I was always curious as to how things operate and the transistor radio was no exception. Being country folks and not having electricity, our only choice for connecting to the outside world, and hearing what was going on, was through this small, hand-held contraption with the tiny, copper wires running through its little, almost flat belly. We knew what its insides looked like because whenever our radio went "on the blink," we opened it up for an "autopsy." But when we looked inside, we had no idea what we were looking at, nor what the problem was, nor how we could make the radio “talk again, once it went silent. It intrigued me that some bright mind could put together a device that allows people hundreds of miles from a radio station/tower hear what is being broadcast.
We had a transistor radio, not because it was all we could afford, although that was a factor, but because without electricity, we had no other choice. Since I was into my own little world, I don't remember ever listening to the radio for anything other than gospel music – my favorite pastime. Back then, though there wasn't that much religious music on the airways during the day. On Sundays nights from 9 p.m. until midnight, we "tuned in" to the best gospel music in the world on WLAC out of Nashville, Tennessee. Also, from Memphis there was station WDIA, from which we listened to good gospel music on early weekday mornings. And though the selections weren't that great (from the local station, KXAR out of Hope), on Sundays, we listened to church programs, preaching, and a little gospel singing.
Photo: Fotolia/Ivonne Wierink
I can still see myself one long-ago Sunday morning. I was trying to tune in to some station that was playing some gospel music that I desperately wanted to hear. I don't know anything about radio frequencies, towers, signals and so forth, but at times, something in the atmosphere seemed to make the sound barely audible. Since I was a little desperate, I had the bright idea to trot across the road to the nearest light pole ... which I did. I strategically placed the radio against the light pole and turned it until I picked up a better "frequency" if that's what it's called. Anyway, eventually, the sounds became a little clearer than they were inside the big, wireless, roomy house, and I was able to hear a little better though not as loudly as I wished to hear those soul-stirring, soothing gospel tunes. But, I suppose anything is better than nothing.