, the year of the Binghamton Clothing Company Fire, and the year after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the sinking of the Titanic.

Several major disasters that had left the region and the nation reeling from the loss of human life amidst a growing industrial base in the country. Thousands of immigrants were arriving to find new lives and work among the huddling masses. Many of those would make their way to the Binghamton area to find employment in the many cigar and shoe factories scattered on the landscape.

It was important to find a feel-good moment in the ever-rapidly increasing technology world that was changing the way we performed our work and lived our lives. Communication growth was one aspect of those changes. The number of newspapers and their influence was important, but so was the development of what we today call radio – originally known as wireless telegraphy, using radio waves to transmit telegraphic signals from point to point.

The first practical incarnation of wireless telegraphy was created by Guglielmo Marconi of Italy. The discovery of those waves had been made only about two decades prior to his use of those to transmit telegraph signals. In 1897, he formed the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in the United Kingdom. The company would later be called the Marconi Wireless Company, and continued to work on the ability to send these wireless signals farther and farther. Eventually, he also worked to see if these signals could be transmitted and received by moving objects, such as ships at sea and railroad trains. [Continue reading…]

Broadcast Signal Intrusions: When TV or Radio Stations Get Hacked (96.1 The Eagle)

Orson Welles’ contrived The War of the Worlds news bulletin “interrupted” a radio broadcast in 1938 to advise terrified listeners that aliens had invaded the Earth. As many as 12 million people were tuned in, according to NPR – and perhaps a million of them apparently worried that it was actually happening.

We’ve gained historical perspective on the stunt, even while the way we consume media has vastly changed over the decades that followed. Critics would later downplay the impact of The War of the Worlds, with some arguing that newspapers purposely over-sensationalized the broadcast to cast doubts on the trustworthiness of then-new technology that was siphoning off ad revenue.

What’s clear is that signal intrusions – including unauthorized hijacking of radio, television or satellite feeds – have continued ever since. They’ve served a variety of purposes, as you’ll see on the following list. Many were a form of political protest, while others were just looking to have a little fun. All of them trace back in some way to Welles’ fateful “interruption.”

Southern Television Broadcast
Nov. 26, 1977, England

Viewers of an early evening Southern Television broadcast in England were alarmed when an electronic voice purported to represent the “Ashtar Galactic Command” overtook the audio of a news segment for a full six minutes. The message, which was accompanied by a pulsating sound and eerie distortions, said: “For many years, you have seen us as lights in the sky. We speak to you now in peace and wisdom as we have done to your brothers and sisters all over this, your planet Earth.” This strange voice went on to advise humanity to “abandon its weapons” in order to participate in a “future awakening” and “achieve a higher state of evolution.” It also warned viewers that government officials weren’t who they claimed to be, and that they were leading the unwitting public into a New World Order. The hack ended with a final message: “Have no fear, seek only to know yourselves, and live in harmony with the ways of your planet Earth. We hear at the Ashtar Galactic Command thank you for your attention. We are now leaving the planes of your existence. May you be blessed by the supreme love and truth of the cosmos.” The interruption prompted a flood of phone calls from an understandably concerned audience then living under the threat of Cold War. A local newspaper said “thousands” of viewers were horrified; one man described the experience as “very eerie indeed” and said it “sounded very authentic.” A woman said she had to call her friends to make sure she wasn’t “hearing things,” adding that “it sounded like a genuine voice from outer space and was quite frightening.” An investigation revealed the Independent Broadcasting Authority’s Hannington transmitter had rebroadcast the signal from a nearby, unauthorized transmitter. The mastermind behind it all was never identified.

Read More: Broadcast Signal Intrusions: When TV or Radio Stations Get Hacked.

Long Island CW Club on BBC Radio 4

Howard (WB2UZE) with the Long Island CW Club was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 program PM.

Although the show has already aired, you can listn to it for the next few weeks on BBC Sounds by clicking here.

Note that the segment with Howard starts at 51:42.

Keith (GW4OKT) captured the live, off-air recording of this segment via his Icom IC-705:

Click here to listen on YouTube.

Blocking radio waves and electromagnetic interference with the flip of a switch (Phys.org)

Researchers in Drexel University’s College of Engineering have developed a thin film device, fabricated by spray coating, that can block electromagnetic radiation with the flip of a switch. The breakthrough, enabled by versatile two-dimensional materials called MXenes, could adjust the performance of electronic devices, strengthen wireless connections and secure mobile communications against intrusion.

The team, led by Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D., Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, previously demonstrated that the two-dimensional layered MXene materials, discovered just over a decade ago, when combined with an electrolyte solution, can be turned into a potent active shield against electromagnetic waves.

This latest MXene discovery, reported in Nature Nanotechnology, shows how this shielding can be tuned when a small voltage—less than that produced by an alkaline battery—is applied.

“Dynamic control of electromagnetic wave jamming has been a significant technological challenge for protecting electronic devices working at gigahertz frequencies and a variety of other communications technologies,” Gogotsi said.

“As the number of wireless devices being used in industrial and private sectors has increased by orders of magnitude over the past decade, the urgency of this challenge has grown accordingly. This is why our discovery—which would dynamically mitigate the effect of electromagnetic interference on these devices—could have a broad impact.”

[Continue reading at Phys.org…]


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Radio Waves: BBC Bangla Closure, QSL Book Review, Vintage Radio Enthusiast, and Radio Tirana

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 Dennis Dura for many of these tips!


BBC Bangla issues its final broadcast after 81 years (Global Voices)

The new year was bittersweet for many Bengali radio fans this year, as listeners learned that BBC Bangla Radio would stop airing on December 31, 2022, after an 81-year run. In the years leading up to its closure, two sets of half-hour programs were aired each day on shortwave and FM bands in the morning and evening. The webpage was archived as soon as the night programs finished on the last day, closing the chapter on the iconic British Broadcasting Channel segment.

In an effort to cut spending and follow media trends, BBC World Service will be pivoting toward increased digital offerings, leading them to shut down radio-wave broadcasts in several international languages. BBC Bangla will continue as a digital-only multimedia channel in a limited capacity.

Bangla (Bengali) is the seventh most spoken language by the total number of speakers in the world. Spoken by approximately 261 million worldwide, it is the primary language in the region of Bengal, comprising Bangladesh (61 percent of speakers) and the Indian state of West Bengal (37 percent of speakers). [Continue reading…]

Ham Radio’s Paper Trail (Disquiet)

A new book from Standard Manual

A trove of more than 150 such QSL cards, formerly owned by an operator who went by the call sign W2RP, was obtained by designer Roger Bova. Bova then collaborated with the book imprint Standards Manual (full disclosure: I’ve done some work with the publisher’s parent company, the design firm Order) to collect them into a handsome volume. I’m reprinting some of the images here, with the publisher’s permission.

W2RP, as it turns out, was no ordinary “amateur.” W2RP was the late Charles Hellman, who lived to the age of 106. The cards obtained by Bova are both a visual map and a physical manifestation of the numerous conversations he participated in over what is said to have likely been the longest continuously active ham license, more than 90 years. Hellman first obtained his license at the age of 15. Some historical context: he was born in 1910, one year after the Nobel Prize in Physics went to Guglielmo Marconi and Karl Ferdinand Braun for their pioneering work in radio. Hellman himself taught physics in Manhattan and the Bronx, and two of his students reportedly went on to win the Nobel in physics. (More on his remarkable life at qcwa.org.) [Continue reading…]

Click here to read more about the book at the publisher’s website.

GUEST COLUMN: Vintage radios dial up a lesson in life (OrilliaMatters.com)

‘It would be the understatement of the year to say there were a lot of radios and radio-related paraphernalia’ at Chevy Halladay’s Orillia home

As I crossed the porch toward the side door of Chevy Halladay’s century home near Orillia, I had no idea what to expect. The door opened before I could knock, Chevy extended his arm to shake hands, and welcomed me into his home.

To my right was a small closet where I could hang my coat. I missed the hook, sending the coat to the floor. I was much too distracted to waste another second on hanging it neatly. To my left was a huge, free-standing mid-50s radio and TV tube testing machine stacked high with rare tubes, a six-foot-tall floor clock and radio with a built-in turntable, and a vintage Coca Cola vending machine. Each piece had been carefully restored for appearance and functionality.

A single step further into the room brought Chevy’s, and his wife Maggie’s, kitchen counter into view. Atop it were two partially restored radios, one a jumble of dusty tubes and a speaker early into the process, the other a spectacular and rare wood-cased Stromberg-Carlson, being prepared for final refinishing before being shipped to a friend in Bethesda, Maryland.

Don’t misunderstand. This was no hoarder’s enclave or home transformed into a ramshackle workshop. Their house is immaculate, and Maggie is on-side with Chevy’s mono-themed interior decorating style, yet it would be the understatement of the year to say there were a lot of radios and radio-related paraphernalia everywhere.

There was not an inch of wall that wasn’t shelved to display countless historic radios, or covered with hanging wall clocks that were used as promotional items by radio companies, steel promotional signs, framed advertising posters, or other memorabilia. [Continue reading…]

Voice from the East – an original hour long documentary from Monitor Production in Sound

Between 1970 and 1991 a woman, never named and with a sonorous antipodean accent, could be heard broadcasting some of the most extraordinary communist propaganda ever heard amongst the radio stations of the former socialist countries.

Radio Tirana broadcast from Albania – at one time Europe’s most secretive and closed country.

The transmissions were the source of enormous fascination for one 13 year old boy who listened to the programmes at bath time, with increasing amazement.

53 year old journalist John Escolme was that 13 year old.

We join his journey to track down the mystery broadcaster who not only recalls her life on-air, but her own extraordinary personal story – one that took her from remote New Zealand to an eccentric Stalinist regime rarely visited by anyone from the west. [Click here for original article.]


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Balazs spots vintage radios in film and in a Budapest pub!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who writes:

Hi Thomas,

Happy New Year! Some pictures in two topics:

1.) First, a nice Zenith H511 Consoltone (MW) got a few seconds of screen time recently in the fourth episode of the third (final) season of “His Dark Materials” series:

 

2.) At the end of December in an old pub in Budapest (Helvecia) I ran into some more or less old radios as a part of the eclectic decoration. Since these are partly Eastern European, they may be less well known elsewhere (deep in the basement, so even if they were still functioning, not many radio signals would reach them anymore):

With best regards,
Balazs

Wow! I love those pub radios!  I especially love the dial markings on the R 926 A!

Thank you for sharing these images, Balazs!

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