I think all SWL'ers remember their first radio. Several weeks ago N2UGB made a post about his early Hallicrafter receiver and I looked everywhere for picture of mine. I've owned several but this was my first SWL radio. After much searching..... I found one. It was a Knight Kit Span Master. (a simple 2 tube regenerative reciever with headphones)
One of the neighbors GAVE it to me and I'm sorry to say, he's passed away now. It was a "kit" (I think about $30 at the time) and for some reason, he decided to spark the interest in a "young person". It probably had to do with the "Boy Scouts" since I was developing an interest in the outdoors at the time. Ralph Moore was an advocate for the BSA organization and even had his picture published on the cover of "Boy's Life". I saw it at his funeral and would have never guessed it was his smiling face gazing out the flaps of a pup tent.
These were my late "high school" days around 1963 and the "Voice of Moscow" was spouting the "10 year plan" and the danger of "Imperialist America". Cuba was a mirror image and a LOT of Shortwave broadcasts were political soundboards and nothing more.
Those were the days....
Today, I've thought it rather bizarre that the "Voice of America" doesn't broadcast to America. And if I'm not mistaken, the armed forces radio only uses the SSB mode. I've thought short wave radio to be perfect medium to share and exchange hopes and aspirations with other parts of the world. I like hearing about others lives and the countries where they live.
The radio that Ralph gave me "peaked" an interest in Morse code for me. Although I wasn't active in the Boy Scouts until the early 80's (I was a heavy equipment mechanic at the time), I learned Morse Code from the handbook.
In the Navy, during the late 60's, I was able to "read" the searchlights on other ships in the fleet. It was a 'natural' for me and I transferred to the signal bridge.
I've recently joined a SWL group on the web with the hopes of finding some of those rare stations on the air again. I use my ICOM 703 for the "serious stuff" but my most used SWL receivers now are a few "Grundig" shirt pocket rigs I use when traveling. They're pretty simple but with the satellite feeds, they get the job done.
My favorites are Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.