Listening To The Enemies

Short-wave fun way back when...

My father paid just intermittent attention to his kids when I was in my teens. He was busy trying to start a new company and he succeeded.

Looking back, I think he wanted me to become a radio amateur. He and my uncle John had done that and they both had fun communicating with other “hams” across the world.

I ended up with a used Hallicrafters short-wave receiver which my father partly paid for. I’d tune into ham radio exchanges, but they just didn’t interest me. A typical exchange:

“So how’s the weather down there in Trinidad?'“

“Oh, kinda hot. You have quite a strong signal! What sort of transmitter are you using?”

I gravitated towards the strong propaganda broadcasts from various totalitarian countries, and the propaganda broadcasts from the US-sponsored Voice Of America. Back then the VOA would broadcast “Special English” shows on one frequency. The broadcasters would speak…really… slow, for hours at a time. I could only take so much of that and I’d go back to Radio Peking, Radio Moscow, or Radio Havana. I’d write letters to these stations and they would send me all sorts of propaganda material.

Once my father confronted me out on the driveway. He looked serious. He said:

“Larry, you are getting all of this mail from Communist countries! You might have a hard time getting a security clearance some day if you keep this up!”

At that point in my life the last thing I was concerned with was getting a security clearance! Hell, I was about ready to drop out of high school, just weeks before graduation, and take to the road.

After I was long gone, Castro’s government media outlet kept sending postcards to my home address. Every Christmas there would be cards with cartoon drawings of Castro dressed up in a Santa Claus suit. This just really annoyed my father! He finally went to the post office and requested that they would ditch any mail from Cuba to his address.

I have to say that I learned a lot listening to propaganda broadcasts, including those from totalitarian regimes as well as those from our government. There are so many ways of skewing the truth!