Tag Archives: Radio History

Video: 1954 Inauguration of REE/RNE Shortwave Radio Transmitters

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ulis Fleming (K3LU), who shares the following video via Twitter and notes:

Spain: Must see newsreel video of the 1954 inauguration of REE/RNE shortwave radio transmitters:

Click here to watch video at the RTVE archives.

Many thanks for sharing this excellent bit of radio history, Ulis. I was just telling a friend that Radio Exterior de España still has one of the biggest signals out of Europe into North America these days on 9690 kHz.

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Radio Waves: RIP Dame Vera Lynn, 1928 London Noises, Repoliticizing VOA, and Shortwave Trading At the Speed of Light

Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020)

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, Dennis Dura, David Goren, and Kim Elliott for the following tips:


Obituary: Dame Vera Lynn, a symbol of resilience and hope (BBC News)

Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, was Britain’s wartime Forces’ Sweetheart, and remained one of the country’s most potent symbols of resilience and hope.

With songs such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, she inspired both troops abroad and civilians at home during World War Two.

As Britain’s cities came under attack, her wistful songs, with their messages of yearning and optimism, were heard in millions of British homes.

And 75 years later, the country turned to her once again as it faced another stern test.[]

Click here to read our SWLing Post tribute to Dame Vera Lynn from 2015 which includes a recording made from my Scott Marine Model SLRM.

London street noises 1928 (Sound and History)

THERE ARE NO BBC radio recordings surviving from before 1931, so the job of representing the 1920s falls to this curiosity from the Columbia Graphophone Company. It’s a 12” 78rpm disc made in 1928 in association with the Daily Mail newspaper.

It seems likely that the disc was somehow tied in with a Daily Mail campaign over urban traffic noise. The commentator on both sides of the disc is a man named Commander Daniel and he doesn’t approve of everything he hears in the city streets.

The recordings were made from single, static locations in Leicester Square and Beauchamp Place on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 20th September respectively. Columbia probably used a recording van equipped with a disc-cutter.[]

Repoliticizing Voice of America (The Hill)

When Michael Pack takes over as the first politically-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, his first task will be to comprehend the bewildering array of international broadcasting entities under the USAGM. This includes two government agencies: Voice of America and Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), and four government funded corporations: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks (the Arabic-language Alhurra and Radio Sawa) and the anti-censorship Open Technology Fund. Within this structure are broadcasting outlets that straddle two entities, such as the Russian-language Current TV. All told, the entities distribute content in 61 languages.

When past that hurdle, Pack must then decide if he wants to maintain the journalistic independence of USAGM’s entities, or if he wants to move them towards advocacy of the administration’s policies.[]

Companies Pitch Shortwave Radio to Shave Milliseconds Off Trades (Bloomberg)

High-frequency traders will famously do almost anything to get the latest market data and send their buy and sell orders a few milliseconds ahead of the competition. They blasted through mountains to build the most direct fiber-optic routes possible between exchanges in a competition that transformed global markets and was made famous by Michael Lewis’s book Flash Boys. Soon, pinging light through glass fiber at more than 124,000 miles per second wasn’t fast enough—the glass slows things down—so traders moved on to microwave transmitters that send signals through the air.

But that has problems, too. Microwaves travel only roughly as far as the eye can see before they peter out and need a signal boost. Now two rival market telecommunications companies have signed a pact that they say will give traders more access to experimental wireless signals which can travel across oceans.

To do that, signals need a longer wavelength—known as a shortwave rather than microwave—that bounces between the water and atmosphere. It’s an imperfect solution. The waves can handle only a fraction of the data that fiber can, carrying about a kilobit per second vs. gigabits. And some signals can be lost.

Raft Technologies Inc., a startup based in Tel Aviv, says the trade-offs are worth it. Raft says it can send data over shortwave from Chicago to Frankfurt in 31.4 milliseconds, which it says is about 4.5 milliseconds faster than the best available fiber route. That’s an eternity in an industry that tends to measure improvements by the thousandth of a millisecond. The company says the signal is about 85% reliable, compared with 100% for fiber. Clients can use a fiber line in parallel as a fail-safe measure.[]


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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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Smithsonian Open Access: Take a deep radio nostalgia dive!

“Radio owned by Herman and Minnie Roundtree” (Source: Smithsonian Open Access)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Balázs Kovács, who shares the following announcement:

[Check out the] Smithsonian Open Access, where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

As Balázs points out, there are hundreds of radio photos in the archive.

What a treasure trove! Since many of us are sheltering at home, it’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into the SOA archive!  Thank you for sharing!

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The Birth of Radar Memorial

Photo by Amanda Slater

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who writes:

Interesting article on the new monument to radar between Daventry and Towcester in Northamptonshire, UK.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/birth-of-radar-memorial

Legend has it that this was conducted around 25-28 MHz, which was the very top end of higher power RF at the time.

The location sits closer to Towcester, although the event is always quoted as having taken place at Daventry (the source, not the receiver).

It’s fascinating that Plessey Research Caswell was set up almost immediately, not very far away and was heavily involved in radar and other solid-state research through to the 1990s.

[Disclosure: the author (Paul) worked at Plessey Caswell and was Two Terminal device Manager at Plessey Microwave, Towcester in the 1980s]

Many thanks, Paul, for sharing this fascinating bit of history.

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Former KGEI transmitter building sports callsign once more

1941: KGEI’s reinforced concrete transmitter building near Belmont. Built to withstand bomb or earthquake. (Source: TheRadioHistorian.org)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tracy Wood (K7UO), for sharing the following article from The Daily Journal. Tracy’s notes follow this excerpt:

KGEI, a shortwave radio station in Redwood Shores that was the only voice from home for GIs in the Pacific during World War II, has its call letters back.

The letters on the front of the building located off Radio Road were covered up decades ago by a church that took over the station’s transmitter building, now part of Silicon Valley Clean Water.

“I am happy to report that we have uncovered the letters on the building,” said Teresa Herrera, manager of the wastewater treatment facility. “I think it looks great!”

Herrera said she had no idea of the building’s history until the Rear View Mirror brought it to SVCW’s attention. No extra money was needed for the restoration because the building was due to be painted.

“The letters were just as they were when the concrete forms had been originally removed in the 1930s,” said construction manager William Tanner.

Still, there is no plaque to remind the few visitors to the area that KGEI, the GEI standing for General Electric International, played an important role in World War II. Among other accomplishments, the station broadcast Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I have returned” speech that fulfilled his promise to return with victorious American troops to the Philippines, occupied by Japanese forces since 1942.

“The First 24 Hours of War in the Pacific,” a book written by Donald Young, underlines the importance of KGEI. It also reminds readers how successful Japanese forces were during those 24 hours in attacking Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Wake Island and Guam, as well as Hawaii.[…]

Read the full article at The Daily Journal.

Tracy also shared the following notes:

During my youth I often listened to KGEI, both in Oregon and Bolivia. I got to visit the station in the 80s. I remember their teletype spewing paper for the long-form newscasts… The old 50kw GE hummed away.

The parasitic oscillations would actually form audio that you could hear in the studio/transmitter room. The 250 kw unit was tucked away… kind of hard to see.

KGEI was an important part of LATAM radio history.. the Cuban Missile Crisis, earthquake outreach to Nicaragua, etc.

Cheap clock radios could receive KGEI in Oregon when the 250kw unit was blasting to Asia.

“Mission Engineering” 250kw beamed to Asia on 5980 could often be heard with Chinese and Russian slow-dictation programming… trying to overcome the Cold War ban of Bibles in the Communist countries.

If you can find a copy of the book “Sky Waves” that has a complete history of FEBC and some more details about “La Voz de la Amistad,” the Voice of Friendship KGEI.

Thank you so much, Tracy, for your notes and insights!

I just found a copy of the 1963 book Sky Waves by Gleason H. Ledyard as a free download via the American Radio History website. Click here to download the PDF.

I imagine other SWLing Post readers remember KGEI as well. If so, please comment!

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Thirty Years of Radio New Zealand’s International Service

RNZI QSL

Yesterday, Radio New Zealand celebrated 30 years of service to the Pacific. Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Jason Walker and Peter Marks for sharing the following story and audio from Radio New Zealand:

On 24 January 1990, Radio New Zealand International beamed into the Pacific, on a new 100 kilowatt transmitter.

New Zealand has had a short-wave service to the Pacific since 1948. The station broadcast on two 7.5kw transmitters from Titahi Bay, which had been left behind by the US military after the Second World War.

In the late 1980s, following growing political pressure to take a more active role in the Pacific area, the New Zealand government upgraded the service.

A new 100kw transmitter was installed and, on the same day the Commonwealth Games opened in Auckland, the service was re-launched as Radio New Zealand International.

“What we were able to understand was how important radio was and still is in the Pacific, where as here radio had become a second cousin to television… different thing in most of the countries we worked with,” said RNZ International’s first manager was Ian Johnstone, from 1990 to ’93.

Mr Johnstone said news of a dedicated Pacific service into the region was welcomed by Pacific communities.

He also said it was important for New Zealanders to remember that New Zealand is part of the Pacific.[…]

Continue reading the full article and listen to embedded audio at Radio New Zealand.

Audio:

Click here for the audio links.

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