Category Archives: Classic Vintage Products

Radio Shack Archer Base CB Antennas in 1976

I purchased my first CB radio in August, 1976. Since I was only 12 and too young to drive a car, this meant I needed a base station antenna. Of course, the first place I looked was in my handy, dandy Radio Shack catalog. There were 4 options:


Because I was on a tight budget, I chose the Archer 1/4 Wave Ground Plane. Catalog number 21-901. This was the favorite of poor kids like myself who were operating mobile rigs off of old car batteries because we couldn’t afford a power supply! Mounted 10′ off the roof on an eave mount and fed with 35′ of RG58/U coax, it was a decent performer. It was also easy to assemble. I put the 1/4 wave together by myself in about 15 minutes. No SWR adjustments were needed or possible without cutting the antenna. Just fasten the sections together with the enclosed sheet metal screws and you’re good to go. The Radio Shack 1/4 wave CB antenna was a great example of something that was simple, easy, and worked.

The Archer 1/2 Wave Ground Plane (catalog number 21-902) is the only one of these that I never owned. At a price of $24.95, it provided a theoretical gain of 3.75dB over the 1/4 wave. In the catalog listing, it claims to have a 5 section aluminum radiator. This is incorrect. The 1/2 wave had a four section radiator. It’s big brother 5/8 wave had the 5 section radiator. In later years, the static discharge arrestor “loops” on the top of this antenna were replaced with a “top hat”, similar to the 5/8 wave.

The Archer 5/8 Wave Ground Plane (catalog number 21-1133) was Radio Shack’s top of the line base station antenna for 1976. Retail price was $34.95. Frequent sales brought the price down to $24.95. I owned 2 of these at various times, both purchased used. With 4.00dB gain, it was a solid performer. However, the construction quality did not hold up well in Minnesota winters. These antennas were notorious for being damaged during wind and ice storms. The aluminum used was not very strong, so the sections were prone to bending and breaking. Another cost-cutting move was the use of sheet metal screws to attach the sections instead of the superior clamps used by Hy-Gain and other manufacturers. Over time, repeated flexing of the vertical radiator during storms would cause the screws to strip and fall out. Then, the affected section would slide down, rendering the antenna unusable until repairs could be made. But since the Archer 5/8 wave was priced about 25% below the similar Hy-Gain CLR2, Radio Shack sold quite a few of these antennas.

The Archer Crossbow III 3-Element Beam (catalog number 21-933) was a later arrival to my rooftop. Priced at $37.95, it was your basic 3 element beam. It was small and light enough to be turned by an inexpensive TV antenna rotator. 12 foot boom, 18 foot half wave elements, and 9dB forward gain. This antenna could be mounted either vertically or horizontally. The price was later raised to $39.95 before being discontinued a few years later. I was fortunate to grab one of these little beams on clearance in October, 1980. At the $24.95 clearance price, it was a steal! My parents happened to be on vacation for a week. A 3 element beam, rotor, 20′ of masting, 3′ tripod, and 4 guy wire anchors magically appeared on the garage roof while they were gone. The amazing thing is that my did didn’t even notice until several months later. I just told him it was a “radio project” that I worked on while they were out of town. Something to keep me out of trouble, of course. I knew with an explanation like that, he wouldn’t make me take it down. He didn’t 🙂

I also owned the Micronta Regulated 12-Volt Power Supply (catalog number 22-124) at various times. Priced at $25.95, this item NEVER went on sale! No need for Radio Shack to put this item on sale. Since it was priced below most comparable power supplies, they sold a ton of these. The Shack also sold an unregulated supply with lower output for $19.95. This was designed for use with car stereos. I remember some kids tried to save money by purchasing the cheaper supply for CB use. Not a good choice. The 1.75 amp output was too low to power a transmitter. Also, because it was not regulated, you’d get a nasty 60 cycle AC hum in the background as you talked. Live and learn, kids!

And no, I never purchased the 40′ telescoping mast. I wanted to! I actually know one guy who mounted a .64 wave on his roof using one of these! I knew better than to push my parents too far with the CB antenna stuff. Well, most of the time, anyway!

Remembering Columbia House Record & Tape Club

Okay, so this doesn’t directly involve radio. However, it is certainly a geeky, guilty childhood pleasure that many of us can relate to. Do you remember the joys of the Columbia House Record and Tape club?

When I was a kid, buying a new record was always cause for excitement. There was just something about the smell of new vinyl and dropping that needle for the first time. However, the ULTIMATE thrill was getting my introductory shipment from Columbia House. I’d tear the postage-paid card out of the magazine, fill out my name and address, put it in the mail, then wait…wait…wait…

When the magic day finally arrived, it was was like Christmas in July or April or October. I’d come home from school, walk in the front door, and Mom would say “You got mail today!” There it was: right there, on the kitchen table, in all it’s glory! That beautiful brown box which contained not just 1, not just 2, but ELEVEN brand new record albums!


The most difficult part of the Columbia House experience was deciding which one to play first. Should I open them all at once and have a record-playing marathon? Or should I open one per day, giving me a new album every day for the next week and a half? (Since I’ve always been a saver at heart, I chose the latter.)

In a world filled with instant .mp3 downloads (legal and otherwise), kids will never know the sheer ecstasy of opening that package from 1400 North Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute, Indiana!

Radio Geek Heaven’s Virtual Vintage CB Radio Museum

Were you a CB’er in the 1970s and/or 1980s? Do you remember waiting anxiously for the Radio Shack catalog to arrive each fall so you could see the new models? Do the names “Cobra 139XLR”, SBE Sidebander II, “Browning Golden Eagle”, and “Kraco CB Super De Luxe” mean anything to you? (I can’t believe I just mentioned Browning and Kraco in the same sentence!) If so, you’ll want to check out our new online Virtual Vintage CB Radio Museum!

Previously, Radio Geek Heaven featured a page with 1970s & 1980s Base and Mobile CB Radios. The response has been great, so I decided to expand it. Now, there’s an entire category devoted to those classic mobile and base station units that we all knew and loved. Each has a photo and description of the radio. I will be adding more manufacturers and models as time allows. If YOU had one of these radios (or maybe you still have it), please tell us about it via the “comments” section.

The Radio Geek Heaven Virtual Vintage CB Radio Museum starts here:

KCON-AM 1230 Conway AR Antique Clock Sign


Wow! I guess I’m not the only one who loves vintage radio clock signs! Since posting the rare KYNT memorabilia yesterday, I have already received several e-mails. Want to see another? Of course you do!

This clock sign is for KCON-AM 1230, a now defunct station in Conway, Arkansas. Conway is unique in that it originally had 2 AM stations, both of which have since gone dark. There are also no commercial FM stations. KMJX-FM 105.1 is part of the iHeart Little Rock cluster. KCNY-FM 107.1 is located in Conway, but licensed to nearby Greenbrier. The only stations licensed to Conway that are actually in Conway are KUCA-FM 91.3 at the University of Arkansas and KHDX-FM 93.1, an 8 watt station on the campus of Hendrix College.

Back to KCON: as with many standalone AMs, this station fell on hard times as the new millennium began. KCON’s status was “on again, off again” for several years. UCA provided programming for a time. But often, it was just a simulcast of KUCA-FM. Finally, the “off again” became permanent. KCON went down for the last time, the license was returned to the FCC, and the 1230 frequency allocation to Conway was deleted. This clock sign reminds us of KCON’s glory days. A few years ago, I was in downtown Conway for Toad Suck Daze and there it was in a storefront window. My guess is that it was manufactured in the 1950s or 1960s. Anyone know for sure?

KYNT-AM 1450 Yankton SD Antique Clock Sign


Check out this beauty! My good friend Wayne came across this while visiting Kilroys, a slot machine, jukebox, and antique store in downtown Minneapolis.

This clock sign was custom manufactured for KYNT-AM 1450 in Yankton, South Dakota. Yes, Yankton actually had TWO radio stations in the old days. Most people are familiar with the mighty 5-7-0 WNAX. KYNT is Yankton’s other AM station. These clock signs were popular in the 1950s and 60s. Stations often gave them away to their top clients in exchange for being loyal advertisers and supporters of the station.

Does anyone know when this KYNT clock sign was produced? If you must have this for your collection, I have good news: it’s for sale! According to the price tag in the upper right corner, it can be yours for only $295.00.