Category Archives: Radio History

Want a gorgeous 1940 RCA 50 kW shortwave transmitter from the RCI Sackville station?

Many thanks to Amanda Dawn Christie who contacted me this morning regarding a message she received from Marc Goldstein, who is seeking a home for a beautiful piece of international broadcasting history. Marc writes:

We have been dismantling equipment at Radio Canada in Sackville, New Brunswick since July of last year. Most of the contents have been removed.

The original 1940 RCA 50 KW transmitter is still intact. First Nation’s–the current owner of the site–is looking for a home for this piece of history. […] I am hoping you may know someone, or an organization who may help preserve the radio. First Nations has requested $5,000 Canadian for the radio, and will remove and ready it for shipping at their expense.

Thanks for passing this information along, Amanda!

I actually snapped photos of this very transmitter when I visited the Sackville site in 2012–a few months before the site shut down. It’s an elegant piece:

I have no idea if this RCA transmitter is serviceable, but I did contact WBCQ with details just in case (if you recall, they’re in need of a 50 kW transmitter).

If you’re interested in purchasing this transmitter, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Marc Goldstein.

Al shares vintage RAE theme

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Al Quaglieri, who writes:

In the ’60s and ’70s, RAE had a really evocative theme song that opened and closed their broadcasts. For years I searched for a copy of this, even going as far as writing the station about ten years ago. They graciously obliged, sending me a recording of the LATER theme, not the one I wanted. Well, here it finally is. RAE used an edited-down version.

My clip begins with a vintage RAE open and close, and then the song! It’s an obscure composition by Argentine composer Waldo de los Rios, entitled “Sol Alegre,” from a 1957 Columbia album called “Kiss of Fire.” Hope it brings back some memories!

Click here to listen at Clyp.it.

Thanks for this stroll down Memory Lane, Al!

The Minerva Tropic Master: a portable WWII era morale radio

If you’re a regular here on the SWLing Post, you’ve no doubt discovered that I’m a fan of vintage radios.

Lately, I’ve been attempting to let go of some of my vintage gear to give my favorite rigs proper shelf space and dedicated antenna time. To keep temptation at bay when I visit flea markets or hamfests (like Hamvention and the one in Shelby, NC) I now focus on WWII era radios; specifically “morale” radios that were used for troop entertainment. I’ve two morale sets: the Scott Marine Radio Model SLRM (technically, a commercial version of a Navy set) and the Minerva Tropic Master.

I purchased this Minerva set off of eBay a couple years ago. I got it for $50 or $60, if memory serves (the seller originally wanted $180 + shipping!). He claimed it worked, but after I asked him a few questions prior to making an offer and learned that “working” meant the speaker prodeced a noise and the backlight worked. I made a low offer and he accepted.

Last year, I took Minerva over to my buddy, mentor and boat anchor doctor, Charlie (W4MEC). Charlie discovered the radio had many issues and several poorly implemented repairs. Still, in a few short weeks, when parts arrived he brought the girl back to life.

With front cover closed.

The Tropic Master is a portable eight tube receiver that covers both the AM broadcast band and shortwave bands from 5.5-18 MHz. It can be powered by AC or DC. It was “tropicalized” to withstand extreme heat and humidity. The internal speaker produces mellow, full-fidelity audio and the volume can be increased to room-filling.

To give you a taste, this morning I tuned the Tropic Master to my in-house AM transmitter on 1570 kHz which was being fed audio from The UK 1940s Radio Station (my favorite Internet radio station). This particular clip features Jay Lawrence’s excellent show, From Stateside:

Click here to view on YouTube.

The Tropic Master is portable and even has a fold down handle on top of the chassis. Though substantial, it must be the lightest of all of my vintage metal chassis radios.

Tuning isn’t exactly precise, but it does the job and is a pleasure to use. It’s quite sensitive on both shortwave and mediumwave. Last night, she was tuned to the Voice of Greece on 9420 kHz–I probably listened to two hours of Greek music while her eight tubes warmed the shack.

Who could turn down a radio with this speaker grill?

If you ever find a Minerva Tropic Master at a flea market or hamfest, I say adopt one! It’s a beautiful receiver and like all good vintage radios has a story and history of its own.

Post readers: Any other Tropic Master owners out there or do you have a morale radio? Have you ever spotted a Tropic Master in the wild? Please comment!

Andy remembers his first issue of the WRTH

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andy Howlett, who writes:

Always nice to see another WRTH arrive, even though I haven’t actually bought one for many years. Attached is a pic of the very first one I bought, back in 1980.

I only got it as it contained a review of the then spanking-new Trio R-1000 HF receiver, which I was thinking of splurging my meagre wages on.

On the basis of that review, I went ahead with the purchase and discovered it was a cracking RX and I only sold it on in the early 90’s to enable the purchase of an ICOM R-7000, another cracker!

Merry Christmas to you and all listeners everywhere.

Thank you for sharing your memories with us, Andy, and Merry Christmas to you!

WI2XLQ: Brian Justin’s annual longwave broadcast Dec 24-26

Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden in his lab believed circa 1906 (Source: Radio Canada International)

Now an annual Christmas tradition, Brian Justin (WA1ZMS) will put his longwave experimental station WI2XLQ on the air to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Reginald Fessenden’s first audio transmission.

WI2XLQ will be on the air from 17:00 UTC Dec 24th on 486 kHz and run for 48 hours until 16:59 UTC on Dec 26th.

Listener reports may be sent to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, at his QRZ.com address.

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WI2XLQ, check out our interview with him in 2013. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Additionally, SWLing Post reader, George Stein has a very personal connection with radio pioneer, Reginald Fessenden: click here to read his story.