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Radio In My Life Essay Winner

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The Ontario DX Association, in celebration of its 25th Anniversary Radio Fest recently sponsered an essay contest on the topic of “Radio in my Life.” There were over 80 essays from 29 countries. The winning entry is printed here. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... RADIO IN MY LIFE by TERRY PARSONS of HASTINGS, NEBRASKA, USA ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... My first clear memory as a child is of my grandfather and a big gray metal box with mysterious dials and lights. Beeps and squawks that, at that time, meant nothing to me, issued from within this contraption. But they were apparently magical sounds, because they filled grandfather with an indescribable joy. After listening to the sounds for awhile, he would pull something made of metal and wood from the corner of the old oak table, and laying his hand lovingly on it, begin to make some of the beeps and squawks himself. At that time, I didn't understand the angelic smile on his face. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... It was thus that I inherited my love of radio. It filled the lonely evenings of a suddenly orphaned child with wonder and amazement. I could hear voices from places I knew I could never visit; places whose very names suggest intrigue and romance: names like Moscow, Vatican City, Lisbon, London, and Katmandu. And the names of some of the stations were just as magical: Radio Libertad, Voice of America, Radio Veritas, Radio Zaracay, Voice of the Andes. People I had never met, and never would, became my best friends, bringing to life a world I didn't know. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... Almost as exciting as pulling those elusive signals out of the ether was receiving mail from places so very far away. I would run home every afternoon just to see if a new QSL card had arrived. Very often it had, and I prized those bits of paperboard like a miser his gold. And attached to the letters were stamps that were fascinating and strange. I started collecting stamps through radio, another hobby I still pursue avidly. In fact, radio has been such a part of my life, that I often remember dates of events by the radio stations logged that day. One could honestly say that my life is a reflection of radio. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... I was only five when I lost my folks in a tragic accident. Grandfather and Grandmother took me in, and raised me. They made me as happy as they could. I was only 13 when President John F. Kennedy was taken from us by an assassin's bullet. They dismissed school early that day, and told us to watch TV. But I ran home with tears in my eyes, fired up my old Hallicrafters SX-28, and tuned to VOA. As each hour of that fateful day passed, I stared at the controls and listened and wept. Once again, radio was not only my informant, but my comforter, my companion, my mentor. Radio had softened the harsh blow of loss again. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... In High School, I continued to listen to radio, and expanded my hobby to include amateur radio, and police monitoring. I volunteered for Civil Defense and Skywatch. My High School science fair project was a homebrew receiver. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... In College, I studied Electronics Engineering. My special passion was antenna design. I worked for radio stations to help pay college expenses, and became a well-known call-in host on the campus broadcast station. And I still watched the mailbox for those QSL's. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... I worked in the consumer electronics field for some time, before going to work in the electronics division of a company with government contracts to build missile guidance systems and other technical devices. But I never lost my love for radio. It was always there to soothe the tension away. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... When I became disabled, again radio was my friend and helper. I had many lonely and painful days, and I found radio to be loyal and trustworthy. I never would have made it without radio. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... In large part, radio has been my life. At least, it is safe to say that my life would have been very different without it. I still listen to radio with the same rapt attention I did as a child. True, the things I hear may be filtered somewhat by education, wider experience, maybe even a healthy skepticism. But, as I approach my fiftieth winter, one thing hasn't changed. I still love radio in all its aspects. Sometimes, at night, when all is quiet, I put on the headset, fire up the radio, and begin to twirl the dial, searching for that familiar voice, that ghostly message from the darkness. And you know, if I listen very hard, I can sometimes hear the even, staccato melody of my grandfather's code key. But this time, the beeps, which once meant nothing to me, now say, 'You did fine, Son' You did just fine'. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... Terry L. Parsons, Hastings, Nebraska ..... ..... .....