Wednesday, March 16, 2011
11 and a half years ago, I joined the Tech industry. My career and my hobby merged at that point. I know that some people say that you should keep the two separate, but it works for me. I've decided to look back at the various technical interests I have had, and write a bit about them. I feel that everyone has something they do well. The secret is to find it.
As a child, my first fascination was with record players. I was obsessed with them and constantly tried to learn how they worked. I broke a few family phonographs trying to figure them out, and my mother tells me that I was always trying to make phonographs out of my tinker toys. One even "played" records. I used a safety pin as a needle and wedged a plastic margarine cup in for basic amplification. The record player obsession mellowed and in later years, turned into a great love for high fidelity equipment. More on that in a later post.
My brothers had radios. I remember Lee had a Wards Airline radio at some point and he used to see how many stations he could get. Chicago, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, these were places that were far away. Listening to a voice from these places was like magic to me. I started to listen myself.
We had a close family friend who called herself The Baroness Charlotte Serneaux Gregorin. Charlotte had travelled the world, and collected many worldly things. Upon hearing that I was interested in radio, she gave me a small National Panasonic 2-band portable radio, an R-803H. The AM portion of the radio got used right away. The shortwave band confused me though. I caught stations, but they moved around, and changed languages. I had a copy of Communications World laying around for the White's Radio Log AM guide, and there was a small section on shortwave in the back. I think it was finally a book I found at Radio Shack that explained things. Then the radio really got a workout.
This original radio started a lifelong love of shortwave radios. Not just for me though. When Charlotte upgraded me to another National Panasonic, an RF-355 I gave the R-803H to my friend David. He recently got back in touch with me after quite a few years, and thanked me for getting him interested in Radio, which he said started him along a path that defined his career. I still have the RF-355. It has long since passed it's mechanical half-life, and barely holds together, but is a reminder of where I came from, and the amazing woman that pointed me in the right direction.