Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Important Publications

New Summer 2015 International Shortwave Broadcast Guide
            Shortwave radio is your window to the world, states the well known radio writer Gayle Van Horn.  Throughout the world, shortwave remains the most readily available and affordable means of communication and information.  It lets you listen to voices from around the world.  You'll also learn about the lives and concerns of people from all walks of life, from soldiers, to farmers, to retired scholars.  Shortwave radio provides nearly instantaneous coverage of news and events from all across our globe.
            Shortwave listening, or SWLing, is the hobby of listening to shortwave radio broadcasts located on frequencies between 1700 kHz and 30 MHz, also known as HF or the High Frequency bands.  You can easily listen to shortwave broadcast stations from countries all around the world; all you need is a shortwave receiver.  When and what to listen for is covered comprehensively in the pages of a new edition of the International Shortwave Broadcast Guide.
            The International Shortwave Broadcast Guide (Summer 2015 edition), by Amazon bestselling author Gayle Van Horn, W4GVH, is an important information resource you need to tap into the worldwide shortwave broadcast radio spectrum.  It is a 24-hour station/frequency guide to almost all of the known stations currently broadcasting on shortwave radio at the time of publication.
            We might add that this unique shortwave resource offers an hour by hour schedule that includes all language services, frequencies and world target areas for each broadcast station.  In addition, there are new chapters that cover basic shortwave radio listening and Whos Who in the Shortwave Radio Spectrum.   Also extensive work has been done to improve the readability of this edition on the various Kindle platforms.
            The International Shortwave Broadcast Guide (Summer 2015 edition) is now available for purchase worldwide from at  The price for this latest edition is still the amazingly low US $4.99.   This book is being released internationally from all Amazon websites.
            This new e-publication edition is an expanded version of the English shortwave broadcast guide formerly printed in the pages of Monitoring Times magazine for over 20 years. This one of a kind e-book is now being published twice a year to correspond with station seasonal time and frequency changes.  Frequency updates between editions are posted on the Shortwave Central blog at: http://mt-

            The International Shortwave Broadcast Guide will have wide appeal to a large array of shortwave radio hobbyists, amateur radio operators, educators, foreign language students, news agencies, news buffs and many more who are interested in listening to a global view regarding news and events as they happen.

QSLing the World - A How-to Guide
Another book written by Gayle Van Horn that is available electronically tells the story QSLing the World.  Gayle was previously a Monitoring Times columnist and the shortwave frequency manager for the magazine.  Her book is a comprehensive resource and reference ebook for any radio hobbyist who is interested in acquiring a verification of reception from almost any type of radio station, whether it is broadcast, utility, amateur, satellite, or clandestine.
            While some radio hobbyists are program listeners who listen simply for program content, there is a large segment of listeners in the hobby who like to collect written proof that they have indeed monitored the stations they have received or talked to.  They do this by sending a report of reception in the hope that the station staff will return a card or letter, a QSL, verifying the radio reception.   Along with QSLs, some radio hobbyists also collect station memorabilia that may include such items as frisbees, bumper stickers, pennants, decals, T-shirts, or anything associated with the station logo, slogan or call sign.
            This new 140 plus page eBook, QSLing the World, draws from Gayle's 30 plus years of experience in the radio hobby. This includes best general practices in logging, reporting, and mailing a station reception report.  Gayle also addresses an often-neglected question: What do you do with your QSL cards and letters after they start to accumulate?
            This second edition of QSLing the World is now in Kindle eBook format; it is the most comprehensive compilation of trends and tips on the art of QSLing ever published for the radio listening hobbyist.  It is an important reference guide in any radio shack for those who want to QSL the stations they are hearing on their radios.

The Radio Scene on the Happy Hula Island

The Hawaiian Islands are a chain of volcanic islands lying in the mid Pacific half way between the United States and Asia.  This island chain extends some 1,500 miles from the north west to the south east.  It is made up of major islands, minor islands, islets, rocky outcrops and coral atolls, with a complete total of approximately 200 that are listed and named, seven of which support a permanent population.
            The island called Molokai is the fifth largest in this chain of islands in the central Pacific, and it lies in the center of the inhabited cluster of major Hawaiian islands.  Molokai is 40 miles long and 10 miles wide, and its shape as shown on the map is described as resembling a ladys slipper shoe, or perhaps a fish.
            Molokai is a mountainous island made up of two extinct volcanoes.  The  eastern end and the northern shore of the island are rugged and mountainous, and the majestic sea cliffs at nearly 4,000 feet are the tallest in the world.  The high areas receive as much as 80 inches of rain each year.
            During the daytime, two nearby islands are visible from the southern shore of Molokai, and at night time, the lights of Honolulu 25 miles distant are visible from the western edge.  The main town is Kaunakakai in the  center of the south coast, with less then a thousand homes.  There is one major roadway running the full length of the island and the top speed limit is 45 miles per hour.
            The tourist brochure cites Molokais pristine, breathtaking tropical landscape, careful consideration of the environment, its rich and deep Hawaiian traditions, and a visitor friendly culture as invitations to come and stay a while.  In fact the island of Molokai is sometimes designated as the Friendly Island.
            The earliest inhabitants of Molokai were the Polynesian peoples who began to arrive from other central and south Pacific islands in the initial waves of migration around 2,500 years ago.  The first European explorer to sight the island was the famous Captain James Cook from England in 1778; and the first to land on the island was another Englishman, Captain George Dixon, during his exploration of the west coast of North America and Alaska eight years later.
            In the early 1800s, Russia gave consideration to colonizing the island of Molokai to produce food for its colonies in Alaska; the first European settlement was established by the  Protestant missionary Harvey Hitchcock in 1832; and European Catholics established a leper colony on the isolated northern peninsula in 1866.  The population of the island these days is around 7,000, and on any one day, there are around 1,000 tourists on the island.
            During the year 1899, Mr. Fred Cross of Buffalo New York surveyed the Hawaiian Islands with the intent of establishing a cascading network of wireless stations for inter-island communications.  He met Marconi in New York on October 31, (1899) and he secured a contract for five wireless stations running from Honolulu to the big island Hawaii.  Three Marconi men from the mainland,  Trios Bowden, John Pletts and B. E. Hobbs arrived in May of the following year (1900) to begin the installation of the five stations on five different islands.
            The first wireless station installed on the island of Molokai was a primitive set of Marconi equipment near the beach at Laau Point on the west coast.  Initial test transmissions from all five stations began in August (1900) with very little success.  The only stations that could communicate with each other were on two other islands, Lanai and Maui.
            The Marconi company on the mainland called their wireless expert, Andrew Gray, who was in Africa at the time, to come to the rescue in the Hawaiian islands.  He successfully worked on the first link, from Honolulu to Molokai, by transferring the Honolulu station from the 200 feet high location at Kaimuku down to sea level.  This 28 mile link was successfully inaugurated on November 13, 1900.
            In addition, the wireless station at the beach at Laau Point on Molokai could also successfully communicate with the station located at the water front on the nearby island of Lanai.  The complete five station network from Honolulu to the Big Island was opened for business on March 2 of the following year, 1901.
            Then, three years later, the station on Lanai Island was transferred to Kamalo on the edge of Molokai.  Thus, at this stage, the inter-island wireless company was temporarily operating two Marconi wireless stations on Molokai; Laau Point on the western edge and Kamalo near the southern most point on the island.  However, the original station at Laau Point was closed, and the station near Kamalo Harbor became the only communication station on Molokai.
            However, after less than 5 years of attempted service, the entire system was closed due to its inefficiencies and ineffectiveness on January 9, 1906.  The whole system was sold off and reorganized as the Wireless Telegraph Co during the following year.
             However, give two more years, and the system was bought by the Mutual Telephone Company and the two systems were amalgamated under the one company name, Mutual.  Under the Mutual Telephone Company, the ½ kw Kamalo spark transmitter was activated on January 1, 1909 with the callsign AM.
            New equipment was installed at Kaunakakai in the center of the south coast, and this became the location for the wireless station on Molokai.  New transmission equipment was installed at all five locations throughout Hawaii, and the government licensing agency inspected them all, but did not write out provisional licenses until three years later, the latter part of the year 1916.  The callsign for Molokai at this stage was KHO.
            During the year 1930, the entire faulty system of inter-island wireless communication was upgraded and modernized by Mutual with the installation of valve or tube radio equipment.  The FCC granted licenses for each of these radio stations, and the Kaunakakai station was officialized with the call KGXN on the high shortwave channel 51600 kHz

            Next in the radio scene on the Hawaiian island of Molokai was the islands only mediumwave broadcasting station, and we plan to take a look at this unique station here in an upcoming edition of Wavescan. 

But before we leave Molokai at the present season, the Happy Hula Island, we should mention that this island is traditionally acknowledged as the founding location for the famous Hawaiian hula dance.  According to the stories handed down for the past one and two centuries, the hula dance was developed on Molokai as part of an early form of worship, and also to honor community leaders on important social occasions on the island.  These days though, the hula is a graceful and beautiful folk dance that has become a famous tourist attraction throughout the Hawaiian Islands. 
(AWR-Wavescan/NWS 333) 

Atomic Radio

Over a lengthy period of time, the United States has conducted several hundred nuclear tests; high level and low level nuclear tests in the atmosphere and also at ground level, as well as underground and underwater tests.  It was back in the month of July 1946, 69 years ago, that the United States conducted a series of atomic tests over the islands of Bikini in the Marshall Islands, halfway between Hawaii and the Philippine Islands.  
            Bikini Atoll is made up of a score of small islets and this area was chosen due to its isolated location, as well as several other factors including very low human habitation.  The July 1946 tests were conducted under the code name Operation Crossroads which involved hundreds of ships and planes and thousands of personnel.  In fact, in preparation for the Bikini tests,  42,000 Americans swarmed around Bikini and nearby locations to make ready all of the circumstances associated with the experimental atomic explosions.
            In order to provide international news coverage for newspapers, TV and radio, a total of five American navy vessels were equipped with all sorts of electronic equipment that would enable live and recorded news to be forwarded across the Pacific to all parts of the world.
            The first of these five communication ships was the USS Appalachian which was launched at Kearny New Jersey on January 29, 1943.  This United States navy vessel saw service in the Pacific, and in 1946 it was appointed in charge of media coverage for the twin atomic explosions at Bikini Atoll.
            At the time of the Able Test, the first atomic detonation 520 feet above Bikini Atoll on July 1, the Appalachian was stationed in the open sea at a safe distance from the blast area.  At this stage, the Appalachian was using five different shortwave channels, though each was on the air with a quite low power output.  The callsign for this ship was NCLG.
            Because of the difficult shortwave coverage from NCLG at the time of the first test explosion, the Able Test on July 1, this ship was sent back to Honolulu where new higher powered transmitters were installed.  Thus, when the second detonation, Baker B Test, took place three weeks later on July 25, the USS Appalachian was now on the air with two transmitters at 600 watts and one at 350 watts, though this would still be considered to be inadequate for reliable relay coverage.  To compensate for this problem, the Spindle Eye NIGF was stationed at Honolulu on the day of the second detonation as a relay point between NCLG Appalachian at Bikini and the United States mainland.
            Just one year after these atomic tests, the Appalachian was decommissioned, and twelve years later again, it was sold for scrap.
            The second ship in todays program is the USS Mount McKinley, a navy vessel that was launched from Wilmington North Carolina on September 27, 1943.  Originally named the Cyclone, it was renamed Mount McKinley exactly three months later.
            This navy transport ship also saw service in the Pacific, and in 1946 she operated as a flagship in the Marshall Islands for Operation Crossroads.  A 350 watt transmitter with the callsign NICO was on the air with live voice broadcasts giving the progressive information about the atomic explosions at Bikini Atoll; in the air on July 1 and under water on July 25.  In addition, NICO was heard on another occasion with the broadcast of a live church service.
            At the end of an illustrious career spanning 34 years, during which she saw service in several different world areas, the Mount McKinley was sold for scrap in 1976.
            The third ship in our story today is the USS Panamint, which was also launched at Wilmington North Carolina on November 9, 1943, as the Northern Light.  Early in the New Year 1944, the Northern Light was acquired by the navy, it was converted at the Hoboken yards in New Jersey for use as a general communications vessel, and it was renamed the USS Panamint.  This ship also saw active service in the Pacific.
            In 1946, the Panamint was ordered to the Marshall Islands where she served as the floating headquarters for congressional, scientific and United Nations observers, several of whom made radio broadcasts from the ship as part of the media coverage for the atomic events.  This ship was on the air under the callsign NXHC.
            On the day of the second atomic test, the underwater Baker test on July 25, the details of the actual explosion were broadcast live by Clete Roberts over transmitter NXHC aboard the USS Panamint.   This live description was listed as part of the pool broadcast that was carried by all of the involved media, including the Voice of America.
            During the next year 1947, the Panamint was decommissioned from navy usage, and she was sold for scrap fourteen years later.
            The fourth radio ship that participated in the Crossroads atomic tests was the USS Blue Ridge which had been launched from the  shipyards at Kearny in New Jersey on March 7, 1943.  Later that same year, she left for a cruise in the South Pacific and she saw action during the American landings on the island of Leyte in the Philippines in October 1944. 
            The Blue Ridge, with the American navy callsign NTAE, also participated in radio communications at Bikini in July 1946.  Fourteen years later, she was struck from the naval records and sold for scrap.
            In our topic today, we now come to ship number 5, the USS Spindle Eye.  Plans for this new radio ship were developed during the year 1944, and it was originally intended for use during the projected invasion of Japan. 
            This new radio ship was laid down in the Kaiser shipyards at Richmond, near San Francisco in California, and it was launched with the unassuming name Spindle Eye on May 25, 1945.  The ship was nearly 340 feet long and 50 feet wide, with a total unladen weight of four thousand tons.
            Originally, the Spindle Eye was designed for use as an army cargo ship, but it was repurposed quite quickly and fitted out at the Todd shipyards in Seattle Washington with a bevy of electronic equipment.  Aboard this ship were two radio studios, six shortwave transmitters, eight antennas, and 112 typewriters.  Four of the shortwave transmitters were 3 kW units made by Wilcox, and the broadcast quality transmitter at 7½ kW was made by RCA at their Camden Factory in New Jersey. 
            The first series of test broadcasts from the Spindle Eye were made at the dockside shipyards in Seattle from the 7½ kW RCA transmitter during the first half of the month of September 1945.  Then, on September 19, after just 64 days of fitting out, the ship moved out across the Pacific, bound for Japan.
            The Spindle Eye arrived in Tokyo Harbor on October 15, and it took over the radio services previously carried by WVLC aboard the Apache which was still in the Philippines at the time.  The Spindle Eye was inspected by General Douglas MacArthur, after which it made a test tour in the waters of China and Korea.  It was reported that the electronics aboard the Spindle Eye were working well.
            On return to Japan just before Christmas, the Spindle Eye under the transferred callsign WVLC, began a series of broadcasts on behalf of the Voice of America and the American Armed Forces Radio Service.  In addition, news dispatches from the 1946 war crimes trials in Tokyo were relayed from the Spindle Eye to the United States for nationwide rebroadcast.
            Extensive plans were made for live radio coverage of the first detonation at Bikini which took place on July 1, 1946.  Ships, airplanes and land vehicles were staged at strategic locations on the Marshall Islands and in nearby waters.  A total of 150 radio transmitters and 300 receivers were in use for the co-ordination of the atomic detonation and for the broadcast of live news reports.  One of the major news reporters for the occasion was Oliver Read who was, at that time, editor of the American radio journal, Radio News, and he published three large articles in his magazine.
            The quite new Spindle Eye was given the task of co-ordinating all of the news transmissions from Operation Crossroads, including voice broadcasts, press dispatches and radio photos.  For this purpose, the Spindle Eye was located off the coast of Kwajalein Island and the callsign WVLC was replaced by the navy callsign NIGF.  The broadcasts from NIGF were beamed to RCA Bolinas in California and to Press Wireless Los Angeles, also in California, for onward relay.
            On Able-Day July 1, program broadcasts from NIGF Spindle Eye began at 3:30 am local time with live news reports to NBC and CBS in the United States.  At 9:00 am, the first atom bomb was dropped over Bikini Atoll from the air force B29 plane identified with the large tail marker B.  At this stage, two voice transmitters on the Spindle Eye were on the air in parallel with all of the live news reports, the 7½ kW RCA and a 2½ kW Wilcox.  Subsequently the Wilcox was diverted for the transmission of news photos which were received at the army station WTJ in Honolulu Hawaii and relayed onward to the army station in San Francisco WVY.
            However, in spite of the elaborate plans for extensive live news coverage from the atomic test areas, there were times when the voice relays were inferior and difficult to understand.  This was due to the fact that the shortwave transmitters aboard the several ships in the area were quite low in output power.
            Thus, when the underwater test, Baker, was conducted 3½ weeks later, the radio ship Spindle Eye was located at Honolulu, as a relay point between the atomic test sites in the Marshall Islands and the American mainland.   On July 25 for the underwater explosion, Spindle Eye NIGF received the shortwave reports from Bikini and relayed this programing on to RCA Bolinas and to Press Wireless Los Angeles for further distribution.
            After the twin atomic tests, the Spindle Eye returned to the Pacific coast of the United States and the usage of the transmitter as WVLC-NIGF came to an end at the end of the year 1946.  One year later, the Spindle Eye was renamed the Sgt Curtis F. Shoup" and it was in use in the Pacific and then later again in the Mediterranean.  The ship known as Spindle Eye and Sgt Curtis F. Shoup" was finally sold for scrap on May 9, 1973.
            During the two atomic test detonations at Bikini Atoll, July 1 and 25, 1946, many ships were involved in the broadcast arrangements for radio coverage and relay.  However, these five ships as noted in our program today were specifically designated as radio communication ships specifically for the events of Operation Crossroads :-
                        USS Spindle Eye                    NIGF               4 @ 3 kW & 1 @ 7½ kW
                        USS Appalachian                   NCLG              1 @ 350 watts & 2 @ 600 watts
                        USS Mount McKinley             NICO               1 @ 350 watts
                        USS Panamint                        NXHC             Low power
                        USS Blue Ridge                      NTAE              Low power
            It is known that a few QSL letters were issued for the WVLC-NIGF broadcasts, and the Voice of America also issued their regular QSLs confirming the relay of the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll.  In addition, special QSL cards were printed to honor these atomic tests and these showed an artistic version of the sinking of a ship.
            A few listeners in the United States, New Zealand and Australia, received QSL letters in acknowledgement of their reception reports, though many listeners received the regular QSL card showing an artistic rendition of islands in the Pacific and a ship sinking nearby.