The broadcast area is the largest display at the museum, encompassing everything from breadboard-style Atwater-Kents of the 1920’s to portable transistor radios from the 1960’s. Many of the radios are restored and operational and tuned to our local studio playing period music.
Here are a few views that give an idea of the extent of SPARC’s collection.
Entry corridor into the broadcast section. Note the Sparton Bluebird hiding behind the pillar, the green Ecko, and that’s the Philco wreck in a “Radio Flyer” wagon.
The sets with the three large knobs are 1920’s TRF (tuned radio frequency) sets. Each knob had to be tuned to the station’s frequency, unlike later ‘superheterodyne’ radios that had only one knob to tune to the desired frequency. Additional knobs on old radios were adjusted to keep the tube filaments glowing at the right temperature as the batteries aged. This was not the day of set-it-and-forget-it. Owners of these early sets listened on headphones, or ‘trumpet’ loudspeakers.
Further inside, some receivers from the late-1920’s and early-1930’s.
Some radio arcania. Note the “Death by Short-Wave” dime-store novel.
A cabinet filled with a variety of bakelite radios from the 1940’s and 50’s and some 1960’s transistor radios.
After WW II, as television came to the center of attention in living rooms, the home radio receiver was relegated to secondary status. Sets became smaller and less expensive. The upside to this was bakelite and plastics permitted designers to go crazy with the design of the cabinet. Thousands of designs were produced, many of Art Deco or Art Moderne style.
Some novelty radios. Yes, those pop cans and cartoon characters are all radios.