Sales of radios increase due to pandemic

I recently had email exchanges with a friend involved in the manufacturing & retailing of radios in the US & Canada. He indicated sales during March of this year dramatically increased – particularly sets in the $10-$100 price range. This didn’t surprise me as I’ve been increasingly aware that people have been looking for a supplement or back-up to their favorite source of Internet news. In addition, not all stations are available on the various Smart Speakers currently on the market, including some outlets that emphasize news/talk with special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. This sudden increase in radio purchases point to the fact that fewer & fewer homes have a conventional AM/FM radio to access information and entertainment. Having a portable radio makes sense, not only during this pandemic, but as a means of staying connected during any emergency or disaster. Reliance on the Internet & cell towers, 4G or 5G connectivity cannot be counted on. If the power grid goes down, so too will the servers & devices that provide these wireless & online services to the public. Smart Speakers require AC power & Internet connectivity which makes them useless if either utility (or both) goes down. To those looking to buy a reliable, affordable radio to add to their sources at home for news, weather, bulletins & entertainment, I’ve listed & some currently available radios worth seeking out. Criteria include the ability to power these with AA battery cells & some of these include American & Canadian weather frequencies. These radios can all be obtained for under $90. My own personal preference leans to the CC Crane line of radios. I’ve owned a few of these & had the opportunity to try a few models belonging to friends. However, any of the radios I’ve listed here, I would highly recommend to our readers looking to add an AM/FM radio to their home.

CC Crane Solar Observer

CC Crane Solar Observer $60. This radio has three different ways to power it (AA batteries/AC adapter, a hand crank, and solar charging). The internal rechargeable battery pack stores energy from the hand crank, solar panel, or AC adapter. In a pinch, this radio can even charge a mobile phone via a supplied USB adapter. Radio has AM/FM & NOAA & Weatheradio Canada weather band, LED flashlight & a backlit radio dial. Available from CC Crane website.

Eton/Grundig ARCFRX2WXW

Eton ARCFRX2WXW $25. This radio has an internal battery charged via a USB port or via hand crank. AM/FM/NOAA+Weatheradio Canada weather band frequencies. LED flashlight, digital frequency display, alarm clock. Glow-in-the-dark easy visibility. Very compact. Requires headphones. Available from Amazon for $25

Tecsun GR-88

Tecsun GR-88 $56. This radio is also solar charged, hand crank or AA batteries. AM/FM & short-wave bands too. No weather band frequencies. Available from for $56

Sangean SR-25

Sangean SR-25 $21. This is a pocket radio with built-in speaker. AM/FM with decent audio. Available from Amazon or Walmart for $21

Panasonic RF-2400D

Panasonic RF-2400D $37. AM/FM radio uses 4 AA batteries or AC power. No weather band frequencies. LED backlighting for use on dark. Best audio of all on this list via internal speaker. Very sensitive receiver especially recommended for those in remote areas or located away from urban transmitting antennas accessing weaker signals. Available from Amazon for $37

Sangean DT-160

Sangean DT-160 $40-$50. This AM/FM portable will run for 116 hours on 2 AA batteries. No internal speaker so headphones required. Digital frequency display. No weather band frequencies. Available from Amazon for $35 including shipping, Walmart $50

Tecsun PL-310ET

Tecsun PL-310ET $48. AM/FM & short-wave bands with digital frequency display & direct frequency entry. Available from Amazon $48 including shipping.

CC Crane Skywave

My personal favorite: CC Crane CC Skywave $90. AM/FM/short-wave/NOAA+Weatheradio Canada weather frequencies, Aircraft band included. Digital frequency display & direct frequency entry. Alarm clock included. Absolutely the best radio in CC Crane’s line of excellent receivers. Available from   CC Crane website $90 + shipping

To conclude, there are so many portable radios on the market currently I can’t begin to list or describe them all. However, the above listed radios should provide you with good value, come from quality manufacturers & are durable enough to last for a long time as a back-up to your preferred source of Emergency or Disaster Alerts.

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Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening
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