Bob Schmarder's Old Time Radio DX Page
Hi fellow radio dx'ers. I am proud to show you some scans of what my
dad used to do to waste his time as a teenager, and then after us kids
were all here. He used to stay up late at night seeing how far away
he could hear radio stations on the broadcast band.
At the tender age of 11, he discovered the magic of radio. As I'm piecing
the story together, his first radio was a Majestic 90B. The family had a
moderate income as his dad was a pharmacist and was half owner in a drug
store on South Salina St. in Syracuse, NY. Life was good in the late 20's.
So his dad spent the big bucks on the Majestic set. I can imagine that
during the day it was a set that his mother listened to the local stations
during the day. But after dark (and after midnight) it became a screaming
His hobby continued into the thirties. At 16, he went to work part time
at his dad's pharmacy. This gave him enough money to send in reception
reports to radio station around the country, and have some money left over
for the RaDeX magazines.
When he graduated high school he purchased (or was given to him), a
brand new 1936 Fairbanks-Morse radio. With a superhet design, an rf stage
as well as great dial calibration, he continued his dx hobby.
During World War II the radio sat dormant. During the war he got married
and a couple of years after, the kids started to arrive. He did fiddle with
short wave in the late forties, but I don't think it ever caught on.
He continued using this radio, and in 1958 he built a loop antenna.
(Another one was built by a neighbor, the famous 1930's DX'er Carleton Lord.
But his was not painted the pretty red color as my dads.)
I had wondered how come he painted the loop red. It seemed to match
our house trim at the time. He was using the leftover paint.
The loop, and the Fairbanks-Morse went into the sixties, needing only
the capacitors changed, a dial belt, and a new magic eye tube. At my fathers death, the
radio fell into my hands. I have kept up it's care. My brother used it for
a while as I had trouble keeping it in my small house. But after I got it
back, I placed it in a spot of honor in my house. So the workhorse radio
still plays away.
So this page not only serves as a way I can bring to you some of
the old time radio dx experience, but also as a fitting memorial to
my dad — Robert C. Schmarder, 1918-1981.
Old QSL Cards
QSL cards or acknowledgement cards were from almost the beginning of
wireless and radio, a means to recognize that someone had indeed heard
their transmitter. (Cards were also sent by receiving stations that had
heard a station too.)
Listening to distant stations on a radio receiver became popular as
soon as there were stations to be heard. These next pages will show cards
that are from the mid thirties and late 50's, two times that my dad
spent dxing. I hope to add more of his cards as there are a lot more, but
I picked the ones with the most visual interest first.
Old Time Radio Logs
I recently came across a notebook where my dad, in 1953 listed all the AM
radio stations he heard, starting from 1929. His receiving station was at
203 First North St., Syracuse, NY. I scanned these pages and am making them
available for everyone to see. The JPG images are 720x960 pixels. The compression
was as least as possible. I do have high res available too, but these print ok
The file sizes are around 600k per page.
These downloads are provided only for personal research and enjoyment.
Do not publish these anywhere else. Do not hot link to another site.
If you want others to see this, please link to this page. Thanks.
Verification Letters - 1930's
Along with the nice qsl cards, sometimes stations would send their verification
of being heard by a letter. The verification letter appears to have become more popular
as time went by. The 1950's was a prosperous time generally, and maybe spending
3 cents to send a letter was ok, compared to the penny post card.
So here are some letters that my dad received to confirm that he had actually
heard the station. Most stations did not rubber stamp these confirmations either.
They looked them over quite carefully, as you can see in a couple of the letters.
The stations themselves had to keep accurate logs of each song played, and all
commercials sent.So it was easy to compare.
One might ask, how come my dad could hear west coast signals from the east coast?
Stations would generally sign off at midnight local time. So if you are on the
east coast, you can let the stations in the central and mountain time zones
drop off, and then you hear the west coast.
There were also a lot fewer stations on too. At night many of the lower powered
stations would drop out in favor of the "clear channel stations". All in all, the
broadcast band was a much easier going place.
Another factor was that several times a year, stations would have to do
"proof of performance" tests to insure their modulation clarity, and frequency
stability. These tests were done after midnight. The stations, because they
wanted reports from distant places would advise the dx newsletters of the day
when they were going to test. This was a great opportunity for dx hounds to
capture some really good distant stations.