Friday, December 26, 2008


Dear A.J.,

It seems like it has been quiet around the blog lately, so I thought I would write a couple of lines. I hope everyone had a great holiday. Even though things haven't been going all that well for me, I realized just how lucky I am compared to many people out there.

Christmas time has always been a special time for me. Many of us think of this time of the year as mainly a religious event, yet others only think about what Santa Claus might bring them. High school was a time in my life which wasn't always pleasant. Christmas time seemed to bring out the best in everyone; even the nastiest teachers found some goodness in their hearts at Christmas time. I'm still thankful for that. I taught an electronics class at the local college this past semester, and I remembered to show my students that same kindness at the end of the semester. I wasn't very popular with the ladies, so high school was not the best time of my life. My popularity finally excelled when I was out of school. Too bad it took so long.

Many might remember those colored pocketed folders which could hold papers such as completed homework. Some of the guys in my class used stencils to write their girlfriend's names on the front of the folders. My folder had it's own little message: KAAY, 1090 KC. One of the guys in my homeroom noticed my folder. He said, "Your girlfriend Kay spells here name funny." I told him KAAY was a radio station. He looked at me, and he said, "What kind of a guy would be going steady with a radio station?" I simply stated, "Only somebody very weird." My comment seemed to shut him up. I decided if that was being weird, then I enjoyed being weird. It seemed logical that only a weird person would be making recordings of far away radio stations playing rock and roll. Now it seems strange how other people actually enjoy the recordings I made forty-six years ago. Some ladies have told me they find my weirdness my most interesting quality because it is actually entertaining. Maybe recording KAAY was the start of all of it. Thank you KAAY! The thrill of hearing a signal from far away has never gone away. I wonder how many others have tuned across the AM radio dial at night to see what they might hear? Some of the big signals from the past are gone, but there are still some interesting stations out there. This is the time of the year when one might hear some far away stations at night due to the lack of lightning crashes (static).

You recently asked what kind of Christmas music we heard throughout the years. Everyone has probably heard "Sleigh Ride" by the Ronettes. I was one of my favorites. One night I heard a station in Mexico playing a Spanish version of the song, and it sounded like it was the Ronettes. If I ever find the tape, I'll make an MP3 of the small amount I recorded.

Happy Holidays,

Ron Henselman W9FT Melrose Park, IL

1 comment:

Gazmik said...

"The thrill of hearing a signal from far away has never gone away. I wonder how many others have tuned across the AM radio dial at night to see what they might hear?"

It wasn't just the AM dial. I had a Hallicrafters receiver of my grandfathers (WA0MIZ) that I used to scan across the shortwave spectrum late at night. There was nothing quite like sitting there with nothing but the glow of the radio dials and the vacuum tubes and the warm sound of the tube amplifier. If there was anything that I wish that I had to remember my grandfather, it would be that Hallicrafters receiver.

He worked with groups such as Handiham and was constantly helping young people get into amateur radio. So that receiver went to somebody that needed it.

I didn't have the patience to get good at Morse Code, so I never went any farther than my novice license. I did get my First Class commercial license. But my interests turned to computers and data communications, so I even let that lapse.

But there are still the memories of those "adventurous" days of exploring the radio spectrum. Now with computers and the internet, communicating with people and listening to radio stations half way around the world doesn't seem to be such a big deal.