Many modern radios are produced in a retro style so they have the look of a vintage model combined with modern functionality, connectivity and performance. If you want to experience the real thing, however, there are still plenty of vintage radios around.
When they were first released, valve radios and later transistor radios were often the main source of entertainment for a family. They date from the 1930s onwards and, because they were very expensive at the time, were usually well looked after. Many are still in a good and usable condition and, because they use standard components, can often be restored like new.
Although DAB is now the new standard for radio, FM and AM are still available and are likely to be for many years to come. So a vintage radio that operates on LW and MW frequencies will still be useable.
Where to Buy a Vintage Radio
Antique radios can often be acquired through well-known sites such as eBay, Preloved and Gumtree. There are of course car boot sales and auction houses will often feature these items in their sales. However, you need to know what you’re looking for and be sure of the condition of the item you’re buying.
The British Vintage Wireless Society, for example, holds regular auctions of radios. Prices are unpredictable and will depend on the condition of each set as well as other factors, and you need to be able to get to their Harpenden or Royal Wootton Bassett locations.
There are also various specialist shops (such as the Classic Radio Shop in Norfolk) that sell vintage radios, can provide advice and may offer a repair service.
One useful source is Past Times Radio that offers a variety of models for sale, provides a restoration service and has a wealth of information on its website. Most of its radios are fully reconditioned and in full working order, and come with operating and care instructions and a six-month guarantee. They also offer ‘project radios’ that you can fully or partly restore yourself.
There is a fair chance, therefore, that you can experience the nostalgia of listening to a true vintage radio. Just don’t expect to hear The Navy Lark or any other old favourites.