Being fortunate enough to possess a reasonably large collection of valve radios that are either in very good condition, working or both often brings people to ask me what my favourite radio is. It's not often an easy question to answer for the simple reason that the answer has changed on so many occasions over the time I have been a collector. At this point in time, I guess my favourite radio would be a marbled white AWA Radiola, model 520M, also known as 'the fridge'. I purchased this radio at a recent auction held in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Such auctions that deal mainly with radios, test equipment and memorabilia are quite rare now but there are several per year in most states.
Getting back to The Fridge, this radio is an upright version of standard mantel-sized Radiolas and Radiolettes of the 1940s, hence the nickname. The chassis is simply mounted on its side to fit in the cabinet. Such radios are fairly rare and one has to bring quite a few pennies with them to win the bidding war. I literally had to just keep my hand raised to avoid straining my elbow but my persistence paid off. This model is quite attractive and whilst the cabinet has a style of its own it would be quite suitable in a setting from many previous periods - Victorian, Art Deco, Retro, 1960s, etc.
Before taking a liking to this radio my favourite radio was the Monarch model DKL. It's a dark brown radio but in mint condition and with one of the best tones I've heard from a valve radio, even before allowing for the small size of the loudspeaker - YES, it is that good. Before this my favourite radio was an AWA Radiolette model 500M. These were one of the most popular valve radios in Australia - common as house flies and there'd not be many radio collections in this country that didn't sport at least one. I have six of the
seven eight available known colours: walnut, ivory, burgundy, cream, jade and turquoise. The other two are a very light brown and marbled white - one day...
I could go on about my favourite radio but as you can see the answer will always change. There's other worthwhile questions too:-
Q. What radio appears the most in your collection?
A. It's a tie, between the AWA 500-series Radiolettes and the Healing 401Es of the 1940s. I have six of each of the available colours in each of these radios. I am still hunting other colours for each one.
Q. What radio has been in your collection the longest?
A. A HMV model 441 timber table radio of the early 1940s.
Q. What is your oldest radio?
A. A Udisco (United Distributors) coffin radio with separate horn speaker, circa 1925.
Q. What is your biggest and heaviest radio?
A. An AWA Radiola radiogram from the late 1940s. Ten valves, huge 12 inch speaker and three speed turntable. I can't remember the model number.