RECOMMENDED LINKS
ARRL Website
 
Atwater Kent Website
 

 


The Crosley Radio Gallery

Identify that old radio in your attic with Radio Attic Archives

 

GALLERY NAVIGATION

ANTIQUE PHONOGRAPHS

TELEGRAPH HISTORY

TELEPHONE HISTORY

EARLY RADIO

DEPRESSION - POST WAR

RADIO'S COMPONENTS

HAM AND SHORT WAVE

MILITARY, CB, RECORDING & PA

SERVICE AND REPAIR

LIBRARY, SPONSORS AND BROADCASTING

SAFETY RULES FOR
RESTORERS

 

 

 

 

THE MUSEUM OF YESTERDAY

 
Shortcuts to all galleries: A B C D E F G H I J K L

A sample QSL card from our founder's "Ham" radio station, K5HTZ.

QSL cards are sent through the mail to confirm that listeners or operators of other stations have actually established radio contact with the subject station.

To see a brief video of the museum collection,
.
MEMBER.
 

A WORD TO EDUCATORS AND HISTORIANS:

PLEASE NOTE THAT PHOTOS AND INFORMATION PRESENTED ON THIS SITE ARE VERIFIED AS HISTORICALLY ACCURATE. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION IS EITHER INCLUDED, OR IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. IN ADDITION TO PRESENTING THE MUSEUM TO VIRTUAL VISITORS AND COLLECTORS OF ANTIQUE COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT, THE SITE IS DESIGNED TO BE USED BY TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE LEVEL COMMUNICATIONS COURSES. THE MUSEUM STAFF WELCOMES QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS FROM INSTRUCTORS AND STUDENTS ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN SUCH CARRICULA.


THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THEATRE ORGANS AND RADIO PROGRAMS

A 1930s photo of staff organist Glen Shelly at the console of the KGW (Portland Oregon) studio Wurlitzer.

In 1929, Broadcast "entertainment" radio was coming of age at the same time that talking pictures were replacing silent movies in theaters around the country. Thousands of theatre pipe organs had been built and installed in movie theatres through the 1920s, and theater owners were now left with these unneeded obsolete instruments in their venues. Originally, the theatre organ was designed as a one-man orchestra, and was used extensively to save money by eliminating the need for live house orchestras to accompany silent films. Radio, on the other hand, was using orchestras and phonograph transcriptions for background and accompaniment of early radio shows.

It was realized, by enterprising broadcasters, that surplus organs could now be moved to radio studios, and the same concept of a one-man orchestra could be applied to radio productions. Soon hundreds of former theatre organs, and their organists, were finding their way to radio studios across the country.

A comprehensive listing of all known pipe organs and organists associated with radio stations is available.

In a scene reminiscent of the historic KGW photo above, the console of the museum's Wurlitzer theatre/studio pipe organ, which is extremely similar to the KGW console, stands in a prominent position in the WOLD production "Studio A". The organ is used for concerts as well as authentic recreation performances of "Golden Era" radio plays by local theater groups. All programs and performances are produced using restored RCA Model 44 and 77 microphones from the 1940s era, which gives our programming the authentic sound of an old time AM radio station.


You are invited to check out these MP3 samples of radio themes that were created on the WOLD organ shown above. The announcer at the beginning and end of each sample is authentic from transcriptions of the original shows as indicated, but the organ music on the tracks was performed by our chairman and founder, John DeMajo, and dubbed into the original old recordings.

ONE MAN'S FAMILY from NBC Radio 1945

WLW's Moon River broadcast from 1949

The official RCA "On Air" sign from the museum's WOLD-AM broadcasting studio.

 
VIEW A TIMELINE OF THE
DEVELOPMENT OF RADIO

   

FOR EXAMPLES AND INFORMATION OF "GOLDEN AGE" RADIO PROGRAMS

 
"BACK IN THE OLD DAYS"
The story of engineer and collector John DeMajo and the founding of the Museum Of Yesterday
A mid-1960's view of the electronics laboratory at the college where our founder and chairman received his electrical and electronics engineering training.
 
Farnsworth Model GK-267 "arm chair" radio-phonograph

 

"A LIFETIME FASCINATION WITH RADIO"

Those who were alive in the early years following World War II, were fortunate to have experienced one of the greatest periods of wealth, social and technological development in the history of our country. From 1945 through the beginning of the Korean conflict, America experienced an unleashing of technology that had developed as a result of war efforts. Early in that period, television had not yet entered the average home in America, but everyone knew that this wonderful new medium of "radio with pictures" was coming fast. Prior to the 1950s, the average American family still huddled around their radios for entertainment in the home, and prime-time on the major networks was still well invested in live radio productions.

The family of our museum founder, John DeMajo, was typical of that early "baby boom" era. Evenings at home in the DeMajo household usually involved gathering around the family's Farnsworth GK267 radio-phonograph set as the evening's prime time shows, such as "The Adventures of Beulah," "Mr. Keene Tracer Of Lost Persons," "Doctor Christian's Office," and "Life With Luigi" entertained audiences. The quality and variety of program content had come of age as radio writers and producers knew that they would soon be facing competition from Television. During that era, some of the most creative shows were produced and broadcast, and many shows that were successful, were later modified for presentation on television.

Just ten years later in 1959, live radio broadcasting had vanished, having been replaced by the unprecedented growth of Television as the new home entertainment medium. Thanksgiving week of 1959 saw the end of entertainment network shows produced by CBS, and both Mutual and NBC had also phased out their radio lineups in that same time period.

Our founder fondly remembers the prosperous years that followed the end of World War II, and his interactions as a young child with his family gathered around the Radio. It is that appreciation for the medium of Radio, often referred to as "The Theatre Of The Mind," that inspired Mr. DeMajo to assemble one of the world's premier collections of communications equipment, documents and memorabilia which has now become the "Golden Age Of Radio" Collection of the Museum Of Yesterday

 
The photo above is a Christmas of 1947 shot of the family room in the DeMajo home in New Orleans. The family's Farnsworth GK-267 arm chair radio-phonograph is visible at the lower left corner of the photo. Sadly, the home was demolished following the flooding of New Orleans that accompanied Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
A 1962 photo of the ham shack at Radio K5HTZ which was then based in New Orleans. Equipment included a Hallicrafters SX-140 receiver and a Knight-Kit T-60 phone/cw transmitter from Allied Radio in Chicago. Morse Code was copied using a 1935 Underwood "Noiseless" manual typewriter. The station, was owned and operated by our founder and chairman who was a high school student at the time this photo was taken. He successfully communicated with 20 foreign countries, and most of North America, using the equipment shown in the photo. Below is an original QSL card from Radio K5HTZ, printed by World Radio Laboratories, a major supplier of Ham radios and services in the mid-1900s. More information on World Radio Laboratories, Hallicrafters, and Allied Radio, makers of the Knight T-60 transmitter above, can be found on Page 7 of the communications collection galleries.
 
 
BELOW: A 1970s era photo of our founder climbing the 60 foot Rohm transmitting tower of Station K5HTZ in New Orleans. Atop the tower was a tri-band Yagi for 20, 15 and 10 meters. The tower stood tall until the year 2005 when it was toppled by Hurricane Katrina.
 
"The destruction of New Orleans in 2005 gave rise to the founding of the Museum Of Yesterday"

Following the Hurricane Katrina destruction of the DeMajo family's home and business holdings in New Orleans, the remaining family members elected to relocate well outside of the flood prone Gulf Coast of Louisiana. It was during that transition that the concept of "The Museum Of Yesterday" was born.

Pictured above is a view of the new K5HTZ "ham shack" now located at the Museum Of Yesterday in suburban Richmond, Virginia, along with a close-up of the rig below. The station operates on a Yaesu FT-757GX all mode transceiver into an MFJ all-band vertical antenna. VHF and UHF are via a Leixen VV898, also shown in the photo. The station is located approximately 90 miles inland from the Atlantic coast, and about 230 feet above sea level, so our RF propagation is excellent up and down the East coast and over into West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The shack is fully equipped as an emergency operations center, and is outfitted with a multi-fuel emergency generator, dedicated air conditioning system, and facilities to communicate on all ham bands and most emergency radio frequencies in time of disaster. Having weathered the heart breaking effects of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, our founder spared no cost or effort in order to make the museum's new "communications center" able to function in most any emergency situation.

Recently, another member of the DeMajo family has embraced the Ham radio service. Kathleen D. Adams (KN4UMD), daughter of our founder, has obtained her FCC license, and is now actively assisting with the management of the museum and communications collection.

The present K5HTZ station operating console which is located in the museum's emergency broadcast center.
 
Here are some previews of the radio galleries in the museum
The "OLD IRON" gallery contains classic examples of Depression and WW-II era transmitters and receivers.
 
The "Americans At Home"gallery above houses our early home entertainment and telephone history collections.
 
A portion of the Hallicrafters radio collection. The SX-28 (left middle) and SX-16 (right top) are the two receivers that led the United States Army in communications during World War II, and cemented the relationship between the U.S. government and Bill Halligan's company.
 
Display containing some of our rare crystal sets and early audion receivers.
A portion of the museum's Morse Code display including telegraph devices from Western Union, the Railroad Industry and early spark and CW transmission via radio.
 
A small sampling of the radio components on display
 
THE HOME OF RADIO STATION WOLD-AM

Photo above is of a studio grade double-button carbon microphone typical of those used in early broadcasting.

To facilitate demonstrations of the museum's huge collection of historic recordings of "golden era" radio programs and vintage audio recordings, and also to encourage theatre group recreations of historic broadcasts, the museum operates a streaming and low power AM radio station with the call letters WOLD. Below is a photo of a typical late 1920s radio studio, followed by a current photo of the main studio of WOLD. Note that the layout and contents of our studio is quite similar to that shown in the historic depiction.

Views of broadcasting Studio "A" which is the museum's fully functioning, 1930s radio studio replica. The studio serves as the production center for broadcasts from WOLD Radio, the museum's low-power and stream antique radio broadcasting facility. The studio also contains an authentic 1926 Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ which would have been a standard fixture in many "live production" radio studios of the 1930s and 40s. Pipe work for the organ resides in a specially designed sound chamber located one floor above the studio.
 
The sound quality associated with "Golden Age" radio programs was the product of early audio equipment and network telephone lines that were used in the pre-television broadcast era. While most 1920s and 30s broadcasts employed carbon microphones, similar in principle to the mouth pieces used in analog telephones, the 1940s and 1950s programs carried a dramatic improvement in "fidelity" and clarity. Broadcast and commercial recording microphones had undergone great improvement with the introduction of high quality "ribbon" microphones such as those manufactured by Radio Corporation Of America. The RCA-44 and 77-DX were the two microphones that became iconic in the later years of radio broadcast history.

Proudly exhibited, in the WOLD "Studio A" photo above, are two examples of these rare coveted studio grade RCA microphones from the museum's collection.
In this late 1940s photo of comedian Groucho Marx, with a contestant from his "You Bet Your Life" quiz show series that aired on both NBC Radio and Television at the time, both the RCA 44 and 77 microphones can be seen together in actual use. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the audio portion of the program aired on NBC Radio on Wednesday evenings, with the same program broadcast on television the following night as part of the Thursday evening prime-time lineup.
 
In this photo, "Studio A" is set up for the recording of a recreated vintage broadcast as performed by a local actors' group. To aid in these productions, the museum's library holds hundreds of vintage scripts from the "Golden Age" network radio era.
 
The device above is an early version of the NBC chimes. It was used in productions originating from an NBC affiliate station. Originally, there were four notes used in the chime signature, but during the network's radio history, it was reduced to the familiar three note "G-E-C". In later years, the tones were generated electronically. The original purpose of the chime was to notify local stations and telephone switching stations that a network transmission was forthcoming. Today, the chime has become an audio trademark of the NBC network. To experience the NBC Chimes in action, click the photo above.
 
Meet Professor Heindrick Von Kilowatt. He will be your guide to a better understanding of the history and science that you will be seeing in the museum's extensive collection.
 
We now begin our journey through the history of Radio
Note: All items represented on this web site as being part of the museum's permanent collection, are actual items owned by The Museum of Yesterday project, and which are housed in our collection at our headquarters in suburban Richmond, Virginia USA. Historic photographs represented herein, are either owned by us, or used with permission of the owners.
 
Copyright 2019, The Museum Of Yesterday, Chesterfield, VA USA