I remember my first solid state model shortwave radio. It was the Radio Shack Realistic DX-66. In Fact, The Radio Shack DX and Patrolman Line of Receivers are the reason this web site exists. Even though I was very young, I remember it like it was yesterday. Imagine the amazement when I stumbled across my neighbor talking. This was back when the first commercial "cordless phones" were on "Low Band" HF. This was back when the "number stations" ruled the
airwaves. This was back when you heard rock and modern music on short wave.
Shortwave Radio is not like it used to be. Back when I was a kid in the 70's it was excitement with every twist of the dial. I had a 75 foot long wire. If I remember correctly the DX 66 had a "Motorola Style" Socket. It was off to radio shack for a then fifty cent plug. It was not a true motorola but their imitation closed flower simple solder style. This was also the first thing I ever soldered. I was hooked. The Longwire antenna was actually a 75 foot spool of speaker wire you see available at Radio Shack today. This was thrown over a 50 foot roof and in to some trees. It performed awesome for how primitive it was.
I liked short wave radios so much as a kid I would spin the dial for hours. That was back in the day it would take 45 minutes at least, to listen to all stations across the coverage of the receiver. I found myself waking up in the morning first thing turning on the DX-66. Those tones and strange tunes rang in my mind. Green sleeves, the Trumpets, It never leaves you. It was not till years later at the library doing some research, I figured out those were spy stations. And the infamous "Number Stations". Usually it was some catchy electronic or musical based tune, followed by a series of unknown numbers in a meaningless order. A spy would tell you that you are better off not knowing.
The shortwave stations playing recordings of the numbers were an easy catch. It was the very weak signals with an obvious Live Voice that were the most exciting. Some of them sounded like they were reading the numbers against their will. Some voices repeating numbers sounded like they were giving the numbers while being out of breath.
I could tell you some stories. But I can't. That is the law. I will say this, I have heard some things over the years. I was privy to information I knew grown ups could not understand. I knew I was dialed in. There were no frequency lists. I was four and five years old when I started listening to these these old men talk. Remember the thrill of finally decoding those warbled up voices with a BFO? (Amateur Radio SSB) Even more primitive, you figured out how to tune in side band by placing two shortwave radios close to each other.
Ok, here is one within the rules. Remember the claimed "Air Force One SSB telephone"? Heated Conversations maybe an understement? Remember all that fierce anti-American propaganda you would hear up and down the band? This was Cold War Shortwave Listening. In my opinion, This was the true era of ShortWave DX Listening. Sure you have your Vintage Tube Era, but, the solid state 70's were amazing. Not because of the new cheap gear. It was because of the vast amount of programming and shouting that was going on. Much of it would startle you. It was all a huge secret and still is.
It is quite interesting to note that, responsibility goes along with the ownership of the shortwave radio. Because of Government Privacy Acts, you can not tell people what you heard when listening to many Short Wave radio transmissions.