Our Visit to the “Voice Of America”

Our Visit to the “Voice Of America”

One of the benefits of attending the Dayton Amateur Radio Association “HamVention” every year is to spend time with my long-time (notice I didn’t say “old”) friends.  Dave, Ed, and I grew up together in the 60’s in Redford Township, Michigan – a western suburb of Detroit.  We played together, we rode bikes together, we got in trouble together and we attended school together (since the 2nd grade) and we also got our ham radio licenses together – all first licensed in 1969.

This year at HamVention we decided we’d like to take a trip away from the main venue and visit the site of the Bethany Transmitting Station of the world famous Voice Of America (VOA) located just off I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.

VOA Bethany Transmitting Station

The VOA Bethany Relay Station was designed by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation.  Although the actual recording studios were in New York City and later moved to Washington, D.C., the signals were relayed through dedicated AT&T long distance telephone lines to the transmitter site near Cincinnati.

The VOA began in 1942 as a radio program designed to explain America’s policies during World War II and to bolster the morale of its allies throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. After the war, VOA continued as part of America’s Cold War propaganda arsenal and was primarily directed toward the western European audience. In February 1947, VOA began its first Russian-language broadcasts into the Soviet Union.

With the words, “Hello! This is New York calling,” the U.S. Voice of America (VOA) begins its first radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union. The VOA effort was an important part of America’s propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The initial broadcast explained that VOA was going to “give listeners in the USSR a picture of life in America.” News stories, human-interest features, and music comprised the bulk of the programming. The purpose was to give the Russian audience the “pure and unadulterated truth” about life outside the USSR. Voice of America hoped that this would “broaden the bases of understanding and friendship between the Russian and American people.”

The Bethany site encompassed hundreds of acres of land for the huge rhombic antenna farm that could be switched to direct the 1.2 million watts of radio frequency programming to different locations around the world, depending on the time of day and atmospheric conditions.

In one of the pictures above you can see my friend Dave talking to the last remaining employee of the VOA at this site — Dave’s getting quite a history lesson.

Note the windows at the top of the tower in the first picture – It kind of looks like an airport control tower.  I asked our tour guide the purpose of that tower.  His response … “for sharpshooters”.  This Bethany Relay Station was specifically placed here because of it’s distance from the east coast stations where they could be more susceptible to enemy attack.  Even though the Bethany Station was so far west, they still stationed military armed personnel to protect the Voice Of America to make sure the message always got out.

Due to new satellite and internet technology, the need for the high power RF radio broadcast stations has diminished and the station was closed as an active transmitting site in 1994.  Fear not however as the Voice Of America still broadcasts every day from their studios in Washington D.C. and their programming can be heard on the internet and on some local PBS network stations around the country.  Find out more and listen to VOA live at https://www.voanews.com/

And thanks to dedicated volunteers, we were able to tour the museum.  Take a look at the pictures below.

Here’s a few pix of us boys at the Dayton HamVention and at the VOA

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Quartzfest – Ham Radio Convention In The Sanoran Desert

There were two reasons for our trip to Quartzsite, AZ this past week.  The first was because we were so close (3+ hours) drive time from there we just HAD to see what everyone has been going to see and do for so many years, (The big Vacation, Sports, and RV Show).

Then I found out that this week was also the 20th annual Amateur Radio Convention known as “Quartzfest“.  Being a ham radio operator since the late ’60’s, (My call is WB8BHK) I thought it would be fun to hang out with some like-minded people.  We were all camping in the same area … on BLM land about 6 miles south of Quartzsite in an area known as “Road Runner”.  Quartzsite is just above Yuma on this map.

Sonoran Desert

Camping in the desert there is free for up to 14 days.  Of course, you need to be totally self-contained (fresh water/waste tanks/batteries/generator/solar) since you are in the desert with no utilities or hookups.  When we showed up on Sunday, the registration desk showed we were rig #239 … by the time we left on Thursday there were just under 600 rigs/hams registered!

The purpose of the Quartzfest Convention is to provide a time for education (through seminars and forums), sharing of ideas, display and demonstration of radios and antenna projects, and of course — to have fun.

The Sonoran desert treated us well while we were there, although Monday was VERY windy.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were beautiful sunny days with low winds and temps in the 50’s to 60’s.

The pictures in the slide show below illustrate just some of what we saw surrounding us in the desert.  Some of the interesting RV rigs with all kinds of antennas.   Check out the pix of the guy in his electric recumbant bicycle, he was zipping around all week silently.  Take a look at Mark’s company web site here.

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Check out this short video of our trip to Quartzfest 2017

We’ll have subsequent posts of our day trip to Lake Havasu and Parker Dam along with a post about the Big RV show at Quartzsite.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog.  Do you purchase any products from Amazon?  If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search.  By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more.  We’d really appreciate your help.

Thank you,

Herb & Kathy

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Amateur Radio Field Day June 2016

I’ve been an Amateur Radio Operator (radio “ham”) since about 1969 growing up in Detroit and for many years since then I’ve participated in the annual Field Day exercise sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Although many (including ham radio operators) consider ham radio a hobby, it is really a public service.  You see, during events like natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, mud slides, severe rains, etc.) very often there is no immediate source of electrical power.  Yes, nowadays we all have our cell phones, but if the power outage is widespread and there is no electrical power to the cell towers, then the wireless phone in our hand isn’t much good to us.

Over the years, ham radio operators have jumped to the rescue along with other volunteers and we have provided the means for those volunteer groups and government agencies to talk to one another and coordinate the workers and accomplish the mission.

For those of you here in Morrow County, you might remember the tornado that ripped apart the Village of Cardington or the historic blizzard that hit Morrow County in 1978, but you may not know that radio hams were an integral part of the emergency teams working to make peoples lives whole again.

The ARRL Field Day is an exercise in emergency preparedness and to that end hams all over the United States exercise and demonstrate their ability to, on short notice, set up their radio equipment typically in a public place but without commercially available power and then operate over a continual 24 hour period to see how many contacts they can make with other hams all across the country.

The four stations set up this year used either gasoline generator, battery, or solar power to operate their “rigs” and logged their contacts on laptop computers.  Those logs will be submitted to the ARRL who will cross-check and tally all the logs from across the country and then publish the winners of the different classes and areas.

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