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Dots and Dashes: KPH Returns to Air for One Night

Dots and Dashes: KPH Returns to Air for One Night

On July 12, listeners around the world will be able to tune to Morse Code radio station KPH for one night.
According to a timeline provided by the Maritime Radio Historical Society, the station would have been 100 this year. It had its roots in 1905, when Morse station PH was established. The call letters referred to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, where the station was located; regulators later added the K to the call sign. KPH was once known as the “Wireless Giant of the Pacific.”
“For almost a century, shipboard operators were comforted by the steady drone of the KPH signal in their earphones,” the society states. “At KPH some of the best Morse operators in the country listened carefully, 24 hours a day, for calls from ships. Most messages were routine. But occasionally a weak, wavering signal would be heard sending the electrifying letters S-O-S, causing the operator to sit straight up in the chair and press the earphones close to copy the message from a ship in peril on the high seas.”
The station went silent in 1997; commercial Morse Code use ended in the United States two years later.
The annual event is July 12 this year; it is held at Point Reyes Station in California. Organizers have invited the public to watch professional Morse operators, including several original KPH operators, work the station.
The station moved its transmitters and receivers to West Marin in the 1920s. The Maritime Radio Historical Society keeps it alive, with cooperation of the Point Reyes National Seashore and using restored equipment of the station.
Click here for information about the event and the Maritime Radio Historical Society .