Don Reed


DON REED is in the limelight this month, in recognition of his election as a Life Member of the NZ Radio DX League at the 60th Anniversary celebrations in North Otago. Don writes that he started DXing back in 1939, though he did not know it was DXing then. He had built a Hikers One, and then a 4-valve TRF receiver. But my parents didn’t believe I could build a radio set that actually worked, so I wrote away to some of the Aussie stations that I heard, and got replies which I proudly showed my parents. I got about 5 letters back, including
2CA and 2NZ.

My wife Hazel worked in Dunedin and I took her to a poultry farm in Oamaru when we got married. One weekend when Hazel was away in Dunedin I was bored silly. I found these old Aussie letters and that night heard and wrote to a few more. So a DXer was born.

I joined the NZ DX Club in 1947 and the NZ Radio DX League in 1948. My NZRDXL Membership Certificate shows me as member no. 28. I used a 7-valve Ultimate in those days, followed by an 11-tube Hammarlund, 16-valve MidWest and various household receivers. But the Ultimate was by farthe best.

Antennas on the farm were 400 foot longwires, 12 feet high, running to the northwest and southwest. Moving north to Christchurch, I had 2 or 3 antennas between 400 and 600 feet long, around the farm. Then at Leithfield Beach, north of Christchurch, where we had a bach for 34 years, I used 2 antennas 200 feet long, running north and northeast. Leithfield rates as my best DX location.

I was always a medium wave DXer and, until we started the North Otago Branch in 1949 (I was the first Branch President), was always listening on my own. My best verifications are Canary Islands 1500 2kw, JOBQ Japan 1160kHz with 50 watts and KDMA 1450kHz with 100 watts. My most unusual QSL is KIVY with 250 watts on 1570. XERF usually dominated that channel, but one night they went off the air for an hour while I was listening to them, and right behind them KIVY came up with a Frequency Check. Their QSL said that my report was their first from NZ.

When the DX League was administered from Christchurch, I was Assistant Editor, Assistant Printer and Odd-Jobs Boy. At the time I had the third largest chicken hatchery in the South Island and was working 85 hours a week, so I didn’t have much time for anything else. But I did start the Canterbury Branch (mid-1950’s?) and again was their first Branch President).

Over the years I have attended many DX League conventions, including Canterbury (1957, 1960, 1964, 1968 & 1971), Invercargill (1957 & 1959), Otago (1958), and North Otago (1998 & 2008). The enjoyment that I (and Hazel) have got out of the DX hobby over many years was the wonderful friends we have made. I think this is where all members can participate – support your nearest branch, attend any conventions you can, get to know other members, and share your DX catches and triumphs with others. They might be able to help you identify some station, and you might help them.”

(Thanks Don for the interesting report on your DXing past, and we appreciate your support for the rejuvenating Canterbury Branch! As well as the DX interest, Don collects old boys and girls comics and annuals. He has many Rupert annuals and one of the largest G.A.Henty collections in the country. As well, there’s his role as a Justice of the Peace for 38 years, and 18 years as a Marriage Celebrant. Hope you keep active for many years to come Don! Ed)

Footnote: From the July 2009 DXT –

With deep regret we report the passing of DX League Foundation & Life Member DON REED on Sunday 12 July.

Don was a foundation member of the DX League, and was recognised with Life Membership at last year’s 60 th Anniversary AGM. , On behalf of all League members, our sympathy goes out to Hazel, Stephen (also a League member in the 70’s and 80’s) and the family.

The funeral service was led by DX League Patron, the Rev Dr FRANK GLEN who reports: “It was a grand funeral – about 300 attending. Son Stephen spoke of Don’s long association with the DX League and kept the congregation amused by stories of old times, but also bought them up to date with Don’s recent purchase of a new receiver and return to listening once more. And Hazel remarked later about the ‘terribly untidy aerial’ he recently erected.”

5 League members from the Christchurch Branch and RAY CRAWFORD from Queensland attended the funeral. Ray recalls: “ It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Don Reed. I remember the first time I met with Don and Hazel in 1964 when I stayed with them after the League Convention at Leithfield Beach and DXing in a room at the end of one of his poultry farm hen houses. Over the years we become very close friends of him and the family. Over the years there were many visits to his home and the Leithfield holiday house with plenty of good DX to be had and lots of enjoyable times with his and our families growing up together. Once we moved to Australia we didn’t see them as often as we would have liked but we always kept in touch and we wouldn’t go to Christchurch without spending at least one day with them. We have so many wonderful memories of our times together it would take pages to relate them all. Don was one of the best.”

PETER GRENFELL writes: My friendship with Don and Hazel Reed goes back to October 1951. Don and Hazel owned a poultry farm at Hilderthorpe north of Oamaru. When I was 16 years of age Don invited myself, Jack Reddan and Don Devon to his home to listen to the “Yanks” on the broadcast band. We were able to log 250 watters and this opened up to our eager minds a whole new world of exciting challenges. We would bike out to Hilderthorpe on Saturdays after playing cricket, listen to the radio and bike home even be daylight by the time we reached home. My parents were very supportive of my having taken up the hobby of DXing and to Don and Hazel for taking such an interest. We were treated as part of their family and Don’s enthusiasm and energy were an inspiration to us. Don was the first President of the North Otago Branch of the League which held its inaugural meeting on Saturday April 5, 1952. The President of the N.Z.

DX League, Arthur Cushen said it was the first new branch formed since the foundation of the League itself in 1948. This brought the number of branches to three – Southland, Otago and North Otago. In those days Don was a keen cricketer himself, playing for the Hilderthorpe Cricket Club. He also played for the local table tennis club. Other hobbies were stamp collecting and gardening when he had time. During the Second World War Don served a year in the Army and later in the Air Force as a wireless mechanic and saw service in the Solomon Islands.

Don’s logging of WPTF Raleigh, N.C. In October 1947 gave him quite a thrill especially when the verification came back in December 1947. His most novel verification was XPRA which arrived by registered air mail in 1948 at a cost of 2,300,000 dollars in the days of Chinese inflation. When we knew Don in his Hilderthorpe days he was using a 7 valve Ultimate domestic receiver. His aerials were a Beverage 400ft long , 18ft high running North/South and an inverted L. 60ft long and 30ft high running East/West. I can always remember seeing his aerials from the main highway.

We will always remember the Reed’s hospitality. His home was always open, we were made most welcome and permitted to use his receiver. Don’s knowledge and experience of DXing and radios were available to us. I know his family and friends will miss him. Jill and myself extend to them our very sincere sympathy.”

TONY KING remembers: “I first met Don Reed 57 years ago when I was about to start high school and he was my most valued DXing mentor in the 50’s. I often darted down Gloucester Street in Christchurch from my high school in the lunch hour to ‘compare notes’ on my latest loggings and he was most helpful.

A most enthusiastic DXer Don often hosted excursions out to Spencer Beach in his car to listen to US and Central Americans on his Gulbransen car radio which was fitted with a Q multiplier – and just 30 feet of wire terminated on a broomstick. I recall a most memorable catch was Ponce, Puerto Rico on 1420 at 4.p.m one winter Sunday afternoon. Don owned a 16-valve Midwest – the envy of the local crew – as one of several receivers, and was an immense help to the teenage DXers of the time.

In the mid 50’s I started DXing weekends and holidays at Leithfield Beach north of Christchurch, and in the 60’s Don bought a weekend property there to further his DX experience.

Over the years I’ve thought of those early days and have been pleased to see Don’s cheery face pop up in Anzac Day parade photos in the press and in TV news. And still as enthusiastic as ever I noted from the DXT that he was interested in buying a new receiver last year. The DX League has lost a man passionate about his pastime and in sharing his knowledge, enthusiasm and energy with others.”

DAVID RICQUISH recalls “I was a very young 15 year old DXer when I first met Don at a Canterbury Branch meeting. I was very much in awe of his expertise in the art of DX, and enthralled at his stories of hearing 250 watt Puerto Ricans on car radios just a few miles up the beach from where I lived. I have wonderful memories of Don and his son Stephen coming to our place for meetings, along with the ‘gang’ including Ray Crawford, Des Lynn, Ian Peterson, Lance Johnston, Brian Withers, Dave Dwyer, Craig Crawford and many others. His patience with a mad keen youth who listened at every opportunity was remarkable since he’d usually QSL’d the same stations years earlier!

Don was one of nature’s gentlemen, generous of knowledge and time, with a great sense of humour and very humble. He shared his bach at Leithfield Beach for DX, where I remember so many Latins on the dial we couldn’t hope to keep up with logging them. I’m glad the club recognised his stalwart contributions to its existence with Life Membership at the anniversary AGM last year. We share the sadness of Hazel and Stephen at their loss, it’s ours also.”

The following profile was scanned from the March 1952 DX Times:

 William Don Reed of Hilderthorpe (nine miIes north of Oamaru is a poultry farmer by occupation and of necessity DX with him is mainly an autumn and winter hobby as he is too busy for much DX during the rest of the year. He is 29 years old, 5ft 10 and a half ins, and 145lb with blue eyes and fair hair. He has lived mainly in Dunedin and Hilderthorpe all his DX being at the latter place. During the war he served a year in the army and later in the air Force as a wireless mechanic, getting a “trip” to the Solomon Islands for a year. Don was married in 1946 and has no family except the ones hatched-out of eggs every spring. His other hobbies are stamp collecting and gardening(?) when he gets time. He plays for the Hilderthorpe Cricket Club being secretary for the last three years, also plays for the local table tennis team. He verified 2CA and 2NZ in 1959 and that was that. However, it was a lucky day for the League, when on April 24, 19477, Don ran out of reading material and for the want of something to do logged a  few Aussies, the first 2SH who verified on June . In October 1947, the logging of’ WPTF Raleigh, N.C. gave him quite a thrill especially when the verification arrived back in December. He now has 354 verifications on the broadcast band and-has never been interested in short-wave. He treasures  KIVY (1570) Crockett, Texas, 250w a first report from.N.Z. while his most novel verification is XTRA which verified registered air-mail in 1948 at a cost of 2,500,000 dollars in days of Chinese inflation. He has verifications from 21 countries-with 158 in Australasia, 16 in Oceania,  27 in Asia, one in Europe, and 152 in North America. He previously used v Ekco and a 5v Philips and his present receiver is a 7v Ultimate which he has had for the past four years. His aerials are a beverage 400ft long 18ft high running S.W and an.inverted L 60ft long and 30ft high E. and W. His DX-ambition? More and more veries. Don was formerly a member of the NZ DX Club and joined the NZRDXL when it started. He was elected president and competitions judge of the North Otago Branch at its inaugural meeting ad we know’you will agree with us when we say that the branch is indeed fortunate in its choice of president.  Don’s home is always open and the young DXers, of whom the N. Otago branch is mostly composed, are made most welcome and Don’s set and experience is readily available to them.