Category Archives: Nostalgia

Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria’s Polish Service, AM Support, HBCU Radio Preservation Project, Golden Age of Radio Exhibition, and EAS Alert Language

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 David Iurescia and NT for the following tips:


When the BNR “spoke” Polish (BNR)

Radio Bulgaria is trying to track down old recordings of its radio programmes

Today, the Bulgarian National Radio’s foreign language service Radio Bulgaria “speaks” 11 languages. Through the years, languages have been added, others have been dropped – something that happened to the Polish-language programmes. They were aired by Radio Sofia, as the Bulgarian National Radio was called then, and by Radio Varna channel in the seaside city of the same name, but today they are rarely made mention of in the history of the BNR.

We were contacted by ham operator Jaros?aw Jedrzejczak from Poland who helped us pick up the missing information, putting an enormous amount of effort into tracing the history of the undeservedly forgotten programmes in Polish.

“Radio is a hobby of mine. When shortwave radio stations started closing down their Polish-language services, I took an interest in their history,” Mr. Jedrzejczak says. “In the Polish weekly “World of radio” I came across an advert for Radio Sofia from 1946, from which I found out it had aired 10-minute broadcasts in Polish from Bulgaria. That was when I started looking for information about Radio Sofia and to listen to these broadcasts. That was 30 years ago.”

Jaros?aw set about tracking down the Polish broadcasts. He got in touch with the first anchors and translators of Radio Sofia and Radio Varna’s Polish-language programmes, their heirs, collected the memories of the first people working at the foreign-language programmes, kept up a correspondence with the BNR. Who were they, who were the people speaking their own language from faraway Bulgaria? [Continue reading…]

Your Phone Has Nothing on AM Radio (The Atlantic) 

Why Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are teaming up to save the century-old technology

By Jacob Stern

There is little love lost between Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Rashida Tlaib. She has called him a “dumbass” for his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement; he has called her and her allies “shills for terrorists” on account of their support for Palestine. Lately, though, the right-wing Cruz and the left-wing Tlaib have found a cause they can both get behind: saving AM radio.

In recent years, a number of carmakers—BMW, Volvo, Tesla—have stopped offering AM radio in at least some models, especially electric cars. The problem is that their motors cause electromagnetic interference on the same frequency bands in which AM radio operates, in some cases making the already fuzzy medium inaudible. Carmakers do have ways to filter out the interference, but they are costly and imperfect—all to maintain a format that is in decline anyway. AM radio was eclipsed by the superior-sounding FM in the late ’70s, and the century-old technology can seem akin to floppy disks in the age of Spotify and podcasts. According to Ford’s internal data gathered from some of its newer vehicles, less than 5 percent of all in-car listening is to AM radio. Which is perhaps why Ford decided last year to drop AM from all of its vehicles, not just EVs.

Because so much listening happens in the car, the Ford news seemed like the beginning of the end for the whole medium. But just a few weeks after announcing that decision, the company reneged in response to political pressure. Before Ford’s reversal, Cruz and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, had introduced the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which would require exactly what its title suggests. [Continue reading…note: paywall]

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project (WYSO)

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project is dedicated to honoring and preserving the vibrant history and cultural resource that is HBCU radio.

Nearly a third of the 104 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have radio stations, and many have been on the air for more than fifty years. Much of the material created at these stations is at risk of being lost. Magnetic tape and other obsolete formats are deteriorating, and with them the primary source material that documents the rich history and diversity of the Black experience through the Civil Rights era and beyond. Present day digital material is also at risk.

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project grew out of a 2019 survey of HBCU radio stations to assess their preservation practices and needs. We collaborated with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on a follow up pilot project. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, we are now in the implementation phase of the project, partnering over the next four years with WYSO, NEDCC, the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The goals of the project are to foster an ethos of preservation at HBCU radio stations, to preserve the stations’ audio collections, and to facilitate capacity-building and sustainability through connecting and supporting the stations and the institutional archives on campus.

We will be able to serve all 29 HBCU radio stations through the project. Our replicable model will serve not only HBCUs, but ultimately any college radio station—and tribal stations, rural stations, and other public and community stations. [Continue reading…]

Golden Age of Radio in US (DPLA)

Tuning into the radio is now an integrated part of our everyday lives. We tune in while we drive, while we work, while we cook in our kitchens. Just 100 years ago, it was a novelty to turn on a radio. The radio emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, the result of decades of scientific experimentation with the theory that information could be transmitted over long distances. Radio as a medium reached its peak—the so-called Radio Golden Age—during the Great Depression and World War II. This was a time when the world was rapidly changing, and for the first time Americans experienced those history-making events as they happened. The emergence and popularity of radio shifted not just the way Americans across the country experienced news and entertainment, but also the way they communicated. This exhibition explores the development, rise, and adaptation of the radio, and its impact on American culture.

Explore Exhibition here

FCC Report 2/18: Should Stations Be Required To Offer EAS Alerts In The Language Of Its Programming? (Radio Insight)

The commission is opening a comment period for a proposed rulemaking for a “simplified multilingual alert processing approach for EAS alerts through which pre-scripted alerts that have been pre-translated into non-English languages can be initiated by alert originators for distribution to the public by the TV and radio broadcasters, cable service providers, and other services that make up the EAS public alert distribution system.” Among the topics the proposal seeks comments are whether stations should be required to transmit alerts in the language of the program content it carries, whether stations should also be allowed to transmit templated alerts in languages that do not correspond to the content offered on the station or whether to limit it to the language that corresponds to the station’s programming.

The proposal would see alerts offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese along with English and ASL. The FCC noted that the preliminary 2023 national EAS test revealed that already 2% of EAS participants transmitted alerts in Spanish, while 0.1% did so in other non-English languages. [Continue reading…]


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VIS: The End of an Era

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Dan Greenall, who shares the following guest post:


The End of an Era

by Dan Greenall

Many of us can remember the many radio telephone stations that could be found outside the regular SWBC bands during the 1970’s and 80’s and even into the 1990’s. They often ran repeating “voice mirrors” to help the receiving station tune them in prior to handling actual traffic. Some of these also operated within the designated maritime (ship to shore) frequencies.

One such station was coastal radio VIS from Sydney, Australia and they could frequently be heard here in southern Ontario, Canada on both SSB or CW modes. I received their attractive QSL card for reception in 1972.

However, with the advent of satellite and internet communications, these type of stations began to disappear from the HF shortwave bands.

On Christmas day in 1998, I happened to tune into the attached repeating transmission. This station is presumed to be maritime radio VIS in Sydney, Australia on 13083 kHz. The recording was made at Thamesford, Ontario, Canada on December 25, 1998. The repeating message was “The number you have called is not in service. Please check the number you have dialed. If you require further assistance, please call 1225.” 1225 was the number for International Directory Assistance in Australia.

Audio:

Internet research indicates that VIS discontinued its CW service in 1999. I believe the station completely closed down in 2002.

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“The Intercept Watch”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Meara who writes:

Thomas: I found this in an old radio magazine. SWLPost is on The Intercept Watch!

Radio. July 1934

https://www.worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Radio/30s/Radio-1934-07.pdf

73 Bill

How cool! Thank you for sharing, Bill!

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Don Moore’s Photo Album: Costa Rica (Part Two)

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: Costa Rica (Part Two)

by Don Moore

It’s been three months since the last time I put together one of these pieces because I was busy finishing my book, Tales of a Vagabond DXer [Note: SWLing Post Amazon affiliate link]. You may have seen the announcement about it here a few weeks ago. This series should appear more regularly in 2024 as I plan to concentrate on small writing projects for a while!

Back in August, we looked at five Costa Rican shortwave stations that I visited in 1990. This time I’m going to feature just one station, but a station with a very interesting story. My book has an updated and rewritten version of the article I wrote about it for Monitoring Times magazine in the early 1990s. But the book doesn’t have many photos as adding those significantly increases the price. So, here are the pictures and a little bit about the station.

This seven-and-a-half-watt transmitter was the first transmitter for TI4NRH, the first shortwave broadcast station in Latin America. It was built by Amando Céspedes Marín in Heredia, Costa Rica in 1928. Don Amando operated a small medium wave station and hoped that by using shortwave he could reach listeners in all of Costa Rica. Instead, he gained an audience all around the world. His little TI4NRH became one of the most popular radio stations for shortwave listeners throughout the 1930s until he shut it down at the beginning of World War Two. This portrait of Don Amando was made around that time.

I remembered reading about TI4NRH in an old-timer’s article, so while I was in Costa Rica I went to Heredia hoping to find someone who could tell me where the station had operated from. I wanted to get a picture of the building. Instead, I found that everything was still there in the dimly lit backroom of the family house. (The pictures are grainy as the room was very dark.) Don Amando had passed away in 1976 but his never-married daughter, Lydylia, still lived there and treated the room as a shrine to her departed father.

The Céspedes family house was on a side street a few blocks south of the main plaza in Heredia. The radio station was located in the middle section, behind the white door.

Plaque on the front door commemorating the building as the birthplace of radio in Costa Rica.

Financial support from listeners helped TI4NRH buy new transmitters and raise power. This 300-watt transmitter was the last one used.

Radio amateurs in the USA and Canada raised money to buy and ship this antenna tower to TI4NRH in the late 1930s.

Nothing was removed after the station closed down but the space became a storage room for the family. This is how it looked in June 1990.

The bottom of that original 7 ½ watt transmitter. Unfortunately, the photo came out very dark in the dimly lit room.

The walls were covered with yellowing 1930s amateur radio QSL cards.

This letter written by Arthur Kopf, an American working in the Panama Canal Zone, was the first report received by TI4NRH. That made it the first reception report ever written to a Latin American shortwave broadcast station.

Don Amando’s daughter Lydylia was the guardian of her father’s legacy.

A view showing the house and neighboring antenna tower.

TI4NRH was only a hobby for Don Amando. He made a living by operating a print shop and photography studio. With financial support from the Zenith Corporation, he published a monthly radio magazine (primarily in Spanish) for several years in the 1930s.

In 1928, Philadelphia DXer Charles Schroeder became the first North American DXer to log a Latin American SWBC station when he heard TI4NRH. He not only got a QSL for his reception, TI4NRH sent him a beautiful chair made out of Costa Rican tropical hard woods. The chair was sent in pieces with instructions for assembly and arrived in just twelve days. Mr. Schroeder passed away in 1956, but in 2005 I heard from Schroeder’s daughter, who still had the chair. She sent these photos.

Finding TI4NRH was like finding an unknown time capsule. It was one of the biggest highlights of both my DX career and my travels. And I always hoped to return. In the late 1990s I learned that Lydylia had passed away and that one of her nephews had moved into the house. Sometime around 2010 the antenna tower had become unsafe so the family had it torn down and sold for scrap. However, other than donating a few items to the city museum (something Lydylia had refused to do), the family continued to hold on to Don Amando’s legacy. In 2017, a group of Costa Rican radio amateurs visited the house and published their photos, which were much better than my old ones.

I would like to say that everything is still there for the next visiting DXers to see. But in looking for links to include in this piece I came across some very sad news. The house was demolished in July 2021. Apparently the next generation of the family (Don Amando’s great-grandchildren) had no interest in maintaining the old house and Costa Rica doesn’t have a good program to preserve historical sites. So the city of Heredia had the house torn down. The news article I found (which was very critical of the destruction) didn’t even know what had happened to the station memorabilia that had been in the house. So, unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending.

LINKS

To see the exact location of where TI4NRH was, open Google Maps and search for the following coordinates: 9.995550958984419, -84.11618361000325 then switch from map view to satellite view.

The main house was where the shiny tin roof is today (2024). Just to the right is another building with a red roof. That is where the wing with the station and the antenna tower were.

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SolderSmoke: 7J6CBQ on Okinawa — And a Translation of a Science Fiction Novel about Ham Radio in China

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Meara who shares the following article from the excellent SolderSmoke Podcast:


7J6CBQ on Okinawa — And a Translation of a Science Fiction Novel about Ham Radio in China

The article about Sergeant Malik Pugh USMC on Okinawa brought back memories from the 1990s. David Cowhig was 73 Magazine’s Hambassador on Okinawa — I had the same “position” in the Dominican Republic.  David and I were both in the Foreign Service;  we joked that 73 had afforded us our only chances to be ambassadors of any kind.  David’s Okinawa QSL and the opening from his initial report to 73 magazine appear above.  You can see more here:

https://archive.org/details/73-magazine-1992-12/page/82/mode/1up

https://archive.org/details/73-magazine-1993-06/page/76/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/73-magazine-1993-07/page/82/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/73-magazine-1993-08/page/78/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/73-magazine-1993-11/page/84/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/73-magazine-1993-12/page/78/mode/2upmode/2up

A couple of my own “dispatches” as Hambassdor to the Dominican Republic appear here:
https://www.gadgeteer.us/DRDISP.HTM

Back in the 90’s David sent me an old QST Magazine.  I wrote about this on the SolderSmoke blog:
https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/2015/07/been-there-done-that-he-begged-his.html

Later, I learned about another “Hambassador” who was still active as a radio amateur: Ron Gang 4X1MK:
https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/2017/10/ron-gang-4x1mk-on-qso-today-podcast.html

Finally (and this is really cool):  David Cowhig has been putting his language skills to good use, translating Chinese written material.  He sent me his translation of the opening chapters of a Chinese science fiction novel about ham radio.   Readers of the SolderSmoke Daily News will like this:


 
https://gaodawei.wordpress.com/2021/12/18/chinese-sf-ham-radio-web-novel-we-live-in-nanjing/


Check out this article and much more on the SolderSmoke podcast blog!

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