Radio Pagers From the Past
Once upon a time, radio paging stations actually sent the messages to their
subscribers via an easily-understood voice tape loop that was made by an
employee of the service. The obvious lack of privacy using this method was
handled in a few cases by:
(a) just announcing that the certain subscriber had a message (who then had
to call in by telephone to get the details for), or,
(b) using "coded" terms which only the targeted subscriber could "translate"
A step up in this was using a coded sequence of tones which would simply
activate only the targeted user's receiver. Sometimes this was followed by
the message(s) in voice (and in some cases it was a recording of the person
who had called in the page). However, very often it simply set off a "beep"
on the receiver, and then the user still had to call in to get any of the
details of their message(s).
Up until the late 1970s the pagers on low-VHF (35-MHz and 43-MHz) were
the BEST quick-check propagation/MUF indicators as (with no messages)
they ran a continuous voice-ID tape loop which might be as short as 15-sec
in duration. Even with a message load, the ID could often come within a
minute or so. One soon became acquainted enough with these voices that an
ID was almost not needed!
The tone-based pagers used Morse tone IDs, which might occur after an
interval as long as 30-minutes. The keying speeds of these could range
from 5-30 wpm - and the tones weren't always "pure" nor of high modulation.
For a few stations their ID even took the form "QRA DE xxxxxx AR"!
The practice of multiple transmitters on the same frequency in the same
area was used to ensure saturation coverage - but slightly (unintentional)
offsets could create anything from a subaudible rumble to a raucous howl
for a distant listener getting them all at about the same signal strength!
The mobile-phone samples (base units - the mobiles were 8-MHz higher)
are thrown in since their channels were between the two major 35-MHz
pager slots and were hard not to notice. Most usually just ID'd with the
operator's voice giving the city at the beginning and conclusion of a call
(after checking to see if the line silence meant that the call was over!)
The more-automated systems (i.e., no operator dailing assistance) tended to
employ the tone ID (some along with a "canned" voice ID) at the end of any
call or failed connection attempt.
The following are some samples of "what used to be". The reel-to-reel
were dubbed to cassette c. 1975, and these RealAudio constructs have
been made from those. No DSP enhancements have been utilized so their
varied quality is pretty close to how the live ones sounded back then.
The receiving equipment for almost all of these was either a 1967 Radio
Shack Patrolman or an Allied A-2586 - each $25-type solid state sets - with
either their own whip or perhaps 30' of indoor random wire for the antennas
(My first Bearcat scanner wasn't until 1979 with SX-62/SP-600 before it.)
My apologies for the lack of more accurate dates on most of these clips.
KME437 - 35.58 MHz - F2 - CA Santa Cruz (14-k) - Feb 11, 1968
KCB891 - 35.58 MHz - F2 - MA Boston (13-k) - Feb 1968
KUA217 - 35.58 MHz - F2 - HI Honolulu (19-k) - 1968 ?
KIY508 - 35.22 MHz - Es - FL Orlando (18-k) - 1968 ?
KCC482 - 35.22 MHz - F2 - NH Concord (12-k) - 1968 ?
KOE257 - 43.58 MHz - Es - AZ Phoenix (7-k) - 1968 ?
------ - 35.58 MHz - F2 - PA Scranton (8-k) - Oct 1970
KMD347 - 35.58 MHz - F2 - CA Stockton (14-k) - Oct 1970
KFL943 - 35.58 MHz - Es - NV Las Vegas (10-k) - May 15, 1973 - 1925 CST
------ - 35.58 MHz - Es - OK Oklahoma City (10-k) - Jul 1973
Tone (ID) Pagers
KMB305 - 35.22 MHz - F2 - CA San Francisco (13-k) - Feb 11, 1968
KSC645 - 35.58 MHz - Es - IL Chicago (14-k) - 1968 ?
KAA893 - 35.22 MHz - Es - MO St. Louis (12-k) - 1970 ?
KQD313 - 35.50 MHz - Es - OH Dayton (16-k) - Oct 1970 ?
KFL936 - 35.58 MHz - Es - AZ Phoenix (20-k) - 1970 ?
KQC884 - 35.58 MHz - Es - MI Detroit (20-k) - 1970 ?
KAI927 - 35.34 MHz - Es - CO Denver (17-k) - 1970 ?
KQC877 - 35.58 MHz - Es - OH Cincinnati (18-k) - 1970 ?
KIE953 - 35.58 MHz - Es - GA Atlanta (15-k) - 1973 ?
KAH661 - 35.22 MHz - Es - MN Minneapolis (14-k) - Jul 1973
KGA805 - 35.22 MHz - Es - PA Pittsburgh (10-k) - Jul 29, 1973
KAQ606 - 35.58 MHz - Es - CO Denver (14-k) - Jul 1973 ?
KOE257 - 43.58 MHz - Es - AZ Phoenix (9-k) - 1973 ?
KOK418 - 35.46 MHz - F2 - CA Oakland (13-k) - 1973 ?
KOP303 - 35.46 MHz - F2 - WA Langley (16-k) - 1973 ?
Created: November 4, 1997
Last Modified: May 22, 2012