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
Your radio shop is a miniature arsenal Democracy. You help maintain
"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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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,
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