After trying to copy Shortwave Australia on 4835 this AM, the curiosity bug has bitten me. What, I wonder, is it about SWLing that keeps my fellow readers of SWLing.com coming back?
For me, it’s three things. First, I think Treasure Island ruined me as a kid. Ever since I read it, shiver me timbers matey, the search for The Hidden Thing – whether treasure in the ground or a signal on the airwaves – has been a lifelong fascination for me.
Second, I enjoy trying to tease a faint signal out of the ether. That’s why I got a kick out of trying to hear the Armed Forces Crossband Test.
Finally, I enjoy the physical act of operating a radio, turning the dial, adjusting the controls, tuning the preselector, and so forth.
So now, it’s your turn – what keeps you coming back and tuning the airwaves?
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Haluk Mesci, who shares the following guest post:
AGA is the agha of radios…
by Haluk Mesci
Full disclosure: Contains nostalgia of ‘my parent’s radio’ and some 36 ‘and’s…
I was born and raised in Turkey. Throughout some part of my primary and secondary school years–between 1960 to 1968–we enjoyed listening to an AGA tube radio in the family room.
Although AGA is mainly Swedish as far as I know, I re-discovered a stock photo of it on agamuseum.nl which is Dutch:
Ours had a ‘magic eye’ just above the tuning knob on the right
I remember, at age 9, trying to listen to a live broadcast of a soccer match between Fenerbahce–my favorite team–and the French team of Nice: There was a ‘Nis’ -Turkish spelling- on the MW screen, so there had to be a broadcast, right? Wrong.
I learned much later that it wasn’t that easy on radio. (Alas, my team was devastated 5-1 anyhow.) Similar ‘search’ for ‘Russian Sputnik sending messages to the world’ yielded nothing but strange sounds like ‘a diesel engine working loudly’… I wasn’t a silly kid, but nobody taught us basic radio then.
Years passed and my family relocated to Samsun, another city by the Black Sea, because of my father’s work. I was about to graduate from ODTU and there was the famous leftist (anti-US etc) ‘boycott’s of 1968 and later, I had to go live with my parents while my university courses remained suspended.
Ironically, the city had a US radar base; the base had a low power MW radio station broadcasting news and music -rock and country etc- 24 hours in English to the base staff: AFRTS 1590 kHz.
Shortly thereafter, the base was closed and the radio station went off the air, maybe because of the boycotts and the political winds in Turkey, so I had to look up another such station. Continue reading →
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who has kindly allowed me to published some notes he recently shared among MW DXers about DXing in McGrath, Alaska, USA: During a Zoom hang out with a bunch of Pacific NW DXers, one of the things that come up was why my DXing in Alaska is beyond amazing, and we’ve come to a few conclusions.
The extended darkness. Sunrise in the middle of winter here is 3+ hours later than the west coast, so once their Skywave burns off, I’m left with darkness over the pole and to my west.
There’re no operating AM stations within just under 200 miles from me which is a big help. I have heard distant signals on the same channel as “semi locals” such as 780 and 1080.
And I’m pretty sure there’s something to the fact I’m close to the North Pole. Still far, but closer than most.
Interesting to note though: pre sunset DX isn’t a thing there. What I’ve unscientifically discovered is it seems to be that the entire Pacific has to be dark for DX to be worthwhile for me in the evening … despite my evening DX being Canada and the lower 48 US States.
What most everyone else hears at night, such as the transpacific signals from Japan, China, Australia etc…, I hear in the morning. Hearing anything from Asia or the Pacific at night is EXTREMELY rare.
[Since I’m DXing outdoors in extremely cold conditions] I’m getting extra batteries, extra audio cables (to go between the recorder and the radio), another radio, and another recorder. Oh and some hot hands hand warmers. Also have some extra gloves and hats ordered too.. getting prepped for winter DXing well ahead of time!
The hand warmers are as much for my gloves as they are for my digital recorder… AA batteries don’t last long during continuous use in extreme cold.
i also have a portable battery and extra cable so I can use it for my phone. Those lithium ion batteries hate cold even more than aa alkaline batteries–they will shut off in the cold. In fact, you have to not only warm it up but charge it. The cold causes it to think tis dead…. and even warming it up won’t work.
If you’ve been a reader of the SWLing Post for long, you’ll notice that we’re not a space for political discussions; there are much better options out there on the Internet. Here, we stick to the world of radio, but we can’t help but highlight this intersection and Carlos’ creative logs.
In fact, Carlos, I might nudge you for that Vatican Radio recording and your artwork to post on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive!
George Zeller at the Winter SWL Fest Pirate Radio forum (Photo by Paul Kaltenbach)
Many of us who were friends with George Zeller or who regularly attend the Winter SWL Fest are devastated to learn that this well-loved SWL personality passed away after an unintentional electrical fire in his Cleveland home on Saturday March 20, 2021.
Richard D’Angelo with NASWA posted this message about George:
I was shocked and saddened to learn of George Zeller’s sudden passing earlier today (March 20) in a house fire this morning. I had exchanged emails with George earlier this week on NASWA editorial matters as he was slowly recovering from his recent Covid-19 vaccination. The news article in the online Cleveland Comeback mentioned overcrowded electrical outlets/extension cords as the cause of the accidental fire. George was 71 years old.
George and I knew each other for about 40 years. George came to several DXpeditions at Gifford Pinchot and French Creek State Parks. We attended many of the same radio hobby gatherings over the years. For several years, I traveled to Cleveland for work; George and I would go out to dinner on those occasions. Naturally, any time my company was mentioned in the local newspaper George would eagerly forward that information to me. George also traveled to the Winter SWL Festival in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania each year to gather with like minded radio people. He attended other radio conventions too over the year’s throughout the country.
George at a Gifford Pinchot State Park DXpedition
George was well known in the greater Cleveland area as an Economist who kept close tabs on the Ohio economy. The Economic Indicators project he worked on provided continually updated information on poverty, earnings, and the economy in all Ohio counties and communities, with related demographics. In Ohio, Economic Indicators data include annual income trends for all 612 Ohio school districts. Detailed data was also available for job growth and payroll earnings in all Ohio counties going back to 1979, including measures of the very large job losses suffered by Cleveland and Ohio during the 2000s recession that has lingered longer in Ohio than it did elsewhere in the United States. Over the year’s he mixed with local political figures and served as a volunteer in a number of community organizations serving the greater Cleveland area. He was a regular on several talk radio programs when Ohio’s economy was the lead topic.
George was an active baseball and football fan. He attended baseball games wherever he could. He spent time traveling to difference cities attending games in many major league and minor league baseball stadiums. I recall making such a trip to Camden Yards in Baltimore with several others to catch an Orioles-Yankees baseball game when my children were youngsters. He was an enthusiastic Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns fan going back to the glory days of the 1950’s. He never forgave the Indians for trading away Rocky Colavito.
For twenty years George wrote a column about unlicensed pirate and clandestine shortwave radio broadcasting news in Monitoring Times magazine. He was also a contributing editor to Passport to World Band Radio, the definitive guide to international shortwave broadcasting frequencies, schedules, and receiving equipment. For decades he wrote a column on Clandestine radio broadcasting in the monthly issues of The ACE from the Association of Clandestine Radio Enthusiasts. Annually, he hosted the Pirate Radio Forum at the Winter SWL Festival in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania as well as being the host of the prize raffle at the Saturday night banquet. In recent years, George was the editor of the Pirate Radio Report column for the North American Shortwave Association. He joined NASWA in December 1965 as a lad of sixteen.
Left to right: Rich D’Angelo and George Zeller at the Winter SWL Fest
George was always fun to be with and a real character to boot. No matter what the topic of the conversation was, he had a story that may or may not have been pertinent. There was never a dull moment when he was part of the group. George Zeller will be missed by all of us.
Thank you for sharing, Rich.
In the news article about the house fire, his neighbor described George as always kind and somewhat reclusive. With his radio community, he was everything but reclusive.
George wearing his ceremonial cheese hat and goggles at a Winter SWL Fest banquet. (Photo by Larry Willl)
George had a huge personality, amazing sense of humor, and perhaps what I admired about him most was his ability to poke fun of himself. A quality I hold in high regard.
This is a sad story. Well, it’s sad for me. But hopefully my sad story will yield “radio life” for somebody else and that life will bring them joy.
I’ve been an SWL’er since the early-90s. Due to the decline of international broadcasters, “collecting” has become just as – if not more – important to me than listening. I’ve always been fond of the Sony ICF-SW100 pocket radio. I often read here on this blog about Thomas’ affection for it. To make my dream a reality, on 19 November 2017 I found the perfect SW100 (with the leather case) and I purchased it. It did not disappoint! That radio has to be the most sensitive radio for its size out there. No, correction – that little baby has held its own against any other portable shortwave radio (of any size) that I own (I have 17 or 18, incl. this SW100). That’s quite amazing for a true pocket radio.
But please allow me go back to the beginning of my story. Once I acquired the ICF-SW100, I assembled a “kit” … piece-by-piece (remember, I’m a collector).
I surmised that the SW100 would fit into the Sony ICF-SW1 case – and I was correct (sans the SW100’s leather case). The SW1 case was one of my first purchases for my SW100 as I wanted something rugged to protect it.
The Sony AN-1 antenna works great with the SW100, and that was part of my kit. Of course, I also wanted the OEM Sony Compact Reel Antenna. “Check” – found one on eBay! The OEM AC adapter? Yes, “check” that one off the list. A photocopy of the OEM manual would not do – I found an original on eBay and “check”, that was added to the kit.
I already owned a Sony AN-LP1 (active) antenna. That would not fit into the case, so I added a TG34 active antenna that I already owned (that’s a Degen 31MS clone). Why? I gotta have a ready passive antenna in my kit.
Wait, who wants a 30+ year old OEM set of earbuds? Exactly, neither do I. This is the only thing I did not want to be OEM! I bought a new pair of Sony earbuds (off Amazon) to throw into the kit. Other than the TG34, everything in the kit had to be Sony. In the end, this handy little case was my Eutopia – it had everything I needed in its own “shortwave bugout kit”.
Of all of the radios in my shortwave arsenal, this was by far my favorite. Hobbies should bring us joy. So even if there weren’t many broadcasters to listen to, this little pocket radio never failed to bring me joy.
The last time I really used this radio was June-August 2020. My newborn grandson was in the NICU far from my son’s home. I “deployed” (with my SW100 bugout kit & 5th wheel camper) to my son’s very rural & very remote farm (275-miles from my home). I was there to tend the farm, solo, for that period of time while my son and his family could be with my grandson at a specialty hospital some 350-miles away. During this stressful & physically demanding time – tending to more farm animals than I care to mention and rustling bulls that escaped from the pasture – my SW100 was the only friend that I had. It provided many, many hours of enjoyment. Literally, other than a neighbor about ¾ of a mile up the road my ICF-SW100 and I were alone (not including the 50+ animals I tended to) from June through August.
Fast-forward to the present: last weekend I reached for my kit and I removed the my SW100. I turned it on and there was no power. Not surprising but actually very unusual as my NiMH Eneloop batteries typically last for a year or more inside my radios in “storage”. I reached for the battery compartment, I felt an anomaly on the backside of the case and imagine my horror seeing this as I turned it over!
Surprisingly, there is zero damage to the Eneloop batteries (they did not leak). I can no longer power the radio via ANY batteries, but amazingly the radio seems to operate at full capacity via AC Adapter. Whatever happened inside the radio, it still seems to operate (though admittedly I haven’t taken it through all of its usual paces).
Unfortunately, a pocket radio that only operates via AC power does not suit me. There is a better option: my loss may be someone else’s gain? I am sending the radio and the necessary components to Thomas’s friend Vlado for a full autopsy (Vlado emailed that he has worked on these radios for years and has “never” seen this issue before). After the autopsy, my radio will become an organ donor. The remaining healthy components of this radio – and there are many – will be used for repairing other SW100s (singular or plural).
Strangely, I cannot detect any other “trauma” to the radio other than that one melted corner. The battery compartment *seems* undamaged though I refuse to open the case as I do not want to accidentally damage the radio’s healthy components (I’ll let the professional “coroner” do that). I am looking forward to the coroner’s report because I need to know what the heck happened to my baby?!
In closing, though we’ve only had a 3-year plus relationship I can honestly say this amazing little pocket radio had become a great friend. I’m sure it’s grief, but I am considering liquidating the remainder of my radio & antenna collection – my heart just isn’t “in” to SWL at the moment. And the timing of this is just awful for me: I’m having surgery Tuesday for an injury I incurred eight months ago while tending my son’s farm. I had big plans that my SW100 and I would pass the time while I convalesce. But alas, my buddy will be headed to radio heaven as an organ donor. May others benefit from my loss.
Tuesday, many of us in the shortwave and DXing community learned about the unexpected passing of our good friend and veteran radio reporter, Allan Loudell.
I got to know Allan via the Winter SWL Fest community. Allan attended every year and was well known for being not only wonderfully good-natured, the sort of guy who is liked by everyone, but also one of the most knowledgeable DXers on the planet. As a mutual friend recently noted, his knowledge of the domestic and international broadcasting scene was very nearly “encyclopedic.”
Dan Robinson (left) and Allan Loudell (right) at the 2020 Winter SWL Fest (Photo source: Dan Robinson)
I made a point of chatting with Allan each year at Winter SWL Fest. This year, we all noticed that he had lost some weight, but otherwise seemed fine and, as usual, in great spirits. He mentioned to me that he had been through months of medical issues and rehabilitation, but believed he was on a positive track. I only wish that might have been so.
It was among my favorite things to do at the Fest––and I got to enjoy this a few times–– to page through albums of QSL cards with Allan that he and other Fest attendees like Dan Robinson brought to share. Allan’s eyes would light up as he turned each page. Not only did he know each card and each broadcaster, but––if you asked––he could take you on a deeper dive into the nuanced history of each station.
Allan interviewing a young lady in the studios of WDEL. (Photo source: WDEL)
Clipped from the February 1994 issue of Pop Communications
As our mutual friend, Tracy Wood, put it: “[Allen] was a giant… radio was his life….and thankfully he shared his passion with us.”
Moreover, Allan was a longtime Delaware radio newsman, having spent 18 years with WILM and most recently 15 years with WDEL.
In a typical year, I make at least a couple of trips through the mid-Atlantic states, and each time I do, I tune to WDEL to hear Allan’s voice.
The subtext is plain: he was a well loved at the station and, indeed, in the community. The station included the following quote from Delaware Governor John Carney:
“I’m very sad to hear that Allan has passed away. I tell people that, in my thirty years of public service, I’ve developed a list––just a personal list of good guys and gals, people that were really good to work with…Allen was one of those guys…He was always very fair…He always covered his subject matter in a way that most reporters didn’t. And he used the radio media as a way of communicating, and having public officials like myself communicating, with the people that I worked for, the people in northern New Castle County. I particularly liked his show DelAWARE, because…he did, in very intense kind of way, various subject matter that got below the surface…”
Governor Carney continues:
“[Allen] was just a really interesting guy and a very real gentleman…and I enjoyed being with him…I know that the people in the WDEL, WILM listening area here in northern New Castle County and, actually, across our state now will miss his programming, will miss him as as a media person, and it’s sad to hear that he’s passed.”