Category Archives: Radio History

Radio Moscow Ephemera Circa 1972

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Dan Greenall, who shares the following Radio Moscow ephemera from 1972. This media is also posted on Archive.org:


I first began listening to shortwave radio in December 1969 at the age of 15. My parents were very supportive of this newfound hobby and allowed some space in the basement for a listening post, in addition to permitting external antenna wires to be run across their property. Various pieces of radio equipment, audio cassettes, shelves of reference books and printed matter including albums filled with QSL’s were accumulated over the next several years, and it all followed me when I moved out. Or so I thought! While clearing out my parents estate in 2016, I came across some ephemera received from Radio Moscow in 1972, that was mixed in with a pile of old papers.

These included a leaflet announcing a Quiz to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the USSR, a frequency guide for their North American service from May to October 1972, and a small 12 page program guide for their North American and Pacific Coast Services.

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Bob Heil: 50 Years of Maximum Rock n’ Roll

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, William (W8LV), who writes:

Bob Heil’s story, as told BY Bob Heil, is available as a podcast. Here, find real music and amateur radio history as told firsthand!

Available here:

Check out: 50 Years of Maximum Rock n’ Roll:

Thank you, William! As a sample, here’s one of the episodes:

S1:E03: Joe Walsh and the History of Heil Sound:

For the full episode archive, check out this link.

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Radio Waves: International Symposium Focuses on Broadcasting, Last Morse Station, Yaesu FRG-7 Digital Frequency Kit, and Remembering Bob Heil,

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 Paul Jamet, Bob Butterfield, and NT for the following tips:


International symposium: Université Toulouse Capitole, 14 and 15 November 2024

From COVID-19 to armed conflicts: radio faced with a multiplicity of crises

https://radiography.hypotheses.org/files/2023/12/Appel-a-communication-Colloque-international-Radio-et-crises-Toulouse-2024-version-anglaise.pdf

Deadline: April 25th, 2024

America’s Last Morse Code Station (The Atlantic)

Maritime Morse code was formally phased out in 1999, but in California, a group of enthusiasts who call themselves the “radio squirrels” keeps the tradition alive.

Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence.” With that, in January 1997, the French coast guard transmitted its final message in Morse code. Ships in distress had radioed out dits and dahs from the era of the Titanic to the era of Titanic. In near-instant time, the beeps could be deciphered by Morse-code stations thousands of miles away. First used to send messages over land in 1844, Morse code outlived the telegraph age by becoming the lingua franca of the sea. But by the late 20th century, satellite radio was turning it into a dying language. In February 1999, it officially ceased being the standard for maritime communication.

Nestled within the Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, KPH Maritime Radio is the last operational Morse-code radio station in North America. The station—which consists of two buildings some 25 miles apart—once watched over the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Both KPH sites shut down in 1997, but a few years later, a couple of radio enthusiasts brought them back to life. The crew has gotten slightly larger over the years. Its members call themselves the “radio squirrels.” Every Saturday, they beep out maritime news and weather reports, and receive any stray messages. Much of their communication is with the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a World War II–era ship permanently parked at a San Francisco pier. [Continue reading, noting that much of The Atlantic’s content is behind a paywall…]

Yaesu FRG-7 Digital Frequency and S-meter Readout Kit

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Butterfield, who writes:

Readers who own a Yaesu FRG-7 and are interested in a digital frequency readout/S-meter kit that replaces the original analog S-meter may be interested in this item from Marcel Jacobs, PA8MA, Netherlands. It is available on eBay:

https://ebay.us/ji2zp7 [Note: this eBay partnership link supports the SWLing Post.]

I have not personally tried out this unit, however, it does look pretty slick. Further information can be found in the FRG-7 groups.io user group.

A video is also available on YouTube:

Audio Innovator Bob Heil Dies (Radio World)

Gave a unique sound to Frampton and was known in radio, audio and ham radio

Bob Heil has died, according to the company he founded. He was 83.

“Bob fought a valiant, year-long battle with cancer, and passed peacefully surrounded by his family,” Heil Sound posted on Facebook.

“Driven by a lifelong passion for sound, Bob’s pioneering work revolutionized how concertgoers experienced live sound.” [Here’ his official obituary.]

Heil was the inventor of the famous Heil Talk Box used memorably by musicians like Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Slash, Richie Sambora and others. He was invited to exhibit his innovations at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also was an active member of the amateur radio community.

In 2022 Bob and Sarah Heil transferred ownership of their company to President/CEO Ash Levitt and Director of Operations Steve Warford, Radio World reported at the time. “Sarah Heil has retired, but Bob will continue to do outreach work and product design within the amateur radio space under the title Founder and CEO Emeritus,” it stated then. [Continue reading…]


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A Transmitter Park In Brazil Is Celebrating its 50th Birthday!

The facility 40km northwest of Brasilia originally cost $15 Million USD to build and will turn 50 years old on March 11, 2024. It’s home to several SW, AM and FM transmitters , including Radio Nacional de Amazonias on 6180 and 11780khz. The stations owner, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação , a government owned agency plans to recognize the facility’s Gold anniversary.

Find out more about the facility’s history at this link

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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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Amanda Dawn Christie’s Book on the Radio Canada International Antennas

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:


Amanda Dawn Christie’s Book on the Radio Canada International Antennas

Amanda Dawn Christie together with Thaddeus Holownia and Radio Canada International has authored a 96-page bilingual book titled “Ghost Stations = Stations Fantômes” a catalogue of an exhibition in the Upper Gallery at 50 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, home of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, in March and April 2022. Amanda’s film and a shortwave radio simulcast were featured during the exhibition. From the preface of the book:

“Ghost Stations was an exhibition about the remarkable — and now-demolished — shortwave antenna array on the Tantramar Marshes in Sackville, New Brunswick that Radio Canada International (RCI) used to transmit programming internationally from 1945 until 2012.”

This is a true hard-cover art book with exquisite page display, typography, and binding and comes with a slip cover. Lots of great photographs and two extended essays: “Photography, Film, and Electricity” and “Radio Canada International’s Modern Spirit.” The end-pieces of the book feature images of a CBC Radio-Canada International Service QSL card.

A limited number of copies of the book are available from the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts:

Price List

Pick-up in Ottawa (no shipping)
CAD $50.85

Shipping anywhere in Canada
CAD $70.85

Shipping anywhere in US
$70.00 (U.S. Dollars)

Shipping Outside of USA/CANADA
CAD $85.00

How to Pay:

Through cheque
Send a cheque through the post:
Payable to the RCA
50 Sussex Dr
Ottawa, ON
Canada
K1M 2C9

Online
Pay through paypal link:
Follow the link paypal.me/RCAARC

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