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On “Backscatter: Remember Radio?” (July 2012)

Superb article. I still have the family Philco which has to be at least 80 years old. It sits in my living room, in a beautiful console, on six legs, with doors that open to the radio dials (all four). It has not been turned on in 60 years. I also get an A+ in response to your quiz on the Lone Ranger. I can recite the entire intro. It was a must to listen every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. By the way, the Lone Ranger never even wounded anyone. He was so good he would shoot the bad guy’s gun from his holster or hand without even scratching him.

Another favorite of mine was Boston Blackie, “enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend.”

There are so many other programs but we could go on for days.

Thanks for a fabulous article and letting us reminisce. It goes in my file forever.

Victor Zourides
IEEE Life Senior Member
Wheatley Heights, N.Y.


Terrific article, thank you. I listened to radio a lot, from early childhood in California (which included WWII) until the late sixties in England. Several programs and personalities of note that I learned from, or simply enjoyed, included Walter Winchell, Edward R. Murrow, Arthur Godfrey (with guest Mario Lanza), Alistair Cooke (BBC, “Letter from America”), Phil Harris and Alice Faye, Orson Wells’ “War of the Worlds” spoof (revived recently on NPR), “One Man’s Family,” “I Love a Mystery,” Gene Autry, Sky King, and Ronald Reagan (when host of “Death Valley Days”).

Hallan Noltimier
Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio


Enjoyed your article. Two radio shows that were among my favorites were “Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians” and the Lucky-Strike-sponsored “Your Hit Parade.”

Tom Kociuba
IEEE Life Member
Macungie, Penn.


Good article. I relived a lot of pleasant memories. Ah, the Shadow! That, the Green Hornet, and the Lone Ranger I lived for as a child.

A few additional comments on the transformer and power supply. The reason for the transformer was to develop a high voltage (on order of several hundred volts) for B+. That is the term for the high voltage supply. There were three supplies: A, (filaments); B, a high voltage for the tube plate and screen grid; and C, a high control grid negative bias voltage.

The latter was often not needed as this voltage could be developed by placing a resistor in the cathode of the tube, which raised its potential. Then a resistor to chassis ground would cause a negative voltage to exist between the cathode and control grid.

Of course the HV transformer was expensive. It could be eliminated by rectifying the AC line, which would provide around 150 volts with respect to chassis ground. For a higher voltage a voltage doubler circuit was occasionally used.

Now for the filament problem. Shortly after the war (WWII) the filaments in a common radio tube line-up were designed so they all used the same current. The result was an “All-American 5” (five tubes including rectifier) with filaments connected in series that could operate directly from the 115-volt AC line.

The problem was then that “hot chassis.” After all, the polarized plug had not yet been invented, so the plug had a 50% chance of being inserted in such a manner that the radio chassis was really 115 volts with respect to any ground around the house. Whoops! (Several manufacturers used plastic screws, or plastic inserts and plastic knobs to solve the problem.)

As a kid I fixed many of these radios. After a while I bought a small isolation transformer to plug the radios into to avoid a “shocking experience.” Later radios floated the ground in the radio using a 0.047 uFd capacitor between the floating ground and chassis. If the cap didn’t leak too much, the shock was rather mild. And yes, I did see more than a few of these radios that were missing a knob or two.

Today, “Dewey, Cheatum and How” would be advertising on late-night TV about the big settlement shocked users could get.

Jim Ussailis
IEEE Life Senior Member
Florence, Mass.


Great article ....which covers the period of my life!

I was born in 1930 on a Missouri farm (no electricity, no phone) and I vividly remember the early battery radios (with A, B, & C batteries!) which I used to listen to Jack Armstrong, the Lone Ranger, Amos & Andy, etc. And the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and later the end of WWII.


Bob Huck
IEEE Senior Member
Indianapolis, Ind.


Great article on radio history(I enjoyed it), but it's hard to believe you missed the "Grand Ole Opry" which has been on the air since 1925 on WSM-AM 650 and heard in over 30 states  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Ole_Opry

This show is a legend and I believe is the longest running broadcast show of any type to date.

Thanks for the memories,

John Ritchie
IEEE Member
Duluth, Ga.


Many of us did not have expensive radios in 1935 but we were able to pick up broadcasts by using a crystal and a set of earphones.  I was only 8 but my father, an electrician, showed me how to do this and I was hooked into electronics programs at that age.  I am now 85 and most of my life has been devoted to many aspects of radio engineering. Very interesting article, enjoyed the program listings since I remembered them to this day. HI YO Silver, Away.

Ted Yaeger
IEEE Life Member
Minneapolis, Minn.



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