My Radio Collection

Published on 16 January 2023 at 17:57
A collection of miniature and novelty transistor radios

As I sit and write this I have to conclude I have too many hobbies and too much stuff, I really must stop it. Tomorrow, maybe. Anyway, this is another thing of mine and has been since I was a very young lad. My Dad had this old valve radio that he had connected to a speaker that was mounted in a big old cabinet that he had built way before I can remember, possibly before I even came in to this world. Every morning it would be switched on so he could hear the news and listen to whatever dj the bbc employed at the time - I seem to remember it was John Dunn and then Terry Wogan , who did the breakfast show for over 200 years. i might have made that last bit up, it was for a very long time though.


Anyway at some point I had decided i needed a radio of my own so went to the next jumble sale and bought a Japanese Mitsubishi pocket radio dating from some time in the 1960's. Somebody had let the batteries leak but I soon cleaned it up, cut off the  connector and soldered on a new one. I was only about 8 at the time and borrowed my Dad's soldering iron without him knowing. I had watch him solder up bits for his model train set many times so knew what to do. I was delighted when I turned it on and it worked perfectly. It was an am only set but I remember the sound being really rather good for such a small speaker.

I experimented with long bits of wire for an aerial and tried wiring up different speakers and learnt quite a lot from it. I had it for quite some time until I got interested in fishing and swapped it with Oliver Mousely for a small camping stove. He got the better of that deal by far, if you are reading this Oliver, can I have it back please? 

The interest in radio became deeper when I first started playing with short wave. the great thing about that transmission method is that the nature of the waves is such that they can bounce off the ionosphere. This means that even a very low powered transmitter can produce a signal that may be received many thousands of miles away. The signals always seemed to be stronger at night, I later learned that this is due to the effect the sun has on the ionosphere, it was nice to know it wasn't just in my imagination. I used to spend hours some evenings tuning in to various stations, hoping to pick out some words that would give me a clue as to where the station had transmitted from. One I still remember is Radio Free Albania. I had no idea where that was or why they were playing English music but it fascinated me - even more so when I found it on an old Phillips globe.

My young pre-pubescent mind became more and more interested as radios started getting better and better and fm became a thing. FM or frequency modulation gave much better sound and was the only format that could transmit in stereo - I was completely hooked.

Nowadays I just enjoy collecting radios - mainly shirt pocket ones from the 1960's and novelty ones right up to the present day. I still have a few shortwave ones and every once in a while I will sit in the man cave of an evening and have a listen to see what I can pick up. You can still pick them up pretty cheaply although prices on line have got a bit elevated in recent years, especially on the 1950's / 60's stuff.

Pretty much everything has been turned in to a radio over the years, I particularly like the advertising things, like the Frosties cereal boxes, the wd40 tins and the Crown paint tins. There are so many to collect and they can still be had reasonably cheaply at car boots. My Mrs found me something pretty cool - a pair of sunglasses with a built in AM radio. Still in their original box, they date from about 1967. Sadly not working at the moment but I intend to fix them some day, I only normally have working stuff in my collection.


I don't intend to bang on too much about any particular radio , if you do like really in depth stuff then Dusty's radio site is the place to visit - I have a couple of examples of some of the radios he has, it turns out some of them are pretty rare. Do I have a favourite? Hard to say but the tiny Spanish valve set that I have has always appealed. It works too.



novelty radio in the form of a pair of spectacles with box
a rare miniature spanish valve radio

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