At the Winter SWL Fest this year, we had an open forum hosted by Skip Arey and Dan Robinson called “Shortwave Memories” where SWLs were invited to speak about what shortwave radio has meant to them throughout their lives. I was a fantastic session chock full of nostalgia.
I was asked to speak and started by talking about my first proper shortwave set: the Zenith Transoceanic (photo above).
Although I first got a taste for the shortwaves on my father’s console radio (a 1936 RCA Model 6K3)–it was in our living room and I did not have ready access to it.
My Great Aunt (who lived next door to us) must have learned that I was fascinated with radio, and one unforgettable day she surprised me by giving me her late son’s Zenith Transoceanic.
It was as if I had won the lottery.
For the first time, I could actually have access to the shortwaves from the comfort of my bedroom and could listen anytime I wished.
I quickly made a little listening post complete with a map, log book and paper to scratch notes. I was transported to every corner of the planet with that magical solid state set.
That Zenith set turned out to be a catalyst for a strong interest in geography, history, politics, language and travel. I learned that through SWLing, I could hear unfiltered voices from across the globe. Mind you, this was in the late 1970s and early 80s–long before the internet, long before mobile phones.
Of course, I still have my Zenith Transoceanic and will always keep it in working order.
I’m curious: What was your first radio? Did it have any meaningful impact on your life? Do you still have your first radio? Please comment!
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