Category Archives: Vintage Radio

Radio Waves: Questions About New HF Stations, Towers Damaged after Hurricanes, Evolution of Ham Radio, and The Vintage Radio Repairman

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 Ed, Paul, Bennett Kobb, and Kanwar Sandhu for the following tips:


Questions Remain as New HF Stations Wait for Licenses (DMRNA.info)

Here is the story by Bennett Kobb:
As previously reported here at DRMNA.info, the New York company Turms Tech LLC has applied to the FCC for a license for International Broadcast Station WIPE in New Jersey. The license would cover a station already built under a FCC Construction Permit, and would allow it to begin regular operations.

The FCC announced on August 13, 2020 that this license application was accepted for filing, a routine stage at which the FCC examines the application, and might even visit the station, and if everything is in order it will be licensed.

We’re not sure everything is in order. The application for Construction Permit placed the transmitter site at N 40° 57′ 40.38″, W 73° 55′ 23.97″, the broadcast and communications center surrounding the famous Armstrong Tower at Alpine NJ. Its Application for License, however, specifies N 40° 51′ 40″, W 73° 55′ 23″. (Hat tip to Alex P for noting this discrepancy. More about him below.)

While the substitution of 51 for 57 in the coordinates might seem a simple typo, the FCC typically has no sense of humor about coordinate errors. Commission examiners may wonder why a station intended for a historic radio-TV facility ended up among some Manhattan apartments.

The deeper question with WIPE and another, apparently similar station WPBC, is what these stations are really for and what that means for the FCC Rules. WIPE was extremely vague about its program plans, but told the FCC that it will transmit data obtained from third parties using Digital Radio Mondiale. Putting that tidbit together with exposures in a series of public articles in the media and tech blogs, it would seem that audio programming will not be the central mission of this peculiarly named station, whose principal is a financial executive and forestry entrepreneur without any broadcast experience we could find.

We suspect instead that the WIPE data stream will be used not for broadcasting to the public — the only function permitted to International Broadcast Stations under FCC Rules — but instead will be used for private communication with foreign exchanges for high-speed trading.[]

KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy (Brad Dye)

Images of tower damage in Lake Charles, LA Bottom photo by KATC-TV of KSWL-TV tower crashed into buildings near 210 Interstate Hwy

After bombarding coastal areas of southern Louisiana with wind gusts up to 130 mph and a storm surge over nine feet as a hurricane, Laura swept north while also spreading over Arkansas Thursday. Laura weakened to a tropical storm early Thursday afternoon, with winds at 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Laura is predicted to move through the Tennessee Valley and the Mid-Atlantic today into tomorrow.

Power outages from the storms totaled over 900,000 as of Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutageUS. The site collects data from utilities nationwide. The bulk of the outages were in Louisiana and Texas, according to ABC News. Mississippi reportedly had over 9,400 customers without power as of Thursday morning, reported the Clarion Ledger.

Louisiana and Texas had the most cell site outages as of Thursday mid-day, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System. Of the 4,650 cell sites served in Louisiana, 380 were not working. Over 200 of the site outages were due to a lack of power, 141 had a transport issue and 16 were damaged.

Calcasieu and Cameron counties were hit especially hard. 140 sites (75 percent) were not working in Calcasieu County and 20 (69 percent) were out in Cameron County.

Of the 17,621 cell sites served in Texas, 113 were non-operational.

Jefferson County was the hardest hit, with 39 (15.8 percent) out of 247 sites not working. Just over 45 of the non-working sites were out due to a lack of power, 41 for transport reasons and 20 were damaged, according to DIRS.

Cable and wireline companies reported 192,915 subscribers out of service in the affected areas; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or Internet services.

Three television stations, five FMs and one AM reported they were off-air.[]

Ham radio is dying! No it’s not, it’s evolving (K0LWC)

I’ve heard ham radio is dying since as far back as I can remember. It’s one of those common sayings you always hear. Like, “get off my lawn,” and “kids these days.” But is it true? Is there any evidence to support this? Let’s take a closer look.

Data from the ARRL shows that ham radio licensees are increasing. When you look at the chart above, you see two significant markers that are likely driving this growth.

  • The removal of the code requirement by the FCC.
  • The economic collapse of 2008.

The Morse code requirement was always an intimidating part of obtaining your General FCC license. Learning Morse code is like learning a second language. It takes time and effort to learn, and that’s not a bad thing. However, it doesn’t change that it scared many people away from the hobby. When the FCC removed this requirement in 2007, I believe it opened the door for many who spent years on the fence. Then you have the economic downturn of 2008. What does that have to do with ham radio? A lot.

After the economic downturn, the United States watched as survivalism, now commonly calling “prepping,” entered mainstream culture. People were worried as the country was involved in multiple wars and our economy was on the brink of collapse. Citizens stocked up on food storage, water, firearms, and…communications equipment. As our country spiraled into more turmoil ham radio licenses steadily increased to more than 750,000 by the end of 2019.[]

The Vintage Radio Repair Man (Great Big Story–YouTube)

Click here to watch on YouTube.


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Vlado restores Mike’s vintage Sony CRF-160

Sony CRF-160 Dial

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Schuster, who shares the following guest post:


Vlado works his magic on my Sony CRF-160

by Michael Schuster

Back in the 1970’s my grandfather gifted this solid-state portable to me as it was more than he needed. It was the first “real” radio I can remember owning, and it initiated my habit of scanning the dials into the wee hours of the morning. I began my serious SWLing using this set as it had excellent sensitivity, dual conversion design, big booming audio, and generous bandspread tuning for each major SW broadcast band.

One of the best-known SWL programs at the time was Happy Station on Radio Nederland, and I have distinct memories of listening in our back yard one summer afternoon when the show came up on the African Service over the Madagascar relay. My family was astonished at the program coming from so far away and even more so when Tom Meijer happened to read my letter over the air during the mailbag segment!

Fast forward many years (and two moves) later, it sat on a shelf until, trying it out again, I was dismayed to find both slide rule tuning dials, and the rotary drum band selector, to be frozen in place. And so there it sat until….

In a few online forums I kept hearing about a magician named Vlado at Ham Radio Repair. He specializes in restoring old sets, and has the courage and curiosity to tackle just about anything. Thinking this might be my last chance to bring this fossil back to life, and armed with a scanned copy of the service manual downloaded from the Radio Museum web site (the Internet is a marvelous thing) I began a several months’ long email exchange with Vlado entitled “Would you be willing to work on…”

He is chronically swamped with sets to work on, and has little room to store pending jobs, but was more than willing to have a look. Several months, and one pandemic later, we touched base again and I arranged to ship this monster off to him. Vlado is especially interested in the stories behind old hardware, so I shared its history with him as it adds that extra “human factor”.

The radio is in great shape as he noted, but needed a total rework of the tuning dials and drum selector. He also replaced all of the electrolytic capacitors (most were leaking as pictured), replaced some tiny light bulbs with LED’s, and realigned all of the circuits for maximum performance.

Unpacking and trying out the restored set was a true blast and somewhat miraculous. It performs just as I remember and now sits on the shelf, this time in use rather than in storage, booming its audio across my basement work room.

Now this set will probably outlive me as it did my grandfather; hopefully it will end up in the hands of an appreciative recipient for the next generation of radio enthusiasts.


Thank you for sharing this repair story, Mike. I visited Vlado’s home a few weeks ago and saw the box labeled “Sony CRF-160” in-line to be repaired. As Vlado worked on it, he sent me a couple of photos, too, because I believe it was the first time he had ever worked on this particular Sony model. It is certainly a gorgeous radio–wow! And I do love your philosophy as it’s the one I adopt too: keep vintage radios alive and working beyond our generation. 

Vlado is truly the most capable ham radio repair guy technician/engineer you’ll ever meet. He’s also as honest as the day is long. If you have a vintage or late-model solid-state radio that needs repair or restoration, contact him.

Click here to check out Vlado’s website HamRadio.repair.

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The Allocchio Bacchini RF4D: That mystery radio from “The Last Man on Earth”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrew, who correctly identified the radio Ed spotted in The Last Man On Earth as the Allocchio Bacchini RF4D. Andrew shared the following notes and links:

That radio is an Allocchio Bacchini RF4D (see photo below from this site):

Here’s a snippet from an Italian movie showing the same rig:

Another pic and notes can be seen scrolling down this page:

Year : 1940
TX Frequency Range : 1,270 – 4,300 kHz in 3 bands
RX Frequency range : 220 – 4,400 kHz in 5 bands
Facilities : CW and RT
Receiver Circuit (Valves) : Superhet. 7 tubes type 6RV (same as RF 4)
Transmitter Circuit (Valves): MO(P C05), PA (2x P CO5) Mod.(3x 6RV)
RF Output : 25 W
Aerial : Dipole
Power supply : 12 V storage batteries. Mains for battery charger.

And here you’ll find the shack of an Italian ham which shows an RF4D:

Photo: I5HGM

Further info and schematics can be found here.

Wow! Thank you so much, Andrew! I would love someday to operate an original RF4D.  What a fascinating WWII era radio. Thank you again for all of the details!

Post readers: I’m very curious if anyone here owns or has owned an RF4D.  Please comment!

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Help Ed identify this mystery radio in “The Last Man on Earth”

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

Recently I’ve been watching some pandemic-themed movies and found “The Last Man on Earth”, a pretty good 1964 post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film (which was remade in 1971 and 2007 with different titles.) In this film, the main character (well played by Vincent
Price) uses an HF transceiver in a fruitless effort to find other survivors of a global plague. It was shot in Italy, and the transceiver doesn’t look like any American radio I’ve ever seen. Perhaps some of your SWLing Post readers can identify it?

BTW: SWLing Post readers might also be interested in knowing this film can be downloaded for free from The Internet Archive.  https://archive.org/details/lastmanonearth-1964

What do you say, SWLing Post Community? Is this radio a fabricated stage prop, or a real model?  Please comment!

In the meantime, I’ll add this post to our ever growing archive of radios in film!

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Listener Post: Mike Stutzer’s love of radio began with a Hallicrafters S-120

Photo: Universal Radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Stutzer, who recently shared the following listener post:

I started SWLing as a teenager. My favorite uncle gave me a Hallicrafters S-120.

My dad hung a longwire under an eave and through a casement window frame into my bedroom. I marveled at all the AM international stations broadcasting in English, listening to everything from BBC cricket coverage on Saturday morning to hysterically unbelievable Albanian political news coverage.

After college I could afford something better, so I upgraded to a “boat anchor” Hallicrafters SX 110. It had a useful crystal filter to improve selectivity, but it was still nigh on impossible to decipher a Ham on SSB.

Photo: Universal Radio

Many decades later I bought a house on a steep foothill. Realizing that it was a perfect QTH for a Ham station, I got licensed and now am President of the local ARC. Here is a loving look at the original SWL receiver that got me hooked.

Prof. Mike

Boulder, CO

Thank you for sharing this, Mike!

Mike’s radio story is the latest in our multi-year series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories. Feel free to submit your own by contacting me.

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Radio history videos are a serious benefit of Social Distancing!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


Benefits to Social Distancing

I have discovered that there is a positive side effect of social distancing.  With so many organizations using Zoom and other video methods for their meeting, the volume of great videos to watch has drastically increased, with most of it residing on YouTube.  Also everyone is sharing video links that they have found with other.

For example, the New Jersey Antique Radio Club (NJARC) has, for some time, posted their monthly meetings on their YouTube channel.  They have very enjoyable presentations.  Last night was their virtual monthly meeting for June and they had a great talk by Prof. Joe Jesson on “What You Did Not Know About the RCA AR88.”

I am a fairly new member to NJARC and must recommend them to others.  They are a very active group and are currently having Zoom conferences weekly between the members.  They also host the RADIO TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM at the InfoAge Technology Center.

Link to NJARC:

http://www.njarc.org/

Link to NJARC YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/njarc/

Link to the Radio Technology Museum:

http://www.rtm.ar88.net/

Last week, I received an email from Mark  Erdle (AE2EA) referring to some videos by the Antique Wireless Museum which is hosted by the Antique Wireless Association (AWA).  From his email:

The Radios (and Filming) of “Across the Pacific”  presented by AWA member Brian Harrison.  Brian served as the radio consultant for the 3-hour PBS documentary “Across the Pacific”, which tells the story of the early days of Pan American Airways and of Hugo C. Leuteritz, a RCA radio engineer who helped make Pan Am’s expansion across the oceans possible with radio communication and navigation systems. Brian explains how he worked to insure that this documentary portrayed the pioneering work of Hugo Leuteritz as accurately as possible. Much of the early radio equipment that Pan American used was custom made for Pan Am, and is quite rare today, but Brian hunted it down.

 

In addition to Brian’s video, you can also see Tom Perera’s updated presentation of “Phil Weingarten’s Fabulous Fakes” which was originally presented at the 2007 AWA conference:

Link to AWA:  https://antiquewireless.org/homepage/

Link to AWA You-Tube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX55peBhzeX1qps_VYXdLBA

Here are some other videos that people have passed along to me that I have found enjoyable.  Most of these are radio-oriented and I have omitted the many cat videos:


Thank you for sharing these links and videos, Bill! I’ve been watching Phil Weingarten’s Fabulous Fakes this morning–what a fascinating bit of history!

Post readers: Have you discovered videos and sites while social distancing (a.k.a. Social DXing)? Please comment and share your links!

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Radio Waves: Radio Stations in the Movies, Opposition to ABC Budget Cuts, Numbers Stations, and Student Repairs Vintage Radios

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, Michael Bird, and David Shannon for the following tips:


How accurately have radio stations been portrayed in TV and movies? Alan Cross rates them (Global News)

Over the last century, radio stations have been the subject and the setting for a number of TV shows and movies. This, for better or worse, is how the general public perceives how real-life radio works. I’ve rated this selection of radio-centric shows and scenes through the years.

1. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982)

Authenticity Rating: 3/5

Every time people of a certain age hear that I work in radio, they inevitably ask “Is it anything like WKRP?” The answer is both yes and no.

The show’s creator, Hugh Wilson, did come from a radio background, serving time as a sales rep at WQXI, a top 40 station in Atlanta, so he was certainly well qualified. His characters were slight caricatures of the real thing: the general manager who was often clueless about what was happening with his station; the harried program director; the burnout morning man; the trippy nighttime DJ; the sleazy salesperson; the squirrely newsman; the naive copywriter; and the receptionist who secretly runs the place. I’ve worked with each of those people multiple times.

The show was groundbreaking in its use of music. Up until WKRP came along, no one used real music in the soundtrack. It was all stock stuff, soundalike material made up by studio players. But viewers of WKRP heard actual songs from bands they recognized — something that eventually created endless licensing headaches when it came to syndication and issuing the show on DVD. That remains the reason why the show isn’t streamed anywhere. (Hugh Wilson explains the music issues here.)[]

Australians overwhelmingly oppose ABC budget cuts (ABC Friends National)

According to a new survey, 76% of Australians oppose any further cuts to the ABC’s budget and 49% believe it should get more Federal Government funding

The findings of a Roy Morgan national opinion poll serve as a warning to the Government that voters have had enough of budget cuts to the national broadcaster. Successive Governments have reduced ABC funding by a total of $783 million since 2014.

Read the survey here [PDF].

The survey shows Australians overwhelmingly turn to the ABC in times of crisis, underlining the national broadcaster’s critical role in the bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. ABC Friends commissioned the opinion poll, which was carried out by the independent research group, Roy Morgan.[]

What is number station and story behind it? (US Updates)

Fictional novels about number stations have been created in the minds of most people. Many people think of the number station as a ghostly, creepy, mysterious or supernatural symbolic message. But are the messages fictional novel about numbers stations  at the number station really mysterious? In today’s discussion we will know what number station is and why somebody finds it fictional novel about number station?

We all listen to the radio more or less. There are basically two types of radio listeners, such as FM radio stations and radio stations broadcast from the Internet. There are also radio stations of other frequencies and their different names. Such as high frequency or shortwave, extra high frequency, ultra high frequency limit through which there is also satellite signal and police scanner report.

Amateur radio, pelagic and air stir are also included in these frequencies. Today we will learn about high frequency i.e. shortwave radio station which is also known as fictional about number station. This number is used to send symbolic messages to various intelligence agencies and the military. This number station has been in found since the First World War and has been the center of attraction for many years. For many years some of journalists have tried to decipher the mystery of this number station.[]

Coronavirus: Student repairs vintage radios during lockdown (BBC)

A teenager who restores and repairs old radios says he loves the “unexplained charm” and history of the wireless.

Diogo Martins, from Oadby, Leicestershire, has been able to spend more time on his hobby during the coronavirus lockdown and has added to his collection of vintage radios.

“Without a doubt many of these radios have a family history where families have gathered around to listen to music and information, and it’s that history which I find so endearing,” he said.

The 19-year-old electrical engineering student said in restoring them he is “continuing their legacy”.

Video journalist: Harris Millar


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