BEREA, Ky. (FOX 56) — A building on the outskirts of Berea looks like just another warehouse on the outside, but step inside and it’s like entering a time machine.
“When they come in, they look around and their eyes are all big,” said Rick Howard, owner of Antique Radio Warehouse. “Nowhere have I ever seen this sort of merchandise for somebody to buy. There are people around that have large collections, but they’re not for sale.”
Howard started collecting antiques after he retired from firefighting, working in a shop that had been set up by his parents. About 10 years ago, he got a call from a man who wanted to sell him 50 radios.
“So I called a friend of mine that knew a lot about radios, and he said, ‘that’s a really good deal,’ so I went and picked them up,” Howard said.
Some of them didn’t work, so Rick got on YouTube and taught himself how to fix one of them. It was a sound investment of time.
“I was hooked after that point,” he said.
Howard started going to swap meets around the country to buy radios and learn about the different models. He said he’s not an expert on antique radios, but he’s received a lot of information.
He said he’s had visitors to his shop from all 50 states and four countries. The radio repair part of his business is what he says “keeps the lights on.”
Howard even puts Bluetooth kits in some of the vintage radios, so buyers can play anything through their phones.
The floor is covered with big models from the 1930s and 40s, the so-called “Golden Age of Radio.” And the shelves are filled with the smaller models that became popular in the 1950s, those that sat on a kitchen counter or bedside table.
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Howard believes people want to keep the radios that were in their family decades ago, not because of the sound that can come out of them today, but because of what passed through them decades ago.
“Think of the history that has gone through them,” he said. “The world wars, the presidential speeches, and sporting events.”
In a hectic world, Rick Howard just enjoys going to his shop, cutting through the static, and getting dialed into the past.
“I really enjoy getting noise out of something that hasn’t worked for 30 or 40 years,” he said. “It’s very satisfying.”