Category Archives: Radio History

Radio Waves: GatesAir Invests in Equatorial Guinea, Community Radio Champion Lorenzo Wilson Milam SK, and GQRP Online Convention

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 Tracy Wood, John Figliozzi, Heath Hall and Gérard Koopal for the following tips:


Investment project by North American company GatesAir in digitalisation of Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Guinea Press and Information Office)

The company GatesAir could invest in a digitalisation project for audiovisual media in Equatorial Guinea in the near future. The information was revealed at the audience that the Vice-President of the Republic, H. E. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, granted on Friday 7th August, at the People’s palace in Malabo, to the accredited North American Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Susan Stevenson.

The willingness of the United States Government was expressed at a bilateral meeting that the Vice-President held with the Ambassador, Susan Stevenson, who came to report to H. E. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue about the interest of the North American company GatesAir in investing in a digitalisation project in the country.

The initiative was well received by Nguema Obiang Mangue, who declared to his interlocutor that Equatorial Guinea has its doors open to any foreign investment.

The Coronavirus pandemic which is currently affecting the whole world also occupied a page on the menu of discussions between Nguema Obiang Mangue and Susan Stevenson.

In addition to this project, Equatorial Guinea and the United States continue to form closer ties in other sectors such as Defence, Education, the Economy and Culture, among others.[]

Lorenzo Wilson Milam, Guru of Community Radio, Is Dead at 86 (NY times)

He helped start noncommercial stations in the 1960s and ’70s, offering an eclectic mix of music and talk. His goal: to change the world.

Lorenzo Wilson Milam, who devoted much of his life to building noncommercial radio stations with eclectic fusions of music, talk and public affairs, died on July 19 at his home in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. He was 86.

[…]Mr. Milam loathed commercial radio stations, which he saw as purveyors of mindless junk. With KRAB and about a dozen other stations that he helped start in the 1960s and ’70s, he created a freewheeling, esoteric vision of commercial-free community radio as the voice of the people it served.

He wanted his stations to have inexperienced contributors, both on and off the air. He encouraged locals to help him program the stations and contribute a few dollars to keep these shoestring operations open.[]

RAE 100 year anniversary specials (Gérard Koopal)

I heard on RAE German that Argentina celebrates 100 years radio in Argentina on august 27th of this year.

This was announced by Rayén Braun the 4th of august on her broadcast show in German.

German listeners are asked to send in a personal message as video or mp3 to this event which will be incorporated in the special broadcast show on this matter.

She points out that more information will be found on the website of RAE. (www.rae.com.ar)

GQRP Club releases agenda for its Online Convention 2020 (Southgate ARC)

The GQRP Club has released a detailed agenda for its Online Convention 2020, taking place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th September.

The online event, which replaces the club’s annual GQRP convention at Telford due to current Covid-19 restrictions, is open to existing members. There is a special rate for non-members which will include GQRP Club membership until January 2022.

The two-day event comprises a series of online presentations and knowledge-sharing meetings where people can share ideas.

The packed presentation list includes:

• “Building QRP transceivers” with Hans Summers G0UPL, designer and manufacturer of the QCX QRP transceiver.

• “HF propagation and QRP” with Steve Nichols G0KYA, author and chairman of the RSGB’s Propagation Studies Committee

• “Homebrew SSB Transceivers” with Pete Juliano N6QW, co-presenter of the Soldersmoke podcast and a prolific home brewer.

• “Vector Network analysers explained and the NanoVNA” with Alan Wolke W2AEW, a professional electrical engineer who works for Tektronix.

• “Antennas for QRP” with Callum McCormick M0MCX, YouTube star and inventor and manufacturer of the DX Commander vertical antenna.

• “FT8/FT4 for the QRPer” with Anthony Luscre K8ZT, who will take a detailed look at this the fastest-growing mode in amateur radio.

There will also be range of knowledge-sharing sessions, including “Using Antenna analysers” with Heather M0HMO, “Running a QRP DxPedition” with Dom M1KTA, “Battery technology for QRP portable” with Bill G4ERV, “Omni Directional antennas” with John G8SEQ and many more.

The event costs £4 for GQRP club members. Non-members can also sign up for the event and join the GQRP club for just £10 (or £17 for international participants).

To sign up for the event just go to the Eventbrite sign-up page at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gqrp-club-2020-online-convention-tickets-115417887007

For more information and to view the full event schedule see http://www.gqrp.com/convention.htm


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Video: When “Tomorrow’s World” demonstrated digital radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jason W, who writes:

You might be interested in this episode of the BBC series tomorrow’s world from 17th Feb 1993 on YouTube:

10:23 to 14:50 has a introduction and demonstration of digital radio in the UK and concluding with “the experts say we will be fully digital by 2020 it’s a long wait” (referring to the switch from fm to digital radio in the UK which is yet to happen).

I thought it might be interesting to highlight this on the blog in 2020.

We can forgive the bit where she suggests digital radio will operate alongside analogue FM in the same frequency band. This Wikipedia on the history of digital broadcasting in the UK shows the UK adopted the DAB Eureka 147 standard in a SFN (single frequency network) from the start of test transmissions in 1990.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_radio_in_the_United_Kingdom

The same episode has a later piece on wide-screen digital television. (20:18 to 23:41) ending with the line “like digital radio, it is a few years away” 🙂

This is fantastic! I love watching vintage Tomorrow’s World episodes. It’s great to see how well they predicted the future and what they considered to be meaningful future innovations at the time. Thank you for sharing, Jason!

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The book that took David down the path of SWLing and ham radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, David (G4EDR), who writes:

I enjoyed reading about the vintage shortwave radio book memories from Bob W6ACU and it prompted me dig out the book which got me started in SWLing back in 1970. It was in a series of illustrated teach yourself books and the title was ‘Radio’ written by David Gibson G3JDG [see cover above].

I borrowed it from the school library and renewed the loan so many times the librarian suggested I should buy my own copy so that someone else could have the chance to borrow it! I still have my own copy of the book bought with my saved pocket money for the sum of 15 shillings. That was before the UK changed to decimal currency (15 shillings is 75p in decimal).

The book covered basic radio theory and several construction projects including a crystal set and an atu which I made and I also learned all about amateur radio and QSL cards.

That was the start of my life long obsession with radio. How things have changed over 50 years! Thank you for allowing me to rekindle those happy early days of this fantastic hobby of ours.

73, David – G4EDR.

Thank you, David, for sharing your memories with us. It’s amazing, isn’t it, the impact one book or one radio can have on one’s life!

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John’s mystery book: “Better Shortwave Reception” by William Orr (W6SAI)

Herein lies one of the wonderful things about our SWLing Post community….

Yesterday, we posted a message from John (KC8RZM) asking readers to help identify a vintage radio book that had meaningful impact on his life. Within a few hours, SWLing Post contributor, Bob LaRose (W6ACU), came to the rescue with the following comment:

I’ve got a copy of the book! – “Better Shortwave Reception” by William Orr, W6SAI. My “First Edition” is dated 1957. It has both cartoons as you mentioned. It was probably the earliest SWBC book I had, that’s why I remembered it.

Bob also scanned some of the pages and images to share with John and the SWLing Post community. Bob notes:

I scanned the well-worn front cover, three of the cartoons inside and another page that readers may find interesting – the Auroral Zones from the East and West Coasts.

I probably got this book in 1959 or 60 and kept it all these years, along with my early vintage WRTV Handbooks. (The rest of the Handbooks from about 1970 on were given to Ray Robinson of KVOH for reference purposes).

I always liked the Auroral Zone map because when I first started DXing on the East Coast in 1959 at the height of the Solar Cycle there were frequent solar storms that totally disrupted reception of the many European stations that transmitted to North America at that time. The map clearly shows why the VOA picked Tangier and Manila for relay stations!

Select images from “Better Shortwave Reception” by William Orr, W6SAI

Thank you so much, Bob! The moment I saw these images–especially the cover–I, too, remembered this book!  I love the cartoons!

Post readers: Does anyone else remember this book?  What are your favorite shortwave books?  Please comment!

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Some Serious Radio Nostalgia: A 1956 “Operation Deepfreeze Hamgram”

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

Greetings,

I was going through some old paperwork that belonged to my father-in-law, and I found a Christmas Greeting Card postmarked December 1956.

The card contains greetings from the Antarctic, received by the Radio Amateurs of Greater Syracuse, then forwarded to my father-in-law at his posting at NAAS Barin Field in Foley, Alabama.

I thought you might find this old piece of amateur radio history to be interesting. I attached images of the card.

I am new to the SW listening world, and I have found your blog to be very helpful. My Tecsun PL-660 is keeping me quite busy.

Regards,

Jack

Photos

(Click to enlarge)

Wow!  Thank you so much for sharing this, Jack! I think we all need a little “Christmas in July” cheer right about now!

I’m so happy to hear you enjoy the SWLing Post and happy that Tecsun PL-660 is serving you well. It’s a great little radio!

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Radio Waves: Sealand’s Caretakers, BitCoin & Ham Radio, CW Training, and 50 Years Ago Casey Kasem Started AT 40

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 Tony, Mike Terry,  and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Sealand’s caretakers (Boing Boing)

Sealand is an unrecognized micronation off the coast of England, established in the 1960s and issuer of stamps, passports and occasional offshore business shenanigans (“BECOME A LORD“). But Sealand is also a rotting sea fortress in need of constant maintenance. Atlas Obscura met the two caretakers who spend two weeks at a time doing what they can to keep the statelet running smoothly. Dylan Taylor-Lehman’s feature article is a great introduction to the place, if you’re not familiar with it or its wild history.[]

How Bitcoin Is Like Ham Radio (Coindesk.com)

Understanding bitcoin is difficult. And so we cast around for the perfect metaphor. Bitcoin is email. Digital gold. eCash.

Here’s a new one. Bitcoin is ham radio.

Bitcoin is old-fangled. It takes days to download the Bitcoin blockchain, just like it took forever to download software back in 1994. In an age of instant email and real-time Zelle payments, a bitcoin transfer takes 60 minutes to safely settle. It’s more volatile than gold, a relic of our previous monetary system. Thousands of computers are constantly replicating each others’ work, making it vastly inefficient. And lastly, there’s no privacy. Like a medieval marketplace, everyone can see everybody’s holdings.

All of these features are anachronistic. But they do sum up to something unique. What exactly is that thing?

A ham radio allows its operator, otherwise known as an amateur radio operator, to use certain bands in the radio spectrum to communicate by voice or code. This is an old technology. Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi became the first ham radio operator in 1897 when he transmitted Morse code across Salisbury Plain in England.

It seems odd that something as archaic as ham radio continues to exist in a world with email, Snapchat, iPhone and Facebook. A ham transmission can only be used over a couple of kilometers. No emojis. No video. No gifs. Forget about privacy! Anyone can listen into your radio conversation.

Yet, ham radio is a very active niche. Associations all over the world keep the hobby going. According to the American Radio Relay League, there are some 764,000 ham radio operators in the U.S. Japan has more than a million. The International Amateur Radio Union pegs the global number of amateur radio licensees at 3 million.

Like ham radio, Bitcoin is for hobbyists. I’m not talking here about all of the frenetic speculators who keep their coins at Coinbase. I’m talking about users who can run a full node, use Lightning, securely store their own coins and make frequent transactions with the stuff. This pool of bitcoiners is tiny. It’s probably smaller than the number of active licensed ham radio operators.[]

CW Training Program (Southgate ARC)

In this video Howard WB2UZE and John K2NY of the Long Island CW Club talk to David W0DHG about their CW training program

The club started in 2017 offers over 45 hours of CW classes EACH week, and has grown to over 600 members from all 50 states and 15 countries all over the world.

HRN423 Long Island CW Club

50 Years Ago, Casey Kasem Began Counting Down The Hits On American Top 40 (NPR)

On July 4, 1970, the countdown started. Originally hosted by Casey Kasem, American Top 40 played “the best selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico,” as he stated on the first program broadcast 50 years ago as of tomorrow.

On any given week, American Top 40 could feature a ballad, next to a country song, next to a funk song, next to a rock song. The show became a national obsession but 50 years ago, it was considered a risky idea.

“You remember, at the end of the ’60s, Top 40 was not the most popular format,” Casey Kasem told NPR in 1982. “And here we were coming along with a show called American Top 40, and people said, ‘You must be nuts!’ “[]


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Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

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Tracy discovers a modern replacement for RDP English

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood (K7OU), who writes:

I found a modern replacement for RDP- English. Perhaps even better!

My Portuguese knowledge remains limited to two quarters of university courses; similar Spanish cognates help bridge the Luso-English comprehension gap. Could I find an English-language radio show that would help revive my interest in Portugal, Brazil, and other Portuguese-speaking countries? Yes!

First as a backgrounder, Rádio Difusão Portuguesa International Service in English suspended programs several decades ago. RDP next completely left the shortwaves. Today, RDP Internacional continues to provide its global Portuguese-speaking audience non-stop content from Lisbon. The station broadcasts via satellite and streams via the Internet. Listeners in North America can tune in using a three-foot dish on Galaxy 19 Ku (12152 MHz, s/r 20000).

Now the good news. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a wonderful English-language broadcast that more than fills the RDP-English void. The show even resides on my daily **must-listen** list.

The “Portuguese-American Hour”, sponsored by Fresno State University’s Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute (PBBI), is the one-hour broadcast targeting anyone who is interested in the Portuguese-speaking world. The top-level focus is on the daily life of the Portuguese who settled in California (mostly from the Azores) and the following generations’ struggles to retain their rich traditions. The show has segments on music, history, food, literature, culture, etc. The topics covered the clearly go beyond California and US borders.

The brains behind the show is PBBI’s Dr. Diniz Borges who made a career as a Portuguese language high-school and college professor. He brings a wealth of knowledge and a seemingly unlimited list of radio guests. (Dr. Borges also spent some earlier years on California Portuguese-language radio; he retains a superb on-air presence.)

The show is heard Monday-Friday at 1600-1700 Pacific US Time (2300Z-2359Z currently) on KGST AM 1600 in Fresno, California. The station streams at https://www.multicultural1600am.com/ .

For the radio-hobbyist, PBBI now is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Portuguese-language radio broadcasting in the US, apparently started in the summer of 1920 by the unlicensed “Radio Vasco da Gama” in central California. There have been several segments on this unique ethnic broadcasting story and more related interviews are coming. (Check the last few show archives.)

Portuguese American Hour Archives:
https://www.multicultural1600am.com/show/the-portuguese-american-hour/

PPBI’s website:
https://fresnostatecah.com/category/portuguese-beyond-borders-institute/

RDP Internacional’s website:
https://www.rtp.pt/play/direto/rdpinternacional

Thank you so much for sharing this Tracy! To give readers a taste of the Portuguese-American Hour, I’ve embedded their latest episode (the one I’m listening to as I publish this post) below:

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