September 12, 2023
When I was a little kid, five or six years old maybe, one clear summer's day long, long ago, I made a crystal radio set from a kit, & ran around my backyard listening to music from afar on a single giant earpiece and a few components strung together with twisted wire, all powered by nothing more than the invisible waves in the air around me. Then as now, that is indistinguishable from magic to me.
When I wasn't much older I was given a radio that covered not only AM & FM, but also short wave. I used to string up antennae I made out of red twist-tie wire on a spool I got from the kitchen & listen to international stations. The World Service of the BBC, & the lilting strains of Moscow Nights on Radio Moscow. This was during the Cold War. I was ten years old & deep in enemy territory. A secret agent. I'd listen to crazy talk back radio on AM as a teen on rotation with music stations. I ended my teens as a radio operator in the army, but then for the longest time computers replaced radios for me as a hobby. I listened to the radio less & less & hadn't though about short wave in years. Then COVID happened. Government lock-downs. Bushfires. I remembered my old radio then.
I'm no Prepper. I've never prepared for anything in my life. But it was only two summers ago now that I sat in a smoke filled house & listened to reports on my childhood radio about where the fire fronts were.
Over the last two years I got a digital (DAB) radio. I got a cheap RTL-SDR & built bigger & better designed antennae. I listened to the amateur bands & after all these years finally got an amateur license. I'm VK1OMG. I replaced my cheap-o SDR with a transceiver.
I talk now as well as listen, but after all these years I'm listening to the radio again, and it is still indistinguishable from magic to me.