Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The First Entry of Eric's New Blog

I'm sure some of my fellow DXers and Amateur Radio operators have started blogs to tell the world about their hobbies. I have joined those in the hobby who are now doing a blog. This blog has been in the planning stages for several months; it was time that I start a blog, especially when one of the radio clubs I'm a member of is preparing to discontinue a hardcopy bulletin.

Many of my fellow DXers know that I've been in this hobby for over 30 years now. When I started in this hobby in October of 1981, I began on a Realistic DX-60 AM/FM/CB/SW portable (which I still have). It was a great experience to listen to perspectives other than the ones I was getting from local radio and TV. Shortwave radio was the best way to hear viewpoints from both sides of the proverbial Iron Curtain, as well as a way to spread the message of the Christian faith around the world. A person who owned a shortwave receiver back in 1981 could choose from pro-Western broadcasters like DW Radio (then Deutsche Welle), the Voice of America, Marxist views from the various Soviet republics (the largest of which was Radio Moscow), mainland China or the Warsaw Pact nations, Christian preaching from the likes of Harold Camping and Lester Sumrall, or even the Holy Koran broadcast from Saudi Arabia. The one great thing about radio as a teenager was that it kept me out of trouble.

I was the kind of person who listened to more than the local Top 40 or Rock 40 station. Even the fare on the local public radio stations were limited. Shortwave radio brought a whole new world to me every day and every night. When I first entertained the idea of a career in broadcasting, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of DXers who became broadcasters, like Glenn Hauser, Jerry Starr, Phil Wayne and some of the hosts of the DX and request shows, like Tom Meyer and Ian McFarland. Even the East Bloc had a few influential personalities, most notably Joe Adamov and Vladimir Pozner. The local personalities I looked up to in those days were the likes of Jack Carney from KMOX (1120 kHz), Ron Elz (Johnny Rabbitt), who was on KXOK (630 kHz-now KJSL) at the time, Bobby Day, whose local resume included KSLQ (98.1 MHz, now KYKY), KWK (1380 kHz-now KSLG/106.5 MHz, now WARH) and KHTR (103.3 MHz, now KLOU), and country DJ Lee Sherwood, whom I listened to on not only KSD/KUSA (550 kHz, now KTRS), but also on WMAQ out of Chicago (670 kHz, now WSCR). Nowadays, thanks to my subscription to Sirius-XM satellite radio, I can still get a variety of programs now.

I eventually embraced selected new technologies. The first one I embraced was AM Stereo. In 1986, I purchased a Realistic TM-152 C-QUAM tuner at my local Radio Shack. Today, I still have the tuner in my shack, despite the fact that only 300 stations broadcast in this format today. In 2005, I was the first person in my family to purchase a digital TV tuner. I purchased a Digital Stream HD3150 at the local Circuit City store (which has since closed). I now own three tuners, having added Zenith DTT-901 DTV tuners in 2008 and 2009. I had to get satellite radio because I was having difficulty obtaining a shortwave converter for the automobile, since my first one burned out in 2006. However, I refuse to embrace "HD Radio" or "DRM", two spectrally inefficient digital radio technologies. "HD Radio" not only wastes 40 kHz of valuable AM spectrum and 600 kHz of FM valuable spectrum, signal coverage is very limited, and the sound quality is not what their proponents claim. Depending on your receiver, FM Stereo performance on stations broadcasting in "HD" suffers greatly; some have as little as 5 dB separation, while analog FM is capable of near-CD quality sound. "HD" on AM sounds worse than analog AM, while C-QUAM is capable of better than FM-quality sound. DRM also wastes 40 kHz of valuable radio spectrum. I've heard an audio clip of "DRM" transmitted from a shortwave station; the sound quality is no better than AM. That's why I refuse to embrace terrestrial digital radio.

My equipment at the shack has evolved over the years. From a DX-60, I upgraded to a DX-200 in October 1982, added a Realistic Patrolman CB-60 in December 1982, a General Electric Superadio II in December 1983, and a Realistic DX-400 in 1985. Antennas evolved from built-in telescoping rod antennas to homebrew antennas made of different things, to ferrite core loop antennas. I had the DX-200 in the shack until 1994, the DX-400 until 1997, and the Superadio II until 1987. My TV DX was on TV sets I used for entertainment until December 1988, when I got a Yorx 4.5-inch monochrome TV with AM/FM radio and triple cassette decks. In 1990, I purchased a Realistic STA-90 from a pawn shop in Acworth, GA; I used that until 2003. The only leftover from the '80s that's still in use is the TM-152. I purchased my current shortwave receiver, a Sangean ATS-803A, in 1995 at a local hamfest from local DXer Tony Jasper. My current FM receiver, a Kenwood AR-304, was purchased in 2003 and modified by the late Bruce Elving in 2004. I bought the GE Superadio III, which I use for portable AM BCB DXing, in 1994. My main AM BCB receiver is a Yaesu FRG-7, which I bought at the 2011 Winterfest in Collinsville, IL. The two TV sets I use for DXing are a Samsung 19-inch color TV, which I bought in 1985, and a Daewoo 13-inch color TV, which my father purchased originally for a video security system in 1999. For public service monitoring, I have a Radio Shack PRO-2052 in the shack, a Radio Shack PRO-2014 at my bedside, and a Radio Shack PRO-79 as a portable scanner. I use the PRO-2052 and the PRO-79 to DX the NOAA Weather Radio bands.

I have been licensed as an Amateur Radio operator since October 1992. Originally licensed as a Technician, I upgraded to General Class in June 2007.

I presently hold the Amateur Radio call sign N0UIH, as well as two monitor station calls. In July 1982, I received the monitor call sign KDX0STL from WDX Monitoring Service. While I was in Georgia, I added a "/4" to my monitor call. In October 1984, I got the monitor call KMO0CN from CRB Research. I will be contributing many more blog entries in th emonths and years to come.

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