The Radiola Guy handle is not
meant to infer that I am an expert or specialize on the RCA Radiola
line. I choose that for my domain name and ID for several reasons,
one; the name readily relates to early radio, two; the first radio I
ever restored was a Radiola 17 and three; I like the RCA
Radiola line, I presently own a number of them and over the years I
have owned a good many if not most of the early Radiola line. Most
importantly, the Radiola guy handle was my wife's suggestion.
I am located near
Portland, OR. I have been collecting and restoring vintage radios and
related since 1962 (unofficially at a much younger age). I have been a
member of AWA (Antique Wireless Association) since 1963 and a member
of NWVRS (Northwest Vintage Radio Society since 1984.
I'm a true Kentucky Hillbilly, I grew up in northeastern Kentucky (Ashland)
during the 1950's and most of my relatives are KY natives and still in
that area. As a youngster I was known as "Sunshine Leader" (I
went by my stepfathers last name). Sunshine was a nickname given to me
by my mother right after I was born. I found out years later that on
the way home from the hospital (with me in arms), the then popular
tune; "You are My Sunshine" was her inspiration for the nickname.
My wife is a native of Morgantown, West
Virginia and alumni of WVU. We met and married in 1962 while I was
serving in the USAF.
I became interested in radios around
the age 10 or 11. My stepfather (Mother re-married when I was 9
years old) was what you would call a "picker", he would buy and
sell anything and everything he could get cheap, I started traveling
with him when I was about 12 or 13. We frequented local appliance
dealers (they took trade-ins then) and would often buy a whole truck
load of stuff. I can remember seeing 7 - 12" TV's stacked high in the
back rooms of these dealers. Typically you could buy all the old TV's
you wanted then for $5.00 each. He would buy trade-in items by the
truck load. We would either dismantle the acquired stuff for scrap
metal or sell the better stuff at the local auction houses. Many of
these items were refrigerators and washing machines.
The first TV I was able to make work was
a 1949, 10"
Meck found at a dealer in
Huntington, West Virginia around 1953. He allowed me to have it to
play with, what a treat that was. I was able to make it work and that
became our first TV! (and my first TV repair). These sets were of
little resale value in the early and mid 50s, a working one might
bring $25.00 if it was clean and had a good picture.
I remember the old console radios he
would get, especially the large Majestic's, I marveled at all the
intricacy of the various parts, circuitry and the sealed containers. I
would remove and open the beautiful constructed aluminum and sometimes
copper cans containing the intricately wound coils on these old pieces
of engineering and would marvel and wonder how these made sounds and
music. For the most part the remnants of the wonderful old sets ended
up in the junk yard and the small components in old coffee can
containers. Around 1953-54 I found an old NRI (National Radio
Institute) home study course and taught myself the basics of radio and
electronics. I can still remember the first old radio and that "Meck"
TV that I made work! What a thrill that was for me (just a kid) to
bring one of these old relics back to life. BTW, the first radio I
made work was a large Coke
bottle radio made of thick Bakelite (found it sticking out of a
garbage can in South Ashland during spring clean-up) and I even
remember what the problem was, a leaky coupling capacitor to the grid
of the audio output tube. Do I ever wish I still had that
During 1956 I took an after school and
week-end job at a local Radio & TV repair shop in Ashland (Supreme
Radio & TV). The owner (Jake Rodman), couldn't afford to pay me a
salary, so I started working for nothing (a "gopher at first) just to learn more about
the technology I loved. Jake taught me many of the
things that I still practice to this day, he was a first-class
service technician. I started by working in the shop doing odd jobs,
sweep the floor and later was trusted to test tubes for customers at the counter.
I recall it was a Hickok model 533 or similar. I spent time on the work-bench
asking questions and learning his trouble-shooting techniques. Later I
traveled with him on service calls and antenna installations, after a
few weeks he started paying me a small amount. I later landed a
full time job at a local dealer (Jacks Auto Store) that sold
appliances, radios & TVs and of course auto parts & accessories
(mostly radios, seat-covers & simple automotive stuff). I became one
of three technicians working for him. I worked there until Jan.
1959 when after a salary dispute, I walked out and joined the Air
After basic training in San Antonio
Texas, electronics was of course my field. My first Air Force
assignment was at
Pope Air Force base which is right in the middle of
Ft. Bragg, NC
(home of the
82nd Airborne) where I worked in the MARS station. Then to
a remote assignment to
Shemya, Alaska (1960). My last tour was
NSA located at Ft.
Meade, MD. I was assigned to the R&D department. While working there I
met and married my wonderful wife, who was introduced to me by my
former supervisor Joe Tomba (former president of Tomba Communications
of New Orleans). After discharge from the USAF I went to work in the
field of consumer electronics service where I spent my entire working
career as a technician, business owner, division 57 service supervisor
(for a Sears Service Center) and Service Manager for a fine local
Consumer Electronics Service Center in Portland, OR. In 1996 I
resigned myself from the modern consumer electronics service
business and turned my hobby into an Internet business.
In 1962 while working for Sears as a TV
technician in Northern Virginia, a customer donated to me an old 1927
"Kolster" AC radio. I spent evenings on the loading/shipping dock of
the high-rise apartment where we lived, cleaning and re-finishing the
cabinet of that set and my love for the early radios started growing
again. I joined the AWA (Antique Wireless Association) in 1963. We got
fed up with the traffic and a few other issues in the DC, northern VA
area and moved west in 1970. I
could go on and on but will end here.
I am still married to my wonderful wife
(Lila), we had and raised 4 beautiful children (pictured left). One of
them (our precious daughter Amanda), we lost in 1987.
I invite you to take the
virtual tour of my collection and maybe you
might find that old piece of nostalgia on one of my for sale pages
that you must have. Yes, like others before me I have become a