Friday, March 27, 2015

The Very First RNI Mailbag and Freedom of Speech?

Sunday September 30, 1990 was just a couple of days before the long awaited October 2nd German reunification, the true end of World War II.  Hope was in the air despite the rain in and around NYC that day.  And the most unique mailbag program ever to hit the shortwaves debuted that night at 9 PM Eastern (0100 UTC Monday).

Things did not exactly get off to a smooth start.  Even before the initial broadcast, the staff was embroiled in an argument over whether a song featuring profanity could be played, if it could be bleeped, or as Pirate Joe wanted, not to play it at all.  Dan seriously considered boycotting the maiden mailbag broadcast over Pirate Joe's authoritarian stance (no bleeping in MY studio!) on the matter.  However, the program proceeded and the conflict resulted in a good discussion around the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.  In the end, Dan prevailed and the profanities were bleeped, ironically in a song called "Freedom of Speech".  The prohibited utterance that did go out over the air the WWCR airwaves that night ended up coming from a caller rather than a song.

Pirate Joe joined Dan in the studio for the first hour of the program, which was hosted from the Pirate Central Yonkers, NY studio -- so while we announced NYC on the air, we were about a mile or two north or the city line.  Plenty of letters were read, including mentions of pirate scholars Andy Yoder and George Zeller, well known DXers and NASWA members Jerry Berg and Rich D'Angelo, and of course, a commercial for Popular Communications.

Jerry's letter mentioned the Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications (CPRV) and Dan offered further publicity to this still worthy and ongoing effort.

Listen here and enjoy the show.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Planes, trains, 800 numbers, and the RNI Mailbag on WWCR

November 11, 1990 was Veteran's Day in the USA and Armistice Day in France.  Tina and I were still in the throes of our initial infatuation, and I was hosting the RNI Mailbag each second and fourth Sunday via WWCR's 100,000 watt 7,520 kHz blowtorch.

Al Gore had not yet invented the commercial internet, 800 toll free service only worked within the US and most of Canada, and the cellphone was still in its infancy. Shortwave was still a viable international communications medium and we received letters from all over the world, which I read on the air. The TSA had not yet been invented to dehumanize our air travel experience nor had the Euro been invented to tax the Europeans wallets and inflate prices.

This episode features a story of how we almost missed the show because of an airline ticketing error -- and how, with the help of a wonderful KLM representative in Amsterdam, we were home in time anyway -- much to the dismay of a Parisian bureaucrat.  It also features commercials for Offshore Echoes, Monitoring Times, and Radio For Peace International.  Listeners call in with their travel stories, letters from around the world are read and there is a brief mention of our visit to the Veronica radio ship "Nordernay" which was anchored in Maastricht.  I also confuse the legendary PCJ callsign, predecessor of Radio Netherlands, with PJB, which was the 800 kHz callsign of Trans World Radio in Bonaire.  Ah, hindsight!

Enjoy as you listen to this RNI Mailbag flashback from 25 years ago!