Museum of Radio and Technology, Huntington
The Museum of Radio and Technology is one of the largest antique radio museums in the nation. It was founded in 1991 and occupies a former elementary school on the outskirts of Huntington. The volunteer-run museum showcases a broad collection of radios from throughout the twentieth century, including a few functional pieces. It also includes displays of early televisions, computers, telephones, and other devices. It annually hosts various meetings and events for radio collectors and enthusiasts from around the region. The museum is also the location of the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame, honoring over 200 West Virginian broadcasting icons.
Backstory and Context
The museum’s inception dates to the 1980s, when members of the West Virginia branch of the Antique Radio Club of America decided to form a museum to store and display their radios. Originally the club operated in the West End of Charleston, but in 1991 they moved the museum into the former Harveytown Elementary School building on Florence Avenue in Huntington. Harveytown Elementary was in operation for over half a century before being closed and put up for sale due to consolidation. Its most famous alumnus was Hawkshaw Hawkins, a country music singer popular in the 1950s and 1960s. The school was purchased by the Antique Radio Club for $22,500 and grants were used to renovate the building. One of the classrooms in the museum is set aside to display memorabilia and information on the history of the elementary school.
The 10,000 square-foot facility is divided into eleven separate exhibits with over 2,000 pieces. Prominent are the sections on 1920s and 1930s radios; television sets from the 1940s and 1950s; military communication equipment; and computers from the 1970s and 1980s. Other areas include a recreation of an old radio station, and a collection of vintage A. C. Gilbert toys such as chemistry and Erector sets. Some of the more noteworthy items are a 1927 RCA Radiola that belonged to the Wrigley family (of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum); a television camera used for the 1939 New York World’s Fair; a grandfather clock radio; a World War II Japanese radio; a working crystal radio; and the first color television camera from local news station WSAZ.
One part of the museum
contains a fully functioning HAM radio set, known as WV8MRT. It is available
for use to anyone with an FCC license; it also serves as a testing location for
anyone wanting to obtain a license. There is a reference library and gift shop,
both of which offer many books, magazines, and manuals on radio collecting and
repairing. The museum hosts various events throughout the year such as swap
meets, repair classes, auctions, flea markets, and monthly meetings of the
Tri-State Amateur Radio Association. The Museum of Radio and Technology is also
the site of the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame. First established in
2006, the Hall of Fame honors over 200 notable West Virginians in the
broadcasting industry. Inductees range from actors like Don Knotts to local
news anchors and radio hosts.
Beal, Clyde. “Clyde Beal: Huntington’s Museum of Radio and Technology has a lot to offer.” The Herald-Dispatch. March 29, 2015. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.herald-dispatch.com/features_entertainment/clyde-beal-huntington-s-museum-of-radio-and-technology-has/article_2c79b8a2-33c6-578f-8c4e-05d2f0e81a2b.html.
Nolan, Dawn. “Museum of Radio and Technology.” The Beckley Register-Herald. January 20, 2013. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.register-herald.com/news/sunday_profile/museum-of-radio-technology/article_f4f0253e-8ebb-5d65-aa22-b8a394325b5a.html.
Smith, Charlotte Ferrell “Museum of Radio and Technology channels memories of a bygone era.” Charleston Gazette-Mail. October 16, 2014. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.wvgazettemail.com/arts_entertainment/museum-of-radio-and-technology-channels-memories-of-a-bygone/article_ce6382b5-d7c0-59f1-99f9-bd8a0810ec3d.html.
Smith, Charlotte Ferrell. “W.Va. museum
displays radio, technology history.” The
Washington Times. October 25, 2014. Accessed January 18, 2018. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/25/wva-museum-displays-radio-technology-history/.