Just another radio collector/historian
What? So you really want to know about me?
Well, Allright. :)
My name is Steve, I live in West Central Ohio about 30 miles North of Dayton.
My interest in old radios began back when I was 8 years old. a friend of my mother gave me
a Radio Shack 20-in-One kit. It soon had me hooked on Electronics! I went to the local library,
but the only books they had on electronics were old. Such as Alfred P. Morgan's "The Boys First Book
of Radio and Electronics". They had the Second and the Third as well as another Morgan book
called "Getting Aquainted with Radio". These books all were published in the 30s 40s and 50s
and had mostly tube type circuits. Finding tubes and parts to build these circuits was extremely
difficult. Because of that, I stuck to what Radio Shack had to offer.
In 1979, when I was 11 or 12, I was visiting an old TV repair shop near my Grandfather where The
owner offered me a HUGE box chuck FULL of tubes for free! At first I refused the entire box and
only took a few of them, but after thinking it over, I went back for the whole box! The very same
weekend, a neighbor of my Grandfather gave me a 1936 Zenith radio chassis. It was a 4 tube farm
radio and didn't have a cabinet or speaker, but I was determined to get it working. After alot
of tinkering with it, I finally managed to get it functional, though not perfectly.
Another friend of my mother gave me an RCA tube manual, and soon I was learning how tubes worked
and what the differences were.
The biggest boost in learning came from another neighbor who gave me a radio course from the U.S
Army Signal Corps. It belonged to his father who was in the Army back in the 1950s. These set of
books taught me exactly how radios and amplifiers worked and I started building more complex
circuits including a 5 tube Superheterodyne, which I never got to work right.
It wasn't untill the Fall of 1981 when my Grandfather passed away, that I started to collect old
radios. I had a few old tube radios, but they weren't really old to me unless they were made before
WWII. That fall, I aquired my Grandfathers radio (a 1934 Zenith model 705) and someone gave me a
console radio (A 1942 Crosley model 22CA which is a prewar FM radio). That winter, an antique
dealer (Bill) stopped by my house asking about my Grandfather. My Grandfather used to sell popcorn
and sold some to this antique dealer and he wanted more. I asked Bill if he had any old radios.
Soon I was over at his shop looking over about 30+ old radios! The only problem was I didn't have
any money. The lowest priced radio he had was a Knight farm set priced at $22. After several weeks,
I saved up $15 and went to see if I could make a deal. I went into Bill's
EVERY RADIO WAS GONE!!!!!
Someone had cleaned him out of most of his merchandise including every radio....
Bill then encouraged me to start going to estate sales and public auctions. which I did and soon
I was picking up radios for $2 to $10 each. I still stopped in Bills shop and he would get a radio
from time to time, which I would save my money up to buy. It was the Summer of 1982 when I really
got a good start on collecting as I had a newspaper route to make some money.
In the Fall of 1982, I met a Ham Radio operator, Mike Wiseman (K8ZUK). He helped me learn morse
code and get my Amateur Radio Licence. As I recall, I got my licence in the mail in January 1983.
He told me about hamfests and soon I was going to as many as I could afford to go. They were a great
source of radios, tubes and parts for my radio hobby!
I elected to go to the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School for the last two years of High
school and take Industrial Electronics. It was a course that was the equivelent of a 2 year associate
degree at a trade school. In fact, the Senior year instructor taught electronics at ITT Technical
Institute before teaching at the UVJVS. During my Senior year, I managed to get a part time job at
a TV repair shop which, other than 1 year at a two way radio shop, I worked at full time for 12 years after graduating.
In 1986, I met another radio collector at a hamfest who told me about the AWA Conference in Canandaigua
New york. He invited me to ride along with him to help him load and unload his van in the swap meet as
he had recently hurt his back. The Antique Wireless Association (AWA) has one of the biggest antique
radio swap meets in the U.S. Needless to say, I had the time of my life looking at and buying old
radios and parts at this show. I found out about other antique radio clubs and their swap meets such
as the Indiana Historical Radio Society (IHRS), Antique Radio Collectors of Illinois (ARCI), and the
Michigan Antique Radio Club (MARC). Each club had swap meets throughout the year and I was trying to
go to as many as I could.
About 1991, there was a club starting in Dayton called Antique Radio Collectors of Ohio (ARCO) which
I joined up with as well as another Dayton club called the Society for Preservation of Antique Radio
Knowledge (SPARK). The two clubs later decided to merge and drop the ARCO name for SPARK. I made many
friends through the different clubs and swapmeets and I was becoming well known for my interests in
Zenith Radio Corp. as well as Sparton. The TV shop I worked at was a Zenith dealer and I became very
knowledgable with Zenith's products as well as its history.
in 1994, I needed more space. My radio collection was growing and as I was still living with my mother,
she was getting frustrated that I was taking over her house with radios. This is when I decided to build
my radio barn. A 36' X 64' pole barn that is fully insulated and heated. Remarkably, it stays cool in
the Summer, usually below 75 degrees, so all I need to do is dehumdify it in the summer.
As of 2005, it has been expanded with a 16' X 32' Lean-To on the end. In the far back corner under a loft
is my ham shack where I spend time (when I can) operating on the 40m ham band.
The barn isn't perfect, but I'm slowly getting it cleaned up and maybe, one day, it will look like a small
Over the years, my collecting interests shifted to focusing on Zenith radios, Sparton radios and Pre-War FM
radios. I do on occasion buy other brands, but these are where my interests lie. Also, as it will be quite
obvious here in the pages of my website, I tend to collect large console radios. The biggest problem with this
is that they take up alot of room!
If you have read this far, I'm amazed! I just hope I havn't bored you to death! ;)
I could ramble on, but I think this sums up my interest in radios. Thanks for reading!