Tag Archives: Your Radio Story

Listener Post: Tim Rahto

SP600Dial3Tim Rahto’s radio story is the latest in our series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Tim for sharing his personal radio history:

Tim Rahto

The Sony Earth Orbiter CRF-5100 (Source: Universal Radio)

The Sony Earth Orbiter CRF-5100 (Source: Universal Radio)

One night, when I was about six or seven, my brother put me in front of his Sony Earth Orbiter and changed my life forever. He handed me the earplug and told me that, if I was really quiet and didn’t bother him, I could hear stations from all over the world. His ploy to keep me occupied and out of his hair worked like a charm, as I was completely fascinated by what I heard.

Fast forward about ten years later to 1987, when I received the best Christmas present ever: a Realistic DX-360. I remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning listening to the BBC, Radio Havana, and many other stations. Imagine my surprise when I found Radio Australia the next morning. Radio from Australia? How was that even possible!? For the next few years, that radio went with me just about everywhere, and serenaded me to sleep just about every night for years. Back then, my favorite stations included not only the BBC and Radio Australia, but also Monitor Radio and Super Power KUSW, the station that sent my my first ever QSL card. I still have it too.


One afternoon while I was in college, my roommate and I decided to stop into a local liquor store and do some comparative shopping. We were just about to leave when I turned around and found myself eye to eye with this beautiful old European style shortwave radio. It turned out that one of the proprietors, a guy by the name of Howard, was a ham, and sold old used radios out of the back of the store. I got to know Howard a little, and bought several radios from him. One day while visiting his store, he shows me the most beautiful thing made of metal I’d ever seen: a Hallicrafters SX-73. Believe it or not, he sold it to me for $75! I think Howard new it was worth ten times that, but he also knew I was a young radio nerd that would give it a good home. That radio was my main receiver for many years after that, and I still have it today. My estate executors can sell it when I’m gone. Until then, it’s a keeper.

Hallicrafters SX-73 (Source: radioreprints.com)

Hallicrafters SX-73 (Source: radioreprints.com)

These days, my shack is an odd mix of both the old and new. I have an old r390a that was recently overhauled by Rick Mish, and a Watkins Johnson WJ-8718a that was brought back up to spec by PCS associates. If I do my part, both of these cold war relics should give me decades of service. My latest addition to the shack is an Elad FDM-S2, which is an amazing receiver! I’ve never been much of an SDR guy, but this radio might change all of that. Stay tuned!

Anyways, thanks for letting me go down memory lane.

Many thanks, Tim, for sharing your memories with us! Snagging a Hallicrafters SX-73 for $75 was, indeed, an excellent deal. Sounds to me like Howard enjoyed feeding your interest in radio. Keep that old girl in good nick and you’ll have a radio that will outlast us all. Tell your executors to put it in the casket!

Click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts, and consider submitting your own!

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Listener Post: Jeff Zang

SP600Dial3Jeff Zang’s radio story is the latest in our series called Listener Posts, where I place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Jeff for sharing his personal radio history:

 Jeff Zang

I have enjoyed your blog…indeed it has been a major factor in my getting the bug again after being away from shortwave for about 20 years.

wlsI had played around with DXing AM stations at night when I was around 10 or 11; I lived just outside of Washington DC and remember hearing WLS and WCFL at nighttime once WLMD went off the air (a daytime station only). Also WBZ in Boston and WBT in Charlotte were pretty easy to hear, as well as KMOX in St Louis.

The original Happy Station Show host, Edward "Eddie" Startz. Photo courtesy of RNW.

The original Happy Station Show host, Edward “Eddie” Startz. Photo courtesy of RNW.

I first remember hearing shortwave on a trip to see my uncle circa 1973. He had a shortwave radio. I clicked it on and was fascinated to hear all the different languages and odd music coming from Middle Eastern stations. I also quite clearly remember stumbling on some bagpipe music; I first thought this must be from Scotland but it turned out to be the “Happy Station” show on Radio Netherlands. Straight away I was hooked.

My parents got me a cheap shortwave radio (can’t remember the make, it wasn’t very good). It did however pull in the BBC and Radio Australia well enough and I became a devoted fan of both stations. I quickly moved up to the Realistic DX 160 once I’d saved a bit of money. This was a great radio to do serious Dxing with; especially later in the ’70’s when the sunspot numbers really went through the roof during the solar max at that time. I remember hearing Uganda, All India Radio, Radio Cairo came in fairly well at the time…Plus I was able to hear some Pirates on the weekends and since it had a BFO I could listen to Hams for the first time.

KA1103Somewhere around the early 1990’s I fell out of the hobby; had to concentrate on other things for a while. About 3 or 4 months ago I came across your blog and found myself getting the itch again. I now have a Kaito KA1103; amazing such a little radio can pull so much in. I’ve been reading your tips on what to listen to, have managed to catch some pirates and have enjoyed hearing Radio New Zealand in the mornings along with Radio Australia. I am sorry that so many of the stations I heard when I was a kid are now gone, SRI, Radio Netherlands, Radio Sweden, Radio Finland (I used to be a big fan of the latter two). But I have made up for this by doing some more ham DXing and also checking the Utility stations more often than I did years ago.

I just wanted to say Thanks for getting me into SWLing again.

Many thanks, Jeff, for sharing your story! I’m honored the SWLing Post had a part in your re-discovery of shortwave radio.

Click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts, and consider submitting your own!

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Listener Post: Chris Freitas

Analog Radio DialChris Freitas’ radio story is the latest in a our series called Listener Posts, where I will place all of your personal radio histories.

If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Chris for sharing his personal radio history (note that Chris has also posted this story on his new blog):

Chris Freitas

I have an interesting story on how I got into shortwave radio. Let’s hop into the Tardis and go back to 1997. Being 13 years old, a young Chris Freitas was a member of the Boy Scouts.

Because I was a part of this organization, Boy’s Life magazine shipped to my mailbox each month. In the December 1997 issue, there was an article titled “Tune In To The World.” This printed piece literally changed my life.


While reading the article, I was amazed that there were radios capable of receiving global signals. There had to be more information. Thus, I went to the Millington Public Library (Millington is a suburb north of Memphis, TN and my hometown).

Using slow dial-up internet and reading Passport to World Band Radio, I learned more about shortwave radio, international stations, and frequencies. Before buying one at Radio Shack, there was an epiphany.

I already owned a shortwave radio and just realized it at that moment. Months before reading the article, my next-door neighbor friend sold me his radio for $25.

BBC-WorldServiceI thought it was neat. It was my first shortwave radio: the Worldstar Multi Band Receiver MG 6100 sold by Sears.

My first two years as an SWL were amazing. I would sit outside on weekends with my radio and listen to the BBC, RTI, RCI, HCJB, VOA, RNW, and many others.

A QSL collection grew and station stickers littered the top of my radio. I wrote to Boy’s Life about it and they paid me some money for the article.

There were great programs like Musical Mailbag, live sports, DX Partyline, and Play of the Week that I would tune into every week. My parents “loved” it, as I annoyed them with loud static.

Chris' DX-397

Chris’ DX-397

Unfortunately with all good things, the band knob on my Worldstar radio broke. However, my father conceded to a birthday wish and bought me a Radio Shack DX-397 (my dad told me that he still has it).

I also bought a book from Radio Shack titled Listening To Shortwave. Even for the late ’90s, it was a bit outdated but there were some interesting tips about shortwave.

It also came packaged with a cassette tape (Yes, I still remember them). It was called “Sounds of Shortwave.” If you want to listen, here’s Side A and Side B.

After three years of shortwave radio listening, it was not long before changing my childhood dream of becoming a TV weatherman (I had a crazy fascination with weather and still do). Instead, I wanted to be a radio announcer (or at least work at a station).

In 2000, the Delta Amateur Radio Club was present at a “Scout Base” on Naval Support Activity Mid-South. It was there that I earned my radio merit badge and perhaps my first on-air appearance.

Since then, I’ve been to college and earned my Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications. I am now working part-time at a local radio station. I have yet worked at an international station, but still pursuing that endeavor.

Chris' Tecsun PL-660

Chris’ Tecsun PL-660

Several stations like the BBC, Radio Canada, and Radio Netherlands left shortwave in North America. I have also been through various radios including the Grundig Mini World 300 PE, Eton E5, and Sony ICF-7600GR.

As of now, I am using a Tecsun PL-660 and I love it. Although there are fewer stations on shortwave these days, I still enjoy tuning the bands to catch some exciting sounds halfway around the world.

Many thanks, Chris, for sharing your story.  I think it’s wonderful that you learned about shortwave radio through Boy’s Life magazine. I attend the Dayton Hamvention every year and one of the highlights is that SWLing Post readers stop by my ETOW table to introduce themselves. A number of younger listeners have told me that they learned about shortwave radio through Boy Scouts–no doubt due to the number of Scout Masters who are hams that “propagate” their love of radio.

I encourage you to check out Chris’ new blog and his page on Facebook.

Readers: Please click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts, and please consider submitting your own story!

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Listener Post: Allen Willie

Analog Radio DialAllen Willie’s radio story is the latest in a new series called Listener Posts, where I will place all of your personal radio histories.

If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Allen for sharing his personal radio history:

Allen Willie, VOPC1AA

I first discovered radio DXing during the summer of 1968 at the age of 13 while living on the family farm at Lacombe, Alberta. It was the evening of June 17th to be exact.

What would become a life long passion was about to unfold. While sitting at the kitchen table I began to tune the Crosley model table top AM – FM radio sitting nearby with curiosity ultimately hearing signals that seemed weaker and not local in nature.

crosley radio logo

The first signal that I came upon had the following message:
It’s 8:00 PM Mountain Standard Time, This is 5-60 KMON Great Falls, Montana” followed by network news. From that moment forward I was hooked on long distance radio reception . My radio DXing passion would have it’s spark lit that very night.

During the rest of that evening and over the coming months, I would continue to log many AM stations from the western United States and Canada including stations that are now no longer in existence, have changed callsigns, or have transferred to FM.

kkhilogoA few of the stations that I logged the first few nights included 1550 – KKHI San Francisco, 1330 – KUPL Portland , Oregon, 1360 – KMO Tacoma, Washington & 1600 – KLAK Lakewood, Colorado.

Over those initial years while still living and working on the farm I would develop an interest in other modes of radio DXing including Shortwave and TV as well.
I first had the opportunity to tune the Shortwave bands on a Zenith Trans-Oceanic tube model receiver during Sunday visits with my aunt and uncle. In later years that radio would eventually become mine.

After leaving the farm in 1974 and beginning a working career with Canada Post, I was able to eventually advance in their management ranks to Zone Postmaster and have the opportunity to reside and DX in several different communities within the province of Alberta. During that period of time my main receiver in use was a Realistic DX – 300.
Within Alberta, my favorite location for radio reception from amongst the many places I had lived and worked was Beaverlodge, Alberta situated about 300 miles northwest of Edmonton. It was great for long distance reception there with hardly any local stations close by to cause interference.

(Source: Universal Radio)

During the eighties I discovered the wonderful world of QSL cards and sent reception reports to many AM , FM , Shortwave and TV DX stations as well.
Later as the nineties came along, I also became a reception monitoring reporter for several of the Shortwave stations by sending reception reports on an ongoing basis to them. My favorite was Radio Beijing, now known as China Radio International. In appreciation the staff of the station sent many souvenirs , QSL cards and reading materials in return over those years for my efforts.

Additionally I had always had the wish to work in radio someday. That opportunity presented itself in 1992 after retirement from the postal service. I had the good fortune to get on board with an AM and FM station locally in Red Deer, Alberta which gave me a real sense of what working in radio was like.

FRG100During the mid nineties I would acquire another receiver for DXing , the Yaesu FRG-100.
Carrying on with the radio interest I also set up a few different internet radio stations online through Live 365. Today , one of those stations still remains in operation serving up 24 hour classic country music.

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999, I found it much harder as time went on to deal with the harsher climate in Alberta, the minus forty degree and plus thirty degree extremes in temperature were having an adverse effect on my day to day mobility and general well being.

Through consultations with my medical specialist, the thought was that a change to a more temperate climate might be of help for my ongoing symptoms. During that time period I had also been engaged in online conversations with a very nice couple who lived in Newfoundland.

Broom Point Fishing Premises, Gros Morne National Park (Source: Newfoundland Tourism, Flickr)

We eventually became good friends and have been for several years now.
They too had also suggested that Newfoundland’s milder climate could be of benefit to my health . Eventually a move to Newfoundland was in the works by September of 2002.
At that point my whole world was about to change for the better, medically speaking as well as radio DXing wise.

A double bonus came my way making that move to Newfoundland . After about a year and a half I could notice a significant difference in how I felt still dealing with the MS and what can I say about the radio DXing? Absolutely fantastic!

In all the years residing in Alberta I had heard many USA and Canada stations on the AM dial, however only a handful of countries. Since moving to Newfoundland I have now logged over 100 countries on the AM Broadcast band.

Over the years I was also involved in Ham Radio Band DXing as I competed in many of the SWL sections of Amateur radio contests as well as trying to log each country on each of the various amateur radio bands.

Kenwood-R-5000AdvertDuring the mid 2000’s I would attain another receiver for DXing, namely the Kenwood R-5000.

In 2008 the radio world would discover a new interest presented to DXers as Ultralight Radio DXing had it’s early beginnings thanks to veteran DXers, John Bryant, Gary DeBock , Robert Ross and others.

I had submitted some logs of what I was hearing to various sites after aquiring an Ultralight radio and the the Ultralight Radio Committee had noticed my logs posted online and asked me if I would like to share what I had heard with their group members as well. The rest is history as I have also been an avid Ultralight Radio Medium Wave DXer for the past 6 years.

There was also a stretch of time when I had tried to eventually hear and log a radio signal from each and every independent nation of the world just for fun using a combined mixture of numerous modes of radio i.e ham, AM, Shortwave etc. I accomplished that feat twice in fact, by 2006 and again just prior to 2013 .

While living in the tiny community of Bristol’s Hope, Newfoundland from 2011 onward, I was able to have my longest radio antenna in service ever, a 1200 foot longwire in place. The location was great for Trans- Atlantic reception as it was in a bit of a remote area with little or no man made interference and noise. Living directly above and practically over the water at a higher point helped for better reception as well.

Another move was in the works recently this year as we had to vacate our rental premises in Bristol’s Hope due to an eventual house sale

With potential residences taken up quickly due to recent economic prosperity in Newfoundland during the past year or so, it was much harder to find another place to live.

Luck shining upon us, we finally found a residence in Carbonear, but had to wait a month to move in. Meanwhile some folks in Northen Bay, Newfoundland offered their house to us temporarily for that month during the wait.

With the temporary move to Northen Bay , that circumstance opened up the possibility for a Medium Wave Dxpedition there for the month. It was my first attempt at a DXpedition and I enjoyed the experience very much.

Another new chapter of my radio DXing has now begun living in Carbonear.
That is my forty seven years in a nutshell involved in the wonderful hobby of radio and DXing.

Allen Willie VOPC1AA
Carbonear, Newfoundland, Canada

Many thanks, Allen, for sharing your story.  I’m so happy to hear that Newfoundland and DXing have both been good “medicine” for you!

If you would like to learn more about the hobby of Ultralight DXing, join the Yahoo Ultralight DX Group.

Readers: Please click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts, and please consider submitting your own story!

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Listener Post: Harold Woering

Harold Woering ’s radio story is the latest in our series called Listener Posts, where I will place all of your personal radio histories. If you would like to add your story to the mix, simply send your story by email!

In the meantime, many thanks to Harold for sharing his personal radio history:

Harold Woering (N1FTP), WDX1IGG, HFU-Dutch Master, and WPC1HJW

KnightReceiverMy shortwave experience started in 1967 at the age of 13. My father brought home these old AM/FM/SW tube radios probably dating back to the 30’s and 40’s and asked if I wanted them. That’s all it took and my first QSL is dated May 20, 1967 from Radio Cairo, Egypt. I found out from my cousin that if you wrote the station a letter telling them what you heard, that they would send back a verification in the form of a card, pennant, or letter. Today my count for unique verifications is well over 500 with numerous “goodies” that I have received over the years.

My first purchased shortwave receiver was a Knight Kit Star Roamer in 1969. From there it was the Heathkit GR-64 in 1972 and the Realistic DX-160 in 1985. From 1985 to 1990 I was the awards chairman for SPEEDX (The Society to Preserve the Engrossing Enjoyment of DX’ing).

Kenwood R-1000 (Source: Universal Radio)

Kenwood R-1000 (Source: Universal Radio)

I was beside myself when I bought my first digital readout radio, the Kenwood R-1000 in 1987. No more guessing as to what frequency I was listening to. That was also the year I ended up as station of the month in Popular Communications magazine. Currently I use an Icom R71a and a Sangean ATS 818ACS and a 450 foot horizontal loop antenna. I have a lot of great memories and still enjoy the hobby immensely. Many of the Big stations are gone but that has had room for many of the smaller ones. I continue to listen almost daily and still enjoy the hobby.

Many thanks, Harold, for sharing your story!

Click here to read our growing collection of Listener Posts, and consider submitting your own!

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