Archive for the ‘Member Spotligt’ Category


Member Spotlight: Julie and Marty McCall

April 20, 2011

“Do you have a knob for an old mantel set?” or “Are you on Antique Radio Forum?” These are common questions Marty McCall hears each time he mans the tables at the Swap meets. He grins and replies, “You’ll probably need to talk to my wife,  Julie.”  That’s right, Julie is right there in the mix. She sells knobs and parts, and is active on ARF (as ‘Radiopup’). She is also a member of Radiomuseum(Switzerland) and the Antique Wireless Association.
“Actually we are new to radio collecting, compared to most folks that have collected since their youth,” says Julie.  “Marty’s Dad has been an electronic technician and a ham operator since the 50’s and is still going strong– so I guess you could say we’re second generation collectors.” Marty’s father, David, gave them the first radio that sparked their interest in the hobby.

David had brought two radios home that he had found set out on the curb. He made the necessary repairs, and had them sitting on the bench that fateful Thanksgiving weekend in 2006 when Marty and Julie were visiting. Marty noticed one radio in particular, and commented to David how nice the RCA 98T looked after the restoration work was complete. Later, Marty told Julie about this really nice radio that his dad had repaired: “You have just got to come out and look at this radio. You just won‘t believe how pretty it is.”

The three of them walked out to the garage, and Marty pointed out the RCA. Julie agreed, “That is a really nice radio.” David was excited to demonstrate the radio, and the AM stations he could pull in. He then switched over to ‘shortwave’. While he was tuning into a station, Julie noticed the green eye tube aglow and watched it intently. “That green eye reminds me of an old radio my Dad had when I was a kid.” David made up his mind right then. ”Well, if you kids like it, why don’t I just give it to you?”

Marty grew up around woodworking and electronics. In the first grade, he was building birdhouses and coaster carts (downhill racers). Marty had his first crystal set in second grade, one that was built for him by his dad. Two years later in Cub Scouts, Marty built his own.

Marty and his younger brother would listen to their Kroy 6 transistor radios in the evenings as they drifted off to sleep. Their two favorite stations, WTUE and WSAI, played dedications for soldiers in Vietnam into the wee hours of the morning. Fast forward twenty years: Marty is working at Gibson Guitars testing guitar pickups. Later, he’s doing electronics assembly on their amplifier line. As his interests changed, Marty moved on to learn antique furniture restoration and woodworking, and also got into carpentry, which has occupied him for the last twenty-plus years.
Julie started out on a different path. The first radios she remembers were her Dad’s two large German tabletop sets. One was a Telefunken, and the other remains unidentified. “I have fond memories of watching the tuning eyes move, and the smile on my Dad‘s face when he dialed in music from overseas on those shortwave radios. The buzzing sound quickly being taken over by music that filled the room, like the orchestra was right there with us.”

Julie began her electrical experimenting at four years old. She found a piece of wire and an outdoor electrical box. Curiosity got the best of her when she wondered what would happen if that wire was stuck in the outlet. (She was shocked with the result). A later experiment at 11 years old had her taking some string and wrapping one end around the volume knob of the Zenith clock radio and tying the other end to the doorknob of her room. The concept was a simple room alarm to deter sneaky siblings. Her mother opens the door to her room to put away laundry, and is startled by the sudden blare of the radio–and the radio crashing to the floor.
As a teen, Julie would pore over the Heathkit catalogs and Radio Shack catalogs that arrived in the mail. She dreamed of building her own radio or stereo, but in those days few girls dabbled in electronics. Her interests turned to bicycles and repair. A few years later she did land a job doing bicycle repair in college. “I guess you could say that I’m enjoying my second childhood,” says Julie.” Electronics was something I only dreamt about as a kid, and now I have the opportunity to learn electronics as an adult.

The first radio Julie restored electronically was an Automatic ‘AA5’ transformerless set. She recalls, ”The insulation on the wiring had become brittle, and bare wires were everywhere. I thought it was a good idea to rewire the set while I replaced the capacitors. When I finally got the radio finished, I plugged it in, and waited. It started to crackle and come to life and I picked up a station, and it *kind of* played. I ran to get Marty so he could come listen to the radio. When he walked in the room, I picked it up to show him, and ran my finger right through the speaker.” She laughs at the memory now.

Most of the radios they enjoy collecting are pre-war wooden sets.  They both enjoy the beautiful veneers and furniture-like construction of these radios. Their current collection consists of about 17 consoles , three chairsides, and eighty or so tabletop and mantle sets. Most of their collection is comprised of AC powered sets, with a few battery sets and AC/DC portables in the mix as well.  Their interests have grown to include accessory speakers, and they have about a dozen in their collection. Marty’s favorite radios in their collection are a Stewart Warner 123-1 Troubadour, the Stewart Warner 123-5 Aristocrat, the Automatic that Julie restored, and the RCA 98T. Julie’s favorites in their collection: an Atwater Kent 40 with E-3 speaker, a Kennedy 26, an Emerson 544 Humpback that Marty is restoring, and a Crosley Pup. “It’s actually difficult to pick favorites, as our taste in radios continues to evolve.” Julie laughs and says, “Ask me next week, and I‘ll give you a different list”
The past two years, Julie has set up as a knob and parts vendor at the Nashville and Atlanta club meets. “Although it is not possible to carry every single knob someone may need for their radio, I hope that I can cover most collector’s needs,” she says. “Inventory is constantly changing, so I never know when a knob will turn up. Marty and I have a couple of our own radios that are still missing a knob, but I think they’ll show up in one of my finds some day.”

(2017) If you are looking for a knob or parts for your set, send Julie a note, radiopup(at), or stop by and visit with her and Marty at one of the upcoming meets.