This was one of the bigger and more reliable Colombian voices on the tropical bands in the 1970’s and 1980’s - and according to my crusty and trusty old copy of Passport to World Band Radio from 2007 - Colombia was no longer an entity on the tropical bands of shortwave — or anywhere else on the HF dial from my cursory glance. Received on the DX150B attached to a 60-meter half-wave dipole. Living the dream!
A popular (and interesting) listening option in the 1970’s were the AM VOLMET weather broadcasts from, well, everywhere… they were low powered (typically 5 kw or less) and hearing them from a great distance was quite the thrill. Most common on the West Coast was Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong and (I think…) Bangkok Radio… heard most mornings. Here are a couple of less heard ones from the West Coast; NY Radio and Gander Radio from Newfoundland.
These broadcasts are still on the air (link)- different frequencies and single sideband as opposed to AM.
This capture was from September 1975 on my trusty DX150B with one of the many dipoles I had - this one likely a 25 meter 1/2 wave dipole.
Image below is a QSL card from Shannon, Ireland - this was a VOLMET weather-cast that was audible here in the West Coast quite frequently.
What’s not to love! Latin American music and fast talking DJ’s - life always seemed more exciting down there. From my spot in the NorthWest where it rained for 4 months of the year, the endless sunshine and non-stop party of the tropics seemed irresistible. It always felt like a celebration when one tuned in a station from Venezuela, Colombia or Peru on the tropical bands. Heck, even Ecuador knew how to shake their Quetzal tail feathers with some rocking pan pipes! 1975. It was a bygone era. The radio dial was pure gold from 3 MHz to 10 Mhz at night time. One by one they would slip away into the jasmine memories of time. Thank heavens for cassette tape!
At the time I had a DX150B (Radio Shack) - classic table top radio and (amongst others…) a 60-Meter band half-wave dipole that kind of favoured East and West - still, when there were Latins to be had on 90 and 60 meters, it was night after night reception for weeks on end!
Those were the days my friends - we thought they’d never end.
As something of a follow-up to some of my previous posts about life in Latin America - well, Guatemala was not much different or better in 1975. Some months after this clip was recorded in October of 1975, there was a devastating earthquake in Guatemala claiming over 25,000 lives. Government inaction lead to more civic unrest fuelling more resistance to the government of the day.
Interestingly, the mission behind TGNA dates back to the late 1800’s and exists to this day - their network of radio stations in Central America play a valuable role in spreading news of the World (from a biblical and Christian perspective I guess as well…) to the rural areas of Guatemala.
The station TGNA was a regular visitor to the West Coast at my Canadian listening perch - most commonly on 3300 khz - and I have an original QSL card. It was, by some comparison, a “mini-HCJB…” - and regular DXers from that time period will know exactly what I am talking about!
As mentioned previously, living on an Island in the Pacific (100 miles North of Seattle, Washington…) had its benefits — a clear shot to targets in the Pacific and Asia - some of them quite rare. And while this station (FEBC) was not rare - it is still in existence today, it was a treat to hear something more folksy than the traditional party line stuff from Government broadcasters.
As a side-bar, in 1975 I was active in the Canadian International DX Club, the IRCA (International Radio Club of America…) and would soon join SPEEDX for the the very best of what the hobby would offer in the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s - the heyday of Shortwave broadcasting!
This snippet is from FEBC Manila on one of their Saturday or Sunday afternoon shows - on a 46 year old Cassette that still plays just fine! My radio was the Radio Shack DX150B (still have it - still works!) off of one of my many 1/2 wave dipoles at the time. I lived on a very small farm or ranch - 4 acres - and there was a specific amount of room for antennas…. as my mom would tell me!
I’m not going to lie - living on the West Coast of Canada in the 1960’s and 1970’s (and hey - for most of my life…) had its challenges where radio reception was concerned. But, and it is a big but, we sat in front of a looking glass that gave us exquisite access to the Eastern and South Asian radio scene that was unique and often tantalizing. Where else in North America did you have an easy shot to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia (at a time when there were hundreds of little shortwave stations!) and medium wave targets from Japan, Russian (on long wave too!), both Koreas, the Philippines and so on — not to mention the Pacific Islands. Now, 46 years later, I am reopening my cassette files for another look see and mastering all of the stuff that has never been touched — and there is a lot. Here now to share with you! Here is a wonderful snippet of North Korea from my “first DX Home…” in the country on a 4 acre ranch (Apples, pears, hazelnuts and sheep!) - I had my trusty DX150B (since November of 1973) and 5 1/2 wave dipoles which I would switch between with a home-brew antenna switch — hence the clicks on this track! North Korea, at the time, had an English series of broadcasts that were almost always sabre rattling harangues - and yet this particular sound-byte sounds somewhat subdued. Either way, it was pretty indicative of the times — and in some way, North Korea has never really changed with the times. The broadcasts were often cryptic and rambling. This was an excellent example.
In terms of sheer bloodshed per square mile, there were few countries that could touch Nicaragua in the 1970’s.
Like Salvador, there were periods of unrest that were sustained and violent, costing lives in the tens of thousands. At the time, radio was the sole social media for getting word out on what was happening on that particular day or week. State radio tended to tow the party line and stations that did not would often just “vanish” from the air… often along with their staff and radio personalities.
The Nicaraguan Revolution was a decades-long process meant to liberate the small Central American country from both U.S. imperialism and the repressive Somoza dictatorship. It began in the early 1960s with the founding of the Sandinista National Liberation front (FSLN), but didn't truly ramp up until the mid-1970s.
It culminated in fighting between the Sandinista rebels and the National Guard from 1978 to 1979, when the FSLN succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorship. The Sandinistas ruled from 1979 to 1990, which is considered to be the year the Revolution ended.
There was, in the 70’s, an incredible opportunity to document a lot of the activities via the shortwave spectrum - sadly, I got little more than snippets - but this one is a powerful one. Have a listen.
Let’s face it - the late 1970’s were, arguably, the very best years for DXing and Shortwave listening - there was very little manmade interference other than the buzzy power line or the occasional TV set or furnace motor. These were the days. Stations like TIFC had no issue cutting through because all they needed was a relatively clear frequency. This was recorded off air in my Fernwood neighbourhood in Victoria B.C. in the late Fall of 1978 on my DX150B and a modest 75’ Inverted L antenna. Who needed noise reduction? Not me!
Pirate radio was the product of the mid to late 1970’s and one example of one of the more adventurous and ahem professional sounding stations was The Voice of the Voyager - apparently from Minnesota - which was widely received at Christmas 1978 extending into January 1979 on its inaugural run. There are not a lot of recordings of VOV - not a lot of great recordings - and this one is noisy at best - but you get the idea. Received on the West Coast of North America - one cold winter!
Snuck in the middle of this recording a surprise (never before heard track) of the Voice of Clipperton! 6205 Khz New Years Day 1979! At 0130 UTC
Living on the West Coast of North America meant not hearing Africa much - a few times a year - particularly near the equinoxes, we would get some astounding openings on 60 and 49 meters in the early afternoon prior to 2300 UTC when a lot of African regional stations were signing off for the night. It was awesome. It would still be light outside and we were hearing low powered 60 meter West African signals in French, Portuguese and others native African tongues. It was a treat. Here is a not often heard station on the 25 meter band on my DX150B.