My love of radio started even before my first day of school. I have vivid late night childhood remembrances of slowly and carefully maneuvering the “cat’s whisker” of my simple crystal radio over a rough piece of galena crystal until a radio signal faintly entered the earplug. Searching for something to listen to was like mining for gold. And the payoff came when I discovered a nugget – the sound of a radio station filling my ear with old time radio serials like The Shadow and The Lone Ranger or comedies like Fibber McGee and Molly and The Jack Benny Show.
Before long the homemade crystal radio gave way to a treasured AM radio on my nightstand. In the middle of the night I would carefully turn the dial to search for the powerful signals of the giant 50,000 watt clear channel radio stations located near and far from my home near Boston. Radio became my window into the nation’s news and local community issues as told through late night newscasts and provocative talk shows hosts.
Over time when the sounds from American cities began to blur and sound alike the AM radio was replaced by a short wave radio which, when tuned carefully, filled my room with broadcasts of Voice of America, BBC, Radio Moscow, and programming from virtually every continent and corner of the world.
But radio was limited to listening and I wanted to be able to talk to the world, too. Amateur (HAM) Radio satisfied my urge to both hear and be heard. And thus my romance with headphones expanded to include the microphone, too. It was the start of a lifelong love of the art of communication.
I grew increasingly fascinated with the way news and information was gathered and reported. Inspired by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, I developed a deep interest in broadcast news gathering. My first experience behind a broadcast microphone came at WCMO-FM, my college radio station at Marietta College in Ohio. I was asked to be a disc jockey which I thoroughly enjoyed. But when the opportunity to be a newscaster was offered it was like winning the lottery. I later studied broadcasting at the Northeast Broadcasting School in Boston and then I was trained to be a military broadcast journalist at the Department of Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis.
During the Vietnam era, I was stationed on Johnston Atoll, a remote Pacific island where I was the news director for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service broadcasting news on both radio and television. The highlight of my tenure at AFRTS was being part of the military news team that broadcast the splashdown and recovery of the Apollo 11 capsule carrying the first astronauts to walk on the moon.
Following military service, my professional career took a very different path. I learned that a career in broadcasting could be volatile and unstable. So for the next four decades I worked in the nonprofit sector specializing in philanthropy and marketing communications. But I was still able to stay close to broadcasting as one of the early developers of the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon which supported Children’s Hospitals in North America. For 14 years I produced local television segments for the nationally broadcast telethon winning a regional Emmy in 1984. I also produced more than a dozen compilation record albums to benefit pediatric medical centers.
I retired in 2013 as the President and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix but I still provide management consulting to charitable organizations. One of the joys of my new found free time is being back behind the microphone again as a broadcaster at RADIO PHOENIX, one of the largest community radio stations in the country with a worldwide audience who listen to the live stream over the internet. I am the producer and host of The Phoenix File, a weekly newsmagazine featuring in-depth conversations about the people and programs positively impacting the quality of life in the Valley of the Sun. Beginning October 25 The Phoenix File will air every Tuesday from 6:30-7:00pm.
I was interviewed by a Radio Phoenix trainee for a recent segment of the Bungalow Show. Listen to the interview for a little more background on me and my new show.
Guests on The Phoenix File will come from a variety of areas such as:
- social service, social justice and human rights;
- arts, culture and education;
- advocates for equality on behalf of all populations with special emphasis on the underserved;
- civic, political and other public affairs issues;
- newsworthy topics covered in-depth with balance, fairness and objectivity;
- nonprofit volunteerism, leadership and philanthropy;
- effective and responsible charitable giving and nonprofit accountability;
- community building;
- and more topics as suggested by listeners.
The Phoenix File can be heard live at www.radiophoenix.org or with the TuneIn Radio app on computers and mobile devices. The Phoenix File is both a radio show and an online blog at www.thephoenixfile.net .
My fascination with broadcasting has come a long way from late night listening to radio on a primitive crystal radio kit to broadcasting on a radio station heard throughout the world over the internet. While the technology may have changed my love for radio is as strong today as it was two thirds of a century ago.
For more commentaries by Stu Turgel go to: https://thephoenixfile.net/commentaries/
One thought on “My Long Road from Crystal Radio to Worldwide Broadcasting”
Such a great story! Thank you for sharing!