Vintage Radios at Anacortes Museum
Two museum volunteers have assembled the best of the classic radios from their collections to fill the “Anacortes Presents” display case as a cool accompaniment to the new architectural exhibit, “At Home in Anacortes” at the Carnegie Gallery, located at 1305 8th Street.
Al Bofenkamp has been volunteering as the Wednesday docent at the museum for the past year. In that time he’s learned much about his new home town, enough to satisfy most visitors’ questions or else find the answers with them. He teamed up with his good friend, Jeff Weldon (Vice President of the Anacortes Museum Foundation) to create an exhibit with radios each of them have cleaned up and refurbished.
“As a kid, your grandparents had multi-band radios; that’s when I first noticed old radios,” said Al. He didn’t get interested in restoring until 2010. He’s self-taught, with no electronics background, though he did have help early on from a neighbor who was an electrical engineer. Al likes to find old radios that would end up in the landfill, and give them an extended life.
Alan and Jeff lived near each other in California before moving to Anacortes. “We commuted to work together,” Jeff said. He bought a 1929 Grigsby-Grunow radio in 1986, and Al introduced him to a restoration shop. Over time, Jeff learned how to test and replace parts himself.
Each of these radio curators were asked to name their own favorite radio on display, and their favorite of the other’s. After hemming some about the unique beauty of all – they might have said the radios are like kids, and naming a favorite didn’t seem right - they ultimately qualified their selections as their best of the moment.
Alan’s personal favorite is his Philco 46-350, a portable radio built in 1946, advertised as having a “powerful, war-developed miniature tube circuit.” Of Jeff’s collection, he likes the Motorola “Sporter” from 1949, which features an unusual handle tuning mechanism.
Jeff said his personal favorite is the 1940 Packard Bell Model 65A. His favorite of Alan’s is his 1934 Airline “Tombstone” Model 62-150.
Anacortes Museum Director, Steve Oakley, loves the way these collections highlight the home technology aspect of the museum’s local architecture exhibit. He has asked Al to deejay with old 78 RPM records on his 1946 Philco Radio/Phono Model 46-1203 during the “At Home in Anacortes” opening reception, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2017. If you miss that, drop by the Anacortes Museum on most Wednesdays during this exhibit and Alan will be on hand to tell you about the collection and spin a disc or two.