Tag Archives: Radio Nostalgia

Back when Superboy encouraged kids to build radios with razor blades

Talk about hitting all of my nostalgia points! Hat tip to SWLing Post reader, Mitch, for sharing this ad from a 1960s comic book:


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Fred Jacobs on “Rekindling Our Fading Romance With AM Radio”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares the following article which appeared in Jacob’s Media Strategies on Dec 31, 2018. I’ve pasted an excerpt below, but you’ll want to read the entire piece by clicking here:

Rekindling Our Fading Romance With AM Radio

I know I may sound like a relic from another era, but chances are if you’re a Baby Boomer (or gasp – even older), you were inspired by AM radio as a kid growing up whether it was in a big city or a small town.  If you’re a member of a younger generation, you may not even know that AM – or amplitude modulation – has a magic power.  At night when the clouds are just right, AM signals have the ability to “skip” across geography, unlike frequency modulation (FM) which is line of sight.  “Clear channel” stations had an even easier time being heard beyond their metro confines – often covering many states during the nighttime hours.

Many of us radio veterans remember those nights, lying in bed, where your trusty bedside AM clock radio pulled in signals from all over the U.S. As a boy in Detroit and not especially well-traveled, I learned how to pronounced Des Plaines (Des-planes) and Touhy (2E) by listening to Chicago radio stations like WBBM and WLS.  Tuning in KYW in Philly (which came in “like it was next door”), I learned how to spell the quirky town of Conshohocken from listening to Phillips Ford commercials.  It was from a jingle that got in your head (CON-SHO-HO-CKEN).  At least, it got in mine.

It didn’t matter if you lived in Dallas or Des Moines, or a small town in Delaware – you were able to pick up big AM radio stations from faraway.  And if you talk to today’s broadcasters on the other side of 50, many will tell you their careers were likely inspired by these booming, exciting blowtorches on AM radio that provided a soundtrack for our teens.

AM radio was where we first heard the Beatles, the Supremes, the Stones, Stevie Wonder, and even the Doors.  Big AM Top 40 stations of the day – KHJ, WABC, CKLW, WLS – played all these cool rock songs, right next to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Elvis, Bobby “Boris” Pickett, and the Singing Nun.  And even though the fidelity of amplitude modulation is obviously technically inferior to that of FM, there was something very different and even romantic about hearing all those songs first on AM radio.[…]

Continue reading the full piece at Jacob’s Media Strategies.

Thanks for the tip, Dennis! I think this piece speaks to so many of us radio listeners–especially this one who prefers the “fidelity of amplitude modulation” over so many other mediums.

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Andy remembers his first issue of the WRTH

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andy Howlett, who writes:

Always nice to see another WRTH arrive, even though I haven’t actually bought one for many years. Attached is a pic of the very first one I bought, back in 1980.

I only got it as it contained a review of the then spanking-new Trio R-1000 HF receiver, which I was thinking of splurging my meagre wages on.

On the basis of that review, I went ahead with the purchase and discovered it was a cracking RX and I only sold it on in the early 90’s to enable the purchase of an ICOM R-7000, another cracker!

Merry Christmas to you and all listeners everywhere.

Thank you for sharing your memories with us, Andy, and Merry Christmas to you!

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Radio Advertising: “A 700-Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream”

I recently discovered a bi-weekly experimental arts-and-culture program called The Organist at KCRW. The latest episode is simply brilliant for those of us who love radio nostalgia.

Here’s the description for Part 1:

This week, we’re sharing a highly subjective journey through one narrow, eccentric, corridor of radio advertising, as heard through the ears of one man. His name is Clive Desmond. Clive is a radio advertising producer, writer, and composer. He’s been doing it for more than thirty years, and he’s won some of the industry’s top awards. Through those years he’s been sort of a zelig figure: you can find his face somewhere in the margins of every one of the medium’s key aesthetic revolutions. He’s rescued beautiful forgotten nuggets of radio history, and he’s delicately arranged them into a glittering associative chain—a constellation of jingles and spots that somehow all add up, to a life: The life of Clive Desmond as heard through the radio.


Click here to visit this episode at KCRW.

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Radio Hats of Yore

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

Hey Thomas, if you haven’t already covered this in the SWLing Post, this might be worth mentioning:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/radio-hat-1931-1949-man-from-mars

TURNS OUT, LISTENING TO PODCASTS on your morning commute is nothing new. In 1931, the British cinemagazine Pathetone Weekly—which documented odd fashion trends during its run from 1930 to 1941—premiered a new invention: the Radio Hat.

In it, a man waiting for the bus decides to listen to the radio—via his straw hat, from which two large antennas poke out.

As a Pathetone Weekly title card read: “They say there’s nothing new under the sun—this little French idea to while away the bus waits, must surely be!”

According to an August 1930 issue of Modern Mechanix, a Berlin engineer invented the hat, which allowed its wearer to “listen to the Sunday sermon while motoring or playing golf, get the stock market returns at the ball game, or get the benefit of the daily dozen while on the way to work by merely tuning in.”

[Continue reading…]

The video link in the article to a 1930’s British cinemagazine Pathetone Weekly­-which documented odd fashion trends during its run from 1930 to 1941­-shows a fascinating demonstration of the Radio Hat, which was way ahead of its time!

Click here to view on YouTube.

Very cool! Thank you for sharing, Ed. I love how the radio hat is so conspicuous–hey, I’d wear it!

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