Category Archives: Radio Memories

Bob Zanotti’s presentation to the Fairlawn Amateur Radio Club (Part 2)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Zanotti (HB9ASQ), who has, at my request, shared a video recording of a presentation he gave to the Fairlawn ARC last year.

This is part two. If you missed part one, you can view it by clicking here. Thank you, Bob! Enjoy:

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Don Moore’s Photo Album: Cuenca, Ecuador (Part One)

Cuenca Cathedral

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: Cuenca, Ecuador (Part One)

by Don Moore

For me travel is all about seeing new places and having new experiences. When I retired in 2017 my plan was to spend the next fifteen years visiting new countries and new places in countries I already knew. Is that a viable goal? Three years ago while crossing the border from Ecuador to Colombia I shared a taxi with Dutch man who, like me, was traveling overland by bus with just a knapsack and a suitcase. And two weeks earlier he had celebrated his eightieth birthday. I don’t remember his name but he’s my hero.

The pandemic put a pause on travel but I’m happy to be back on the road. I’m currently in Ecuador, the country where I’ve spent more time than anywhere except the United States and Honduras. After landing in Quito at the beginning of December I visited four provinces I hadn’t been to before, including spending three nights at the bohemian beach town of Montañita where I had some good DX. I like seeing new places but there is also something to be said for returning to a familiar place that holds a special meaning. For me that place is where I am now – Cuenca, Ecuador.

My ex-wife and I finished our Peace Corps service in 1984, flew home to get married, and then in January 1985 flew to Quito, Ecuador to begin a long journey that would take us overland all the way to Buenos Aires and back. On our way to Peru in late February we stopped for a few days in Cuenca and fell in love with the little city. We visited Cuenca again in July at the end of our travels. When we left I knew we would be back but I never could have imagined the circumstances that would lead to that next visit. In 1997 we returned with our seven-year-old daughter to adopt a six-year-old son. We spent almost three weeks in Cuenca doing all the required paperwork but we had no complaints as we enjoyed being there so much. I clearly remember sitting in a park one day and commenting that Cuenca would be a perfect place to retire in someday. I was only ten years ahead of my time.

La Voz del Río Tarqui

Cuenca was home to several shortwave broadcasters over the decades but La Voz del Río Tarqui was probably the best known to my generation of DXers. The station was founded in 1960 by Manuel Pulla but didn’t begin its shortwave service on 3285 kHz until 1982. My loggings of the station run from July 1982 through 1997 but I believe they were on shortwave for a few more years after that. (Don’t confuse La Voz del Río Tarqui with Radio Tarqui, a sometimes broadcaster from Quito on 4970 kHz.)

La Voz del Río Tarqui in 1985. The facilities inside were no more impressive than the outside of the building was.

La Voz del Río Tarqui takes its name from the famous Battle of the River Tarqui. After the new countries of South America gained their independence from Spain there was often disagreement over just where the boundaries were that they had inherited from Spanish rule. Ecuador was in a union with present-day Colombia and Venezuela until 1830 and during this time Peru claimed much of present-day southern Ecuador, including Cuenca and Guayaquil. In 1828 a large Peruvian army occupied Loja, to the south, and a few months later marched north to complete their conquest. In February 1829 General Antonio de Sucre, a hero of the war of independence, met the Peruvians on the banks of the Tarqui, twenty-five kilometers south of Cuenca. Both sides suffered heavy losses but Sucre’s army routed the Peruvians. Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Loja remained a part of Ecuador. Continue reading

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Keith discovers a Radio Bougainville recording on the Shortwave Archive: “A 50-year old tape takes me back”

We’ve published thousands of off-air recordings on Shortwave Radio Audio Archive over the past decade. They’re freely available for everyone to search and download.

For those of us who work on the archive, it’s a pure labor of love. We are not compensated for the time and effort we put into running and curating it, although we use Patreon and Coffee Fund contributions to help pay for the site and online archives.

Quite frequently, our recordings are discovered and are intensely meaningful to individuals. Listening to radio recordings has an amazing ability to summon up memories and moments in time.

We recently discovered the following article on the blog PNG Attitude written by Keith Jackon. Keith has kindly given us permission to post it in its entirety here on the SWLing Post. Thank you, Keith, and we’re pleased this recording was so relevant to you:


A 50-year old tape takes me back

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – It had dropped into my Twitter feed via @Laselki, the account of the Lebanon-based Arab Amateur Radio Network, and @Stret_Pasin, a valued supporter and one of my 8,700 Twitter followers.

It had originated in Ontario, Canada, from the historic village of Ancaster close by the US border and Niagara Falls.

It was a fleeting recording of a shortwave broadcast.

Map showing location of Ancaster, Canada

A broadcast from Radio Bougainville transmitted 51 years ago on 21 October 1971, which had travelled 13,300 km to Ancaster and been recorded.

Then saved on a cassette tape until, for some reason, recently retrieved and shared.

“Sound is a bit crackly,” wrote @Stret_Pasin, “but this will bring back memories of Radio Bougainville.”

Truer words never were tweeted.

When you link to the brief recording here (scroll down to the black audio bar), you will pick up in rapid succession the sound of chanting to the famous Bougainville kaur flute, then an announcer’s voice and finally a snatch of Bougainville string band music.

Click here to listen on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

I thought I recognised this sequence as the pre-recorded station identification put to air each time the station’s transmitters were fired up at Toniva, just south of Kieta, from a switch in the main studio down a ladder beside my house.

But the more I listen to it, the less convinced I am of its provenance.

All I can say for sure is that anything the captured snatch of radio was broadcast at about 12 noon on Bougainville on 22 October 1971.

This was at a time when Radio Bougainville usually broadcast for 11 hours a day in three separate sessions: 6 am – 9 am, 12 noon – 2 pm and 4 pm – 10pm.

In a small town in Canada it was late morning the day before, and a young Dan Greenall was tuning his Hallicrafters shortwave radio seeking out distant stations he would register as finding in the ether.

Even in our modern digital age, there are shortwave junkies who ferret out remote radio stations and seek QSL cards: written proof of reception. (One issued by Radio Bougainville in 2016 is pictured here.)

QSL reception confirmation from NBC Bougainville, 2016

’I heard this at such time on your station; tell me it is true.” And we’d check the log and return a QSL postcard. Yes, you had indeed heard our station.

Collecting these cards became popular with radio listeners 100 years ago and continues to this day

Dan had been doing just that 51 years ago when he happened upon a distant signal struggling through heavy interference to be captured by his outdoor copper wire aerial and delivered to the sturdy Hallicrafters S-52 receiver.

Keith’s appointment to manage Radio Bougainville was greeted by this headline in the Bougainville News

Dan has written for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive:

“The morning of 21 October 1971 provided some of the best reception of Papua New Guinea stations in the 90 metre band that I ever experienced.

“These stations were rare visitors to my headphones but I was able to make a couple of short recordings of two PNG stations that morning, and they have survived to this day on that same audio cassette (now 51 years old).

“This one of Radio Bougainville begins with a local chant followed by announcement on the hour. The station ran 2.5 kw and their signal made it over 13,300 km to my receiver that day.

“Audio quality is passable considering the recording was made using an open mic to the speaker of the Hallicrafters S-52.”

Technical data:

Broadcaster: Radio Bougainville
Date of recording: 21/10/1971
Starting time: 1100
Frequency: 3.322.5 MHz
Receiver location: Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
Receiver and antenna: Hallicrafters S-52 using a longwire antenna

When I linked to the thin signal that had managed to land so far away so long ago, I was momentarily overcome with emotion.

I had known those sounds so well from too many early mornings wondering whether the breakfast announcer would arrive in time to open the station.

A recording something like that told me he’d arrived, fired up the transmitter and was ready to begin proceedings.

Through the static of 51 years – two-thirds of my life – came a once-familiar sequence of bamboo flute / announcer / stringband, transporting me back to a time when I was young and in my first management job which, bad bits and all, I was enjoying as if born to it.

Keith Jackson at the time of his appointment to Radio Bougainville

They were tough years for the people of Bougainville, especially in the villages around Kieta and its hinterland.

Bougainville Copper had started to dig the ore that produced great quantities of copper, gold and silver on alienated land amidst an alienated people.

Despite the volatile social and political climate, I had enjoyed the challenge of Bougainville.

I felt I’d been made for it and that it was making me.

And I enjoyed working with talented station staff, most from Bougainville, like Tom Kathoa, Sam Bena, Perpetua Tanuku, Justin Kili, Aloysius Sahoto, Aloysius Nase and Aloysius Rumina – most now gone from our midst. That’s what 51 years does.

And that simple recording – made so long ago and so far away – brought it all rushing back.

You can read more about my Bougainville years here in Brink of Secession.

So thanks to Dan Greenall, the Arab Amateur Radio Network and @Stret_Pasin for giving me a free ticket to fly back more than half a century. I really enjoyed the trip.

Read this full article and check out Keith’s website PNG Attitude here.

Also, a very special thanks to Dan Greenall and all of our contributors on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. 

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World War II Radio Letters: a real-life shortwave story – Part II

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jock Elliott, who shares the following guest post:


World War II Radio Letters: a real-life shortwave story – Part II

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

That so many people have been moved by Part I has been heartwarming. Since writing it, there have been further developments. Tecsun Radio Australia asked (and was granted) permission to reproduce the article for Anzac Day (April 25), when all fallen personnel in all wars are remembered in Australia.

In addition, I became aware of two books – World War II Radio Heroes Letters of Compassion and Waves of Hope (thanks, Bill Hemphill!) – that are all about World War II radio letters. We’ll get to those books in just a bit.

But first, I wanted to tell you something you might find surprising: I did not set out to write about how shortwave listeners had reassured my Mom that my Dad was alive during WWII. Not at all. In fact, in my 50 years as a writer, I found the process of how this came to be written, well, a little strange.

The night before, I had drifted off to sleep thinking about a radio and antenna comparison I had been fooling around with during the day (and which I plan to write up in the future). But in the morning – Holy Smokes! – completely out of the blue, my mind was seized by the following thought: Wasn’t it a shortwave listener in New Jersey that first informed my Mom that my Dad was a prisoner of War? (It turned out that wasn’t quite correct.) It’s in a scrapbook in the basement . . . go find it!

Now, I had not thought about those old scrapbooks in at least two decades, maybe more, but I could picture a particular scrapbook in my mind. Rooting around in the basement, I found it, but it didn’t contain anything about my Dad going missing in action or my Mom being informed he was still alive. Maybe I was wrong, I thought.

Back upstairs in my easy chair, the thought would not leave me alone, kept nudging me: Go find it. More digging in the basement produced the right scrapbook with the right information. Reading it, I found tears running down my face at the kindness of strangers.

As I completed writing World War II Radio Letters Part I and sent it off to Thomas, it struck me as curious that, in all my years writing about radio subjects, I had ever seen an article, or even a mention, of the shortwave monitors of WWII. I thought perhaps no one had ever written on the subject, but I was wrong.

I was poking around the internet and came across World War II Radio Heroes: Letters of Compassion Second Edition by Lisa Spahr. It is a 212-page 10-inch by 7-inch book that details her discovery of her grandfather’s WWII trunk, which contained dozens of letters and postcards from shortwave listeners who wrote to Spahr’s great-grandmother to let her know that her son had been captured and was a prisoner of war.

The book, which contains photos of the original correspondence from the SWLs, chronicles her attempt to contact those shortwave listeners or their families, her discovery of the Short Wave Amateur Monitors Club – which turned the monitoring for POWs names into an organized effort – and a lot else besides. If you enjoyed my first post on this subject, I am pretty sure you will enjoy this book.

The other book – Waves of Hope by Ronald Edward Negra – is about how his mother, Agnes Joan Negra, was a shortwave monitor during WWII who sent out more than 300 letters and postcards to families to inform them that their loved ones were captured and still alive. This is a larger format book (8.5 inches by 11 inches) running to 124 pages that reproduces the letters that Agnes received back from grateful families after receiving the news from Agnes. At the time of this writing, Agnes is still alive, about to celebrate her 102nd birthday!

I found Waves of Hope to be a moving and compassionate book, and I think any SWL will appreciate having it on his or her bookshelf.

Finally, you will find a great deal of additional information here: https://www.ontheshortwaves.com/history-III.html#POW

At the end of it all – the strange process of writing the story, the response of the readers, the books telling the story of WWII radio letters – I come back to the place I started as a grade school boy. It was then that I discovered monitoring the radio can be an almost magical activity . . . and you never know when something you heard may touch another’s life in a profound way.

So keep listening!

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WWII Radio Letters: A real-life shortwave story

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jock Elliott, who shares the following guest post:


A real-life shortwave story

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

On July 25, 1943, a Royal Canadian Air Force Wellington bomber took off from England to fly a mission over Nazi-held territory in Europe. It never returned to base.

A Wellington aircrew getting ready.

On board was an American Lieutenant, tailgunner on the aircraft. He had flown at least 19 missions, and now his status was unknown.

The office.

On July 30, a letter was sent to his wife. It began:

Before receiving this letter you will have had a telegram informing you that your husband, Lieutenant John Chapman Elliott, is missing as a result of air operations. I regret to have to confirm this distressing news.

John and the air crew took off on an operational sortie over enemy territory on the evening of the 25th July and we have heard nothing of them since. However, it is decidedly possible that they are prisoners of war or are among friends who are helping them to make their way back to this country . . .

Status unknown . . . “we have heard nothing of them since.” An agonizing psychological limbo. Do you mourn or do you hope? How do you live in that middle space?

The exact timing of what happens next isn’t clear, but in September two things happened.

A telegram arrived:

Mrs. J C Elliott =

Report received through the International Red Cross states your husband First Lieutenant John C Elliott is a prisoner of war of the German Government . . .

Notation in the scrapbook above the telegram (in my Mother’s hand) reads:

The finest Telegram and the loudest words in the life of Phyllis Nancy Elliott

On or around the same time, postcards and letters arrived from around the country. From Northville, Michigan; Green County, New York; Grand Rapids Michigan; Auburn, Maine; Burlington, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts, shortwave radio listeners wrote to Mrs. Elliott to tell her that they had heard – on a broadcast from Berlin, Germany –  First Lieutenant John Elliott is a prisoner of war, and offering words of comfort or explanation:

Wishing you best of luck in his safe return to you,

I am a patient at the above sanatorium and as I have a quite powerful radio receiver I am taking this means of doing my bit for the boys in our armed services,

Hoping this may comfort you in knowing that he is alive and alright,

Hope this cheers you up.

Hope this will relieve your worries . . .

Words cherished and pasted into a scrapbook.

My Dad later told me what happened. Their Wellington bomber was badly shot up, and the pilot informed the crew that it was time to bail out.

My Dad cranked his tail turret around so that the door opened into the air. He flipped backward out of the aircraft. For a little while, one of his electrically-heated flying boots caught on the door frame. Hanging upside-down, he kicked the boot off, pulled the ripcord on his parachute, and landed with green stick fractures in both legs. He hobbled around Holland for three days while trying to avoid the Germans. He was captured and spent two and one-half years as prisoner of war.

Lower right: My Dad.

When the war ended, he was repatriated, and in 1946, your humble correspondent showed up. The photos are of actual postcards and letters in an 80-year-old scrapbook kept by my Mother and passed down to me.

And so, dear reader, never belittle your hobby of listening to the airwaves, because you never know when something you heard may be able to offer comfort in times of trouble. I know it certainly did for my Mother.

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Video: “The Glory Days of Shortwave Radio”

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

Hi Thomas, this video just popped for me on YouTube. I searched the SWLing Post and didn’t find it, it’s not new so maybe you missed it.

Thank you, Adi. I’m almost positive I’ve posted this one before–but if I have it’s been so long it should be re-posted! A wonderful nostalgia trip! Thanks for sharing.

Click here to view on YouTube.

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Celebrating World Radio Day 2022!

Today is UNESCO World Radio Day and this year the theme of trust highlights the importance of radio as an accessible form of information.

Below are some of the many projects celebrating World Radio Day:


Cities and Memory: Shortwave Transmissions

As mentioned in a previous post, we at the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive are truly honored to have been a resource for this incredible and diverse sound project organized by Cities and Memory.

We encourage you to explore the creative work from over 120 artists and composers.

A great many of these remarkable dynamic works draw on a wide array of recordings from the SRAA; the resulting compositions and soundscapes are rich with sonic textures, evocative collages of sound and memory, which emerge into further sources of inspiration.

Our profound thanks to Cities and Memory––and all of the participating artists––for this truly brilliant collection which you can check out on the Shortwave Transmissions project page.


BBC World Service Documentary: “World Wide Waves ’22: The sounds of community radio”

As we mention in a previous post, this brilliant radio documentary focusing on community radio is available on the BBC World Service website and BBC Sounds

Here’s the description:

For World Radio Day 2022, we tune in to radio stations around the world that connect communities, spark conversations, keep traditions alive and give a voice to their listeners. From Aboriginal Koori Radio in Australia to a community station in India run by rural women from the lowest Dalit caste, the airwaves carry intimate wisdom, vital knowledge, beats and tunes that keep reminding us who we are.

Note that this piece was produced by our friend David Goren, of Shortwaveology fame. Continue reading

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