When was the last time you tuned a radio that wasn’t in your car? With smartphones and streaming services like Spotify, most people don’t have traditional AM/FM radios lying around anymore.
But on Saturday, vintage radios and transmitters were aplenty at the first antique radio swap meet of the year put on by the California Historical Radio Society, a non-profit located in Alameda that is dedicated to the preservation and study of early radio and broadcasting. The society has nearly 300 members.
Even when there aren’t official swap meets, it’s not unusual on any given Saturday to find the back of the society’s building in Alameda filled with older guys like retired electrical engineer Jim Fink, tinkering with knobs and wires.
“It keeps my finger in the pie and allows me to play with stuff,” says Fink, who’s been a member for 3 1/2 years. “[Radio] has been my hobby and a vocation.”
Fink and others fix up some of the vintage radios and modernize them by adding Bluetooth and auxiliary cords so someone can hook up their smartphone. Even Fink listens to music on his smartphone.
“I’m listening to Pandora if I’m streaming,” he says. “Everybody streams now!”
These revamped radios then get re-sold at places like the famous Alameda Point Antiques Faire to help raise funds for the society, which hopes to open up an antique radio museum in Alameda.
But for now, the group will continue to repair, collect and restore pieces of broadcasting history.