Radio Waves: February 26, 2021

Old is new again

Something happened on the way to the future: the past got in the way.

I’ve been spending time lately reading online forums and other pages dedicated to “vintage” electronics. This includes sites that involve sharing the passion and getting help, as I did with an old Zenith console television my wife and I bought shortly before we were married. Certainly it isn’t truly worth anything, but I hate to dump it; $2, three capacitors and some time later, it’s working fine. I’ll be using sites like this as I repair and restore some old tube radios, along with the RCA transistor radio I mentioned here months ago.

In reading the information and viewing videos (one account on from Shango066 has been my guilty pleasure; a So Cal local, he gets old stereos and televisions working again … including some just found dumped on the side of the road) I have discovered something fascinating.

Remember those console stereos that could be found in living rooms of the 1950s and 1960s? They’re back. Seriously.

This was from an era prior to component stereos that took over in the late 1960s and ‘70s. The better models from Magnavox, Zenith, and others combined fine furniture, good sound, and even occasionally a large screen — for its time — television. Earlier models were of course tubes; solid state designs came later. 

There is a small but dedicated group that is restoring these old consoles, and there are companies around that will do it for you. Some restorations bring in modern technology such as bluetooth connections and media players. But what surprised me is that you can even buy models brand new from more than one company.

They are not cheap. In part because the wood used in crafting the furniture is stunningly beautiful, and the products are handcrafted here in the United States. Models from Wrensilva ( and Luno ( are constructed in California; list prices run from about $7500 to $15,000 depending on the model.

The new consoles include a record player but no radio tuner. To play radio, they rely on streaming internet services, or you can add an auxiliary tuner. That’s not necessarily bad, as the apps they use are often as easy to use as an old radio and the sound is usually better.

So what’s the purpose in bringing back an old idea that is in most minds way past its prime? Interestingly, it is a new technology driving it: flat screen televisions. Match a new wall-hung large flat screen with a new or refinished console stereo made of finely polished walnut or mahogany, and you have a new elegance missing from most modern electronics. The added bonus: even the old ones can make your home entertainment system sound great.

Kevin and Sluggo

In case you missed the story, Kevin Ryder, longtime morning star on KROQ (106.7 FM) when he was half of Kevin and Bean, has been paired with Doug “Sluggo” Roberts for the Kevin and Sluggo Show on KLOS (95.5 FM). The program airs weekday afternoons from 3-7 PM.

So what are two ex-KROQ jocks doing on KLOS? Playing music and having fun. KLOS’ management is taking a different path than so many other stations by maintaining not only a local presence, but allowing the station to still have some personality. 


I am looking to connect with station programmer Keith Cunningham over longterm plans, but I am absolutely pulling for this to work. In my mind, radio needs to be local to compete against Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora and the like. And KLOS is being smart by making the move just as other stations across the country go with regional or national programming. Smart. Very smart. I’ll be watching and listening closely.

Limbaugh’s Effect

It’s funny. Whenever I mentioned Rush Limbaugh in this column, no matter what I wrote, I’d get mail and emails from people accusing me of being both a left-wing wacko and a right-wing fanatic. I suppose this shows that there has been polarization with politics longer than I realized.

But it cannot be denied that Limbaugh’s show, at least in its earliest years, rejuvenated talk radio, and in a sense extended the useful life of AM radio. Certainly as the show aged, the average listener aged with it and him, but the early days of the program brought a new type of listener to talk radio and to the band. I am convinced that Limbaugh’s previous life as a top-40 DJ is one of the reasons.

Limbaugh knew how to entertain. Like Tom Leykis, another entertaining talker and who was once the liberal counterpoint to Limbaugh when they were both on KFI (640 AM),  his training came from playing the hits. He knew how to entertain, and keep people hooked. Indeed, if you listen to airchecks of Limbaugh in his early radio days when he was known as Jeff Christie, you hear someone who was actually a damn good DJ. And you hear early versions of some of the elements he used when he launched his talk show, first in Sacramento and later nationally.

It is the entertainment aspect that made Limbaugh different. His show was exciting. Topical. Funny. Fun. It was designed to appeal to conservatives, but — especially in its early days — also attracted some from the left. He even put liberal callers ahead of the line if they called in. And like many great stars — and stations — of the past, he was difficult to copy, though many tried. Most unsuccessfully, on both sides of the political spectrum.

Is there anyone who can take his place? That’s a tough one. For now, no one needs to … Premiere Radio, which distributes the program, is going to use “archived” programs to keep his voice on the air until a long-term plan is figured out.

Cold Cast

KSL Podcasts and Amazon Music teamed up for the distribution of COLD, a true crime podcast launched in 2018 to much success. COLD: Susan Powell Case Files now has nearly 45 million downloads with a 5-star rating and has been optioned for a limited series TV deal.

Season 2 begins on March 10th … go to Where you can listen and subscribe.