Shortwave Center, July 1999
GTRK Murman QSL Verification
by James W. Young
Here is a short story of acquiring a QSL verification from GTRK Murman, with the help of many, many friends from far away places and circumstances. Some of you are not directly associated with listening to shortwave radio, let along asking for verifications. In any case, THANKS to all!
With the up and down policy of QSLing transmitter sites of the old Soviet Union, I found, like others, that patience was the only method of acquiring what one was seeking after. The following account is of the reward that comes from an attitude of ‘never-giving-up,’ and using every available method plausible.
I received my first QSL from Radio Moscow in February, 1960, while I was living in Seattle, Washington. No site was mentioned on this very ‘generic’ QSL. The second time I sent in a reception report to Radio Moscow, it was for an unusual reception of two Russian stations on 5015 kHz at 0530 Z, late in November, 1965. Much to my surprise, I received a QSL in one month with two sites verified; both Arkhangelsk and Vladivostok! Both these sites were in sunlight at the time, however there were very unusual propagation circumstances that evening. It was this QSL that sparked my interest in acquiring transmitter sites with Radio Moscow transmissions. They weren’t forthcoming until the early 70’s, at least not for me.
It was in this time period that I became intensely interested in tropical band DXing, and the study of propagation around the sunrise/sunset terminator (grey-line DXing). A Russian station on 5930 kHz (along with many other low band frequencies) was used in my new interest. Since the early 1970’s, issues of the WRTVH listed this as Arkhangelsk…the site I had earlier verified on 5015. Most DXers were well aware that the actual transmitter sites were not reliably correct from the Soviet Union back in those days. A propagation study might yield more and better information on Russian transmitter sites, I thought.
In the 1973 WRTVH, the station listed on 5930 changed to Murmansk, and after a reasonable reception, I sent a report to Radio Moscow. This was the first of many, many attempts at verifying Murmansk. I knew I wasn’t alone…and I am sure there were many other frustrated DXers; frustrated by this no/yes-yes/no site verification policy. First, it was ‘no’ because it was not a foreign broadcast transmission that was intended for North America. Then it was, “we cannot verify domestic service broadcasts.” Back and forth I went with the staff at Radio Moscow. “How could you verify Vladivostok and Arkhangelsk?” was my query, supported by xerox copies of the QSL I had received a few years back. I never received any kind of response to that kind of specific question. It was always avoided in following correspondences from them. This went back and forth for many years. Frustrated enough, I turned my attention to the rare Island of Zanzibar, but that is another story.
My best reception of Murmansk happened on March 8, 1977, so I once again turned my attention to getting a QSL. I had by then received many site verification of nearly all the Soviet Republics, so I was encouraged. The reception was taped, and included the complete interval signal, a full Russian ID and program details…far better than I had before. My reception report was met by the same remarks, “sorry but we cannot verify any domestic service broadcasts.” So I sent off a report in Russian to Murmansk directly (the first time). By now it was 1982. I was getting nowhere with Zanzibar, as I had been 8 years with Omar M. Omar sending me notes telling me to wait “indefinitely.”
In 1986, I sent what is commonly called a ‘care’ package to Radio Murmansk through a Russian ham radio operator. It had a cassette tape copy of my 1977 reception, pictures of my station set-up, many Russian stamps and IRC’s, a US $5 bill, an SASE, pre-made QSL card, and both English and Russian reception reports. I included several color photographs taken at the observatory I work at. I was really hoping to get their attention, and confident it would be fruitful. I was correct about getting attention, but probably not from the officials at Radio Murmansk! Two and a half years later, I received the tattered remains of the front of the envelope I had sent. There was some kind of Russian metal postal clip, Russian writings and stains of all sorts. I’m sure it was pilfered, nothing more or less. I went back to my interest in Zanzibar and after a direct (and expensive) phone call in late 1984, I received my pre-made Zanzibar QSL the next year!
Another DXer, Mike Hardester, sent me a copy of a letter from Radio Moscow he received in 1982. Although the letter doesn’t state an actual site, it was a confirmation nonetheless! I made several more attempts through Radio Moscow and direct through the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, without any success. Soon, I fell away from my SWBC DXing interest with QSLing, as my increased work requirements at JPL took more and more of my time. I also had a greater interest in amateur radio, so Murmansk became less of a challenge, although I was soon chasing Port Blair, Andaman Islands.
My wife and I got on the internet in the spring of 1996, and soon discovered the growing web sites related to SWBC and QSLing. It sparked my interest once again, and I got back into serious listening, and concentrated on Port Blair which finally verified the following year. I stumbled upon the “Irkutsk Radio Club” and Mr. Feodor Brazhnikov in late 1998. Through his help and efforts, I got a QSL verification of a local broadcast from Irkutsk (Angarsk) for Radio Rossii on 7440 kHz. I eventually brought up my interest in Radio Murmansk, and he pointed me to Mr. Pavel Mikhaylov, a commentator of a leading program for radio amateurs in Moscow, called “Club DX,” all by e-mail. I finally found an e-mail address for Radio Murmansk through that connection and had Pavel make an inquiry in Russian direct to the station. His plea went unanswered…but I was ready for that. He continued to send requests, but without a single response! All the time I am checking more and more Web sites looking for QSL’s that have been received by various DXers around the world. The German version (which is in English) of the Swedish Report Service (SRS) is at <http://www.swl.net/swl-de/swl-qsl.htm> and lists recently acquired QSL cards from all kinds of world radio stations (the site is maintained by Martin Schoechi). Surfing this site, I found a listing of a direct QSL verification from Radio Murmansk by a gentleman in South Africa, Mr. Vashek Korinek. Mr. Korinek got a QSL via e-mail from the station chairman, Mr. D. Perederiy. In the SRS listing, the e-mail address was inadvertently misquoted as I got a return e-mail indicating ‘undeliverable’ when I attempted to contact Mr. Perederiy myself. I then contacted Mr. Korinek, and got the corrected e-mail address, but still I received no response. At the same time, Pavel in Moscow was still attempting to contact the station.
The English text of Pavel’s ‘plea’ to Murmansk is as follows:
ADMINISTRTION OF GOVERNMENT – TELE – RADIO COMPANY “MURMAN”
The editorial staff of the world Russian service of the Russian governmental international broadcasting radio company “Voice of Russia” has received a letter from radio amateur James Young (e-mail email@example.com) from the USA, directing his request for help in obtaining a verification report of his reception of Murmansk regional radio (reception report included), directed to your address in March, 1977.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Mr. J. Young (like many other amateurs of distant reception) tried in vain to get a verification from your radio station for 22 (!!!) years.
From our side, Radio Company “Voice of Russia” supports the legitimate request of the American listener and requests that you send to his e-mail address, the corresponding verification. We very much hope that GTRK “Murman” will find it possible to satisfy the rightful requests of foreign radio amateurs and bring to an end the negative perception of Murmansk Radio as a station groundlessly ignoring for many years listeners’ reception reports.
The text of the report in Russian and English follows below.
With the best of wishes,
19 January 1999,
Commentator of leading program for radio amateurs “Club DX”
I was now really wondering if Murmansk was ever to be in my verified column! Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! As an astronomer, I have a colleague in St. Petersburg at the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In fact, Dr. Viktor A. Shor had visited me at Table Mountain Observatory back in 1991 when he attended a conference in California. Having his e-mail address, I dropped him a line requesting assistance on a non-business matter. He was very gracious and offered to do whatever I requested. I then sent an extensive e-mail message explaining my very long standing attempt at confirming a radio station in Murmansk, and requested his Russian language assistance. He e-mailed them using a more current address, explained that he had a friend in the States that wanted help. Dr. Shor received an immediate reply in the positive, and e-mailed me back. I then sent Dr. Shor, via snail mail, a pre-made bi-lingual color QSL verification card, reception reports in Russian and English, and enough Russian postage stamps for all the necessary exchanges.
The English text of the reception report follows:
Radio Murmansk was heard on March 8, 1977, on a frequency of 5930 kHz in the 49 meter band from 0511 to 0520 GMT, or 0811 to 0820 Murmansk time. The SINPO was 43333. Program details are as follows: Female announcer at 0511-0514 GMT in Russian. A male announcer, then a pause for one full minute. The Murmansk Radio four note distinctive interval signal was played twice followed by “Govorit Murmansk” by a male announcer. He gave the time as 8 hours 15 minutes, then said, “Good Morning, Comrades.” Shortly after a commentary followed about the forming of the ‘International Women’s Day Organization.’
Once Dr. Shor received my package, he forwarded the reception reports, pre-made QSL card and appropriate stamps to Murmansk, along with a cover letter explaining in detail what was wanted in return. In a few short weeks, Dr. Shor received the QSL card signed and stamped by the ‘Chairman,’ Mr. Perederiy, and e-mailed me that fact. I had Dr. Shor scan the QSL card to his computer, and then he sent the card directly to me. I received the QSL in the regular mail on May 10, 1999, some 22 years after the March 8, 1977, reception was logged.
On the card itself, the top line translated is GTRK Murman, or “Gorodskoj Tele-Radio Komitet” which is the “Municipal (or Government) TV-Radio Committee.” The next line is the address, “RTV Center, sopa Varnichnaya, 183042 Murmansk, Murmanskaya oblast, Russia.” Next, the text gives the Russian and English versions of the confirmation statement. The transmitter power and site are given only in English. The station stamp is translated as follows: The bottom clock-wise outer text circle states, “Federal Service of Russia for Television and Radio Broadcasting.” The inner circle states, “Regional Government Tele-Radio Broadcasting Company Murman.” The signature is followed by the Russian spelling of the name with the last handwritten words interpreted as “CEO-Chairman GTRK Murman.”
Never having kept absolute records of all letters, I can only guess there were more than a dozen follow-up letters addressed to Murmansk, and a dozen or so specific to Murmansk directed to Radio Moscow. No one ever knows if letters arrive at their intended destinations, or are lost in transit (going to or coming back). In this case, utilizing the aid of a personal friend in Russia was the real key to this successful story. In the case of my Zanzibar QSL, the telephone call so astounded the woman, she probably thought a reply was absolutely necessary to her own well-being with Allah himself.
Now I will concentrate on RRI Denpassar, Bali, 3945 kHz, 1993; Abkhazia, Abkhazia, 9490 kHz, 1999; Beacon, Anguilla, 6090 kHz, 1998; Gantok, Sikkim, 3390 kHz, 1999; Panaji, Goa, 7250 kHz, 1998; and Lubumbashi, Katanga, 4754 kHz, 1988.
Copyright May, 1999, by J. W. Young
Reprinted here with permission.
Guatemala: R. Buenas Nuevas
by Marlin A. Field
The following was received from R. Buenas Nuevas, 4800 kHz. In 1998, the station received $13,169.00 for its operation. Of this 72% came from Mam Churches; 4% from Spanish Churches which have TGMI on their Mission Budget; 7% from other groups; and 15% from CAM International. Radio Buenas Nuevas is one of the three stations CAM International operates in Guatemala.
An Early History of NASWA
Originally compiled by Don Jensen
Edited by Richard A. D’Angelo
Shortly after retirement, Don Jensen began cleaning out his files. One item he sent to me (RAD) was his notes concerning the early history of the Club from March 1962 through September 1965. I’ve done my best to go through those notes to capture the essential information for club historians. The best way to begin is with some words from Don: “I joined NASWA in the summer of 1963. Data prior to that is based simply on information in bulletins which I have acquired; after that, from a combination of bulletin data and my memory.” Don and I encourage any other long-standing member to feel free to contribute to building our historical base of knowledge about our club’s early days. During the early years, it was not uncommon for bulletins to be incorrectly numbered. Many of Don’s bulletins from this era were not numbered correctly. We think Don’s collection begins with the fourth bulletin published, but you can never really be sure. Anyone out there have issues 1 through 3? Sometimes a numbering problem would be perpetuated for many months before being corrected. Also, missed bulletins were a fairly common occurrence in the hobby during this period. Small club treasuries and antiquated, manual printing methods squeezed clubs. NASA, as it was known in the days before the space agency, was not immune to the problems of all the struggling clubs of that era. The following is a month-by-month chronology of this 3-plus year period in club history. To the best of my knowledge, this information has not been previously published.
Vol. 1, No. 4 (March 1, 1962), my first NASA bulletin, was printed in purple ink (ditto) prior to mimeograph machines. The bulletin had no name. Frendx was chosen later. The masthead was printed and showed the crossed out name of the original president, Sterling Pike who lived in Newfoundland, Canada. Richard D. Roll of Hamburg, NY, was listed as the Secretary/Treasurer, although he had just become president. The club had an every-other-month bulletin, which would make September 1961, Vol. 1, No. 1. However, in September, 1962, Roll editorialized that the club was celebrating its 2nd birthday (Don believes he meant the club was starting its second year as there is nothing to indicate the founding was as early as September 1960). Also, Roll indicated the first bulletin was only one page. The shortwave section editor was Raymond LaPointe of South Boston, MA, and the BCB editor was Bob McAfee of Quincy, MA.
Vol. 1, No. 5 was dated May 1, 1962. John T. Arthur of Endicott, NY, was named the new BCB editor and Bill Eddings of Altoona, PA, was named the Tape/Card Swap editor. The membership list showed 44 members including #1 Pike, #2 LaPointe, #3 Stanley Mucha, #4 Colin Moody, #5 Roll, #6 Curt Webber, #7 Jack Kocak, #8 Tom Fincher, #9 Dorsey Wood, #10 Ralph Kerstein, #16 George Cox, #22 Eddings, #33 Arthur. Eddings column was sub-headed Friendship Corner, which was the first reference to the theme, which would dominate his hobby interests, and become the slogan “Unity and Friendship.”
Vol. 1, No. 6, July 1962, contains a Ham Band column introduced with Gary Rolinson of Beaver Falls, PA, as its editor. Richard Orcutt replaced LaPointe as SWBC editor. NASA’s first award program was announced, in five categories, for 50 SWBC QSLs, 50 ham QSLs, 50 card swaps, 50 medium wave station QSLs, and 50 CB station QSLs. The club now had 57 members, including #51 Doug Benson and #55 Orcutt. The bulletin contained the first of many lectures of friendship by Bill Eddings.
Vol. 2, No. 1, September 1, 1962, the bulletin goes from bi-monthly to monthly and is 18 pages. The club switched from “ditto” to mimeo printing. Membership was up to 69 members, including #58 William Hutchinson, #59 Don Erickson, #63 David Alessi, and #67 Ron Luyster. Dues in the US and Canada were raised to $2.50 a year. Luyster took over from Roll the compilation of the NASA Newsroom column featuring newspaper clippings. It would eventually lead to the establishment of the Shortwave Center column.
Vol. 2, No. 2, October 1, 1962: Membership was at 75 including #71 Larry Marshall and #75 Detlef Schuler of Germany, the first foreign member.
Vol. 2, No. 3, November 1, 1962: Fifteen year old high school sophomore Bill Zielinski of Lancaster, NY, was named NASA’s first Technical editor. The column was called Tech Trails. membership stood at 78.
Vol. 2, No. 4, December 1, 1962: Membership now stood at 88. Lavoyd Kuney, #85, became the Ham Band editor, replacing Rolinson. Eddings wrote his first folksy Christmas message. The bulletin was 26 pages.
Vol. 2, No. 5, January, 1963: The slogan “Unity and Friendship” was used for the first time. The writing style of the headquarters column suggests Eddings had a role in writing it. The first NASA symbol rubber stamp was unveiled; it was offered to members for $1.70. Steve Raiche was added as assistant BCB editor while Dick Derickson was added as assistant Newsroom editor. Membership reached 92.
Vol. 2, No. 6, February, 1963: Eddings’ Tape/Card Swap column was remained the Friendship Corner. The Unity and Friendship slogan was more prominently featured. Membership climbed to 103. The separate mailing rate for foreign members was established at $3.50 over the $2.50 domestic rate.
Vol. 2, No. 7, March, 1963: Warren Anderson (Card Swap) and Dave Alessi (Tape exchange) take over Eddings’ Friendship Corner column. Eddings’ writing style, particularly his use of the / “slash” (as in “Why not be an active supporter/reporter of the clubs to which you belong?) is apparent in the entire Headquarters column. Roll was still listed as president and HQ still in Hamburg, NY, but clearly his role in the club had been greatly diminished.
Vol. 2, No. 9, June, 1963: The bulletin becomes Frendx as a result of a name-the-bulletin contest won by member Bill Harris, from among 43 contest entries. In explaining his entry, Harris said: “We of NASA, via our bulletin, we are efforting to promote friendship and at the same time pass along our reports, experiences, items, articles pertaining to DX; therefore FREN with DX added incorporates both friendship and DX.” Eddings becomes the Executive Editor with Roll listed as the bulletin publisher/printer. Robert Newhart, a GI serving in Germany becomes the SWBC editor. Nick Vrettos was names editor of a new column Space World. Membership stood at 144.
Vol. 2, No. 10, September 1, 1963: Serious problems struck NASA with no bulletins issued in July or August. Roll resigned in July as publisher. Eddings took over as editor/publisher, but had no access to a mimeo machine. Don Erickson volunteers to serve as printer, and does so for two issues. A fund drive was launched to buy the club a new mimeo machine of its own. Membership was at 161, including #159 Don Jensen.
Vol. 2, No. 11, October 1963: The mimeo fund grows slowly. The club gets publicity in Popular Electronics and Electronics Illustrated.
Vol. 2, No. 12, November 1963: NASA gets its own mimeo for $69.39, which was paid for by donations. Eddings will turn the crank of the cheap hand-operated machine thousands and thousands of times in the coming years. He would estimate that club work would take 40 hours a week of his time. Membership was up to 169. Dick Few of Rockville, MD, was named Ham editor.
Vol. 2, No. 12, December 1963-January 1964: The early years were filled with incorrectly numbered issues. Newhart resigned as SWBC editor, Few resigned as Ham editor. Richard Little (Ham) and Larry Marshall (Card Swap) became editors. Membership now was 175.
Vol. 3, No. 1, February 1964: Eddings and NASA move from old address of 1521 5th Avenue, Altoona, down the block to 1505 5th Avenue, where he would live the rest of his life. Elections for a 3-member board of directors was announced with 20 candidates nominated. Foreign membership rates increased to $4.50 whicle domestic remained at $2.50.
Vol. 3, No. 2, March 1964: Domestic dues were raised to $3.00 per year.
Vol. 3, No. 3, April 1964: Another crisis hits NASA with a slim 10 page issue with only HQ, Newsroom, and Space columns included. The editorial by Eddings pleads for reports and support.
June 1964: Eddings ceased the volume/issue numbers, which was a good idea since they were usually wrong. NASA has turned the corner. The bulletin looks crisp and sharp, seemingly settled into the basic mimeo format and look which the club would retain until it went offset years later. Elected to the board of directors: Lavoyd Kuney, John T. Arthur, and Don Jensen. NASA became a member of the newly formed Association of North American Radio Clubs (ANARC). Editorial staff included Doug Benson, Joseph Fela, Jr., Richard Little, Alan Herrington, Ron Lyster, Larry Marshal, Paul Gough, and Nick Vrettos.
July 1964-December 1964: Bill Sparks, Gerry Dexter, and August Balbi become members during this period. Vrettos resigns as editor and the Space column disappears from FRENDX forever. The club grew by around 12 members a month.
January 1965: The Shortwave Center column first appears, as a split off from the original Newsroom column, which eventually would become Listeners Notebook in later years. Arthur and Kuney leave the club and board of directors. Louis A. Stober was appointed to one of the board vacancies.
February 1965: William Strait was named to the other board of director’s vacancies. Key FRENDX editors remain Benson, Fela, Little, and Marshall. Eddings first discusses the possibility of going to an all-SWBC format, but promises it won’t happen unless members approve.
March 1965: The board of directors was drafting a NASA constitution. In a slim referendum a few months later, it is ratified, and promptly forgotten. As you can see, the early history of the club mirrored the “wild west” days in the United States. Club bulletin publishing was an adventure filled with trials and tribulations that only the brave could withstand. Nevertheless, there was a core of hearty volunteers that blazed the trail during this difficult time period. In my mind, Bill Eddings was probably the key individual in the club’s history. He took a struggling club and gave it stability. He promoted friendship in the hobby like nobody else. Our slogan, “Unity and Friendship,” still stands after all these years. These were the formative years prior to the club becoming all shortwave broadcasting in August 1966. In 1972, the club went to offset printing. NASWA for the 90s saw the FRENDX name retired (was history ignored during this re-engineering effort?) in favor of the current name, The Journal. As the decade draws to a close, the club rapidly approaches its 40th birthday. We think that celebration will be in September 2001, but who knows what history will be uncovered between now and then. That’s a wrap on the early history of NASWA back in the days when the club was simply known as NASA.