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BS: Bought an old radio

GUEST,DDT 26 Nov 12 - 09:58 PM
Rapparee 26 Nov 12 - 10:38 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Nov 12 - 10:41 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 26 Nov 12 - 10:45 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 26 Nov 12 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,marks (on the road) 26 Nov 12 - 11:41 PM
frogprince 27 Nov 12 - 12:33 AM
Bev and Jerry 27 Nov 12 - 02:33 AM
Henry Krinkle 27 Nov 12 - 02:58 AM
Will Fly 27 Nov 12 - 04:04 AM
Bill D 27 Nov 12 - 09:48 AM
Bill D 27 Nov 12 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,M0AFJ 27 Nov 12 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,DDT 27 Nov 12 - 12:45 PM
pdq 27 Nov 12 - 01:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Nov 12 - 02:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Nov 12 - 10:15 PM
Beer 27 Nov 12 - 10:24 PM

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Subject: BS: Bought an old radio
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 09:58 PM

I've been getting into old radio programs and what not. There's a website called OTRCAT or Old Time Radio Catalog that sells all kinds of radio shows. I've bought all the Amos & Andys, Father Coughlin sermons and what not. I've always been interested in radio so it fascinates me to hear all this old stuff like Major Bowes and Renfro Valley Gathering. I have some Tokyo Rose broadcasts, Axis Sally, and some Nazi jazz band called "Charlie & his Orchestra." It's very well played and arranged jazz playing old standards like "Hold Tight" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" but with pro-Nazi and anticommunist lyrics. These are great historical documents and I'm glad someone has preserved it and made it available to the public. The OTRCAT CDs are not audio but are packed with MP3s. A single disc holds 20 to 40 hours worth of stuff but you can only play on a computer or download the files onto an MP3-player. Each disc is only $5.00 and well worth it.

So I was out at an antique store today and came across an old wooden radio. I could tell from the design that it was 1920s. There was a big ol' loudspeaker in the same display case and they were willing to part with both for under $150 so I thought what the hell and bought both. When I got home, I looked it up on the internet and found that both the speaker and the radio went together. It's an RCA Radiola 18 with an Model 100-A speaker. Even the power cords and plugs are original. Here is a good photo of both radio and speaker. I'm amazed how good a condition both are in:

If you flip open the top lid, you can see the tubes and innards:

It has 7 tubes and two chassis. One chassis is for the operation of the radio and uses 6 of the tubes. The other chassis is the power source. The radio has TWO power cords because of the different voltages used between the US and Europe. There was also a battery-powered model of this radio but the batteries were massive and expensive but in the 1920s not a lot of houses had electricity yet.

The Radiola 18 came on the market in 1927. What set it apart from earlier radios was that it had a 3-stage TRF controlled by one knob instead of three. One used to have to tune all three knobs just right and it was a pain. RCA wound all the tube wires on one shaft of the tuner knob and injected a bit more regeneration in the 2nd stage for gain. The result was an easy-to-use radio with excellent sound. RCA prided itself on offering a product that outdid the 6-stage TRFs that other manufacturers were offering. So the Radiola 18 was cheaper and more reliable and hence a huge seller. That's why you can still find them out there today--RCA made quite a lot of them. And it's a rugged, durable radio. A great deal of them still work or can be easily refurbed to work. It needs a pretty long antenna wire but works very well otherwise.

I haven't tried mine out yet. I would like a radio expert to check it out before I go plugging it in. The tuner knob is stuck but one website said that this was a common problem that is easily fixed but didn't say how. My brother is pretty good with electronics and maybe he would like to try to get it working. It has everything and parts are available online. I'm leery about the power cords. I don't want to plug it in and get electrocuted. But if I could keep these cords, that would be fantastic. The cords and plugs have that 20s look to them and I would SO love to keep them. I don't anticipate there being anything wrong with the speaker. It looks brand new.

The radio is in such fine condition I wonder who originally owned it. Must have been someone fairly well-to-do. This radio couldn't have been that cheap back then. It's heavy as hell!! But it's cool to own an 85-year-old radio and even cooler if I can get it working. Strange but the speaker housing is metal while the radio housing is oak. This was the days when radios were actually considered furniture. That ended in the 50s with the advent of transistorized units. Texas Instruments made the first--the TR-1--around '52 or so, I think. Then Sony (formerly called TTK) really broke it open with a far superior and even smaller model called the TR-63, which changed the world and turned Sony into a powerhouse.

But I'm in love with old radio, the Golden Age of Radio. I go to sleep every night with my laptop/tablet playing old radio shows. It's amazing how many actors and what not started in radio. Michael Conrad playing Matt Dillon in "Gunsmoke." Raymond Burr in "Fort Laramie". Gale Gordon in "Grandby's Green Acres" (from 1950 and the forerunner of the TV series). "Dragnet" with Jack Webb. And when they read off the casts of characters, you never know whose name you hear--Ross Martin, Bob Crane. Sometimes they don't read off a name but you know the voice--Frank Cady was in one (that's Mr. Drucker), no mistaking that voice, but he wasn't named in the end. Another guy whose name constantly pops up is Vic Perrin who can do just about voice imaginable. He became famous as the "control voice" on the Outer Limits TV series but did a lot of voices on "Star Trek" and shows like that.

And Orson Welles was the king of radio with his voice. I have the uncut "War of the Worlds" broadcast and it's no wonder it scared the shit out of people. I also have the radio play "20th Century" with Welles who is truly hilarious on that one. If you don't think Welles couldn't do comedy, you haven't heard "20th Century." Even stranger, the music of the Mercury Theater broadcasts were usually written by Bernard Herrmann who went onto write the Twilight Zone music and many of Hitchcock's movie scores from the 50s and 60s.

I can fall asleep listening to broadcasts of the attack on Pearl Harbor or the experimental broadcasts of live music in the 20s. I like the horror and suspense shows as "Black Mass" and "The CBS Radio Mystery Theater" (hosted by E.G. Marshall).

That is the one thing lacking from satellite radio--radio shows. Or maybe there is such a channel and I'm unaware of it.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Rapparee
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 10:38 PM

You can get replacement cords that meet modern specs but have that old-timey look. I highly suggest them.

Knowing electronics is a help, but whoever works on it better know his anode from his cathode and how a rectifier works (no, that's not a dirty word!).

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 10:41 PM

I adored the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. The term "driveway moments" may be used now by National Public Radio, but I listened to the program from 11 to midnight during drives between my mom's house and where I worked up in the mountains, or from mom's house to where I was living in college, and I timed my drive to listen to it. If I got there before it ended, I stayed in the driveway to listen in the car. Himan Brown created that gem.

You'll need to find an old fashioned radio shop that can test the tubes and sell you new ones (and I think someone told me that they can repair or restore vacuum tubes). Or try a shop that works on amplifiers. My son had to take his tube amp in for a repair - perhaps someone who does that can also look at radios?

As interesting as those very old wrapped cords are, they can't be safely used today. Perhaps you can disable them and leave them for looks, but don't use them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 10:45 PM

How cool for you! Enjoy.

Probably will cost you as much to keep it in tubes as it originally cost, as there is little call for them these days.

There are a lot of OTR shows on the internet, but, as you probably know, very little actual over the air radio drama that I'm aware of. In SoCal we have two programs that overlap each other on different stations.

KFWB (AM980) at 10pm Saturdays broadcasts "The Twilight Zone" hosted and narrated by Stacy Keach. It has adapted many of the old TV scripts, and also has some original scripts. I believe it repeats into the early morning hours, but I've fallen asleep by then,

KRLA (AM870) Wee hours of Sunday morning ('til about 5AM) broadcasts OTR shows and some re-creations. I sometimes hear these if I wake up around 3 or 3:30--old folks are prone to poor sleeping habits.

Both are syndicated, and may be available wherever it is you live.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 10:50 PM

BTW, you wrote Michael Conrad as the star of Gunsmoke...actually it was that great movie villain (mostly), William Conrad. In real life, he probably looked more like an 1870s marshal/sheriff than 6'6" James Arness, as Matt Dillon. Also, he had one of the great thespic voices.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: GUEST,marks (on the road)
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 11:41 PM

If you want to power it up, strongly suggest you do it in a shop which has a gizmo which will gradually increase the voltage - I think it is called a variactor or some such.
Power supplies in old gear used oil filled capacators in the circuit which generates internal DC from the AC in the lines. These break down and leak over time to the point where they are unserviceable.
Slowly increasing the voltage might give you smoke and smells rather than flames!

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: frogprince
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 12:33 AM

Have been soaking up some of the old shows on the Radio Classics channel on Sirius radio. There was one Gunsmoke episode I always remembered from back when. I had also seen the same script adapted (and "sanitized" a bit) for the TV version. So I'll be darned if the second Gunsmoke I heard on Sirius wasn't that episode. Gunsmoke was generally good on TV, but as done on radio it was often superb.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 02:33 AM

Check out this link.

Bev and Jerry

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Henry Krinkle
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 02:58 AM

Antique Electronic Supply should be a help.
Antique Electronic Supply

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 04:04 AM

Ah - radio days! In our pre-TV days, from the '40s to the early '50s, the "wireless" was the thing. We had an old bakelite set made by the British (I think) firm called Eko. It had 3 bands for Long, Medium and Short Wave. There was a switch to change wavebands and then a tuner knob to surf the airwaves. Fabulous station names like Ankara and Hilversum, with exotic music and voices blending into on another as you moved the tuning strip with the knob.

It was a valve (tube to you) set which cut out occasionally and Dad would thump the top to restore the signal. When we got our first radiogram, the old bakelite wireless ended its days in a field at the back of my Gran's house - being used as target practice with our .177 air rifles...

Shoulda kept it - but what did we know then/ Enjoy your old set!

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 09:48 AM

If you know how to get 'newsgroups'...(UseNet) you can find thousands of programs at this link

Note-this is only a listing and a way to search & browse.... you need a subscription to something like Giganews to actually download programs. (mine is, I think, $12 for 25 gigs a month.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 09:51 AM

We had a wooden Philco which sat on a lower shelf of a table. I used to lay beside it to listen to The Lone Ranger...etc.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 11:51 AM

Be very careful, do not just plug this in. The capacitors in the receiver will all need replacing as they leak with age. I think your in the USA?, if so do a google for the Vintage Wireless Society, you should be able to find someone on there who will do a restoration for you for a small cost. Most of us do this sort of thing for the love of it.
Once its working it should give years of service, and the quality is superb.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 12:45 PM

Some of these shows were hilarious without meaning to be. One in particular was called "The Whisperer" about a lawyer whose vocal chords were crushed in an accident and he became a bigwig in the underworld. He would whisper his instructions to his henchmen in this raspy voice and they would obey unquestioningly. But as his pipes repaired themselves and he got his voice back, he went back to being a good guy but who kept his whisperer persona so he could keep tabs on what the underworld was up to. Yeah, it's pretty ridiculous.

What the underworld was up to in his town was getting kids hooked on marijuana and turning them into "addicts." The big boss was getting high school kids to sell pot for him by blackmailing them. It was damned funny--"Take a puff on this marijuana cigarette, kid!" "NO! NO!! PLEASE I DON'T WANT TO BE AN ADDICT!!!!!!!" Even the biggest squares alive today have to laugh when they hear it.

The Dick Tracys are really funny. There's one called "Phyl Coe--the Beautiful Girl Detective." Aside from the fact that the beautiful girl detective sounds like a 35 yo woman, the sponsor of the program is--SURPRISE!!!--Philco. Another one is "The Fat Man" where they go overboard on the macho he-man talk. Everything is, "Shaddap and lissen!" Then there was one called "The Thing From the Sea" that was so ridiculously funny that I played it for my office mates and we were all practically in tears. We listened to some western where a villain gets shot and yells out just before he dies, "ARRRRGGHH!!! HE GOT ME!!!" You can't help but laugh your ass off.

There are a number of programs I have from Britain and these were generally higher quality. Some I'm not sure were British. Might have been Americans talking in pseudo-Lime accents.

Mercury Theater broadcasts on the other hand are superb. Really excellently done. And there was one program where actress Irene Dunne chose the stories to be adapted for radio--stuff like "Oliver Twist"--that were very well done. And I confess that I love the Mr. Moto series. We're supposed to hate it because it's all politically incorrect and all that but the stories were always entertaining and Mr. Moto was always a step ahead of everybody even though some of the statements made are questionable--the announcer calling Mr. Moto "the crafty, courageous little Oriental" and one of the characters telling Moto, "You're the bravest little guy I've ever worked with." But it was a different time and you have to take that kind of stuff in stride. I tend not to be too judgmental if there was no offense intended. So here's to Mr. Moto--Mr. I. A. Moto.

Same with Amos & Andy. It's supposed to racist or something. Amos & Andy was great stuff! You can hear where a lot of TV sitcoms were derived from Amos & Andy--especially Sanford & Son. "The Jeffersons" also had some Amos & Andy affectations. When Amos or Kingfish or someone would butcher the English language in hilarious fashion, the creators of "All in the Family" lifted that and had Archie doing the same exact kind of butcherings. And "Married With Children" was lifted almost completely from "The Life of Riley."

Radio shows disappeared as television took over but I think that was a mistake. It's kind of like how silent movies disappeared once talkies became popular. It shouldn't have happened. Silent movies are a different kind of movie and should not have been seen as passe. Same with the radio show.

"(mine is, I think, $12 for 25 gigs a month."

If you order from OTRCAT you can get, say, three discs of Amos & Andy covering every single episode a or at least the vast majority of them and it's only $15. Plus you always get to order a sampler that is just packed with stuff and it's free. There are 10 samplers to choose from and you can see what's on each one. A $50 or more purchase has no shipping & handling charges. And they carry everything. I bought recordings of Hitler speeches, rare recordings of bands like Tommy Dorsey or Ray Anthony playing live at some hotel or other, old wax cylinder recordings, Alan Freed's Moondog program, civil defense broadcasts, science fiction stuff. One is called Airchecks from Great Radio Stations featuring spots of DJs like Cousin Brucie. Two MP3s are of Jeff Christie DJing in McKeesport, PA in the early 70s. Nowadays he broadcasts as Rush Limbaugh. Despite being a total dickhead, it's still interesting to hear him masquerading as pop station DJ. Today he just masquerades as a human being.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: pdq
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 01:01 PM

Bringing an antique radio back to life and discussing old radio shows are two distinct topics.

If somebody wants to listen to recordings of old shows, one can get an empty antique cabinet, put in a modern speaker in it, and connect it to one's stereo.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 02:40 PM

Tubes- a lot of used ones out there for little money. Get them from a source that checks them out before selling.
I bought a box full. I have an old Canadian Airforce HRO (12 tubes) and some others.

I used to have a friend who collected old radios and he helped me with the few that I picked up. Now if something goes wrong I am lost.

Stil working fine is an old East German table model, brought back about 1949 by a military family which is on my desk. Attractive rectangular box, in good wood, and good tone.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 10:15 PM

I would love to have a Scott. About the size of a spinet and twice as heavy. Beautiful tone.

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Subject: RE: BS: Bought an old radio
From: Beer
Date: 27 Nov 12 - 10:24 PM

Sounds and looks like you are having one hell of a great time. Good for you. A hobby you love.

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Mudcat time: 16 June 1:47 PM EDT

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