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  • Writer's pictureZeke

Is there anybody .... outthere?

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Radios and electronics captured my interests fairly early. My first recollections were watching my brother build a “crystal set”. This was a form of passive radio receiver (you did not have to supply it electrical power for it to work). It consisted of a coil, a variable condenser, a crystal (it acted as a diode) and ear phones. The coil was simply a given number of turns of wire wrapped around an oat meal box and the other small parts were gotten from a kit. We could hear only one station, WLW, which I think was the world’s most powerful transmitter at the time with 500 kilo watts. We could put the earphones in a bowl and have the family sit close to it. Then we all could barely hear WLW.

Somewhat later my Grandma gave me a radio kit which had one vacuum tube powered by batteries. It had a set of plug in coils that let you tune both commercial and shortwave bands. I had difficulty soldering all the parts together and we had to resort to a radio repairman to get it to work but got me hooked on electronics.

In my high school years, by brother was trained in electronics in the Marines. He then went out into the WW2 Pacific theatre. All the service men out there wanted to listen U.S. music but none of the military receivers would tune to “Tokyo Rose” who broadcast good jazz music and Japanese propaganda. Perry would send me requests for the appropriate parts to build commercial band receivers and I would buy them for him from Steinbergs in Cincinnati. Mail and shipping times for these transactions could be many weeks.

My first year at Dixie I built a radio from scratch including its wooden case. This was done in Mr. Carter’s Industrial Arts class. During my last year in high school my parents had sold the farm at Crittenden and moved to a rented house in Walton. There was an abandoned Atwater Kent radio that I managed to repair.

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