I was always curious, when young to find out if there were tiny people residing in a radio and talk, sing etc.
I remember once, sneaking into the back yard of our home in a mid summer afternooon, ensuring that no one was watching me and set myself to the task of somehow open our transistor radio
I was too young then and wanted to see those small gnomes I imagined to be residing inside that box, talking and singing. Since I did not know how to open it professionally, I started to hit it against the stone we had in there for dhobi’s work. (Back in the 70’s we did not know about washing machines)
That plastic shell of that “foreign made radio” only chipped at a corner but by then my mom reached the scene and I came to know about it by the blow I got on my back. I was too engrossed in the opening of the radio.
Most families, those days, had a big radio set, which always were given an important place in the drawing rooms and lives of the people . In the yester years, the advertisements with those Radios showed pictures of a neatly arranged drawing rooms with the Radio as the central piece and a gracefully sitting house wife, next to it. (My mother’s collection of old ‘LIFE’ magazines had these kind of ads) These ads symbolized a well settled family in yester years. All those black and white ads remain mostly in memories now.
Back then, our Radios had only MW and SW. No FM. We came to know of AM only after ‘Made in USA/Japan” products started appearing. British clones did not have AM.
In school we kids used to boast about how many SW channels his or her radio at home had and though most of couldn’t comprehend even English News in All India Radio, we used to tune in to ‘Voice of America’, ‘BBC’ and ‘Chinese’ language for pure excitement being able to listen to voices from away lands. They were called ‘stations’ back then. (Much like channels of TV’s today).
I spent long afternoons trying to improve reception of these radios. My grandfather’s house had a very big Murphy Radio. In our home apart from the transistor, i mentioned earlier in this blog, we had a ‘Bush’ Radio. (Part of my mother’s property she ‘brought’ from her mother’s home, and she was proud of it!)
The antennae for these radios were a strip of copper mesh slung across 2 nails on the walls. As a curious kid my afternoons were full of excitement from the moment of switching on the main power and turning the ‘on’ knob on the radio. I used to love the size of that knob, the particular clicking sound that emanated when being turned on. On occasions I must have turned those knobs a hundred times in rapid fire just for pure pleasure, of-course watching your back all the time!
Once it was turned on, the next step was peering through the slots on the back into the innards to look for filaments glow up slowly. Only when the filaments turned on brightly would the radio kick to life.
Then was the tuning part.