JOPLIN, Mo. — Long before the internet, cell phones, and even television, radio was the only source of electronic entertainment and information.
An area man is making it his cause to restore old radios to their original grandeur.
Jim Hounschell was just a kid when he found a couple of old radios in his grandparent’s barn.
“They was in pretty poor shape, but when I cleaned them all up I realized just how beautiful they really were and so that kind of sparked my interest in restoring radios,” said Hounschell.
But decades would pass before he’d finally make the decision to try and start doing that. And when he did, he got hooked, his collection is currently up to twenty.
“Well so far, I’ve just collected them, but my wife would like for me to start selling them, so I’m running out of room. Eventually I’m going to have to do something with them.”
The woodworking part of the radio rehab process wasn’t hard for him to hack, but how to actually make them work, that was another matter.
“Mechanically I really wasn’t sure what to do, so the internet is a great source for that kind of information. So that’s where I went to and I just kind of learned from watching YouTube and doing other research to figure it all out.”
Americans depended on radios like these for everything from entertainment to news. It’s how the greatest generation learned about Pearl Harbor.
Unlike today’s models, there was a delay between the time you turned the knob and actually hearing something come out. Because they don’t make ’em like this anymore, it can be a real challenge to find new parts to replace the originals.
“That’s one thing I’ve found out is you have to be careful in which radio you select to restore because if you get one that’s got parts they don’t just make anymore and you can’t fabricate, then you’re out of luck.”
The oldest model he’s given a second lease on life is from 1932.
“A very good feeling because, you know, you do put a lot of work into it before you know if it’s actually going to work and pull in stations and so forth, a real good feeling after working on it so long to find out it actually works.”