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Joplin man restores classic radios to reflect their past beauty

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JOPLIN, Missouri — Long before the Internet, cell phones, and even television, radio was the only source of electronic entertainment and information.

A local man makes a point of restoring old radios to their original grandeur.

Jim Hounschell was just a kid when he found some old radios in his grandparents’ barn.

“They were in pretty bad shape, but when I cleaned them all I realized how beautiful they really were and that sparked my interest in restoring radios,” Hounschell said.

But decades would pass before he finally made the decision to try to start doing so. And when he did, he was hooked, his collection currently numbers up to twenty.

“Well, so far I’ve just been collecting them, but my wife would like me to start selling them, so I’m running out of space. Eventually, I’m going to have to do something with them.

The woodworking part of the radio rehabilitation process wasn’t hard for him to hack, but how to actually make them work was another matter.

“Mechanically, I really didn’t know what to do, so the internet is a great source for that kind of information. So that’s where I went and just learned by watching YouTube and doing some other research to figure it all out.

Americans depended on radios like these for everything from entertainment to news. This is how the greatest generation heard about Pearl Harbor.

Unlike today’s models, there was a delay between when you turned the knob and when you actually heard something come out. Because they don’t make them like that anymore, finding new parts to replace the original ones can be a real challenge.

“One thing I’ve found out is that you have to be careful which radio you choose to restore because if you get one that has parts they no longer make and you can’t not manufacture, then you’re out of luck.”

The oldest model to which he gave a second life dates from 1932.

“A really good feeling because, you know, you put a lot of work into it before you know if it’s actually going to work and pulling in stations and so on, a really good feeling after working on it for so long to find out it actually works .