The DX Recordings of Colin Miller
Now VE3CMT and living in Sarnia, Ontario, Colin Miller spent most of his life in South Africa, where he learned about shortwave and started DXing in 1959. His location provided him a unique opportunity to hear at good quality stations that were real DX for those of us living far, far away. And his work at SABC gave him an inside look at the world of shortwave broadcasting. Colin often recorded his reception, and we are pleased to present here some of these recordings. We hope to offer more in the future.
The equipment Colin has used over the years has included a Trio 9R59DE, a Barlow Wadley XCR-30, a Kenwood TS930S, a Yaesu FRG7000, a Kenwood 144 MHz transceiver, a Sony reel-to-reel recorder, a TA-33 triband beam for 10/15/20 meters, and a 5/8 dipole for 2 meters.
A few years after the end of World War II our family moved from England to South Africa. My father worked as an electrician at one of the gold mines near Johannesburg. It so happened that a co-worker was a radio ham who lived across the street from us. He used a rack-and panel transmitter and a Hallicrafters SX-43 receiver. I used to go and visit him when he was on the air. As a boy of seven, I was hooked, but it would be more than thirty years until I obtained my ham license.
In the early 1950s my parents bought me a Siemens bedside radio, covering MW and SW. We only had three local MW stations and could pick up Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and ZNB Mafeking on SW. I could also tune-in to the BBC, VOA and AFRTS. However I only began serious DXing in 1959. I started collecting QSL cards, later joined a few DX clubs, and became a monitor for Trans World Radio and FEBA Seychelles.
Between 1982 and 1986 I worked at Radio RSA, at that time the External Service of the SABC in Johannesburg. For much of that period I was in charge of their Monitoring Panel, a group of about 500 DXers from many parts of the world, who sent in regular reception reports on our transmissions.
My office was located not at Broadcasting Centre in Auckland Park, but at the SABC’s Receiving Station at Panorama, northwest of Johannesburg in a peaceful country setting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The site was used by the SABC to monitor news broadcasts from various international stations and feed them by landline to the News Department in Auckland Park. Sadly, now all the short wave receivers and antennas have gone, and the site is used by Sentech, a provider of broadband communications.
I also assisted in the frequency planning of the station. Being a DXer, I then had an intimate knowledge of what was happening on short wave and which stations were on, and when. This knowledge helped in deciding which frequency should be used to a particular target area.
Our department also produced a monitors’ handbook, and a bi-monthly newsletter in English, which was translated into French, Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish. This included some current news about the station and its personalities, some aspect of South African culture, birthday greetings, and a contest in which we gave away promotional items to members. In addition, we sent out a supply of reception report forms for Panel members to complete and return to us. Another incentive was to issue a certificate after so many reports had been received by a member.
Radio RSA had a whole series of very colourful QSL cards, which depicted the flora, fauna, and scenic spots of South Africa. They were highly sought by DXers. I was responsible for issuing QSLs to Panel members, as well as cards for the domestic services.
Naturally, I got to meet some of the announcers at Radio RSA whenever I went to Auckland Park. I remember meeting Bernard Lehman, who used to work at the Swiss Shortwave Service, and also Henry Vaughan, who was with LM Radio at one time. Others who come to mind and later joined the television service include Dorianne Berry, first female announcer on SABC TV, and TV newsreaders Shirley Veal, David Hall-Green and Colin Houston.
Although I was not one of the regular announcers, my boss Piet Martins hosted a weekly show, “DX Corner.” I sometimes went with him to Auckland Park to co-host the program. Each year on New Year’s Eve, Radio RSA produced a special international call-in show from midnight to dawn, and I would join some of the announcers and was able to talk to some of our Panel members by phone. I even got to meet some of them when they were visiting South Africa.
I consider my time at Radio RSA to be the best job I ever had, because I was able to combine my hobby with my job, a dream everybody has. I now live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, but miss all the stations that have now left shortwave.
Angola - Emissora Oficial, Luanda, 1900 UTC, prob. 100 kw
Angola - Emissora Oficial, Luanda, 11875 kHz, 0500 UTC
Angola - Radio Clube do Huambo, Nova Lisboa, 7160 kHz, 0500 UTC
Angola - Radio Clube do Lobito, Lobito, 4910 kHz, 1972, 1900 UTC
Angola - Radio Comercial. Sa da Bandeira, 4795 kHz, 1972
Angola - Radio Ecclesia, Luanda, 4985 kHz, 1972, c. 1900 UTC
Angola - Radio Nacional de Angola, Luanda, post independence, 7245 or 9535 kHz, 0500 UTC
Mozambique - Emissora do Aero Clube da Beira, 1430 kHz MW, early 1970s, 1830 UTC
Mozambique - Emissora Regional de Tete, 1160 or 1169 kHz MW, c. 1974
Mozambique - Lourenco Marques Radio, 49 or 60 mb, prob. early 1970s, 0800 UTC
Mozambique - Lourenco Marques Radio, via Durban-800 kHz MW relay, Oct 12, 1975, 1800 UTC
Mozambique - Radio Mozambique interval signal, 1979
Mozambique - Radio Pax, Beira, 3960 kHz, 1974-1975, 0400 UTC
Mozambique - Radio Pax, Beira, early 1970s, two parts; I-7205 kHz, 0930 UTC; II-1295 kHz MW, 1900 UT
Rhodesia - A Voz de Africa Livre, clandestine BC to Mozambique, high-power Gwelo MW 998 kHz, mid-late 1970s, 1800 UTC
Rhodesia - Rhodesia BCing Corp., Gwelo, 3396 kHz, mid-late 1970s, 0355 UTC
Zaire - La Voix du Zaire, Bukavu, 4839 kHz, mid-1970s, 0400 UTC s/on
Zaire - Voice of African Brotherhood, Lubumbashi, 11866 kHz, 100 kw, mid-1970s
Zambia - Radio Zambia, African Svc, Lusaka, mid-late 1970s
Zambia - Radio Zambia, External Svc, Lusaka, possibly 9580 kHz, mid-late 1970s, 1615 UTC
Zambia - Radio Zambia, Lusaka, mid-late 1970s, 1115 UTC
Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe BCing Corp. (Radio One), Salisbury, 3396 kHz., mid-late 1970s, 0325 UTC