Tag Archives: Archive.org

D-Day: 75 years ago today, Operation Overlord initiated wall-to-wall news coverage

Soldiers coming ashore in Normandy, France. (Photo: National Archives)

Today, as many know, is the 75th anniversary of the World War II battle in Normandy, France, known to history as D-Day. “Operation Overlord,” as D-Day was code named, without doubt, was one of the key turning points of World War II.

But many may not know that D-Day was also one of the first events that brought continuous news coverage via radio on the home front.

As mentioned in this excellent article from MyNorthwest:

“In addition to what it meant as a great turning point in world history, D-Day is also unique in how it was broadcast by American radio networks, as CBS, NBC, and what would become ABC pooled their reporters, engineers and other resources, and cooperated closely with military officials to present, for the first time, what would now be called “wall-to-wall” coverage of a developing major international news event for American audiences.

It’s something we take for granted now in the age of the internet and cable news, but this kind of media coverage can be traced back to D-Day.”

But the widely-covered event was originally top secret.  So secret, in fact, that news agencies in the US first learned about Operation Overlord via not Allied news, but Axis news sources. Thus the information was delivered with caution, since the source wasn’t the War Department of Allied Forces.

A little after 3:30 AM (Eastern War Time), the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in London produced Communiqué #1, a short statement read twice by Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy, confirming that Allied naval forces, with the support of the air forces, and under the command of General Eisenhower, began landing Allied armies that morning on the northern coast of France.

Here is the actual recording via the Miller Center at UVA:

Click here to listen via Soundcloud.

Fortunately, live recordings from NBC and CBS studios have been well-preserved, and are freely available for online listening.

Below, I’ll embed links to the full recording sets; you can listen to the news just as it rolled in.

NBC coverage

The first confirmed report begins at 9:07 in the following recording:

Click here to download the MP3.

Click here to listen to a full broadcast set starting at 0250 Eastern War Time. I’ve also embedded an Internet Archive player below that will play the full recording playlist in chronological order:

CBS coverage

CBS’ confirmed report of D-Day begins at 49:25 in the following recording:

Click here to download the MP3.

Click here to listen to a full CBS broadcast set. I’ve also embedded an Internet Archive player below that will play the full recording playlist in chronological order:


For a blow-by-blow account of how news was presented on D-Day, I encourage you to check out this page at the Miller Center at UVA.

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The Cat’s Whisker – 50 Years of Wireless Design

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Emilio Ruiz, who notes:

Searching archive.org found this [compilation] book: 50 Years of Wireless Design (click to view on Archive.org)

Click here to download a PDF copy.

I hope it will be interesting for you and the readers of the blog.

[The attached] cartoon is very funny… How eliminate “the hand
capacity”:

Excellent find, Elilio! Thank you for sharing!

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Report from the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting

SWLing Post readers might recall that, last year, I had the distinctly great honor of presenting at the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force meeting at the Library of Congress.

Several readers have asked me to share my experiences at the conference, so I’ll note the conference highlights here.

I attended all three days of the conference. The first day (Thursday, November 2) was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center and focused on Cold War broadcasting. It goes almost without saying that this was absolutely fascinating.  I learned a great deal. One of the day’s recurrent discussion themes, for example, focused on the keen awareness of those inside the Iron Curtain that they had been regularly subjected to propaganda.  In other words, the Cold War somehow created very discerning news listeners savvy enough to separate fact from fiction quite skillfully––an ability that many fear may (unfortunately) be eroding among today’s media audiences.  

That afternoon, SWLing Post reader, Phil Ewing, took me on an amazing tour of NPR’s new headquarters [thanks SO much, Phil!].


Later that afternoon at NPR, I attended an event celebrating NPR’s founding father and mission creator, Bill Siemering.  Bill and I co-presented at the Winter SWL Fest in 2011, and I admire him greatly both as a journalist and as an individual; I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be at this event held in his honor.

Friday and Saturday sessions were held at the Library of Congress and were equally riveting as they covered nearly every aspect of radio preservation.

Here’s our panel just a minute before the forum began.

I was on the Digital Curation panel along with Charles Hardy (West Chester University and National Council on Public History), Jonathan Hiam (New York Public Library), Matt Karush (George Mason University and Hearing the Americas), Elena Razlogova (Concordia University) and Mark Williams (Dartmouth College and Media Ecology Project).

The discussion was dynamic, and to my pleasure, our Radio Spectrum Archive was quite the hit. The sincere interest in this project was beyond encouraging.  Indeed, after my presentation, I wasn’t able to address all of the questions from those in the audience because there were so many in line to speak to me about it; eventually the LOC had to re-arrange the room for a televised event, the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act.

But there’s more.  And it’s a great ending to our story, which is really only a beginning: via Alex Stinson with the Wikimedia Foundation, I was introduced to the Internet Archive team last month, whom, to our profound delight, has wholeheartedly agreed to support the Radio Spectrum Archive by giving us nearly unlimited space to store our massive collection of spectrum files.

In a word?  This conference was brilliant. There simply couldn’t have been a better outcome for the Radio Spectrum Archive and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Many thanks to the entire RPTF team, especially Director, Josh Shepperd, for putting this spectacular event together.

I’ve been invited to a couple other archive conferences as a result of the RPTF meeting, and I’ll give these some consideration.  Regardless, I know this: I’ll make room in my schedule for the next RPTF conference. No way am I missing it!

And at the next conference I look forward to speaking to each one of those people with whom tight scheduling prevented my speaking at this one. After all, it’s this kind of enthusiasm that assures the Radio Spectrum Archive’s future.

If you’d like a more in-depth report of the RPTF conference, check out this article in Radio World (via Richard Langley). If you’d like to learn more about the Radio Preservation Task Force, check out their website by clicking here.

Many thanks to my buddy, Bennett Kobb, who also gave me a tour of the brilliant LPFM station, WERA (96.7) in Arlington, VA–what an incredibly dynamic station and staff!

Ulysses E. Campbell (left) and Bennet Kobb (right) in the studios of WERA.

I’d also like to thank my friend Kim Elliott for generously hosting me during the multi-day event. Even modest accommodation in the DC area is very expensive–no doubt, Kim’s hospitality made the conference a reality for me. Thanks again, Kim!

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Relive This Day In Radio History: When WJSV recorded an entire broadcast day

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Patalon, who reminds us that 78 years ago today (September 21, 1939) radio station WSJV made an audio recording of its entire 19 hour broadcast day. Bill points to these details from Wikipedia:

This undertaking was a collaboration between the station and the National Archives, and it was the first time that such a comprehensive recording of a radio broadcast had been made. The station then donated its original set of recording discs to the National Archives, giving it a rare and complete artifact from an era frequently called the Golden Age of Radio. Due to their historical significance, the United States Library of Congress has since added these sound recordings to its National Recording Registry.

https://www.radioarchives.com/WJSV_A_Day_in_Radio_History_p/ra140.htm

Let’s travel back in time…

If you would like to relive September 21, 1939, you can listen to all of the WSJV recording segments courtesy of Archive.org. I’ve embedded the full playlist below–simply press play at the top of the player and each segment will load automatically as long as this page is open. Note that in the very first segment, due to a WSJV equipment glitch, there is a period of silence. Enjoy:

Click here to view or download the full set of recordings on Archive.org.

Many thanks for sharing this bit of radio history, Bill! As a radio archivist, this sort of thing makes my day.

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Coded message from WWII carrier pigeon structured like numbers station communiqué

The message contains the all-too-familiar 5 character groupings we’re used to hearing in numbers station broadcasts

This news story about a recently discovered WWII carrier pigeon message has been floating around the Internet over the past few days.

(Source: CNN)

Not even the British spy agencies that inspired James Bond can solve the mystery of a secret World War II message recently found on the skeleton of a carrier pigeon in a house chimney.

The meaning of the encoded message apparently died about 70 years ago with the wayward pigeon that David Martin found in his smokestack in Bletchingley, Surrey County, England.

Martin recently discovered the bird’s remains with the surprisingly intact message inside a small red canister attached to a leg bone.

[…]Hand-written on a small piece of paper labeled “Pigeon Service,” the note consists of five-letter words. Those words don’t make sense: The jumble begins with “AOAKN” and “HVPKD.” In all, the message consists of 27 five-letter code groups.

Indeed, the only hope the UK intelligence agency, the GCHQ, stands in deciphering the message (click here to see the full message) would be to find the appropriate, specific decipher key. Most likely, this message–like numbers station (a.k.a. spy numbers) messages–was a one-time communiqué, with a one-time decipher key. This type of encryption is incredibly effective as they provide little to no context for deciphering.

But again, that’s a part of the magic and mystery many of us find so fascinating about numbers stations.  The messages are (still) everywhere and broadcast publicly, yet, we have no clue of the meaning.

If you’ve never heard a numbers station, check out this audio of the numbers station, “The English Man” I recorded earlier this year:

Also, you should check out the many numbers station audio files in the Conet Project on Archive.org. Listen to a sample in the embedded player below:

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