Welcome to Don's Broadcast Radio Page

Faceplate from one of my vintage radios, a Rincan KFA-W7 (Japanese late 50s-early 60s) table or refrigerator radio


The Story of Radio


    The story of radio began in the 19th Century.  In 1895, Guglielmo Marconi  is generally credited with having conducted the first wireless transmission of a Morse code telegraph message over a distance of just over a mile!  Wireless telegraphy was born, and from there it was just a short hop to adapting the "speaker" and "microphone" technology from the telephone to transmit the human voice and music invisibly through the air without wires!  
    Commercial broadcasting did not begin, however, until some years later.  Until that time, "radio telegraphy", as it was called, was thought only to be useful for communicating Morse code to and from ships at sea.  The Titanic was the first disaster at sea, in 1912, that was able to utilize the new medium to demonstrate the importance of wireless communication.  Soon after that, radio telegraph stations were required on all ships. 

    It was considered a miracle when the first voice and music transmissions were heard, at first over very short distances.  In 1915, the first trans-Atlantic radio telephone conversation took place.  The first radio "programs" were readings of the news of the day over ship-to-shore radio telephone stations. 
    Isolated farming communities, too far from cities to have phone lines into their towns, relied only on printed weather reports that were often up to a day old before they reached them.  They were among the first to experience radio as we have come to know it.  The first regular radio broadcasts were daily government weather reports directed toward these farmers.  
    Finally, after a quarter century, radio evolved from it's infancy into mainstream culture.  The first radio station, KDKA, signed on the air in 1920 with the broadcast of the presidential election results.  Radio caught on quickly from that point.  Amateur broadcasters set up stations in their homes and garages to broadcast musical programs of Victrola records through their neighborhoods.  Radio was soon adopted as a form of entertainment. 

    Soon, so many stations were broadcasting that many were broadcasting over the same frequency and crowding the airwaves with noise.  At that point, the government had to step in to regulate the industry and assign broadcasting frequencies.  This is when the term "clear channel" broadcast came into being.  With these clear channels, new stations were able to optimize the quality of their broadcast, and with rapidly increasing technology they were able to service large areas with their powerful signals.  
    Big business entered the radio world at this point, when radio proved to have commercial selling value.  Large companies sponsored radio programs to benefit from the commercial advertising.  The public enjoyed listening to the music and variety programming that emanated from this speaker and glowing tubes in a box....and they bought the products that were advertised on the programs they would listen to.




Favorites from my Antique Radio Collection:


From my personal radio collection... My Philco console (1942)



My Detrola Radio/Phonograph/Recorder.  This machine did it all in the 1940's!  Designed for portability and function, this machine had the ability to not only deliver your favorite radio program and play your favorite records, but it was also one of the very first portable recording devices that enabled the ordinary audio enthusiast to preserve sound events on record.






This book, originally published in 1940, explains how to make a home recording and what type of record to use for your home recording equipment!


Below are some illustrations from the book, which demonstrate how "easy" it is to make recordings at home.







My General Electric Console Phonograph/Radio was one of the first electric console models to have FM radio and a record changer!  The radio also receives standard AM broadcast as well as Short-Wave.  The phonograph pulls out of a drawer and can be concealed by closing the drawer.

Here is an advertisement for a similar model made by General Electric around the same time.  The concept of a console unit was not new.  Wind-up phonographs from the early 1900's were fashionable as a floor unit and served as a piece of furniture.  They were marketed as furniture because of their practicality and style.





My Philco cathedral-style table model radio was popular throughout the 1930's.



My RCA War-era Radios


On the left is my World War Two era RCA Victor bakelite table model with AM and Police band.  On the right is a similar style model in wood.  I can picture either of them sitting on a kitchen table tuned in to the latest war bulletins!


Here is one of my vintage plastic models, a General Electric made for the table or refrigerator.



This is my classic Channel Master refrigerator radio, circa 1950's.


My Zenith Trans-Oceanic multi-band radio.


More interesting pieces from my collection . . .  A Zenith AM-FM and a Motorola AM clock Radio.  The Zenith is on the bench awaiting some reconditioning.  It was a $2 flea market find.  The Motorola has been in the family for years!








Fun Radio Links:

Research Radio History - Learn more about the invention of radio and broadcasting!


Library of American Broadcasting - Classic Radio Advertising

Old Time Radio - Anything You Wanted To Know

Antique Radios Online - A Radio Club Magazine

The Vintage Radio Place

Antique Wireless Association

Pelham's Collection

Crosley Radio


Old-Time Radio Shows & Historic Radio Broadcasts - Listen to the actual historic sounds broadcast during the early days of radio, the best programming from the golden days of radio, and moments from the not so distant days of radio!


Library of American Broadcasting - Classic Radio Advertising

Radio Days - Radio Memories

Yesterday USA - More Nostalgia Radio!

Reel Radio - Classic  Aircheck Museum
Listen to classic radio jingles and DJ airchecks!

WRVO Playhouse - Old Time Radio Theater of the Mind
Listen every evening


Shortwave Radio - Listen to LIVE short-wave broadcasts on the internet!

WWW Shortwave Listening Guide


Software Defined Radio

     One of my next radio-based endeavors is to install and run a software defined radio.  Software-defined radio (SDR) is a radio communication system where components that have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, amplifiers, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer or embedded system.  An SDR receiver is surprisingly inexpensive and can cover nearly all frequency bands.  It is also possible to set up a station to share over the Internet for others to listen in to your radio and even tune stations through a web page!  Websdr.org has lots of information and links to personal stations that are being shared online for you to listen to.  The amazing thing about SDR is the ability to visually "scan" all frequencies simultaneously in a waterfall display to see which frequencies are active before you even tune to listen in to them!


Stations can be as simple as a USB dongle with small receiving antenna, or as complex as the more integrated configuration built by WB5RVC that is able to transmit and receive.





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