Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yesterday Once More: The Magic of Signature Tunes

"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday"
~ Pearl Buck.

True! What we are today is by our choices made yesterday. The same apply to our hobbies as well! If you’re a radio hobbyist, I’m sure you would agree with me that, at some point in the past, you made a conscious decision to pursue this wonderful hobby of Dxing! But I wasn’t that ‘selective’. Instead it grew in me naturally! What attracted me to radio is quite hard to explain. It’s not a single factor but a collection of several factors. Among others I would say, listening to “signature tunes” or “interval signals” helped me stick to this hobby for years!

I recently saw a Facebook poll where a Dxer friend asked "If you get a chance then which station's signature tune will you choose as your mobile phone's ringtone?" While, the question was intriguing and the answers were equally interesting, it helped me recollect my memories of listening to interval signals and signature tunes from far away stations! Today, some of these stations have left shortwave and others are planning to bid adieu as well. While we’re uncertain about what future holds for us (the shortwave listeners and Dxers), let’s not waste the present time in debates, assumptions or presumptions; instead let us relish a slice of the past!

Here’s a list of my 10 most favorite signature tunes from radio stations across continents (in reverse order). Each one is special to me and I have extensive cassette recordings of the same. If you’re curious “click” on the links and listen to the tunes. And don’t forget to leave your comments or name your personal favorites to let me know, if we have similar tastes! Enjoy…

10. Radio New Zealand International (The Pacific Voice): I never get tired listening to the “bird’s call” from RNZI. I still remember the first time I listened to its opening announcement around midnight (my local time) and recorded the same after two successive attempts. The Maori chorus following the 'sign on' adds a special dimension to this exotic tune from down under. Technology has made things so easier today! Now you can listen to it here

9. RDP International, Portugal: Always a prized catch, there’s not much of a sign on tune! But the quick-paced Portuguese announcement followed by the anthem attracted me to tune in to RDP Intl. Sadly for listeners, the station has left shortwave recently and there’s every possibility of its staying that way in the future as well. Here’s your chance to listen to it

8. Swiss Radio International: So sweet a tune never heard! (Echoing the words of the great bard) SRI was one of my personal favorites for years. Its SW service is long gone into the history books! Luckily for me, I was fortunate to QSL & record their last SW broadcast (via- Sottens)! Click here to listen.

7. WSHB, Cypress Creek: Another station I loved listening to. It’s no more on the air waves. But you can listen to its wonderful tune here.

6. Radio Sweden, Stockholm: Rhythm and melody, with a dash of scandinavian flavor! That’s what made this wonderful tune appealing to me! Check it out

5. Channel Africa: Another all time favorite,I remember the first time I heard the “Bird’s call” and made my whole family listen to it. It was 10.30 at night, and breaking the silence outside, my portable radio sound box boomed “you’re tuned to the English service of Channel Africa, broadcasting from Johannesburg, South Africa”. Here is the tune (Click to open > South Africa > Channel Africa)

4. Deutchewelle: Its injustice not to select the DW tune as one of my favorites. There were times when my morning would begin with DW’s Bengali broadcasts. It was more of a habit and at some point in my career, a compulsion! Listen it here

3. Radio Australia: I’m a fan of RA. ABC Radio Grandstand heard on shortwave on weekends was my direct source of live sports update from The Ashes Tour to The Australian Open during my school days. However, Radio Australia’s sign on tune was logged much later. "Waltzing Matilda" or “Call of the Kookaburra” which one’s your favorite? Here is mine

2. Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal, Belgium: RVI‘s tune (the vintage one) played a crucial role in creating my interest in Dxing. There’s something ‘magical’ to it that still appeals to my ears. Check it out here. (Click to open > Belgium > RVI vintage c.1998)

1. Radio Japan, NHK World: My best signature tune. There’s a mystical element in this tune. Like the tune played by the Pied Piper of Hamelin, it will soothe your senses, preparing you for a magical flight to the Land of The Rising Sun!

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