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CONELRAD stands for CONtrol of ELectronic RADiation. Introduced by President Truman in 1951, this was America's first national alerting system.

In the event of a Soviet attack on the United States, all commercial radio stations, and ham radio operators were required to cease transmission. This was to prevent Soviet bombers from homing in on their targets by using specific broadcast and amateur transmitters as navigation beacons. Instead, selected CONELRAD stations would broadcast on either 640kHz or 1240kHz to inform the public about emergency measures. Heathkit sold a monitor for ham operators that would automatically disconnect power from their transmitters in the event of a CONELRAD alert (ie when the carrier signal from a local non-CONELRAD station was dropped).

As part of the system it was obligatory for all radios sold after 1953 to have the CONELRAD frequencies 640/1240 kHz marked with small triangles on the dial. The triangles were known as CD marks, for Civil Defense. This requirement was dropped when the CONELRAD system was replaced by the Emergency Broadcast System in 1963. With the USSR's introduction of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, however, CONELRAD became impractical due to the decrease in response time from heavy bombers to the ICBMs.

Conelrad is not only an obsolete Cold War radio warning system, it is also the name used by a Goon living in the UK who claims to be working on his English Lit Ph.D. and creates electronic music in his spare time as a means of unwinding. So far Conelrad has created five releases:

  • Not A Gun (EP, 2005)
  • Community Shelter Planning (EP, 2007)
  • Function Creep (LP, 2007)
  • Sure Is The Risk Made (LP, 2009)
  • Five Automatic Landings (EP, 2011)

 

Many of Conelrad's pieces are titled with or include references to Cold War events, for example "Faded Giant" and "Able Archer 83" from Community Shelter Planning, as well as "Paternoster" and "Samantha Smith" from Sure Is The Risk Made. In addition to this, much of the music is evocative of the lurking dread suffusing the Cold War period, so it would not be unreasonable to term Conelrad's music "Cold War Ambient".

All five releases can be downloaded at Conelrad's website for no charge. Do e-mail him and let him know if you like it, would you?

UPDATE (9/8/2011) Information about fifth EP, Five Automatic Landings, added

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