My earliest memories of radio dx, although I didn’t know it as DX at the time, was when my father (who was working shift work on the Railway) used to listen to XEW on 900 kilocycles (as it was called in those days). He also used to listen around the dial on short-wave a lot. Before, during and immediately after World War Two, a radio was the household’s pride and joy. Then it was a status symbol. Almost every house had an outdoor antenna of around 30 or 40 feet or occasionally longer, usually out to a tall pole or hooked to a handy tree. Most people realised they could hear many different stations in the evening and this was quite often a topic of conversation between neighbors over the garden fence.
Shops selling radios were plentiful and folders listing the most commonly heard AM and shortwave stations were given away freely. These were often compiled with the help of the NZRDXL and the NZDXRA as well as several DXer’s. Shops like “McCracken and Walls” and “The Columbus Radio Centre” seemed to be the gathering place for radio enthusiasts and musicians in Dunedin.
After doing my three months military training in 1950, I spent my Army pay on a portable radio of my own, mainly to listen to the wrestling broadcasts which were on radio most nights, in Australia as well as New Zealand. At that time wrestling was next in popularity to rugby and racing and a lot different to today’s freaks. It was also fought over eight rounds of eight minutes. This meant over an hours broadcast each bout.
I was at this time an apprentice printer working with Jim Martin who was quick to get me to tell him what I could hear. Jack Fox, Jim Martin and I used to travel into work each day by train so we naturally ended up sitting together for the journey and, of course, the subject of conversation was DX.
I became hooked on DX when after about the second night’s listening for yanks I heard a very rare one – KRAM 500 in Las Vegas – and I haven’t heard it since.
At this time all DXers were very keen to recruit new members and I then joined the League…
Update: LAURIE BOYER longtime DXer and latterly editor of our ‘Shortwave Mailbag’ column died on Tuesday 7 June 2005 after a long period of illness. The funeral was held in Invercargill on 11 June. On behalf of all members a floral tribute and message of sympathy has been sent to Laurie’s widow Marylou. Former Southlander RAY CRAWFORD recalls knowing Laurie for some 45 years. He writes “I first met him when Bill Marsh Junior and I went to the DX League convention at Long Beach, Dunedin in 1961 and stopped by at Laurie’s crib. I have many wonderful memories of the many hours spent DXing with him on his Eddystone at his home at 50 Millar Street after he moved to Invercargill from Dunedin. One of the highlights was one October evening when we were to go to the Branch meeting at Eric McIntosh’s. Bill and I called to pick Laurie up on the way to the meeting. But the Yanks were everywhere on the dial and I logged 20 stations that night. Needless to say we didn’t make the meeting!”