Tag Archives: Christmas

Washington State’s Long-lost ‘Magic Radio’ Santa Gets New Life

This is what the announcer said at 4:30 p.m. one day about a week before Christmas 1950 over the airwaves of radio station KELA in Lewis County: “Yes, stand by for Santa Claus! The Beacon Store, Santa’s headquarters for southwest Washington, presents the most important radio program of the year, Santa’s very own. Santa’s Magic Radio! We’re going to take Santa’s Magic Radio and talk to Santa at his North Pole headquarters! So, stand by for Santa Claus!”

First of all, let me be very clear: I believe in Santa Claus. Second, I’m a sucker for grownups who do things to make the lives of kids more magical. When I was a little kid in the 1970s and was in my “doubting Santa” phase, I’d hear local and national media reports about NORAD tracking Santa’s sleigh, and my doubts were instantly – and permanently – erased.

Fast-forward about 40 years, and I learned this week that there were some grownups in Lewis County who did a pretty special thing every year to help Santa and local kids.

For about three weeks before Christmas, from sometime in the 1940s to sometime in the 1980s, radio station KELA in Centralia/Chehalis would use a “Magic Radio” to connect with Santa Claus at the North Pole for 15 minutes each day. With the swirling sounds of a blizzard in the background, and with help from a fast-talking elf named Tommy Tinker, Santa would read letters from local kids about what they wanted for Christmas.

Click here to read the full story at MyNorthwest.com, including a recording of the December 1950 broadcast

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

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From the Archives: Yes, there is a shortwave…!

Note: Jeff Murray and I posted at Christmas in 2014–I thought it would be fun to dig it out of the archives once again.  Enjoy!


Virginia letter Dash

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no shortwave. Uncle DX Dash! says, “If you see it on the SWLing Post, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a shortwave?

Virginia E. Layer
330 Independence Ave., S.W.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a digital age. They do not believe what can’t be heard or seen on their smart phone. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by Google. They seek credit cards, not QSL cards.

Yes, Virginia, there is a shortwave. It exists as certainly as sound and circuits and tubes exist, and you know that these abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no shortwave! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no heterodynes, no band openings, no propagation to make tolerable this existence. It would be a world without London Calling.

Not believe in shortwave! You might as well not believe in the ionosphere. You might get your papa to hire men to listen to all of the wi-fi radios of the world, but even if you did not hear shortwave, what would that prove? The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see ground waves dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can casually conceive or imagine all the wonders there are heard and unheard in the listening world. For that, you must wear headphones.

No shortwave! Thank goodness! It lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, shortwave will continue to make glad the hearts of listeners.


Happy Holidays from your friends at Dashtoons and the SWLing Post!

With apologies to The New York Sun.  Our tongue-in-cheek editorial borrows from the timeless classic, “Is There a Santa Claus?” printed in the September 21, 1897, issue of The New York SunClick here to read the original

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Radio Free Europe and Christmas

1951 RFE Christmas card

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cummings, who shares the 1951 Radio Free Europe Christmas card above.

Richard also notes that he recently published a two-part series on RFE and Christmas on his blog, Cold War Radio Vignettes.

Both excellent reads! Thanks, Richard!

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“A DXer’s Christmas”

My buddy, Skip Arey (N2EI), shared the following poem on his Facebook page and has kindly allowed me to post it here!

Skip writes:

“I originally published this in the NASWA “FRENDX” club journal in 1987 and later in the December 1992 issue of Monitoring Times magazine. Many thanks to Steven K. Roberts for recovering the text for me as it never stuck to my hard drive. Enjoy.”

A DXer’s Christmas

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the house
The “Harmonics” were sleeping,
and so was the spouse;
The antennas were hung
from the chimney with care
in hopes that some signals
would come through the air;
The receivers were nestled
all neat in a row, With filters and tuners
all ready to go;
With a strong cup of coffee,
sitting at my right hand,
I had just settled in to some radio band,
When out of my headphones
there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk
to see what was the matter.
Away to the window
I flew like a flash,
To determine the cause of this odd static crash.
The Moon on the breast
of the new -fallen snow,
Gave my antenna wires an unusual glow;
When what to my wondering
eyes should appear,
But a weird little sleigh
and eight tiny reindeer.
With a strange little driver,
who looked like a “Hippie,”
I though for a moment
my brain had gone dippy.
More rapid than eagles
his coursers they came,
And he wheezed, and he cursed, as he called them by name: “Now Ten-Tec! Now Icom!
Now Yaesu and Philips!
On Grundig! On Sony!
On Kenwood and Collins!
Watch out for the porch!
Watch out for the wall!
Stay out of the way,
and don’t let me fall!”
As dry leaves that before
the wild hurricane ride,
When they met with an obstacle,
they kicked it aside.
So up to the house -top
the coursers they flew,
And got tangled in wire;
the old Hippie did too.
And then, in a twinkling
I heard through the ceiling, a great deal of cursing,
and swearing, and squealing.
As I shook my head,
and hollered out “Stop!”
Down the chimney the bearded one
fell with a plop.
He was dressed all in denim,
from his headphones to tail,
His clothes smelled like sweatsocks,
and his breath like cheap ale;
The stump of a stogie
he held tight in his teeth.
And the rancid smoke circled
his head like a wreath;
He had a fat face
and a great big beer -belly,
That shook when he burped,
like a bowlful of jelly.
He spoke not a word
but went straight to his work,
Opened up my receiver,
and tuned with a jerk.
Then sticking a finger
inside of his nose,
And giving a burp,
up the chimney he rose. The receiver it squealed,
and gave out a whistle,
And the stations I heard that night,
would fill an epistle.
And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy DX, Old Man,
next time, leave on a light!”

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Vatican Radio Christmas specials

(Source: Mauno Ritola via the WRTH Facebook page)

Vatican Radio special broadcasts on Christmas:

Saturday 24 December 2016
1600-1652 [UTC]
Mass in Chinese 5975 7200 kHz 2025-2230
Portuguese 11625 kHz Angola and Mozambique
French 6080 kHz West Africa
English 7275 kHz Central Africa
Chinese 6185 kHz China

Sunday 25 December 2016
1055-1130 [UTC]
Portuguese 21560 kHz Angola and Mozambique
French 17520 kHz West Africa
English 15570 kHz Central Africa

Live audio from S.Peter’s without any comment:

  • 9645 kHz, 11740 kHz Europe
  • 15595 kHz Near East

All from Santa Maria di Galeria.
http://www.radiovaticana.va

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