Conelrad in Boston area

Fri Nov 23 21:39:44 EST 2007

As I said in another post, in a test I heard in the mid '50s in Troy
NY (a market with fewer stations than Boston but more than, say,
Rochester), there were gaps--time slots that no station occupied. To
cover that eventuality (and at least the designers of the system had
considered it from the outset), the announcements were repeated many
times--I presume via an endless tape loop. It was not pleasant
listening on several counts (incessant repitition, gaps in the audio,
signal quality--both strength and audio quality--changing every few
seconds as the transmitters were changed), but I'm sure that you'd
listen attentively if you feared that failure to follow the orders
being broadcast would result in your being blown to kindom come at any

As I recall, the test I heard took place at around 8:00PM in the late
fall or winter and was not national in scope but involved only New
York's Capital District. Had it been a national test, the situation
would have been even worse. (Remember, this was the AM band at night!)
Since the stations were operating ND, there would have been horrendous
interference among the various markets. I find it hard to believe that
very much of the audio would have been intelligible in much of the
market. AND at least during the gaps, signals from other markets might
have boomed in, making it hard to determine what part of the material
you were hearing was intended for your market and what part you should
just ignore.

The fact is that, thankfully, there was never an occasion to turn on
the system for real. Had it ever been needed, I suspect that many of
those who depended on it would have died--some of them because of
deficiencies in the technology. However, as long as it was not needed,
the system gave a lot of people warm, fuzzy feelings about Civil
Defense. So, to that extent, I guess it served its purpose.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "SteveOrdinetz" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2007 6:51 PM
Subject: Re: Conelrad in Boston area

>  Dan.Strassberg wrote:
>>The whole idea was that you could not do direction finding and
>>especially that enemy aircraft cound not do direction finding! There
>>was not _A_ 640 transmitter or _A_ 1240 transmitter. The various
>>participating AM stations in a region (such as greater Boston) were
>>divided into two groups--a 640 group and a 1240 group. The program
>>material was fed to all participating stations (I think via a land
>>line). The several stations in a group would go on the air for a few
>>seconds apiece in a round-robin sequence.
> How would this have worked in markets outside the top 50 or so?
> There just weren't all that many stations around in the 50s/early
> 60s...even some pretty good sized cities only had 2 or 3 AM stations
> that could remotely be called local, rural areas were lucky to have
> one or two.

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