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Radio Servicemen Can Help Win the War!
February 1942 Radio News Article

February 1942 Radio News
February 1942 Radio News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Samuel Milbourne, of Greenwood, Mississippi, was a regular contributing author for Radio News magazine. His title was "Expert Serviceman" and his columns' themes were - you guessed it - servicing electronics products like radios, phonographs, tape recorders, and even some televisions. Being the February 1942 issue, the United Stated had just been drawing into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan's naval air force. Prior to the attack, which quickly made headlines across the nation and across the world, many people did not know much about happenings "over there" in Europe and the South Pacific. Most people were too busy minding their own business, working hard, and raising families to be concerned with other peoples' problems - until those problems became their problems too. The 24-hour news cycle had not been invented and a lack of Internet ubiquitous and continuous information meant even when you got news it was likely quite old. Here, the news was already two months old.

Your radio shop is a miniature arsenal Democracy. You help maintain public morale.

Radio Servicemen Can Help Win the War!, February 1942 Radio News - RF Cafe

"Some silly fad - It will never last!" (radio, that is)

By Samuel Milbourne

Now that we are in the second World War right up to the hilt, it is past the time when recriminations, or "I told you so's" are of much value. There were those among us who felt that our participation was inevitable, and there were those well-meaning among us who felt that we could tight-rope walk across the roaring flames beneath us. The general feeling of many citizens was that we might "get in it" sometime in the future, but it was a "mañana" feeling which resulted in but half-measures of national defense.

All this, thank God, is water over the dam. We stand today a united nation with one fixed purpose - that of beating the everlasting hell out of any nation or group of nations who would threaten us with serfdom under a tyrannical system, the like of which the world has never known.

We have as citizens of these United States many privileges. They include liberty of person, liberty of thought, liberty of word, equality of man ... all matters which we held all too cheaply but a few scant weeks ago. Now we have another privilege ... that of repaying, in wealth or service, our debt to our country.

As radio service men, we must do our part to see that our country maintains its vital radio communications. Some of us will find our niche in the armed forces. Others of us will be working with all our hearts in defense industries, so that vital war material is furnished in ever-increasing quantities to our front lines. The remainder of us will continue in our present jobs so that our people will still have various civilian means of communication held open.

However, we can all be "heroes" - no matter what job we do - so long as we dedicate ourselves to the sole purpose of winning the war in so far as our individual efforts can assist.

As in the past, I address my remarks particularly to that large group of radio men who perform the function of radio servicing. To you, the country looks for an uninterrupted program of keeping every possible radio receiver in tip-top operating condition. Your job will not be easy. Replacement parts will be hard to get. You may have other civilian defense duties which will demand part of your time. You may have to work long hours-seven days a week - 365 days a year-to "keep 'em perkin'!" This is your job ... your gun crew position! You must not fail this trust!

Sharp practices, laziness, technical ignorance, and a "business as usual" feeling must be brushed aside. When you finish the job of repair you have at the moment, you must turn to the next, or immediately seek others so that your time is fully employed. Every day, members of your group are being called to the colors so that their technical ability can be used to the best advantage in our armed forces. Take heed! The day may soon come when you will have so much to do that you will have to turn customers away.

Thousands of set owners may be without the use of a vital thing in their lives. Why? I'll tell you why ... because you failed to take advantage of every moment when there was sufficient technical skill to go around. I'm not talking through my hat ... if the facts were wired for sound, they could not be more easily comprehended.

You must charge fair prices-fair to your customer and fair to yourself. A minimum charge of $1 or $1.50 is absolutely necessary to conserve your time for those who really desire that their radios be repaired. You must charge an equitable price which will compensate you for those long hours of service.

You must use every spare moment to study, as you have never studied before, to the end that you can get out an ever-increasing number of radio repairs each day. Your shop is a miniature arsenal of democracy. You are maintaining the nation's Number One Morale system.

So, don't make the mistake of thinking that your job as a radio service man is of little value in this all-out effort against treachery and oppression. It is important - for as I have pointed out in previous issues of Radio News, radio is the most vital method of keeping up civilian morale. Dig up those back issues of Radio News. Read the November 1941 article -"A Challenge and A Reward."

"The Challenge? The challenge to every radio service man will be his duty to his country to see that every possible radio receiver in his trade territory is in working condition and that it is kept in working condition.

"The Reward? The reward will be the satisfaction of knowing that he is 'doing his part' to help us stay a free people, plus the very definite personal monetary reward of increased profits through more radio repairs."

What do you think did more to crowd our recruiting stations the very day after the first stab in the back? Radio did that job by bringing the news into 95% of the homes of the country within a matter of minutes after it was first received. Most of the nation's receivers were in proper operating condition to receive those news flashes because of your technical ability to "keep 'em perkin'!" Radio brought to us the words of our Commander-in-Chief as he asked Congress for a declaration of a state of war against Japan. Later, radio brought us the historic event when Congress heard his request for the same declaration against Germany and Italy. Radio continues to report our military successes and our defeats. Nothing is withheld from us, because American radio is free and through God's help we will keep it and our other freedoms untarnished by alien hands.

So - once more, the American radio service man has a real job in this war, and this job should not be minimized.

For those who feel like getting into the fight directly, I need hardly state that every branch of the service needs trained radio men now, and they will continue to need them in greater and greater numbers. For those who can qualify, there are Civil Service jobs awaiting them in National Offense. (See "Uncle Sam Needs Civilian Radio Men" in the February 1941 issue of Radio News.) The F.B.I. needs certain types of trained radio men, as I brought out in "F.B.I. Radio Traps Spy-Ring" - December 1941 issue of this magazine.

Again I urge you to re-read past articles by many writers regarding the privileges of serving our country in any one of a number of ways. Without throwing any bouquets, these articles were written with the definite conviction that not only could they be interesting current reading, but that they would prove a source of information to which any radio man could turn for official qualifications.

It is to the high credit of the Editors of Radio News that they were far-sighted enough to see the long-range value of such information in the event of war.

Within the past eighteen months the Editors of Radio News have published a number of articles which deal with fundamental qualifications for government positions in military and civilian branches, as well as articles pertaining to radio servicing under National Defense conditions, etc. Unofficially, I'd suggest that qualifications for government positions in both the military and the civilian branches may be eased somewhat, if - in the opinion of the government - it is to the country's best interests.

Back again to the radio service man who does his part by continuing his radio service business. Please re-read my suggestions in the September 1940 issue of Radio News regarding the keeping of your eyes and ears open for possible enemy activities - and your mouth shut! Remember? I said in part:

"Is it not quite understandable that inasmuch as we are a part of the great American communications industry that, as a vital part of our national life, spies and saboteurs will no doubt aim some of their activities communication-ward. Does it not seem reasonable that we, as practicing radio servicemen who have entrance to all types of homes and businesses, could act as "listening-posts" against such anti-American activities?

"Let those of you who think that the writer is calling 'Wolf' look back over the results of the present world war. Nations died with hardly a struggle because they were so attacked from within that resistance became rout and democracy became but a death rattle.

"Liberty is kept only at the 'price of eternal vigilance! And, liberty, as we know it, is more precious than life itself!"

Those were strong words for eighteen months ago. The idea seemed just a little on the silly side then - except to those of us who remembered Hitler's boast that America will be an inside job! So - I say again, keep your eyes and ears open for any enemy activity in your neighborhood. Keep your mouth shut. Don't start a one-man war. Turn over your information to the nearest FBI headquarters, or address your letter to "Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C."

There are other matters and ways in which radio service men can help in these times. For instance, there is much-needed war legislation pertaining to radio broadcasting which can be fostered by radio service men's organizations in conjunction with radio manufacturers and others in the radio industry.

An anti-static law has been needed for years - and, with the coming of war, it becomes even more important. I have reference to legislation aimed at curbing man-made radio interference from electromedical apparatus, motors, signs, electrical appliances, etc. The FCC should be given broad regulatory authority (similar to the Post Office authorities in Great Britain, or government agencies in other countries) to compel owners of sources of man-made interference to muzzle them, and to compel manufacturers of such interference-creating devices to include adequate filtering in their original design.

Remember that whole sections of our country have already had radio-broadcasting "blackouts," and for short periods citizens in these sections have had to rely upon distant radio stations for their radio news and other programs. Sources of man-made interference in these locations impair such distant reception, may imperil lives, and should no longer be tolerated.

Until such national legislation is enacted, here is an important local field for radio service men to tackle. Fight man-made interference with noise-reduction aerials, line filters, and filters at the source of the interference. Fight man-made interference by requesting (though the local radio service men's organization) local legislation with teeth in it against such interference.

A typical ordinance, as enacted by the city of Alhambra, California, is included at this point as a suggestion. It reads as follows:

"Ordinance No. 1511

An ordinance of the commission of the city of Alhambra regulating the use of devices, appliances, equipment, or apparatus which interferes with radio broadcasting reception, and providing penalties for violation thereof.

The Commission of the City of Alhambra do ordain as follows:

Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to operate in the City of Alhambra any device, appliance, equipment or apparatus generating or causing high frequency oscillations or radiations which interfere with radio broadcast receiving apparatus or wireless receiving apparatus, except that a person duly licensed to practice medicine, osteopathy, chiropractic, or dentistry by the State of California, in the course of practice of his profession, may operate or cause to be operated under his direct supervision any machine necessary to give treatment, provided, however, that all reasonable methods of preventing interference with radio broadcasting receiving apparatus or wireless receiving apparatus has been applied.

Section 2. It is expressly understood and provided, however, that this ordinance shall not apply to radio stations, either broadcast, commercial or amateur licensed by the Federal government, or which are engaged in interstate communications, nor to public utilities under the supervision of the State Railroad Commission.

Section 3. That the enforcement of this ordinance be placed in the hands of the department of Electrical Inspector, City of Alhambra, California, which is given power to deputize one or more persons without pay to assist in the duties herein set forth.

Section 4. When an inspection and test shall have been made by the Electrical Inspector and it is found that any device coming within the terms of this ordinance is being operated in violation of this ordinance, the owner or the operator of such device shall, within forty-eight (48) hours after notice has been served, either entirely discontinue the use, or repair the same, or attach silencing device thereto, so that it complies with the provisions of this ordinance. Such owner or person in possession or operator shall be deemed to be operating such device in violation of the provisions of this ordinance, and such persons shall be subject to the penalties hereinafter provided for such violation.

Section 5. Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500,000 or by imprisonment in the City Jail for a period of not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Section 6. The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this ordinance and cause the same to be published once in the Alhambra Post-Advocate."

It has been already suggested that one radio frequency channel-preferably in the broadcast band be set aside as a national air-raid warning frequency (similar to the 600-meter SOS channel). All radios when not tuned to their normal local radio programs could then be left on and tuned to the air-radio emergency channel. Whether the raid is made during the day or night, every radio set owner could then be assured that he would get instant notification through his radio receiver located in his home (possibly right in his bedroom).

If such a plan is put into force, it would make the radio service man an even more important cog in national defense because it would then be of supreme importance that every receiver be capable of receiving such warnings. It would also be important that the hum level and tube noise be reduced to such an extent that they would not become objectionable even with the radio volume control turned well up.

There is one other subject which I wish to comment upon this month. It can not be emphasized too much. Do not be a spreader of rumors. Our enemies thrive on such rumors, as flies thrive on filth. As a radio service man, your customers believe that you listen almost continuously to the war news. Thus, they will be asking you, "What's the latest news on the radio?"

Please, for your country's sake, be very careful how you relay such news. In the first place, don't "color" it. If the news release announces the sinking of, let us say, two enemy destroyers, don't tell your customer it was three or four destroyers, or that the ships were cruisers or battleships. If the news is bad, don't make it sound more grim by announcing it in a hollow voice and with a downcast manner. State it clearly; correctly and with some cheerful follow-up statement. War news is always a mixture of good and bad. If you must be the carrier of bad news, try to obtain some piece of good news which you can give as an antidote to reassure your customer.

Also, I would caution you to be very sure of your news source. Not the station or the newscaster, but the original source of the news should be known. By it, you can pretty well judge its authenticity.

Army and Navy official communiqués can be considered as absolutely true.

If a responsible government official by name is quoted as the news source, and he is an authority on the subject of the quotation, the news release may be considered as true unless he is quoted on a matter of opinion, when the matter then becomes but one man's opinion - although that man be an expert.

Examples -

The Secretary of War is quoted with reference to the Army. He is an authority and the subject has to do with his work so it may be taken as true.

Senator Whoosis of the Rivers and Harbors Senate Committee is quoted with reference to the Army. Senator Whoosis may be an authority on rivers and harbors, but any news from him regarding the Army must be taken as one man's opinion, maybe correct, maybe incorrect.

When the source is credited to "a responsible government source," "a high-ranking Army officer," "an authority on foreign affairs," etc., etc., do as our President suggested, discount the news heavily.

When the news source is given as the British government, or a high-ranking British officer or official by name, you have every reason to believe that the news is correct. News from sources in the smaller countries which are our Allies can for the most part be accepted as true. News from Russia is scarce at best. Until Stalin allows U.S. military observers in the Russian front lines, the authenticity of Russian news can only be judged over a long period.

When the news source is given as Japan, Germany, Italy, or any of the Axis-dominated countries, it should be heavily discounted or discarded completely. Always remember that our enemies tell us only what they want us to believe. They will even go so far as to admit temporary reverses so that when the true news of their successes is given, it will be psychologically even more crushing. This is a war of words as much as of bullets!

So - when you tell your customers the latest radio news, be very careful to state the original source. Don't relay news credited to enemy sources. By doing so, you play into their hands.

In conclusion, may I echo the requests of government officials for patience among us all. Before we chafe under this or that war regulation, or before we become arm-chair strategists over night, let us remember that we cannot win this war in a week or a month. We are up against tough opponents - desperate opponents - opponents who are ready to stake their all in one supreme effort to wipe liberty, as we know it, from the face of the earth.

But on the other hand, we are the most powerful nation in the world. We have as our Allies the next most powerful nation - Great Britain - and her Commonwealth of Nations, as well as a host of smaller countries. We have right on our side, and when that right is backed up by our armed might, together with our national will, we can not lose!

Finally, we not only have God on our side, we are on God's side! With His unfailing help; we march forward to certain and complete Victory!



Posted February 17, 2022

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