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The Radiola Guy is:
C. E. "Sonny" Clutter

 

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First, it's RadiolaGuy, not Radio LA. pronounced; ready-o-'lah.  The Radiola Guy is - C. E. "Sonny" Clutter.

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, and my first serious experience with early radio two; the first radio I ever restored was a Radiola 17 a he age of 15 and three; I really like the RCA Radiola line. I presently own a number of the Radiola moldels 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 in Washington state in the small town of Camas which is just across the river from Portland, OR. I work my business from my home as I have turned my life-long hobby into a hobby business. I have been collecting and restoring vintage radios and related since 1962. My interest in radio was realized 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.  Mother divorced my father (he was a bum) and re-married when I was about 9. My stepfather (another bum) was what's called a "picker" these days, back then, a "junk man". He would buy or hall almost anything and everything he could find cheap or free. The better stuff, we would fix up and sell at local auctions or where-ever, the rest dismantled for scrap metal. I started traveling with him when I was about 12 or 13. We would scour the back alleys of our town's neighborhoods, frequented local appliance dealers in search of things. Back then large department stores and retail dealers took trade-ins. Often he would buy a whole truck load of trade-in stuff. I can remember early 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. We take the acquired stuff home 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 (and quite heavy) Majestic radios, 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 from the air. 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. It was found sticking out of a garbage can in South Ashland during spring clean-up. 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 radio. I have since this original publishing, I have acquired one just like it > Coke bottle radio

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 Force.

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 collector/dealer.

 

Visit > my Radio Room

RadiolaGuy.com
© C.E. Clutter

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Member of:
Northwest Vintage Radio Society

Member of:
Antique Wireless Association

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Local pick-up     I'm in Camas, WA - near Portland, OR.

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