On the Short Waves, 1923–1945

Broadcast Listening in the Pioneer Days of Radio


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About the Book

As radio developed in the early 1920s, the focus for most people was the AM band and stations such as KDKA, the first broadcast station. There was, however, another broadcast method that was popular among many early enthusiasts—shortwave radio. As is true today, the transmission of news and entertainment programs over shortwave frequencies permitted reception over great distances. For many in America and beyond, shortwave was an exciting aspect of the new medium. Some still tune the shortwave bands to enjoy the programming. Others pursue broadcasts for the thrill of the hunt.
This book fully covers shortwave broadcasting from its beginning through World War II. A technical history examining the medium’s development and use tells the story of a listener community that spanned the globe. Included are overviews of the primary shortwave stations operating worldwide in the 1930s, along with clubs and competitions, publications and prizes. A rich collection of illustrations includes many QSLs, the cards that stations sent to acknowledge receipt of their transmissions and that are much prized by long-distance collectors.

About the Author(s)

Jerome S. Berg, an attorney, was the court administrator for the Massachusetts District Court system until his retirement. A shortwave listener for more than half a century, he is a member of the executive council of the North American Shortwave Association and chair of the Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications.

Bibliographic Details

Jerome S. Berg
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 171 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007 [1999]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3029-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Abbreviations      viii

Preface      1

I. The Early Days      5

1 Broadcasting Roots      7

2 Distance      22

3 The Arrival of Shortwave      47

II. Shortwave Comes of Age: The 1930s      69

4 Stations of the 1930s      71

5 Shortwave Broadcasting in the United States      95

6 Reception      111

7 The Popular Shortwave Press      134

8 Organizing      158

9 Verifications      178

III. The War Years: 1940-1945      201

10 Stations and Voices of War      203

11 Listening in Wartime      234

Conclusion      249

Notes      251

Reading List      261

Index      265

Book Reviews & Awards

“terrific and highly recommended…should be in every radio listener’s library…an amazing excursion into the very early days of shortwave broadcasting development…a historical masterpiece…‘must read’”—The NASWA Journal; “well-written, authoritative…Berg is, without a doubt, one of the foremost historians of shortwave radio broadcasting and listening…completely encapsulates early shortwave broadcasting history”—The SWLing Post; “well written and clearly presented”—Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly; “clearly written…one very interesting book”—Voice of America; “remarkable…fascinating…a must…monumental…has set a standard of excellence…worthy of attention by all international radio monitors…recommend[ed]”—Wavescan; “Jerry Berg has been a distinguished shortwave radio writer, contributor and enthusiast for decades”—Passport to World Band Radio; “meticulous, first-rate…will be valued by shortwave enthusiasts and included in radio reference collections throughout the radio world…highly recommend”—The AWA Journal; “a special book…a must-have…highly recommended…fascinating”—Contact Magazine; “nearly 1200 combined pages and extensive notes make the ‘Shortwave Radio Trilogy’ of U.S. radio listener and historian Jerry Berg a vitrual encyclopedia of the global shortwave radio scene since 1923…and it’s not just incredibly well researched text, it’s carefully chosen images of the broadcasters, the stations, the equipment and the art work of these pioneer radio days. This is an absolute must read for any radio fan, and any student of the broadcasting media”—Radio Heritage Foundation; “a very good book…buy it. You’ll like it…well written and superbly illustrated…outstanding…enjoyable reading”—Antique Radio Classified; “well illustrated…carefully researched and well documented…excellent index”—Electric Radio; “an excellent history…profusely-illustrated, well-written”—The Old Timer’s Bulletin; “an exciting book…excellent construction…over 150 illustrations”—DX Ontario; “excellent writing and research…numerous illustrations…fast-paced, richly illustrated”—QST; “very impressive…unique and so outstanding that you know instantly it will become a classic…a masterpiece”—Radio Netherlands Real Radio; “a rare, and often personal, worldwide view…profusely illustrated”—North American Radio Archives; “definitive…an important, ground breaking book that should take a prominent place in every DX library (the illustrations alone are worth the price of the book)”—Journal of the North American Shortwave Association; “hundreds of illustrations…fine work…extensively footnoted…a comprehensive reading list and index”—Monitoring Times; “fascinating”—Electronics Now; “takes you back to radio’s first days…filled with dozens and dozens of illustrations…quite simply, a delight”—Pop‘Comm; “the complete history of the pioneer days of shortwave broadcast”—Universal Radio; “radio history buffs will enjoy…detailed and well documented”—Radio World.