Category Archives: Radio Memories

Adam’s Andes DXers International certificate

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Adam Smith, who shares the following certificate and writes:

I was going to share a piece of history I just came across going through some of my shortwave radio boxes. Lots of QSLs but this its a membership in ANDES DX Club!

Good times!

Thank you for sharing this bit of shortwave radio nostalgia, Adam! Any others in the SWLing Post community belong to the Andes DXers International? Do you still have your certificate? Please comment!

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Help Brian identify this 1970s era interval signal

[Mystery solved! Click here to read the update.]

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian (W9IND), who writes:

I want to thank you for stirring a memory that I never thought I’d relive – even though it still doesn’t solve the mystery of what the heck I was listening to in the first place!

Back in the early 1970s, I was a teenage SWLer with a curiosity for the worldwide signals that emanated from the speaker of my shortwave radio. Bitten by the SWLing bug after stumbling across Radio Nederland’s Bonaire relay station, I spent many a happy hour twirling the dial in search of fresh game to hear and QSL.

But on one such occasion (I’m going to guess it was in 1971), I was surprised and fascinated by what sounded like a snake-charming horn playing notes at random. Stranger still, the transmission would seemingly go off the air for a couple of seconds and then return to play the strange melody again. I chalked it up to one of the countless beeps, hums and other electronic noises that often appeared on utility frequencies in those days.

I never recorded it, I never had a clue what it was, and I never heard it again.

Until recently. On the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

A couple of weeks ago, while looking for old shortwave interval signals from the 1970s, I saw a recording marked “Unidentified interval signal 1” listed right after the interval signals of Deutsche Welle and Radio Nederland.

“OK,” I thought. “Sounds like a challenge. Maybe I can even help figure out what it was.”

Then it played … and I almost fell off my chair! I literally sat with my mouth open as the long-lost sounds of the “snake-charming horn” played again. Could it indeed have been an interval signal – and if so, for what station?

I wanted to contact the person who recorded it, but then I learned the sad news that Mr. Greg Shoom is no longer with us.

So I remain mystified, probably forever. But it sure was fun hearing that weird recording again! Thanks for the memories.

Let’s see if an SWLing Post reader can help, Brian!

I know of at least a dozen readers who are experts on all that is interval signals, so hopefully someone can listen and ID this one.

I’ve embedded audio from this SRAA recording below. Note that the unidentified interval signal can be heard between time marks 1:27 – 2:07 in the following recording:

Can you positively ID this interval signal?  If so, please comment!


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Former KGEI transmitter building sports callsign once more

1941: KGEI’s reinforced concrete transmitter building near Belmont. Built to withstand bomb or earthquake. (Source: TheRadioHistorian.org)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood (K7UO), for sharing the following article from The Daily Journal. Tracy’s notes follow this excerpt:

KGEI, a shortwave radio station in Redwood Shores that was the only voice from home for GIs in the Pacific during World War II, has its call letters back.

The letters on the front of the building located off Radio Road were covered up decades ago by a church that took over the station’s transmitter building, now part of Silicon Valley Clean Water.

“I am happy to report that we have uncovered the letters on the building,” said Teresa Herrera, manager of the wastewater treatment facility. “I think it looks great!”

Herrera said she had no idea of the building’s history until the Rear View Mirror brought it to SVCW’s attention. No extra money was needed for the restoration because the building was due to be painted.

“The letters were just as they were when the concrete forms had been originally removed in the 1930s,” said construction manager William Tanner.

Still, there is no plaque to remind the few visitors to the area that KGEI, the GEI standing for General Electric International, played an important role in World War II. Among other accomplishments, the station broadcast Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I have returned” speech that fulfilled his promise to return with victorious American troops to the Philippines, occupied by Japanese forces since 1942.

“The First 24 Hours of War in the Pacific,” a book written by Donald Young, underlines the importance of KGEI. It also reminds readers how successful Japanese forces were during those 24 hours in attacking Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Wake Island and Guam, as well as Hawaii.[…]

Read the full article at The Daily Journal.

Tracy also shared the following notes:

During my youth I often listened to KGEI, both in Oregon and Bolivia. I got to visit the station in the 80s. I remember their teletype spewing paper for the long-form newscasts… The old 50kw GE hummed away.

The parasitic oscillations would actually form audio that you could hear in the studio/transmitter room. The 250 kw unit was tucked away… kind of hard to see.

KGEI was an important part of LATAM radio history.. the Cuban Missile Crisis, earthquake outreach to Nicaragua, etc.

Cheap clock radios could receive KGEI in Oregon when the 250kw unit was blasting to Asia.

“Mission Engineering” 250kw beamed to Asia on 5980 could often be heard with Chinese and Russian slow-dictation programming… trying to overcome the Cold War ban of Bibles in the Communist countries.

If you can find a copy of the book “Sky Waves” that has a complete history of FEBC and some more details about “La Voz de la Amistad,” the Voice of Friendship KGEI.

Thank you so much, Tracy, for your notes and insights!

I just found a copy of the 1963 book Sky Waves by Gleason H. Ledyard as a free download via the American Radio History website. Click here to download the PDF.

I imagine other SWLing Post readers remember KGEI as well. If so, please comment!

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Holiday Memories: A simple transistor radio…

Have you ever received a gift that had a major positive impact on your life?

One year, I received a gift that really opened the world of radio listening and, eventually, amateur radio.

It was a Realistic Model 23-464 portable AM transistor radio. It was the very first radio that, as a kid, was completely my own–!

The Realistic Model 23-464.

Although it had a super simple dial and was incredibly basic, I absolutely loved it. It was through this radio that I discovered the world of night time mediumwave propagation. I remember plugging in the single earpiece in the side of the radio, laying in bed at night, and tuning in distant signals. Although selectivity left something to be desired, sensitivity was excellent.

I can’t remember if I eventually gave this little radio away or simply lost it in one of the dozens of moves I made early in my career. Three years ago, I purchased another one on eBay for no other reason than the warm memories.

Have you ever received a radio as a holiday gift and is it tied to any special memories? Of course, we’re talking about any holiday–Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Easter, or any other religious or secular holiday.

Please comment and share your memories!

Here’s wishing everyone Happy Holidays!  


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Lennart’s Malaysia QSLs

Radio Malaysia QSL

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Lennart Weirell, who shares the following in reply to our recent posts regarding Radio Malaysia and Radio Sarawak:

Back in early 80-ies (1981-1984) I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I used my Panasonic DR-28 with a short indoor wire to listen.

RM Sabah QSL

Of course some of the loggings were “local”, i.e. RAAF Butterworth, RM Sarawak and RM Sabah. RAAF Butterworth answered with a letter and RM Sarawak with card and RM Sabah with letter and card. All these 3 QSLs are from 1982.

RAAF Butterworth

Brilliant, Lennart! Thank you for sharing these QSLs.

I’m very curious how many listeners were able to snag the 1,000 watt Butterworth signal on 1,445 kHz from outside of Malaysia. Please comment!


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Swiss Shortwave Merry-Go-Round Founder Bob Thomann (HB9GX) is Silent Key

Readers old enough to remember listening to SBC/Swiss Radio International will, no doubt, remember Bob Thomann. I just received the following note from Bob Zanotti:

Dear Friends and Broadcasting Colleagues,

[O]ur old friend and colleague, Bob Thomann HB9GX, passed away peacefully on Saturday afternoon 3 August local time. He would have been 91 in September.

Image via Radio World

[…]Bob Thomann was the founder of the Swiss Shortwave Merry-Go-Round on
SBC/Swiss Radio International back in the 50’s. He and I were teamed up in 1970, when I joined SRI. We co-presented the technical mailbag show,
which became know as “The Two Bobs” for 24 years between 1970 and the show’s ending in June 1994. Bob never missed a show, even when we had to do a telephone hookup when he was hospitalized back in the 80’s.

the Schwarzenburg transmitter site, often mentioned by the Two Bobs (via Jonathan Marks)

This is the end of “The Two Bobs” Era and an era in shortwave broadcasting in general. But I’m happy to say that the show lives on at www.switzerlandinsound.com, where it has its own section. All that survived from the “Merry-Go-Round” is there, including new material we produced especially for the website. And this will remain as a memorial to Bob Thomann and his contribution to shortwave broadcasting as long as I’m still around.

Mid-1960s photo showing Bob with Heidi Schweizer and Pamela — SBC’s DX Trio at the time. (Image courtesy of Richard Langley)

Bob Thomann was my friend, colleague and fellow ham operator for many years. I will always fondly remember those golden days we shared together. Long live those memories.

73,
Bob Zanotti

Click here to listen to archived episodes of The Two Bobs at Switzerland in Sound.

Bob, we’re so sorry for the loss of your dear friend and colleague. His memory certainly lives on.

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From the Post Archives: Honoring Memorial Day with Dame Vera Lynn

The following Memorial Day post was originally published on May 25th, 2015:


Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Lynn

Today is Memorial Day, and I’m feeling humbly grateful to all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Since I’ve been reading a lot of WWII history lately, I’ve also been playing a lot of WWII-era music here in my sanctuary to all things radio.

Few songs sum up the yearning sentiment of World War II better than Vera Lynn’s 1942 rendition of “The White Cliffs of Dover.” It’s an iconic song, one that helped British soldiers see beyond the war while mourning its painful toll. It was written in 1941 when England was taking heavy casualties, just before American allies joined the effort.

Scott-Marine-Radio-SLR-M

This morning, seeking something with a little authenticity, I played “The White Cliffs of Dover” though my SStran AM transmitter, and listened to it through “Scottie,” my WWII-era Scott Marine radio (above). I made this recording by placing my Zoom H2N recorder directly in front of the Scott’s built-in monitor speaker.

So here you go: a little radio tribute to all of those who fell–on both sides–of that infamous second world war.

And thanks to all who serve and have served in the name of “peace ever after.”

Click here to download the recording as an MP3, or simply listen below:

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