...The radios we'll always remember


 Posted By: Robert Nickels (W9RAN)
Posted: 03/12/2022

Monitoring Post 0 Comments 03/12/2022 

WTWW - "The Voice of Freedom"

America's Shortwave Rock and Roll Station


If you've tuned to 5085 in the evenings, you'd think you'd stepped into a time machine.    Rock and roll music on AM Radio?  What are they thinking?    Here's the story in their own words:

A group of us were driving together to attend a convention in Nashville.  Several legendary jocks motoring along on a clear evening..planning to arrive at the Nashville hotel around 9pm..at one point we all stopped at a small truck stop just north of interstate 40 East of Music City..just off the banks of the upper Cumberland river.  One of the jocks, not sure which one of us,  saw several red flashing lights in the large stand of poplar trees appearing to be about 1 mile north..not recalling a radio station we all decided to check it out..the trip north turned into about a 4 mile drive along a seldom traveled narrow two lane road..it’s white lines long ago faded.  A sharp turn right on an overgrown dirt path and a closed metal farm gate stood covered with kudzu but no lock was apparent.  We were in a rented 4x4 Tahoe so we ventured further in thru the dense underbrush.  Not one of us remembered any kind of broadcast facility or tower field..another 3/4 of a mile and under several downed wires and weeds was a poured concrete building..a throwback to the old transmitter shacks of the 50’s and 60’s.  This one looked to be a shell of its former self with thick Johnson grass growing up from the flooring of the building.  An oak desk and telephone set, and Remington typewriter still waiting for the receptionist to return from the powder room.  Beyond that..and across the overgrown and warped floor was a seemingly intact studio setup...mostly dry due to the excellent design of the building.  Jim Davis noticed that a single incandescent light..hanging from the circular ceiling..and it was lit!  There was still electricity in this abandoned building.

Past the solid oak door with it’s round double pane glass window was..what appeared to be..a HUGE..transmitter...again perfectly dry save for a few stubborn blackberry vines that had made their way thru the conduit..before anyone could consider the danger, Ted Randall pushed the High voltage button on the behemoth Continental transmitter.  He had worked with these before..and before we all knew it..the plates fired up and the hum was near deafening.  Grant Hudson opened a door in the nearby hallway to expose a perfectly preserved record library containing music on 45’s from 1950’s and  1960’s..he yearned to try playing one on the transcription turntables and playfully cued one up.  Jeff Laurence had a stack of music on carts from the 70’s and a couple from the 80’s in the Tahoe that would actually still play on the aging, but functional cartridge tape decks..at that point we forgot about the convention..and began playing the greatest hits of all time at night from the USA..for listeners from around the world.  Others soon joined us like Steve Taylor, Steve Hunter and more on the way.  Who knows how long we can get away with it..it’s radio broadcast history on shortwave.

OK, so maybe it's a bit apocryphal, but take a look at this video tour, it's certainly real today.

Go HERE to see just who the radio legends behind WTWW are!

And there's more programming, including the QSO Radio Show with Ted Randall,  Bob Heil K9EID at the theater organ, Music City Magic on Transmitter #3, and more.   The full schedule is on the WEBSITE where you can also listen live, if you don't have a shortwave receiver at hand.

With 100,000 watts of power and an incredible array of antennas from the heart of America just outside Nashville,  WTWW has given new life to shortwave broadcasting in the US.   It's a little surprising at first to hear ads for MFJ,  Bienno Power, R&L Electronics and more on the radio but even more surprising is to hear those great voices of some of the best jocks of the Top 40 Era doing what they love again.     And SWLs, hams, and radio hobbyists are smack in the crosshairs of their intended audience.

Shortwave is NOT DEAD!   Here are some fascinating and little-known facts:   Shortwave radio remains the only medium capable of direct communication from one country to listeners in another country without govermental intervention. With more than 1.5 billion shortwave receivers in use worldwide, the BBC estimates that at any given moment, over 200 million sets are tuned to shortwave broadcasts. Especially in developing countries, shortwave remains the dominant mass communications medium.

For example, shortwave listenership in the Americas ranges from 61% (Peru) to 41% (Guyana), 35% (northern Brazil) and 37% (Caribbean nations). Many of the boom box-type radio/tape player units sold in other countries, particularly in Latin America, include shortwave bands. Mexico, with about one third the population of the United States, alone has over 16 licensed shortwave stations and over 5 million shortwave users.

The 5085 signal is strong, so no need to sit hunched over your receiver - settle back into an easy chair, turn the selectivity as wide as it will go, and crank up the shortwave!   (Push-pull 6V6s recommended!)

 

 


   

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