Attending Radio Shows
in an Internet World
By David & Julia Bart
Another summer has arrived and collectors are deciding whether or not to drive to radio shows around the country. With eBay, Internet sales and classified ads, it may seem easier to shop from home; but, radio collectors thrive on personal interaction. They need each other to learn about the hobby and to share information. Everyone benefits from active shows, and the clubs need the support. So, get up and see the country. Attend a radio show this summer!
We have been collecting radios, telegraph and other antiques for more than 20 years. Hot topics have varied over the years. One trend, however, is unmistakable -- attendance at shows in virtually all areas has declined. This is surprising in light of successful television programs such as the Antique Road Show and the History Detectives. Sales of collectors' books and history books have never been better. While eBay and the Internet are often blamed for the declines in show attendance, many factors have played a role. Changing tastes, passing fads, rising travel expenses, increased costs of club membership and show fees, as well as an aging clientele, have all affected participation.
Endlessly surfing the Internet can yield a great deal of interesting information. Shopping is available at any time, day or night; but, sitting at home at the keyboard is not enough.
The key to getting the most out of a radio show is concentration. The full breadth of knowledge and experience in our hobby can only be gleaned from seeing hundreds of hobbyists in a concentrated environment. Regular attendance at radio shows should be a standard part of everyone's participation in this hobby. This is where you recharge your batteries, and enjoy the benefits of the worldwide fraternity of radio enthusiasts and radio collectors!
Furthermore, radio clubs, the sponsors of the shows, need your support. Attending shows gives you the chance to support the very clubs that first brought us all together. They make the arrangements that let us organize and meet. The clubs publish newsletters and magazines providing valuable information for the collector. Every member makes a difference! The clubs need you. We have seen several once active and vibrant clubs simply fade away from lack of participation. What a shame. Remember, by attending shows, you are contributing to the clubs and helping them to pass our hobby down to future generations of collectors.
It's not too late for you to come out and support your radio club this summer. The sidebar describes three of the largest radio shows for 2009. All three shows offer a chance to meet fellow hobbyists and the opportunity to go home with exciting additions to your collection. So, get out this summer and attend a local flea market, regional Hamfest or a national radio collectors' show, and spend a great weekend celebrating the world of radio!
(David Bart is President of the Antique Radio Club of Illinois and a member of the Board of Directors of the Antique Wireless Association. Julia Bart is a former ARCI officer.)
Three Upcoming Radio Shows
MARC Extravaganza July 9-11, 2009
The Michigan Antique Radio Club's Extravaganza is held in Lansing, Michigan. It is one of the largest radio shows in the country. The show includes educational programs, an auction, a large equipment contest, the option of registering for seller spaces under a large tent, and an evening reception with entertainment. (See www.michiganantiqueradio.org)
ARCI Radiofest July 30-Aug 1, 2009
The Antique Radio Club of Illinois' Radiofest in Willowbrook, Illinois, is one of the largest shows in the country. It draws approximately 1,200 people from 22 states and 5 countries. Annual events include solid educational programs, two auctions, a huge vibrant flea market, competitive equipment contest and a banquet with entertainment. This year the huge Wolff's Flea Market (the largest in Chicago), the world famous Kane County Flea Market and the Bolingbrook Amateur Radio Society (BARS) Hamfest all occur on the same weekend as Radiofest, offering a full weekend of radio activities and collecting opportunities. (See www.antique-radios.org)
AWA Conference Aug 20-23, 2009
The Antique Wireless Association Conference in Rochester, New York, continues to have the best overall educational program of any radio show. No other radio show draws a worldwide crowd like AWA. A visit to the internationally recognized AWA Museum is a highlight of the show. Add in an auction, flea market, a book fair, a banquet, and an equipment contest which always features rare items. This year the AWA is introducing a whole new conference online registration, a new weekend schedule, an expanded book fair and better overall logistics. (See www.antiquewireless.org)
Nine Reasons to Attend a Radio Show
- Nothing beats a face-to-face conversation! Personal contacts can be invaluable to building your collection.
- Shows let you see, touch and inquire. They provide a place where the beginning, or experienced, collector can get first-hand exposure to the hobby. Best of all, you can go home with your purchases!
- Prices at shows are often lower than on the Internet. We regularly "find" things at radio shows without paying top dollar.
- The bigger shows typically have high quality programs and exhibits.
- Shows offer a place to exchange ideas, tips, and tricks, and provide a place to learn about restoration techniques.
- Shows are still the best location to track down new and old parts. They are an excellent place to sell your duplicates without the hassle of chasing payments and boxing and shipping the merchandise.
- Regional shows still offer geographic variety. As new products were originally brought to market, they were sold at different times across different areas of the country. These patterns still reveal themselves in local flea markets and collector shows.
- Contrary to popular misconceptions, most collectors are not set up on the Internet with private websites. Shows provide everyone an opportunity to trade, as well as a place to meet, learn and share.
- Let's not forget travel! Many participants only see each other at the shows, taking the opportunity to visit and renew their interests. What better way to see the country, develop your collection, and have a little fun!