Sunday, January 04, 2009


Hello, A.J.!

Read yesterday's posting on the KAAY "blog". Very interesting, and
brought back some memories.

Ron Henselman, W9FT, is an old friend of about 32 years. One of the
first hams I became close with, and we still keep in touch. We share
the love of AM radio in its heyday, ham radio, BCB DX, and record

I started DXing BCB back around 1963. KAAY was one of my faves; the
sound of that booming echo in the night made the hair on my arms
stand up. I still have my QSL card; it was one of my first. We may
never have that sound again.

I tuned in so many hundreds of stations I can hardly remember details.
I managed to hear about 42 states and a bunch of provinces, and some
south-of-the-border stations in the first couple of years. I remember
hearing Radio Costa Rica on 625 KHz during a WTMJ (620 KHz, Milwaukee)
power reduction one night. One thrill was getting a QSL letter from the
CE of a tiny station, WHOT 1330, in Youngstown, OH, in response to a DX
report. I heard them when they were doing a XMTR check one morning and
power had been reduced to a few watts. On occasion I hear WJJL 1440 in
Niagara Falls (daytime power 500 watts) at night, when they lower their
power to about 15 watts. I sent two reception letters to them and even
spoke to the DJ and the CE, and they never sent a QSL. Now they stream,
so the chances for a QSL are nil.

The "warm glow" of my old Hammarlund HQ-105 at night back in the mid-60s
was a sensation I'll probably never have again, but it stays with me.
Drove my parents nuts, sitting up half the night listening to static and
lightning crashes. ;-)

In my senior year of HS (1967) I built an FM BCB transmitter from Radio-
TV Experimenter magazine and souped it up a bit. ;-) I had an RG-8 fed
stick on my roof so I had a range of half mile. I taped my shows, and
out on the street my friends couldn't figure out how they were hearing

What a treasure radio used to be. The serials of the early '50s that I
remember as a kid; the screaming disk jockeys of the 60s. Thank goodness
for guys like Dick Biondi, who does his show on 94.7 FM evenings from 7
to 11 (they just changed the call-sign back to WLS so they could use the
old 1960s vintage PAMS jingles again!) He keeps radio alive like no one
else can. A living legend and a good friend. He's 76 now and I hope he
lives forever.

Have a great 2009!

Mike Wolstein WB9QHL
Park Ridge (Chicago) IL


Anonymous said...

Mike, like you, I loved radio when I was a kid...still do, does that mean I never grew up? Ha ha!

I don't know if I ever mentioned this here before, but one time, I was tuning around with my transistor shortwave radio (I had several, can't remember which one it was, a Radio Shack DX-100, or '-302,- I was always trying to trade "up") in the 11-meter Remote Pick Up band, from 25.87 to 26.47 (now I think 25.67 to 26.1) and I heard two stations, one was KABC out in California, airing audio for soap operas- not an interest of mine...and a Top 40 station out of Ohio. I begged my mother if I could make a couple of long-distance calls, one for the station's phone number and one to the station itself (I WISH I could remember the call letters!)

When the deejay answered, he couldn't believe WHERE I was hearing him...on the RPU frequency and in Semmes, AL. When I finally convinced him I wasn't a crackpot, of where I was (Semmes, AL) and that I indeed was hearing him on the RPU frequency, he finlly asked me if I had a request...well, at the time, my fave was "Tears Of A Clown". Lo and behold, fifteen minutes later, he played that for "his friend Bud 'way down in Alabama". I was thrilled! And, to beat it all, I didn't know anything about QSL cards back then, so I lost out...but, I still have those memories!

For those who may not have an idea how we could hear these stations at such great distances during the daylight hours, was that the sunspots for that time were great and the solar cycle would support long distance, high-frequency communications. Even a few watts would travel hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles. Before I got my Ham ticket, I was on 11 meter CB and talked with a fellow operator in Nova Scotia from Prichard, AL (next to Mobile) with ONE WATT and a quarter-wave antenna mounted on the rear of a '71 Dodge Colt! The car acted as the ground plane to the whip, so I could wheel the car around in a circle until I got the best signal possible, then parked and either listened or operated. Telling on myself now, aren't I? Heh heh!

Nowadays, we're on a slow, uphill climb to the next solar cycle. Sometimes the signals are there, sometimes not, BUT, on the lower Ham bands and the AM broadcast bands, the signals are still pretty reliable!

Thanks, Mike, for sharing that nostalgic jaunt! Bud, KC4HGH

David Lewis said...

It's interesting after all these years to discover there were other guys like me out there in the 1960's sitting up all hours of the night with the warm glow of vacuum tubes, listening to BCB DX, along with lots of SWL and Ham DX as well. Sometimes I miss my old Hallicrafters receiver ...