Ed rediscovers Lafayette Radio Electronics

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who shared the following message after I posted the Mystery Radio Challenge yesterday:

I could tell that FM tuner is actually an ‘FM converter’ by its shape and by the giveaway wide knurled tuning bar mounted way up front, so the driver of the 8-track tape player-equipped car could tune it more easily whilst driving–or whilst smooching in the car in the dark!

Then to determine the make & model, I searched Google for the words silk-screened on the front panel, “solid state fm multiplexer tuner” and easily found this exact match:

Alaron FM Multiplex Stereo Cartridge Tuner UNTESTED

This tuner came with an unusual antenna Y-adapter that connected (and probably matched) the tuner to the car’s AM antenna. It’s pictured in one of the photos. I wonder how good an FM tuner it is. It has a switchable AFC and a DX/Local switch.

Whilst scrolling through the excellent photos of the one being offered for sale online (for $46.74!) I saw the manual has a handwritten note that says, “Bought from Lafayette Radio Electronics 33760 Plymouth Road on 7/3/72 Invoice #3213570”– so it’s about 45 years old.

Out of curiosity, I researched that address and found that tuner was purchased at the third Lafayette store in (Livonia) Michigan.

I imagine some of your SWLing Post blog readers (like me) fondly remember Lafayette Radio Electronics stores. They had a better selection of radio gear–even Collins rigs–than Radio Shack did. Here’s a nice writeup about Lafayette on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lafayette_Radio_Electronics

Thanks, Ed!  Any Post readers shop at Lafayette Radio Electronics stores in the past?  Please comment!

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21 thoughts on “Ed rediscovers Lafayette Radio Electronics

  1. Frank Morisco

    I worked at Lafayette Radio Electronics Headquarters in Syosset, NY for about ten years from about 1966. My name is Frank Morisco K2TWS and I performed a number of tasks. I was initially hired to write catalog copy for the many seasonal catalogs that were produced at that time. I also wrote many of the magazine insertions in Hi-Fi and hobby publications. A fun part of the job was assisting in the design and engineering of the company’s communications gear for amateur radio, CB, shortwave listening and marine communications. I created many of the manuals for the experimenter products and spoke at the Lafayette “conventions” around the US. I also taught ham radio to literally thousands of attendees on Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings in the employee cafeteria at the Syosset, NY store.

    Reply
  2. jOHN VAN LAAR

    I started working for Lafayette in Jamaica NY in 1960 at the age of 16.
    That was a full time job in the service dept. repairing transistor radios. At that time i was the only one
    that could work with transistors. They were so new that you had to learn about them on your own no school was teaching about them. Anybody remember the Jamaica store?
    My name is John or as some call me Van.
    I was with them for 14 years and then a year at Heathkit in Syosset NY.
    After that i moved up state NY with my own business.
    If by chance you are old and remember me or Lafayette from that long ago send me a note
    vanl@frontiernet.net

    Reply
  3. George Sass

    I worked for Lafayette from the early 60’s to the late 70’s, first as a part time salesman at their Jamaica, NY store and eventually working my way up to District Manager of their company stores in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Upper State, NY. During my high school and college years I worked as a copywriter in Syosset during the summer, writing copy for their catalogs, flyers and newspaper ads. It was a wonderful career and I worked with a terrific group of people. While I truly miss those days, I saw the handwriting on the wall after a major misstep during the days of CB, when they found themselves loaded with obsolete gear. They also invested heavily in 4-channel sound, which never really took off. The brilliant founder, Abe Pletman, turned things over to his son-in-law, and things went downhill. I left to start my own audio retail company in 1979, eventually selling it and starting an ad agency. But I learned so much from these old pros, who have now all passed away. Great, great memories, though.

    Reply
    1. Heidi Jones

      Hi George, I noticed you worked for Lafayette in the 60’s. I’ve been trying to gather information on family members, and I had a great-aunt who worked at the headquarters, and could even have been an investor in the company. Her husband may have been there too. His name was Benjamin Baum and hers was Dorothy Tramer Baum. We called her Aunt Dot and I visited her at the office when I was very young. Do you happen to remember either of them? Thank you!

      Reply
    2. Gayle Wright

      I am trying to get in touch with George Sass, former employee of the Lafayette Radio Electronics store in Jamaica Queens. I am hoping he can give me information about reaching “Tony” who was a department manager there approximately 1966 through 1981. Please contact me through Allegheny Hills Retirement Residence, 724-526-5736, ext. 3, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:30 to 4:00. Thank you. –Gayle

      Reply
    3. Bill Henry

      Not sure if you remember me. Bill Henry. I worked at the Queenstown store then as Asst. Mgr. in Buckhead and briefly as Manager of the Decatur store. Left to follow my dream of a career in the fire service.

      Reply
  4. Stan

    I also worked as stock picker at the Syosset headquarters, 111 Jericho Turnpike, for a couple of weeks in 1969. We had carts to to pick stuff with. There were guys driving fork lifts, called HiLo’s, to get stuff from high shelves. While I was there, some guy dropped a couple of TVs from a HiLo. I also remember being paid in cash – in a small manila envelope with the stuff usually on a paystub handwritten on the envelope.

    Reply
  5. Tom Smigielski

    In the early 70’s Lafayette was the “go to” place for electronics in the small midwest town of Jackson, Michigan. I’d ride my bike to the store and pester the staff with endless questions when I was about 12 years of age. Always carried an extensive inventory of components for about any electronics project. The “HI-FI” room was lit with black lights and served as a showroom for the hideous black light posters of the day (Keep on Truckin’ anyone).Yes, I do remember the excitement over quadrophonic audio. Wasted untold dollars on 8 track decks, tapes, rear deck speakers, and locking under dash mounts (as if anyone would actually want to steal one of those behemoths!). Fondly remember the Comstat 25B tube 23 channel CB radio I won in a local raffle. Here’s a link to this beauty.http://www.cbtricks.com/radios/lafayette/comstat_25b/ad/graphics/s9_mag_mar_1972_pg01.png

    Reply
  6. Bill

    In the 70’s, I remember thumbing through the Lafayette Catalog and ordering radios and parts from them. In 1979, I moved to New Brunswick, NJ and discovered that there was a store on route one outside of Trenton. I spent many hours there until they finally closed up.

    For those interested in reliving thumbing through the catalog, go to
    http://www.americanradiohistory.com

    Page down to “TECHNICAL: Consumer Electronics – Modern Era” and click on “Electronics Catalogs”. You’ll find Allied, Lafayette, Olsen, and Heathkit as well as some other catalogs.

    Bill
    Smithville, NJ

    Reply
    1. Christopher Lochner

      Whoa! Thanks for providing this super informational link. Now I can waste even more hours on my phone. ? Still love the Burstein Applebee covers with the giant B. A.

      Reply
  7. Edward

    Yes! IT was my favorite place we had one in Kenmore square in Boston. It was my first choice for components and the bargain table. Also they had IF cans. Radio shack was the runner up. Still have my CB stuff from there,

    Reply
    1. Edward

      One more thing, It was nicknamed “Laughalot Radio” I bought a power inverter from them received it then they shipped me a second one 6 months later because it ws on back order>

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Your comment reminded me that a fair number of radio amateurs in my area referred to Lafayette as “Laughing Idiot”. I was never quite sure whether it was just a takeoff on the “Lafayette” name or if they were referring to the guy who ran the local store (friendly and mostly helpful but with a bit of the “engineer/geek” stereotype).

        Reply
  8. Al

    LOVED Lafayette!!! Got my first walkie talkies there, as well as CB radios, antennas, stereos, speakers, and a ton of other great stuff!!! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Mike

    We had a Lafayette store here in Altoona, PA in the mid-to-late 1970’s. It mostly sold consumer-grade audio systems and accessories, CB’s, radio/electronic parts, TV antennas, and books. As a new SWL I was eager to buy a receiver and pestered the owner about stocking some of the higher-end gear I saw in the catalog, but he never did. So I ended up ordering an HA-600A directly from the catalog and, wow, was I excited when the box was delivered to my door! I think I stayed up all night — mesmerized by the back-lit dial and listening to radio stations from all around the world. I later moved on to some other receivers and donated the Lafayette to my younger brother who was also becoming interested in radio. But then, several years ago I bought another HA-600A (for old time’s sake) on Ebay, and that one still has a space on my table to this day.

    Reply
  10. Ed McCorry

    I remember that my two goto stores growing up in Northern New Jersey were Lafayette in Paramus and Arrow Electronics in Totowa where I lived. Between the stores and the catalogs you could find everything you needed. I bought my first short wave radio a Hallicrafters S-120 at Lafayette. I never saw a Radio Shack until years later and they never could compare with the above mentioned.

    Reply
  11. Steve

    I bought a CB radio from Lafayette in the mid-1970’s. I also bought from them a quadraphonic sound system (basically a stereo with 4 speakers — kind of a fad like 8-track). All my other radio gear was Heathkit.

    Reply
  12. Jim

    My first shortwave radio was the Lafayette HA-63A that my dad ordered from the catalog back in 1966. A few years ago I had it recapped, found a donator radio on ebay and swapped out the dial glass. It works and looks like new.

    Reply
  13. DanH

    I remember the Lafayette mail order catalogs as a rural kid in the early 1960’s. I made one or two trips to a big city Lafayette store before they went out of business. One of my first SW radios was a Lafayette HE-30. This was a handsome desktop rig but a poor performer compared to my WWII vintage Hammarlund RBG (military version of HQ-120). The Lafayette radios were generally a step up from the Radio Shack gear.

    Reply

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