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Do You Remember: Vintage Radios

Do You Remember: Vintage Radios

Aug 1, 2011 1:00 AM, By Erin Shipps, senior associate editor, with special guest Joseph Kreiss

It was called the “Golden Age of Radio” in the 1940s and 1950s. Although thoughts recall the radio programing of the day when we hear the term, the equipment itself was also “golden,” so to speak.

Fairmont, MN-based Woodward Broadcasting Company owner Charles “Woody” Woodward has assembled an impressive collection of vintage radios and broadcast equipment on display at the offices of the two-station cluster (KSUM 1370 AM and KFMC 106.5 FM).

A far cry from the present day high-tech miniature ipods and satellite radio receivers, the radios and broadcast equipment of the “Golden Age” were American-made works of art. Fine-crafted wooden radio cabinets hid an assortment of tubes and transistors that cast a golden glow of their own when the power was switched on. Many of the vintage radios featured dials printed with the call letters of powerhouse Midwestern broadcast stations of the day, such as WGN, WCCO, KROC, WHO, WTCN and KSTF. Some models could allow listeners to tune in the local police frequencies as well.

“I started the collection at the station a number of years ago,” Woodward explains. “Over the years my ex-father-in-law would go to estate sales, find old radios and restore them. I built-up the collection mainly for when school kids come to the stations for tours.”

Woodward jokes, “The kids always ask what the wood boxes with the knobs are. And when I tell them they’re radios, they’re surprised and a bit baffled.”

Philco Model 60: This Superheterodyne radio was made in Philadelphia in the 1940s and features the classic cathedral-style peaked top wooden cabinet and a small brass-framed dial window.

GE AM radio: AM radio at its best. Though its age is unknown to the owner, its wood cabinet and modern-designed dial possibly place it in the early 1950s.

KSUM mic: How many golden-toned KSUM announcers talked to listeners through this compact RCA 88 Aeropressure dynamic microphone?

Motorola shortwave: This modern designed vintage table-top receiver featured AM waveband as well as shortwave.

AM/FM floor radio: Crafted in beautiful wood, this is a 1946 Coronado floor cabinet radio. Originally sold at Gamble stores, it features 60W of power in both AM band as well as the up-start FM frequency band.

Arvin Industries Model 51: An early example of a tombstone style, all-wood construction cabinet table radio. The radio dates to the mid-late 1930s and featured both AM and shortwave frequencies. Arvin manufactured radios for automobiles as well.

Philco Model 38-7: A radio could also be a piece of furniture in the homes of the early 1950s. Families could have gathered around this Philco Model 38-7 floor standing cabinet radio. The dial features early station presets printed on the dial face to aid in tuning in the favorite show.

Kreiss is a photographer based in Minnesota. See more of his work at

August 2011

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