An article I put on the first Wireless Waffle site in 1999 – I am sorting through some of my old cd back ups and will share a few that I think may interest blog visitors, from time to time in 2015
This is the first transistor radio that the Wireless Waffler owned – sadly no longer in existence and thrown out largely because it has fallen to pieces due to hours of listening and teenage abuse!
I was 13 years of age in February 1965 when I purchased this lovely set. The man in the then local Seivers shop in Pinner let slip “do you want a radio to listen to the pirates”. I must admit I had never heard of the pirates before then so I merely mouthed “yes please”. The man said that something like “this set will really pull them in it has a band spread. I also had no idea what band spread was at all.
I got the set home and still did not really know what the pirates were. I bought the set with birthday money on a Saturday, and some money from my parents. Before this I had only owned a crystal set and had an old valve radio from my late great uncle’s effects. On the Sunday morning in bed I decided to give the radio set a spin. I was aware of all the BBC stations, Home, Light, Third and was not expecting much to listen to that time of day. I switched it to the band spread and after a short turn of the dial had picked up some excellent pop music. A calm male voice came on after the tune and said “this is your all day music station Radio Caroline” and he also announced himself as Gary Kemp. I soon became hooked on Radio Caroline and for a while I was hooked to this frequency.
I did try Luxembourg out in the evening and was rather amazed at the way the station was not very strong first thing in the evening but then it came in very strongly. Occasionally it faded in and out loudly. This phenomena was new to me having only sampled BBC programmes prior to this.
I became more adventurous and eventually tuned around and found Radio London then Radio City. I even imagined the two stations, City and London, were the same station both being named after the capital of the country. Within a few months I got up to speed and soon knew all there was about offshore radio.
I got complaints at home when I was listening to the radio on the loudspeaker so I treated myself to an earpiece for the set. It was a moving coil earpiece made by Acos. It had a single earpiece but the sound was directed into two tubes which terminated in ear pads which gave a reasonable rich sound for the sixties- At this stage I must point out the cheaper form of earpiece for radios in the sixties was a white plastic one which was rather tinny sounding in comparison to the Acos. When the earpiece was fitted into the set it muted the loudspeaker and only I could hear it. Unfortunately being a young teenager and a bit experimental when listening, I found that a biro refill pushed into the earpiece section of the set would mute the speaker. One day I got a biro refill, the thinner sort, stuck irretrievably stuck in it and no sound from the radio. My father used to work long hours, I could not express my delight when I woke the next morning to find my Dad had got the refill out and I could use the radio again. My mother and brother did not share my delight at hearing the radio once more. Dad revealed he used his favourite tool, long nosed pliers, and it came out. I have since found this tool invaluable myself. I learnt not to fiddle with things I did not understand, well possibly not totally!
I also found that adding a length of wire to the aerial section brought stations in from far and wide during the daytime. At night it caused spurious stations to appear all over the dial due to overloading. I also found that if I picked up a distant station and it was very crackly, I could filter the sound. This I did in a very unusual fashion. I placed the radio in a bookcase with sliding glass doors. If I left them open and the set in the centre, it gave a sort of stereo effect and definitely filtered some of the hiss and crackle.
I discovered Radio Veronica on the band spread when tuning around. I had never heard Dutch before but was amazed how fast it was spoken, and also loved the jingles the station played. I was allowed to have the set on in the family car when we went to visit our grandparents at Holland On Sea, near to Clacton and Frinton in Essex. I could not believe how clear Radio Veronica was as we got closer to Essex. Vernonica was a blessing because invariably they had a Jim Reeves show which went down well with both my parents. They were quite tolerant but inevitably the site and sound of their son with this blue transistor always got a “turn that thing off” or similar remark.
The hours of fun I had with this set. It took a big PP9 Battery which lasted quite a long time.
The set covered Longwave and Medium Wave, FM then was not widely listened to. I remember that the first sets with VHF as they called FM then, used to guzzle up batteries.
It had a good speaker in it, a lovely modern looking silver grill. It had a good carrying handle which folded back if you wanted to lay it flat. As the man in the shop it really pulled in the pirates. It was great on long wave as well, I remember in the late sixties hearing L’Emperor Rosko, on RTL Luxembourg I think.
I did not have a photo of my first transistor until I found a picture surfing at http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/roberts-radios/ which is an excellent site covering a range of old radios. This picture has been reproduced here – I have so far failed to be able to contact the owner of this site to gain permission but it did say that if you used a picture to credit the site, so I have done this.