Transistor Radio

transistor radioeBoy did my world change when I got a transistor radio!  It was Christmas, 1963 and it was the only thing I really wanted!   My radio looked similar to the one in the picture.  It had a leather case to protect it and a strap to carry it.  It had earphones which were not comfortable at all; I don’t remember wearing those very much.  I burned up a lot of batteries listening to that radio.

car radioBefore the transistor radio there was no way to take your music with you. Well, actually there was. If you had a car, and if your car had a radio (not all of them did) you just turned on your car radio and blasted it from there.   But that involved either gasoline if the car was running, or using the accessory position on the ignition.   Back in the 60’s turning on the accessory drained the battery pretty quickly, so that was not a viable option.

radio console

For many years, we had just one radio in our house.  It was bigger than our TV set and was a combination record player (3 speeds  78, 33, and 45)  and AM radio (no FM).  After my mother went to work in 1962, we bought a smaller radio model that was plugged in and sat on a shelf in the kitchen, so I could sit in the kitchen, do my homework, and listen to the radio,

But  when I got my transistor radio, I could take it upstairs to my room and listen to it… ALONE!   and we all know how much teenagers want to be alone.  It was great, but it wasn’t perfect.  Reception was not great on the small radio.   I quickly learned where you could pull the best signal and that was where I hung out.   There was a spot behind our garage (halfway to the barn) that pulled in the best signal, so in the summer I would plant myself out there on a lawn chair or a blanket and listen to my heart’s content.  There were certain spots in the house that worked better than others as well.  I spent many hours moving and adjusting how the radio was positioned to get the best reception.

My favorite radio station  was CKLW out of WIndsor/Detroit.  It must have had the strongest signal of all stations because that is about the only one I could pull in consistently.  Thank goodness it played rock and roll. There were also local stations I could get on my radio, but one played mostly classical and religious music and the other one had Phone Clubs most of the day where housewives would call in their favorite recipes and household hints!    Kind of like Hints from Heloise on a local level.  So CKLW it was,  and I knew all the DJ’s names and favorite songs.  I can remember taking my radio on bus trips with the high school band, too.  You had to hold the radio right up next to the window to hear anything at all, but it was just great to have portable music!

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About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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20 Responses to Transistor Radio

  1. Loved this! I bought my first transistor radio at our local Woolworth’s for $10 (a fortune back then); it had a black ‘leather’ case, ran on a 9V battery and had a single white ‘earplug’ that gave me a headache if I used it. I carried it with me everywhere! The station to listen to in my ‘neck of the woods’ (southern Ontario) back in the early 60s was CHUM AM. So many good memories. Thanks.

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  2. I remember… and kids just don’t get how we enjoyed these wonderful first radios that could be taken with us…The electronic scene is really moving fast…

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  3. Judy says:

    The first time I mentioned the word ‘radio’ in a sentence to my grandchildren they both looked at me like I had just started speaking a foreign language. I had to do some Googling to get them an example. They still looked at me like I was crazy. I had a good laugh at how far music had some.

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  4. marymtf says:

    Ruth, I still have a transistor like the one you have in your picture. It belonged to my dad and he kept it in his work shop.

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  5. This brought back such good memories–I did not get my transistor radio with a leather cover until 1966 but I listened to CKLW all the time — I only live 30 miles from Windsor–but it was the radio station to listen to – The Big 8–now it is totally different but I still listen to it on occasion. My brother gave my sis and I the radio for Christmas–he was a lot older than us and gave the best gifts!

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  6. Caddo Veil says:

    Ruth, you really stirred up some memories! I remember on Sundays, the radio only had “church” till after noon–then they’d play the rock and roll hits!!

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  7. Ruth, I just love the topics you write about. Coming here is a nice walk down memory lane. … My parents had one of those long, low pieces of furniture that took up most of one of the living room walls. It had the radio, record player, and sliding doors for record storage. My older sister probably had the first transistor radio in the family, and I loved putting on my bathing suit and lying on a blanket in the back yard next to her, so I could hear her music. 🙂 Thanks for a good one today!

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  8. I had a little radio when I was a kid and it seemed like such a luxury. I’d sneak it under my pillow at night, so that I could listen to music. It wasn’t as fancy as yours, but I would guess just a bit lighter! How far things have come – now I have a little MP3 player with speakers tucked near my pillow. The technology may have changed, but that is a little pleasure that never does!

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  9. lucewriter says:

    Loved this! Mine was similar to the first one, but with a black case on it. And just a little snazzier. Or is that just my recollection of it ;)?

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