Historic Morse Code Radio Station KPH Returns to the Air for Night Nights XV

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Date: July 8, 2014
Contact: Richard Dillman
Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

RCA Radio Operator at Historic Coast Station KPH. © Richard Dillman.

Morse code. It's just beeps in the air. Yet on July 12, 1999, some very tough looking grizzled old radio pioneers had tears in their eyes as the last commercial Morse code radiogram was sent. It was the end of an era. And as the last beeps faded away, they witnessed the end of the career to which they had devoted their lives.

These men—and some women—had stood watch over the airwaves on shore and at sea. Theirs was mostly the business of maritime commerce. But. when their ship was in peril. they were called upon to send the most electrifying three letters in radio, S O S, knowing that all their fellow radio operators would press their earphones close to get every scrap of information and bring aid to their stricken ship.

Once, our coasts were dotted with great Morse code radio stations, all communicating with ships at sea. They're all gone now...all except one, the one they called the Wireless Giant of the Pacific, located at Point Reyes.

On that sad day in 1999 another event took place. The Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS) was formed. We made it our life's work to honor the men and women of wireless by restoring that wireless giant. One year and one minute later the giant's voice once again spanned the oceans as we picked up the thread and kept the faith with our colleagues of the air.

Every year since, in an event that became known as the Night of Nights, West Marin's own Morse code station, call letters KPH, has returned to the air in July.

This is a global and local event. Hundreds of listeners around the world will be waiting with their earphones on, waiting for the signals of the great station to once again arc over the dome of the Earth to their receivers. And dozens of people will join us at the RCA receiving station in the Point Reyes National Seashore to watch as the signals are transmitted by hand using vintage telegraph keys.

None of this would have been possible without the trust and vision of the Point Reyes National Seashore. The only reason these facilities were spared the bulldozer that visited all the others is that they are on park land. And the only reason they have been restored to operation is that the Point Reyes National Seashore staff understood their importance and trusted the MRHS to restore them to life.

Date: Saturday 12 July 2014
Location: RCA receiving station, 17400 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Point Reyes National Seashore (directions from Bear Valley Visitor Center to Historic RCA Coast Station KPH)
Time: Doors open at 3 pm, first transmission 5:01pm (0001gmt)
Refreshments: Served
Photographs: Encouraged
Tours: Given

Additionally, come and listen to Wireless History Talks by Calvin Trowbridge and Dr. Alex Magoun as a part of the continuing of the Centennial Celebration of the Marconi and RCA Wireless Radio.

Calvin Trowbridge, author of Marconi: Father of Wireless, Grandfather of Radio and Great-Grandfather of the Cell Phone, The Race to Control Long Distance Wireless will speak about Marconi’s image and reputation, bringing to light the young man as a fearless and self-assured inventor as well as a business strategist. The talk will be illustrated with historic photos.

Alex Magoun, Ph.D. and Outreach Historian for IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) at Rutgers University will present What’s a Wireless World For? RCA Communications from Long Wave to Satellite. Dr. Magoun, a historian of technology, was the Director and Archivist of the David Sarnoff Library for 10 years and has published a number of books and articles on the history of RCA. Currently he is involved in IEEE’s historical activities, archives, website, oral histories, school programs, and fundraising.

Join host Carola DeRooy, Archivist at Point Reyes National Seashore, who will introduce the speakers. Meet the authors, mingle with the guests, check out the book titles, and enjoy complimentary refreshments following the lectures.

When: Sunday, July 13, 2 pm–5 pm
Free and open to the public
The Red Barn Classroom, Point Reyes National Seashore


Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


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