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The Crosley Radio Gallery

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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.

While the Museum Of Yesterday's collection contains many general interest items from the 19th and 20th Centuries, the real focus of our collection is communications. The extensive collection of communications devices represent a lifetime of collecting by our founder, engineer and historian John DeMajo. Mr. DeMajo became interested in electronics as a young child. At the young age of 13, he obtained his first FCC radio operator's license. For over 65 years, his interests have driven him to build a notable collection of items that tell the entire story of radio and communications history. This web site is his way of sharing the collection with interested persons, including engineers, ham operators, teachers, and students of history.

The QSL card, shown above, is a sample of cards that are sent through the mail to confirm that listeners or operators of other stations have actually established radio contact with a subject station. While these cards are still used by many stations, today's technology now permits QSLs to be transmitted through the use of computer programs such as Log Book Of The World, or QRZ.com. To see the latest Log Book Of The World contacts logged by station K5HTZ, click the icon below.

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

The Museum Of Yesterday's WOLD radio station, and the Radio Theater Network, bring you continuous 24/7 presentations of radio programs from the 1930s through 1960, the end of network entertainment radio.
Click the microphone below to listen.

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This 1930s RCA Art Deco "On Air" sign, signals when a live broadcast is originating in the museum's WOLD radio studio.
 

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

Left: A 1930s photo of staff organist Glen Shelly at the console of the KGW (Portland Oregon) studio Wurlitzer. At Right: The WOLD studio Wurlitzer in a photo that is reminiscent of the 90 year old KGW Shelly photo.

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.

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

 
VIEW A TIMELINE OF THE
DEVELOPMENT OF RADIO

   

FOR EXAMPLES AND INFORMATION OF "GOLDEN AGE" RADIO PROGRAMS

 
"BACK IN THE OLD DAYS"
Our New Orleans Years
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 "chair side" 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.

Back in post World War II New Orleans, 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 "chairside" radio-phonograph 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 was excellent as radio writers and producers knew that they would soon be facing stiff 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 late 1959, entertainment network radio broadcasting 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 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

 
Above-left: A Christmas Eve 1947 photo, taken by my father, of the family room of our childhood home in New Orleans. Our Farnsworth chairside radio-phonograph can be seen in the lower left corner where it sat next to my father's favorite easy chair. That radio was our family's "entertainment center" in the post WW-II years prior to television becoming available in New Orleans.

To the right is a much later (1962) view of the K5HTZ ham shack at the same residence. T
his was my station during the years that I was in high school. With this meager installation, comprised of a Knight T-60 transmitter, Hallicrafters SX-140 receiver, and a Johnson VFO, all assembled from kits, I was able to work twenty foreign countries as well as most of the United States and Canada. My antenna at the time was a 40 meter center fed dipole. Sadly, the home was demolished as a result of flooding that accompanied Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
An originaal K5HTZ QSL card from the 1960s, produced by World Radio Laboratories, a major supplier of ham radio supplies.
 
BELOW: A 1970s era photo of our founder climbing the 60 foot Rohn 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.
 
2005 -Hurricane Katrina and
The Birth of the Museum Of Yesterday

In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. Massive levee failures resulted in New Orleans receiving as much as 15 feet of toxic standing flood water; which destroyed homes, businesses. and institutions. Included in one of the city's most heavily damaged areas, were the home and business holdings of the author of this site and founder of the Museum Of Yesterday.
 

"Central Control" for radio station K5HTZ and the Museum Of Yesterday's communications center.

Following the Hurricane Katrina destruction of the founder's family's home and business holdings in New Orleans, he, along with his remaining family members, made the decision 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. While a substantial portion of the original collection was lost, fortunately, some items were were in safe storage, and thereby escaped damage.

Once the family was settled in suburban Richmond, Virginia, he began the task of seeking replacements for lost items. It was then that the idea of establishing a place to display the extensive collection, gave rise to the plan for a privately operated museum. In addition to the new museum being a place for guests to see the collection, our founder insisted that the new facility serve a place where communications students could learn about the history of radio. And being a licensed amateur radio operator who had witnessed what ham radio could do in time of one of the worst weather disasters in history, he decided to establish an emergency communications center as an integral part of the museum displays. As such, the radio station facilities stand ready to assist Virginia Emergency Services , in the event that any future disaster were to result in a total loss of communications, as experienced in Katrina.

Shown above is the new K5HTZ "ham shack" and control center located in the basement of the Museum. The station has a maximum transmitting power of 1200 watts, utilizing both modern solid-state, and restored vintage EMP resistant gear. In addition to emergency communications and amateur radio, the museum operates a full-time low power and Internet streaming radio station, WOLD, for the purpose of broadcasting and streaming nostalgic radio programs of the 1930s through the early 1960s.

Geographically, the station is located 80 miles inland from the Atlantic coast, and our antenna towers reach over 300 feet above sea level, so our RF propagation is excellent both up and down the East coast and over into Europe and to the south-west. Recent contacts have been reliably established with stations as far away as Nova-Scotia to the north, Japan to the west, Kuwait to the east, and Ecuador to the south.

Supporting the station's physical plant are a fixed 16KW combination natural gas and propane fired emergency generator, a dedicated Mitsubichi air conditioning system, and multiple Internet connections, all capable of keeping the station operating in even the worst emergency. Having weathered the heart breaking effects of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, our founder made a commitment to spare no cost or effort in the creation of a communications center and radio museum that not only serves as a public service resource but also as a teaching facility to promote amateur radio and the study and preservation of the history of American radio broadcasting.

Recently, another member of the founder's family has joined the museum's staff. We are proud to announce that University Of New Orleans graduate Anthropologist and Museum Specialist Kathleen DeMajo Adams (KN4UMD), daughter of our founder, has obtained her FCC radio license and is now actively involved in the management of the museum and communications collection.

 

 
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 telephone collection and a portion of the early ham equipment, including our 1910 spark transceiver.
 
This is the view a guest sees when entering the radio gallery. Display cases containing early telegraph items, crystal and early tube radios are displayed, along with small items from the amateur radio collection. In the forefront are three iconic broadcast microphones, the RCA Model 44, the RCA 77DX and an early carbon mike as used in the 1920s. A working example can be seen in the photo below.
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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.
 
Equipment in the museum's 1940 vintage ham shack exhibit, is based on the cover illustration of the 1940 Radio Shack catalog.
 
Display cases containing some of our early telegraph equipment, rare crystal sets and early audion receivers.
Most manufacturers of pre and post war ham radio equipment are represented, including Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, National, Johnson, and the makers of kits such as Allied Radio, Eico and Heathkit.
 
More radios from the 1920s and '30s including our Tuska, AK-40 and Freshman sets, as well as a pre-WW-II Hallicrafters SX-28, Priess, Meisner and DayFan sets.
 
 
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 WOLD Studio "A," the museum's fully functioning reproduction 1930s radio studio. It serves as the production center for broadcasts from station WOLD, the museum's streaming "Golden age of Radio" broadcasting facility. Like many radio studios of the 1930s and 40s, it houses an authentic and restored 1926 Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ that previously thrilled audiences in a 1920s movie "Palace." The organ's 800 wood and metal pipes, along with sound effects, relay and blower, are housed in a specially designed sound chamber located above the studio.
 
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 in Tennessee, believed to be the originating station for the Grand Ole Opry. These Deagan dinner chime units were used throughout the NBC Network until the late 1930s when they were replaced by an electronically generated signature produced at one of the network's headquarter stations. There were several versions of the NBC tone over the years including a five and four note version. By the 1930s, the familiar three note tone became the standard. While the NBC tones became a signature of the network, their original purpose was to notify the engineers, at telephone company switching stations, that a network program was about to go onto the line.

Hear what is believed to be the NBC chime unit above as it signaled the end of a 1931 "Grand Ole Opry" show.

Hear the signature NBC tone from later years, which was electronically generated.

 
Our founder, at his favorite operating position in the museum's 1940 vintage ham shack, which contains a complete working amateur radio station of that pre-WW-II era. The composition of the desk and equipment shown, is an authentic reproduction of the cover of the 1940 edition mail order catalog of the original Radio Shack Corporation of Boston, Mass.
 
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 housed in our Virginia headquarters. Our communications collection is one of the largest assemblages of antique wireless equipment, documents, and associated material, currently in private ownership, anywhere in the world. Representing the life work of professional engineer and historic preservationist John G. DeMajo, the museum's primary mission is to make today's generations aware of the miraculous developments by American engineers and scientists of the 20th Century, that brought us to the doorway of today's high-tech world.
 
Copyright 2022, The Museum Of Yesterday, Chesterfield, VA USA