Admittedly, it’s not often you see a Trans-Oceanic in this pristine condition:
Many thanks for sharing this, Dan!
I’m curious: How many here would fork out several thousand dollars for a vintage portable like the Trans-Oceanic–? This is truly a museum piece and I would love it, of course, but that’s a lot more money than I could allocate and stay happily married. 🙂
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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!
Good news — an Australian parliamentary review recommends a more “expansive” media presence in the Pacific.
Bad news — little of that expansion envisions a role for island media.
Instead, the committee endorsed a proposal for “consultation” and the establishment of an independent “platform neutral” media corporation, versus the existing “broadcasting” organisation.
That proposal was among several points raised at two public hearings and nine written submissions as part of Australia’s “Pacific Step Up” programme, aimed at countering the growing regional influence of China.
Former long-time Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney last month told the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade that Australia was previously leading regional media spaces.
“But the vacant space that was left there when Australia Network disappeared, as people have said, has really been taken over by China,” he said.
“Throughout my time as the Pacific correspondent for the ABC, I saw this Chinese influence growing everywhere.”
[…]Taking up ten of 176 pages, the report’s media section is nonetheless seen as relatively comprehensive compared with the dismantling of broadcasting capacity in recent years.
This includes the literal dismantling of shortwave equipment in Australia despite wide protest from the Pacific region.
Nearly three years previously, a 2019 Pacific Media Summit heard that discontinuation of the shortwave service would save Australia some $2.8 million in power costs.
A suggestion from a delegate that that amount could be spent on $100,000 for reporters in each of 26 island states and territories was met with silence from ABC representatives at the summit.
In the 1890s, Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi left a lasting legacy when he sent a wireless telegraph message via Morse Code to a recipient. By the turn of the 1900s, Marconi’s innovation would give rise to an entirely new industry, one focused on creating new ways for people to communicate even across vast distances: radio.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, radio would not only play a major role in the international correspondence of countries fighting in both World Wars but it also became a widely popular phenomenon amongst the general public. By the mid-1920s, there were hundreds of licensed radio stations hosting news broadcasts, comedy shows, dramas, live music, sports programs and other forms of entertainment.
A century later, it’s not hard to spot the parallels between what made radio one of the most popular content mediums in history and the explosive growth of radio’s evolution in podcasting. Though there are some unique differences between the two mediums, I believe podcasters should still pay respect to how the evolution of radio gave rise to the advent of podcasting.
The Rise of Contemporary Audio Entertainment
On October 30, 1938 — the evening before Halloween — Orsen Welles hosted a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds, “converting the 40-year-old novel into fake news bulletins describing a Martian invasion of New Jersey.” While Welles and his team reportedly had no intention to deceive listeners into believing the broadcast was in any way real, Welles would later go on to say in a 1960 court disposition about his desire to release the broadcast, “in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening…and would be broadcast in such a dramatized form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.” [Continue reading at Rolling Stone…]
Ukrainians are eavesdropping on the invaders and broadcasting on their frequencies
One of the many surprising failures of the Russian invasion force in Ukraine has been in radio communications. There have been stories of troops resorting to commercial walkie-talkies and Ukrainians intercepting their frequencies. This may not sound as serious as a lack of modern tanks or missiles, but it helps explain why Russian forces seem poorly co-ordinated, are falling victim to ambushes and have lost so many troops, reportedly including seven generals. What is going wrong with Russian radios? Continue reading →
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post:
How VOA’s Communications World Started
by Dan Robinson
NOTE: This exclusive is being published simultaneously with the North American Shortwave Association (NASWA) journal in its March 2022 edition.
Voice of America recently observed its 80th birthday. Readers may recall that in the mid-1980’s into the 2000s, VOA broadcast a program about communications, but which was in fact designed specifically for shortwave listeners.
Communications World as it was known owed its existence to my efforts in the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s to persuade VOA managers to put such a program on the air, The story is told in detail here for the first time.
In a SWL career that began in the late 1960’s, I was an enthusiastic consumer of DX programs broadcast by stations at the time, from Radio Netherlands to HCJB and others. I always wondered why VOA wasn’t among them, and I was determined to make some progress on this.
First steps came in 1975 as I was attending The American University and began making contacts at VOA in downtown Washington, DC. This would become a multi-year effort to induce VOA to re-start a DX’ing program. I say “re-start” because I would later learn that VOA once had such a program, but aimed at radio amateurs.
These early efforts included at one point a meeting with the head of a major think tank on K Street in Washington. I can only imagine their reaction when two college age kids (I was accompanied by ace DX’er Taylor “Pitt” McNeil) arrived seeking help in selling a federal agency on a hobbyist show.
I never learned whether anything came from that meeting. In my final two college years, I interned with ABC News, where I observed network operations, including the evening news with Frank Reynolds, and also interned with local station WASH-FM.
By 1979, my contacts at VOA had led me to part-time work in its English to Africa, Worldwide English, and central news divisions. In 1980, I was formally sworn in as a full-time VOA news writer. My objective was to become a VOA foreign correspondent, which I would achieve in 1983. But putting VOA back on the board, so to speak, with a SWL program remained high on my priority list.
A pilot for the show needed to be produced. It needed a name. What came to mind was something containing the word communications, to have wider appeal. So, there it was: the VOA Communications Magazine.
My time in VOA’s central news operation included work on all three shifts over 24 hours. On the side, I set about putting together a script for VOA Communications Magazine – conceptualizing what elements would go into it. By 1983 – just before I departed for Nairobi as VOA’s new East Africa correspondent – we were ready to record the pilot.
The show began by recognizing World Communications Year, and a message noting that we would cover SW hobby news, international broadcasting developments, satellites and computers, news about receivers and antennas, along with letters from listeners.
WRNO New Orleans had gone on the air on shortwave. I thought that would make an interesting segment. Shortwave broadcasting had not yet started its downward slide. Stations remained on the air in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Transmitter manufacturers still had customers. New stations were coming on air.
I served as host of the Communications Magazine pilot. Bob Arnold, who was doing science reporting for VOA at the time, voiced a roundup of broadcasting news. Included were some of my personal recordings, including Voice of Kenya and Radio Mozambique.
In the news, Kenya was reported planning international broadcasting (we now know this never happened). Ghana was expanding domestic radio. The U.S. was helping Liberia expand rural radio. We noted ELBC and ELWA, and played a recording of ELWA.
Iran was installing what were expected to be the world’s most powerful transmitters. There was news from Singapore, and a recording of Radio Singapore. Malaysia planned two 500 kw transmitters. I noted existing domestic Malaysian stations, and included a recording of Radio Malaysia Sarawak.
Arnold reported on the explosion of the production, distribution and storage of information, including an interview with Wilson Dizard, then with Georgetown University.
Dipping into the mailbag I read letters and reception reports from VOA listeners in Denmark, Sweden (one of whom used a Grundig 3400 receiver), Australia (who used a Panasonic RF-2800), and Japan (who used a Kenwood R-1000).
My interview with Joseph Costello of WRNO concluded the pilot, and began with a recording I had made of a WRNO test transmission. Costello pointed to “a couple of thousand pieces of mail per month,” and surprising response from New Zealand and Australia, though WRNO’s signal was beamed northward.
Private shortwave stations were granted to reflect the culture and lifestyle of the United States, Costello said. By partially simulcasting WRNO-FM, listeners heard about life in New Orleans, with coverage of the Jazz and Heritage Festival, and progress reports on Mardi Gras. WRNO was considering a morning Spanish service beamed to central and south America
Doug Flodin of Drake-Chenault discussed the purpose of KYOI. And we reported on other shortwave broadcasters preparing to go to air, including Radio Miami International, and KNLS from Alaska.
Based on my pilot for VOA Communications Magazine, VOA green lighted what would become Communications World, hosted first by Gene Reich, who later would join Worldspace, the satellite radio pioneer that filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and later by Kim Elliott.
This is the first time I have told the in depth story of how Communications World came into being, which likely never would have existed had it not been for my efforts to bring this kind of program to Voice of America. The full 1983 pilot for Communications World is available on the Internet Archive and below:
The seller notes that the condition is “near mint” and the radio works perfectly both electronically and mechanically.
I absolutely love the design of this radio. When this was being produced (assuming sometime in the 1980s), Sony and Panasonic’s aesthetic smacked of utility, simplicity, and had a near military-grade feel. Ever function had a switch or knob.
Neither Dan nor I have ever seen this particular model before. If I had money to burn, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Sony radios of this era tended to have stellar AM/MW performance. I’d love to see how large the ferrite antenna inside might be.
Note that even though this radio may work perfectly–it’s obviously been very well taken care of–you would need to mentally allot funds to have it re-capped at some point soon (Vlado could do this, I’m sure). You wouldn’t want a leaky cap to damage the board or other components inside. With radios pushing 40 years old, you must plan to replace the capacitors.
The price is $399 US with a modest shipping fee. The seller has stellar ratings and there’s a 30 day return window .
The seller notes that the unit up for auction has never been opened. The photos of the ICF-PRO80 interior in the auction come from one of their previous listings.
The PRO-80 was one of Sony’s technology showcase receivers, designed in the walkie talkie format. The radios are almost never seen NIB, but aging capacitors often cause audio problems and the tops mounted potentiometers often need cleaning or replacing.
I fully expect this PRO-80 to top $1,000 but the auction winner will have to be prepared for some refurbishing.
Thank you, Dan! I always wanted an ICF-PRO80, but could never afford one back in the day. You’ve got a great point that the winner of this bid may have to re-cap it almost immediately. They’ll need Vlado on speed dial! It will be interesting to see the price this auction fetches.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, for the following guest post and review:
Chameleon CHA-RXL: Is This Pro-level Loop A Worthy Competitor To Wellbrook and W6LVP?
by Dan Robinson
At the end of summer 2021, I took up an offer from Chameleon to test and review their CHA – RXL loop antenna. The company describes this as a “new design high-performance” LF, MF, and HF receive-only loop perfect for mobile RV and apartment situations and with low noise characteristics.
This is not a cheap antenna, like the Chinese-made MLA-30, but a heavy duty professionally-built unit designed to, as the old TIMEX watch commercial said, “take a licking and keep on ticking”.
Price for the CHA RXL is around $500, though the company dropped the price at to $382 – but only for the two section loop rather than the single piece antenna advertised on its site.
You can see the Chameleon on the company’s website here, but it’s also sold by Gigaparts, DX Engineering and other radio suppliers. Chameleon lists features as:
Highly directional, balanced input preamplifier to eliminate environmental noise and ground loops, receives on new 2200m and 630m ham bands, flexible mounting and power options, and a stealthy [36 inch] Navy gray loop [that] fades into the background sky.
The built-in preamplifier, says Chameleon, “will enable clearer reception than many large horizontal wire or vertical antennas.” Weight of the amplifier is given as 7 lbs. The large pre-amp box is made of heavy metal, with a rubber gasket seal. Continue reading →
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