It’s been a tough year and we’re happy to report CHRS is well. While we take a short break from a complete newsletter, we offer you our most recent President’s Message from our current Journal. It sort of sums up what’s been happening at CHRS and addresses similar situations at other vintage radio organizations… And offers a few possible solutions to our shared problems. Please enjoy and feel free to comment.
President’s Message 10-27-2022 – by Steve Kushman
As we approach the year’s end it’s time for reflection. It’s been a weird few years do to the Covid business. It feels good to be almost totally back to pre Covid programs and activities this year. We had a successful Radio Day By The Bay in July. We also have had several radio swap meets and sales at Radio Central. We have been part of the Bay Area Broadcast Legends luncheons. We have celebrated and inducted the new 2022 Class of our Bay Area Radio Hall Of Fame. KCBS-AM radio used Radio Central to host Stan Bunger’s retirement party. Stan was the morning news anchor on KCBS for 21 years! Recently a short comedy video was shot in our 1958 radio control room at Radio Central. We have taken in many fine donations of gear and funds this year. Our volunteers & supporters are passionate about CHRS, Radio Central and our future successful preservation of communications history with radio as the string that ties it all together.
Looking at the big picture, CHRS is thriving, as some other vintage radio organizations are having a tough time. Radio events and swap meets across the country are noticeably smaller, in numbers of buyers and sellers. Memberships in some groups are shrinking as the old timers are signing off and leaving behind lots of gear that need homes. The radio collecting hobby has changed over the years. And as a hobby, it’s also showing its age. I’m sure that CHRS is not the only vintage radio group mostly populated by white haired and/or balding elderly gentlemen. I’m one of them. And collecting trends have changed. For an example, the once treasured battery sets from the 1920s and other early wireless gear are not as popular as they once were… Because the people who treasured them are gone. Following are a few ideas that have served CHRS well. We hope they might spark other groups into action as they face their futures.
Having been associated with CHRS since 1988, I’ve seen change and more change in who we are. We have evolved from a parking lot collectors’ group to a true historical radio society. Change started in 2003 when we were able to occupy the old KRE radio station in Berkeley. For 10 years we built a collection, a library, repair shop, the Radio Hall Of Fame and more. And most importantly we learned how to build a museum. We weren’t able to stay at KRE causing our most dramatic change. Through strong support of our members and community in 2014 we purchased the original telephone building, in Alameda, built in 1900. And this sturdy brick structure, known as CHRS Radio Central is our forever home.
Survival Tip 1… Get your group a location you can call home. It’s tough, but there are ways. Radio collectors are dedicated. They can make it happen.
Survival Tip 2… You know, when you become a radio collector, you automatically become a historian. You know when and where your radio was made, and who made it. You know what type it is, and you know how it works. And you may know the story of the company that built it. So, our groups should find ways to preserve and present this history. Especially radio history relating to our local areas. If you don’t have one, create a web site. It’s a way to save and present the stories of radio. A web presence will let the world know who your group is, how people can help and why they should join.
Survival Tip 3… Think and listen out of the radio box. Traditionally our hobby has been about radios themselves, sets of vacuum tubes or transistors coupled with other components. CHRS has expanded our focus to the sound coming out of the speaker… radio broadcasting. This has opened up a whole new world for us. I could devote pages to the importance of broadcasting, but I’m running out of space. CHRS also operates the Bay Area Radio Museum, on-line, where the stories of our local stations and personalities are told, along with the help of many audio clips. Also, on-line, now as well in Radio Central, we have the Bay Area Radio Hall Of Fame where we celebrate and honor people in local radio. You too can do this. Reach out to your local broadcasting community. Populate your web site with stories of local radio, programs, audio clips and a Radio Hall Of Fame. A new vista will open. Get broadcasters involved. Many of them still have their hair.
Survival Tip 4… Our radio repair shop is the most popular place in Radio Central. If you can, build a shop. It attracts many younger people who like to tinker with electronics. Generally, these are people in their 40s and are good candidates to become our future. The shop offers opportunities for teaching and learning radio repair. Plus, it will help you with Tip 5 below.
Survival Tip 5… Become the ultimate recyclers. CHRS has learned to rescue 1950s & 60s table radios that were on their way to the landfill or left in a pile at the end of swap meets. We clean, polish, repair and paint when necessary, electrically upgrade, safety test and add an aux cable to these sets. The aux cable will take a Bluetooth fob so one can play their favorite music through… an antique! This is exactly what young people want today. We have no problem finding new homes and second lives for these once rejected sets. The same holds true for the long, low Mid Century Modern consoles. Tube or solid state, they are now in demand. My how times change. Rehoming these excess items is a good way to offer the public a nice radio or audio treasure that will inspire their interest. Their appreciations often results not only in a generous donation, but in curiosity about CHRS and potentially a new membership.
These have been my two cents worth this time. There is more our groups can do. We must preserve radio and communications in all their forms. They are such important parts of our history and culture. And our vintage radio groups are the ones who will carry their stories forward. So, it’s so important for groups to seriously consider their futures. Because, you know what? The future is here.
I encourage you to contact me with questions and comments. Keep Smiling, Steve (415) 203-2747. [email protected]