About me and my radio hobby
My radio-hobby started in 1974. I mainly listened to pirate radio stations on FM and MW. Besides my Philips L1G30T transistor radio I had an old Philips B5X43A radio, which I mainly used to listen to Radio Veronica, Radio Northsea, and Radio Caroline. The B5X43A also covered the shortwave bands.
In the late 70's, I discovered SW radio, but not in the way you normally would. I was working on a project and needed sound effects. Spooky effects and the sound of guns. I didn't have sound effects lp's or other gadgets, but I did have the Country Joe & the Fish single "I-feel-like-I'm-fixing-to-die-rag". That song has the sound of a machine gun at the end. That covered the first part of the effects, but I needed more. Then I remembered the weird sounds that I heard on the radio when I turned the knobs of the B5X43A one day. Someone had switched the radio from FM to SW and I heard sounds that I never heard before. It was radio without BFO, SSB, or something like that, so all ute stations sounded very odd. Especially the rtty stations, but also the aero and maritime stations sounded weird. Their voices sounded very distorted on AM. It sounded quite spooky actually. You already guessed it..... I found my sound effects that night on SW. I really had no idea what I heard though; I discovered that a couple of years later.
I replaced the B5X43A in 1978. My new radio was a Sony ST-313L tuner without SSB so I could only listen to broadcast stations. I tried to find Radio Nederland on SW. Much to my surprise I heard many, many stations there. I never knew that there were so many SW broadcasting stations. Stations like Radio RSA, HCJB, All India Radio, Radio Indonesia, Radio Australia, Radio Canada, and Radio Japan were on the daily menu. There were quite some dx-programs in those days and I think I listened to most of them. The best by far was Radio Netherlands' Media Network. The Voice of Peace and Radio Caroline were also on SW, but they disappeared after a couple of years, like the rest of the offshore pirate stations. I was a big fan of these stations, so that was bad for me. But there was always Pyongyang to listen to when times were grimm. Hmmm, when I come to think of it, I never managed to listen to this station for more than 15 minutes, except when they played oriental music. AFRTS became one of my favorites because of their good music programs. Except for Radio Budapest, I did not listen to the Eastern European stations, except for QSL
reasons. They were far too serious and there was too much propaganda. The same goes for Beijing, but the worst were Radio Pyongyang and Radio Tirana. The African and Asian stations however were really interesting. I remember the night of the coup d'etat in Chad. The rebels took over the radio station and I had the news of the coup more than a day earlier than most other people on Earth. The newspapers and tv news covered the coup some 30 hours after I had heard it. That's SW radio at its best. Besides that, it was great to hear the music and news from so many countries all over the world.
I logged the stations in a way many beginners do; just the name of the station and the language, but that was it. Unfortunately I did not write down essential info as date, time and frequency. After a few months, I began to see that a little more info could be handy, so I wrote down the frequency too. In those days the Benelux DX-Club, here in the Netherlands, presented a monthly item in HCJB's DX-Partyline. So I jotted down their address and joined the club. That was a good move because I now got a club bulletin with lots of info about all those far away stations that I copied day after day. From that day on, I started to write down all relevant log info. Soon after I joined the BDXC, I became a member of the German SW-listeners club ADDX (also via the DX-Partyline) and a now defunct club, KDKC which specialised in pirates and utility, an interesting combination. Other clubs followed: DX-Antwerp, SPEEDX, UTNL, EUNL, Anoraks, Radio Caroline Movement, Radio Veronica, Radio Budapest Shortwave club, ANDEX, the BRT listeners club, and of course WUN, the Worldwide Ute News Club. When I moved from BC to Ute dx, I said goodbye to most of these clubs.
I lived between the docks and was very interested in shipping. I really wanted to listen to coast stations and ships on MW and HF and two years after I discovered the world of SW radio, I bought my first "real" receiver, a Panasonic DR22. Now I was able to tune in to the wonders of maritime and aero radio. Wow... nights in a row I was glued to my new toy. I already collected QSL cards and found hundreds of new stations that I could QSL. The postman had a busy time when I started to write to all those utility stations. Sometimes the response was real nice, like that time that a female operator of one of the Algerian coastal stations sent me a parfumed and hot QSL letter and phoned me a couple of days later :-)
One of the first utility stations that I heard was a German numbers station and in the following days a found a lot of them and I am hooked ever since. One of the most interesting ones was the Roumanian numbers station "the Skylark" with its typical gypsy music and "Terminat" that ended their messages. Another nice experience was my first encounter with Space Shuttle Columbia. It circled the earth in 1983 and could be heard on VHF. Cool!!! Even cooler was the QSL from the shuttle. A couple of years later QSL's from The International Space Station and MIR followed. Another very nice QSL came from King Husain of Jordan, who was a radio amateur. Those were the days :-)
I entered a new era when I attached my first decoder to my Commodore 64; it was a Microlog SWL/Airdisk decoder. Later other, more sophisticated decoders followed and ute dx completely replaced my interest in the SW broadcasting stations. I was thrilled when the first morse stations from Poland and the Ukraine appeared on the printer and a couple of days later I even caught the US Navy in Thurso; followed by many press stations and fax stations. When I browse through my old logs I see long gone stations like KUNA and ATA but also a print-out of former numbers station VDE, dated 17 February 1986. Unfortunately I had a thermic printer attached to the Commodore 64. Most of the paper is now either completely black or the text has faded and became unreadable. To save the rest of my early days collection I made a photocopy of the thermic prints that were still readable. I nowadays spend most time on "cloak and dagger dx", or, in other words: numbers stations and other mystic sounds on SW.
Between January 1995 and April 2006 I was involved in the Worldwide Utility News club that ceased operations in April 2006. WUN was very active and had a great monthly newsletter. Many people were disappointed when WUN stopped and I decided to continue my activities, using a slightly different concept. I started the Utility Dxers Forum on 28 March 2006 with this website as knowledge base for utility dxers, and a mailing list for the exchange of logs and news. A newsletter is no longer issued except for the former Numbers & Oddities column, which I already issued as a separate newsletter during the WUN days: http://www.numbersoddities.nl
I am still involved in the Benelux DX-Club.
Pictures of the equipment mentioned on this page can be found here: http://udxf.nl/equipment.html
The decoder prints are on the history page: http://udxf.nl/utehistoryfiles.html
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