Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria’s Polish Service, AM Support, HBCU Radio Preservation Project, Golden Age of Radio Exhibition, and EAS Alert Language

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 David Iurescia and NT for the following tips:


When the BNR “spoke” Polish (BNR)

Radio Bulgaria is trying to track down old recordings of its radio programmes

Today, the Bulgarian National Radio’s foreign language service Radio Bulgaria “speaks” 11 languages. Through the years, languages have been added, others have been dropped – something that happened to the Polish-language programmes. They were aired by Radio Sofia, as the Bulgarian National Radio was called then, and by Radio Varna channel in the seaside city of the same name, but today they are rarely made mention of in the history of the BNR.

We were contacted by ham operator Jaros?aw Jedrzejczak from Poland who helped us pick up the missing information, putting an enormous amount of effort into tracing the history of the undeservedly forgotten programmes in Polish.

“Radio is a hobby of mine. When shortwave radio stations started closing down their Polish-language services, I took an interest in their history,” Mr. Jedrzejczak says. “In the Polish weekly “World of radio” I came across an advert for Radio Sofia from 1946, from which I found out it had aired 10-minute broadcasts in Polish from Bulgaria. That was when I started looking for information about Radio Sofia and to listen to these broadcasts. That was 30 years ago.”

Jaros?aw set about tracking down the Polish broadcasts. He got in touch with the first anchors and translators of Radio Sofia and Radio Varna’s Polish-language programmes, their heirs, collected the memories of the first people working at the foreign-language programmes, kept up a correspondence with the BNR. Who were they, who were the people speaking their own language from faraway Bulgaria? [Continue reading…]

Your Phone Has Nothing on AM Radio (The Atlantic) 

Why Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are teaming up to save the century-old technology

By Jacob Stern

There is little love lost between Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Rashida Tlaib. She has called him a “dumbass” for his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement; he has called her and her allies “shills for terrorists” on account of their support for Palestine. Lately, though, the right-wing Cruz and the left-wing Tlaib have found a cause they can both get behind: saving AM radio.

In recent years, a number of carmakers—BMW, Volvo, Tesla—have stopped offering AM radio in at least some models, especially electric cars. The problem is that their motors cause electromagnetic interference on the same frequency bands in which AM radio operates, in some cases making the already fuzzy medium inaudible. Carmakers do have ways to filter out the interference, but they are costly and imperfect—all to maintain a format that is in decline anyway. AM radio was eclipsed by the superior-sounding FM in the late ’70s, and the century-old technology can seem akin to floppy disks in the age of Spotify and podcasts. According to Ford’s internal data gathered from some of its newer vehicles, less than 5 percent of all in-car listening is to AM radio. Which is perhaps why Ford decided last year to drop AM from all of its vehicles, not just EVs.

Because so much listening happens in the car, the Ford news seemed like the beginning of the end for the whole medium. But just a few weeks after announcing that decision, the company reneged in response to political pressure. Before Ford’s reversal, Cruz and Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, had introduced the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which would require exactly what its title suggests. [Continue reading…note: paywall]

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project (WYSO)

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project is dedicated to honoring and preserving the vibrant history and cultural resource that is HBCU radio.

Nearly a third of the 104 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have radio stations, and many have been on the air for more than fifty years. Much of the material created at these stations is at risk of being lost. Magnetic tape and other obsolete formats are deteriorating, and with them the primary source material that documents the rich history and diversity of the Black experience through the Civil Rights era and beyond. Present day digital material is also at risk.

The HBCU Radio Preservation Project grew out of a 2019 survey of HBCU radio stations to assess their preservation practices and needs. We collaborated with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) on a follow up pilot project. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, we are now in the implementation phase of the project, partnering over the next four years with WYSO, NEDCC, the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The goals of the project are to foster an ethos of preservation at HBCU radio stations, to preserve the stations’ audio collections, and to facilitate capacity-building and sustainability through connecting and supporting the stations and the institutional archives on campus.

We will be able to serve all 29 HBCU radio stations through the project. Our replicable model will serve not only HBCUs, but ultimately any college radio station—and tribal stations, rural stations, and other public and community stations. [Continue reading…]

Golden Age of Radio in US (DPLA)

Tuning into the radio is now an integrated part of our everyday lives. We tune in while we drive, while we work, while we cook in our kitchens. Just 100 years ago, it was a novelty to turn on a radio. The radio emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, the result of decades of scientific experimentation with the theory that information could be transmitted over long distances. Radio as a medium reached its peak—the so-called Radio Golden Age—during the Great Depression and World War II. This was a time when the world was rapidly changing, and for the first time Americans experienced those history-making events as they happened. The emergence and popularity of radio shifted not just the way Americans across the country experienced news and entertainment, but also the way they communicated. This exhibition explores the development, rise, and adaptation of the radio, and its impact on American culture.

Explore Exhibition here

FCC Report 2/18: Should Stations Be Required To Offer EAS Alerts In The Language Of Its Programming? (Radio Insight)

The commission is opening a comment period for a proposed rulemaking for a “simplified multilingual alert processing approach for EAS alerts through which pre-scripted alerts that have been pre-translated into non-English languages can be initiated by alert originators for distribution to the public by the TV and radio broadcasters, cable service providers, and other services that make up the EAS public alert distribution system.” Among the topics the proposal seeks comments are whether stations should be required to transmit alerts in the language of the program content it carries, whether stations should also be allowed to transmit templated alerts in languages that do not correspond to the content offered on the station or whether to limit it to the language that corresponds to the station’s programming.

The proposal would see alerts offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese along with English and ASL. The FCC noted that the preliminary 2023 national EAS test revealed that already 2% of EAS participants transmitted alerts in Spanish, while 0.1% did so in other non-English languages. [Continue reading…]


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Back When You Had to Pay: Radio Receiving Licences in Canada

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Dan Greenall, who shares the following guest post:


THE DAY YOU HAD TO PAY: Radio Receiving Licences in Canada

by Dan Greenall

MANY of us who are licensed [Canadian] amateurs can appreciate the fact that we are no longer subject to an annual licence renewal fee. As of April 1, 2000, that practice was discontinued by Industry Canada as a new streamlined authorization procedure was put in place for the amateur radio service. This came as a pleasant surprise to many who were paying $24 per annum per licence up until that point.

What many of us may not realize is that, prior to 1953, Canada had a licensing system in place for your radio receiver. Under the Radiotelegraph Act of 1913, a government minister (for most of this period, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries) had the power to license radio broadcasting stations and to charge a $1 licence fee on each receiving set. By 1929 three hundred thousand licenses were bought at $1.00 each.

An article appearing on the Friends of Canadian Broad- casting website a few years ago stated that the annual licence fee for receiving sets doubled to $2.00 in 1930. It was also noted that this was a lot of money during the Depression days that followed and two bucks could buy more than 40 loaves of bread. As a result, so the story goes, “harassed citizens” would try to outwit approaching government collectors by passing word along in time for their neighbours to shut off their radios and lock their doors.

During much of this period, radios that were made in Canada bore a “Warning” sticker such as the one in the accompanying photo. It stated that anyone convicted of operating the receiving set without first having obtained the proper licence could be liable to be fined for up to $25 and have their equipment confiscated. As noted in the book Radios of Canada by Lloyd Swackhammer, the penalty in 1924 was $50.

As you can see from the attached copies, such licences were being issued by the Department of Marine Radio Branch in 1936. In 1937, it was the responsibility of the Department of Transport – Radio Division.

Then in 1938, the DOT upped the fee to $2.50. It was another 15 years until this practice was finally abandoned.

So the next time you sit back and flip on the switch of your receiver, you might now have a greater appreciation of a privilege that most of us now take for granted.

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The Sony ICF-8000: Bob’s nostalgic journey

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bob Butterfield, who shares the following guest post:


The SONY ICF-8000

By Bob Butterfield

As many radio enthusiasts have experienced there are some pieces of equipment that come and go for a variety of reasons.  Many times, there are regrets about radios or accessories that are here one day and then gone another.  Years ago, I was gifted a Sony ICF-8000 “Super Sensitive” FM/MW/SW portable radio.  My ICF-8000 was one of those that “went.”  To tell you the truth, I am not actually sure where it went off to!  In those days I used my “Super Sensitive” radio on vacation trips, on the back deck, and for local MW/FM and casual SW listening.  When a new position with the Government necessitated relocation, I left this radio behind at my parents’ house where it was regularly used by my mother in the kitchen.  That is when things get fuzzy.  Suffice it to say that I am not sure what happened to it.

As far as I can determine, the Sony ICF-8000 is a close relative of the earlier Sony TFM-8000W, another “Super Sensitive” model.  What sets them apart is that the Sony TFM-8000W has the Public Service Band (PSB) and the Sony ICF-8000 does not.  The ICF-8000 has its SW bands spread out into 4 bands: 1.6 to 3.5, 3.5-7, 7-14, and 14-26.1 MHz.  In contrast the TFM-8000W has a slightly shorter SW frequency range split into three bands: 1.6-4, 4-10, and 10-22 MHz.  Both radios have continuous coverage with no gaps from MW to SW as well as FM.  These radios are almost identical in appearance.  Other than the PSB and three SW bands on the TFM-8000W, the only other visual differences from the ICF-8000 are how the bands are arranged, identification of the Public Service Band on the face plate, and the addition of an on/off squelch toggle switch for the PSB.  Internally the TFM-8000W has a couple more semi-conductors.  In line with these two radios is the older Sony TFM-1600W “Super Sensitive” which came out circa 1971, has its own distinctive but similar appearance, and is set up like the ICF-8000 with FM/MW/SW.

A while ago the “I used to have that radio nostalgia bug” hit me, and I have been searching since for a decent ICF-8000 to purchase.  Sony TFM-8000Ws in decent shape are up for sale on eBay on occasion, but I was looking for the ICF-8000.   Finally, I spotted one recently (which was listed as a TFM-8000W!) at a price and condition I was comfortable with.  After negotiation with the seller, I purchased it.   There is some useful information on the Web about the Sony TFM-8000W.  Jay Allen has a good piece on this unit worth checking out.  The Sony ICF-8000 appears to be much harder to find, information on the Web is skimpier, and I am not sure how long they were produced.  It is quite possible that its production run was limited.  Manufacturing likely started in 1976 when it probably replaced the Sony TFM-8000W.  One reference I located on the Web listed the ICF-8000 being made as early as 1974 but provided no source.   I also found evidence of at least two versions of ICF-8000s being produced; one with a switch located in the battery compartment allowing multiple different voltages including that for Japan, and one operating on 120 volts only.  The corresponding model number identification panels on the rear are annotated accordingly with voltages available.  Both versions have “FM/AM Multiband Receiver” lettering on the face plate.   Sony, like Panasonic, often tweaked models for domestic and foreign markets, adding or modifying features to fit those markets accordingly.  If anyone has more information on these models, year(s) manufactured, availability of free manual copies, etc., drop them in the comments section.

The Sony ICF-8000 I purchased was in very good shape having just some minor imperfections showing on the faceplate paint. No cleaning was necessary, nevertheless I gave it one.  All switches were quiet and functioned as they should.  A nice feature of the ICF-8000 is its exceptionally smooth tuning mechanism which utilizes a flywheel.  In addition, on my radio, the tuning scale is practically spot-on on all the bands.  Not usually the case in an analog set of this type forty-five plus years old.  When added to the fact that the SW frequencies are spread out in four bands instead of three, tuning is easy.  The presence of a fine-tuning knob is a nice touch and can be useful.  Also available is a tone control knob, signal/battery strength meter, a lighted dial, AC/DC capability, external antenna connection, world time calculator wheel (at the rear on the battery compartment cover), and a dual FM AFC and AM Broad/Sharp bandwith control.

Nostalgia aside, the Sony ICF-8000 has provided reliable performance on all bands so far.  MW sensitivity is adequate while SW reception is above average using the built-in telescoping antenna which measures 44 inches (111.75 cm) in length.  I did a limited shortwave reception comparison in the 49-meter band between the ICF-8000 and the Panasonic RF-2600 with its 37 inch (94 cm) built-in telescoping antenna and found the Sony performing equally with the Panasonic; at times even better perhaps due to its longer antenna.  When connected to an external 75-foot (22.86 meters) longwire I found the ICF-8000 shortwave reception to be particularly good.  I did not experience any overloading, nor did I encounter multiple images.  The sound was, as others have attributed to the TFM-8000W, “mellow”.  If this is not to your liking on the shortwave bands the tone adjustment is useful.   Noise levels were well tolerated.  I suspect that the Sony TFM-8000W would perform similarly.

Is the Sony ICF-8000 a fantastic DX machine?  No, it is not.  Is it “super sensitive”?  Maybe not “super,” but definitely above average, and surely sensitive enough for general listening.  Is it an attractive, affordable classic, easy to use, and sturdy radio with decent performance that can hold up through the years?   I think so.  Does it bring back fond memories?  Absolutely!

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Luke discovers a treasure trove of CIDX newsletters! (And I believe everyone should join the CIDX!)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Luke Perry, who writes:

Hi Thomas, thought that you and your readers would enjoy my recent “find.” I came across an old copy of the “Messenger”, which was a magazine put out monthly by the Canadian International DX Club.

While looking for the current garbage bill I was shuffling through my file of bills and receipts, and lo and behold I came across one copy……how it ever got in there I have no idea. Anyway it sparked a lot of nostalgia and remember how excited I used to be when a new copy arrived in the mail.

I knew that I had more, but had no idea where as I tend to not throw things away, especially anything associated with electronics or cars. After a day or so of brainstorming I had an idea of where they might be, and lo and behold there they were.

They mostly date from the mid-90’s right before the internet basically killed off “zines” like this. Oh well.. progress marches on.

Anyway, I hope that people can enjoy the pictures and maybe have some insight or memories of the club and/or the guy who ran it. I believe that his name was Sheldon.

Take care,
Luke Perry

Wow–what a treasure trove you unearthed there, Luke! I could spend hours looking through those copies!

Join the CIDX!

I have good news for you: The Canadian International DX Club (CIDX) is very much alive and well! Check out the cover of the the August ’23 issue of the Messenger above.

Here’s an article I posted about the CIDX in the past and how much I enjoy the Messenger. And yes, Sheldon Harvey is still at the helm along with some other amazing, devoted volunteers. I’m a member and I’d encourage everyone else to become one, too. It’s one of the best deals in the world of radio.

The Messenger is now in digital format only, but I actually prefer it this way since I’ve so little room to store printed material these days.

For more information about joining the CIDX–only $10 per year or $25 for three years–click here!

Thanks again, Luke, for sharing this!

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Radio Waves: My Father’s Radio, AM Listenership by State, and Longevity of AM in Cars

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 Kim Elliott and Dennis Dura for the following tips:


Opinion: My father may be gone, but ‘our’ radio is still going (LA Times)

My most prized possession was once somebody’s trash.

It’s a blocky, black radio that was manufactured in 1941, the year my father was 12 years old. I snatched it from the county landfill when I was 13, in 1978.

The person who threw it away must have determined they couldn’t fix it, though it seemed they thought someone else might. They had set the radio off to the side of the dumpster, safe in plain view, just in case some industrious person with know-how appeared.

That person was my father, who ran an electronics repair business from our garage. Though at first reluctant to save “that ugly old thing,” he seemed pleased hours later when he entered the kitchen announcing that the radio worked fine and had only needed a tube. For years after this, my father kept that radio on a shelf above his workbench, listening to country singers croon about lonesome truckers.

I like to think of myself as a minimalist, but since my father died in 1994, I’ve carried what I consider to be “our” radio thousands of miles from the Appalachian farm where I grew up, out to Los Angeles, and then many years later back home again. In California, I’d tune our radio to horse races being transmitted from Santa Anita or Hollywood Park while cleaning my kitchen. Or I listened to Paul Harvey, Casey Kasem or evangelists spouting “truths” about Jesus and cars. [Continue reading…]

AM Listenership by State, DMA (Radio World) 

New analysis of AM reach provides market-level insight to listening habits

Following up its recent report on the 141 local markets where at least 20% of the market listens to AM radio, Nielsen has released a deeper look with new data at the state- and DMA-level.

Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer of the Cumulus Media / Westwood One Audio Active Group, recently posted an analysis of the findings. The data comes from the Fall 2022 survey, but is based on all U.S. radio stations, not just Nielsen subscribers.

Nationwide, 30.9% of radio reach comes from AM stations, representing 82,346,8000 American radio listeners aged 12+ who listen to AM every month. At the state level it ranged from a high of 52.7% in North Dakota to a low of 4.6% in the District of Columbia. In 29 states, the percent of radio reach via AM is greater than 20%. [Continue reading…]

Not All Those AM Listeners Are in Cars, Bozzella Argues (Radio World)

Auto group also says it would take two decades for fleet to turn over and AM to phase out

“Whether or not AM radio is physically installed in vehicles in the future has no bearing on the multiple methods of delivering those emergency communications alerts to the public.”

So writes the president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. John Bozzella used a blog post this past week to summarize the auto industry’s case against a mandate to include AM radio in cars.

It’s simply not necessary, he wrote; and government shouldn’t be propping up a particular technology that’s competing with other communications options, either.

“It’s tempting to take a cheap shot at misplaced government priorities and unnecessary mandates or make light of the whole thing with a jab about laws for hand-crank windows or cassette players,” he writes, calling the legislation a bipartisan solution searching for a problem. [Continue reading…]


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Radio Waves: Sri Lanka DRM, Czech Radio, Ham Radio Ops Ready for Disaster, Space Pirates, FM Not Far Behind AM, and AM Hearing Live Today

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

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 Dennis Dura, David Iurescia, John Palmer, Gareth Buxton, and Mangosman for the following tips:


Sri Lankan Broadcaster Goes DRM Following Listeners’ Request (DRM Consortium)

The international service of the Sri Lankan Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) recently doubled its Tamil Service airtime to two hours, on 873 kHz AM (medium wave) from Puttalam transmitter. The new schedule is 0130-0330 UTC (7.00 am to 9.00 am IST). This is partly in response to individual efforts of listeners, many in the southern part of India, in Bengaluru. Introducing this change, Colombo International Radio also announced that shortly they are going to use DRM on 1548 kHz! This will be done by is using the old transmitter of Deutsche Welle located in the north of Sri Lanka at Trincomalee. The Sri Lankan public broadcaster has started airing the DRM announcement:

The publicity for the new DRM service is in full swing. See video:

Czech Radio centenary: Listeners send congratulations (Czech Radio)

On the occasion of Czech Radio’s centenary, we asked our listeners to let us know where they heard our special programme on that day in order to map Radio Prague International’s broadcast reach today. Here are at least some of the many letters and photos which you have sent us. Thank you to all our loyal fans.

George Jolly, who was listening to our special programme over the internet, wrote from Houston, Texas:

“Thank you so much for the special program today celebrating your 100 years of radio. If I were not so far away, I would surely visit you on Saturday. It means a lot to me that you continue the tradition of the ‘radio magazine’. Hearing the opera excerpt and other recordings from the past was wonderful!

“I love old music and old technology like radio, and I love that you are keeping their spirit alive and new again for today’s world. I am so grateful to celebrate your centenary with you from afar.”

Another listener from the United States is Timothy Marecki, who wrote us from New Port Richey in Florida: Continue reading

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Mark spots radios in the original “Hawaii Five Oh”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who writes:

Thomas,

I recently picked up a couple of DVD boxsets of Hawaii Five Oh from my local charity shop.

These old shows are always an interesting watch, giving insights into fashions, cars, cultural norms and story lines from the time.

I spotted these radios, sometimes used for exposition or just props in various episodes.

Mark

Thank you for sharing, Mark! I bet readers can recognize all of these fine vintage radios! The top photo might be the trickiest in terms of narrowing down the exact model. 

I haven’t watched Hawaii Five Oh in decades. It would be fun to rewatch a few episodes–I loved that show in my youth! 

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