John Durham


I first became interested in radio around 1956/57. During the school holidays I was allowed to stay up late and listen to the boxing and wrestling broadcast live on 1ZB or 1YA direct from the Auckland Town Hall on Monday and Thursday nights from about 9.00 till 11.00pm. Reception in Invercargill was not always good and on some occasions it would fade out and other programming could be heard – according to my father this was an Australian station and so was born a interest in radio and what could be heard.

After many months of pestering, my parents finally relented and decided I could have a radio in my bedroom. The annual McCracken & Walls (local radio & electrical goods retailer) secondhand radio sale came around and there it was – a Pilot 4 valve receiver for £4, 10 shillings – $9.00 in today’s money. My uncle,Alex Neilson, who had been a DXer and member of the NZ DX Club, erected a aerial for me and installed a earthing rod outside my window. All ready now to turn the radio on after tea!

I switched on and tuned around the medium wave band – 4YA Dunedin, 3XC Timaru, 2XN Nelson – wow!!. But wait there’s more – that knob with SW written under it. I was soon hooked with the strange sounds, different languages and music. It was like magic, a turn of a knob and you could be in another world. After seeing some of my uncle’s QSL cards, I was keen to get started with logging and sending reports away.

I attended a few NZRDXL Southland branch meetings but felt rather intimidated, as you had to read out your loggings and veries and mine were less than average eg VOA, Radio Australia, and Radio Peking.

Around this time, many hours were spent next door at the Checketts Boatshed (Neville Checketts ZL4OX) mucking around with radios etc including a ZC1. This was used occasionally to broadcast our own programme of music and talk, until we noticed the increased presence of the local Radio Inspectors van in our street.

I started work in 1961 and my first boss was a Mr Hume (Arthur Hume – see pages 4 & 7 of the October 2008 DX Times ‘60 th Anniversary supplement). At the time I had no idea he had been a DXer or even had an interest in radio. My interest in DX waned around 1964 when I left home to attend Lincoln Pub (or was it Lincoln College/University – however thats another story).

I rejoined the DX League in early 1972 when living in Whangarei. I DXed from a location on the southern side of Okara Park, the main rugby ground. Over the following years I moved to Meremere,Hamilton and finally to Tauranga in 1993.

Radios I have owned: Pilot 4 valve, Atwater Kent 7 valve, Eddystone 840C, Trio 9R59DSM, Yaesu FRG7000, Sony 6800 orange, Icom ICR70, Phillips DR2999 and a JRC NRD535Db which is the receiver I use these days along with a Eavesdropper trap dipole antenna.

Some of my more interesting QSLs:
Falkland Islands/Malvinas – Radio Nacional. Isla Malvinas 2370kHz.
El Salvador – Radio Venceremos 6907kHz.
Canada – CKFX Vancouver 6080kHz 10 watts.
Radio Mauritania Saint-Louis [Senegal] 4855kHz
Cape Verde Islands – Radio Voz de Sao Vicente 3960kHz.
St Helena 11092.5kHz.
Vanuatu/New Hebrides – Radio Vemarana, 3522kHz. Na-Griamel Fedtn Radio Tanafo 3975kHz.
Bhutan – Radio NYAB 7040kHz 300 watts
Austria – Schulungssender 6255kHz.
Northern Ireland – NIRS 6273kHz 200 watts.
My first QSL was JOA-20 Radio Japan 17825kHz dated 12 March 1958.

Over the years, my main interest has been Shortwave, but some Medium Wave DX was done from Invercargill, with Yanks and Asians, but mainly Aussie stations verified but most of these QSLs have been lost.

I have focused on chasing radio “countries” over the years with Serbia, Northern Cyprus, and Micronesia (Pohnpei) and Burundi if reactivated still to verify.

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