When I was a mid-teen, a favorite great-uncle died, leaving me his good-sized, portable Zenith short wave receiver. I forget how many frequency bands it had, but they included the most common bands used by amateur radio operators and stations all over the world.
I honestly wasn’t very interested in listening to “hams” (amateurs), but probably would’ve felt differently if I’d had the money for a transmitter and if I’d been willing to learn enough Morse code to pass the licensing test.
But I quickly developed a real fondness for listening to international stations. Even those broadcasting from non-English speaking countries beamed broadcasts in English to North America, just as our own Voice of America broadcasts in different languages to the people of other nations.
Most–perhaps all–of the international stations gladly sent out QSL cards. I’ve forgotten if those initials stood for anything in particular or were just part of shortwave jargon. But who could forget the cards themselves?
They were usually colorful renditions of something that typified the country the station broadcast from. To get one, a listener simply had to send snail mail–or perhaps air mail–to the station specifying the date and time he listened to the station, along with enough information about the broadcast to prove he really had heard a broadcast then. An important part of writing in to the station that way was also to indicate how the reception was.
It wasn’t long before my parents let me buy a piece of pegboard to put on my wall, and I mounted all of my QSL cards with sticky-tack. What an outstanding collection!
I enjoyed listening to the music representative of the various nations as well. Polkas from Switzerland, folk songs and ballads from Australia, and even Christian songs from HCJB (Heralding Christ Jesus’s Blessings) in Quito, Ecuador.
But short wave’s biggest influence on my musical taste was Earl Fisher’s Saturday morning program on the CBC, Radio Canada. That’s where I started to really appreciate the soundtrack music from various movies. I not only fell for Miklos Rosza’s soundtracks for Ben Hur and King of Kings, but soon purchased both albums.
My love of movie music has grown over the years. Right now I’m listening to Ennio Morricone’s Greatest Hits–think The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and I’ve just downloaded the music from Blade Runner, written by Vangelis, who also did the music for Chariots of Fire.
I admit it. I’m hooked. I’d almost rather go to a theater to listen to good music than to watch the movie.
Sometime in my upper teens I lost interest in listening to short wave radio, which was apt to be awfully noisy. Not because it wasn’t still interesting, but because I’d gotten hooked on static-free FM. I traded my Zenith radio for a camera, and I’ve been hooked on photography ever since.
So my great-uncle unknowingly introduced me to two of my lifelong interests.
What made you interested in one of your longtime hobbies? Please leave a comment.
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Links you might be interested in:
- Roger’s other blog, As I Come Singing
- Roger’s website, RogerBruner.com
- Roger’s free Christian lead sheets
- Roger’s books on Amazon