Covid-19: As people tune to local news, radio sales are soaring

I just received word from a trusted friend who is a radio industry insider working with both manufacturers and retailers around the world. He said that in the month of March, 2020, radio sales increased “dramatically.”

I’m not at all surprised, in fact, because the number of email inquiries I’ve received from first time SWLing Post readers has also increased dramatically. It’s quite difficult for me to keep up with the influx of correspondence.

Folks are looking for an additional source of information to either supplement or backup their Internet news outlets.

As we mentioned in a previous post, this is local radio’s time to shine.

I’ve been listening to local AM stations much more recently and find that (at least the ones that are still locally-owned) have relevant up-to-date information about community news and resources while everyone here is sheltering at home. It takes me back to my youth when AM stations were truly *the* place people turned for information during severe weather events or other natural disasters.

I’ve been answering so many similar inquiries the past three or four weeks, I’m working on a post to help those who are looking for a reliable, affordable radio to receive local news, weather, and information. Of course, I’ll throw a shortwave radio option in there, too.

I believe this uptick in radio purchases no doubt points to the fact that fewer and fewer families have even one AM/FM radio in their home.

What AM/FM radio(s) would you recommend in this case? I’m trying to keep my selections limited and and the price between $10 – $90 US. I’m also highlighting radios that are currently in production, simple to operate, and have good battery life.

Also, have you noticed more engaging news via your local radio stations? Please comment!

Spread the radio love

23 thoughts on “Covid-19: As people tune to local news, radio sales are soaring

  1. Donald Glocka

    County Comm GP-5/SAN. $89.95 from Universal Radio :
    and an electronic tuning management system that performs easily and spectacularly. Best “Jack of all trades” radio for under $100.

  2. Roger Fitzharris


    In addition to the purchase of an AM/FM radio (or radios), I would also recommend that we radio listeners take this opportunity to support such radio-related apps as: 1 Radio News (Pro Version) – and the Scanner Radio App (Pro Version) for use on our smartphones and tablets.

    Earlier this year, Steven Clift, developer of the 1 Radio News app, had to resort to a gofundme request for monies that he needed to sustain the development; and, indeed, the very existence of an app that truly deserves our shortwave listener support. This is an app that provides the listener with not only global news on demand, but some local news feeds as well.
    With the Scanner Radio App, you can listen to “live” audio from “scanned frequencies” from around the world that are being relayed to your smartphone or tablet by The result is live audio from: police/fire scanners, marine, rail, and air (scanned) frequencies, amateur radio repeaters, weather radios, etc. A truly amazing app that allows you to sample the world above 30 MHz – without having to go through the process of selecting a scanner.

    Both apps are truly outstanding, in my opinion, and would also provide the radio listener with a reliable, affordable way to secure news (local and global), weather, and information.

    Cheers and 73

  3. arthur ascii

    Bbc local radio only wants to talk about cats.

    Do listeners prefer black cats, white cats or ginger cats ?

    Same crap every day.

  4. Eric J. Smith

    It would be great if some of the former mainstays of international broadcasting, such as the ABC, Voice of Russia, RCI, etc., would rethink their decisions to terminate shortwave service to focus on the internet and other media. (Thankfully, despite the ‘stay at home’ orders and the increased demand on the internet we still continue to receive reliable service.) Highly optimistic, I know.

  5. Mario

    AM broadcast radio has regionalism so this would be good way to keep in touch with local events. Headphone radios are also a way to listen in if you are outside doing chores. Over The Air (OTA) television is another good source of information. No contracts,monthly fees,or connection to the Internet needed. Simplicity of design through and through.

    1. Big JohnT

      Definitely enjoying MW radio stations from around the country… I live in SouthEast Louisiana, and I pick up stations; Chicago, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, even Toronto Canada…. in the evening, and all night long!
      Interesting & informative news & talk! There’s even a couple of stations that have “Old time radio” shows, dramas & comedies , Sat. Night into Sunday morning! ?

  6. Rich

    Hard to beat any of the Sangean PR series radios. Most have WX band with alert as well. Good MW and FM performance and well under $100.?

  7. Bruce

    The Panasonic RF-2400D seems to be pretty popular. If I was buying, it would probably be one of the Sangean HDR series radios, but those are a little more expensive.

  8. TomL

    Thomas, in the future article, don’t forget to provide links to retailers other than BillionaireBezos, like HamRadioOutlet or Universal Radio (REAL Radio Stores!!). They need market share also, and can make it easier for someone to buy accessories and phone support/questions. Just my 2cents.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Actually, if you look back through my articles, you’ll note that in almost every case I feature Universal Radio and other retailers like Gigaparts, Ham Radio Outlet, Anon-Co and C.Crane even before I add an Amazon or eBay link.

      When an item isn’t available via radio retailers and only through Amazon/eBay (at least, at time of posting) then I may not have links to others.

      Amazon is a nice convenience for most, and I truly appreciate the extra support we get through the affiliate program, but I strongly believe in supporting brick-and-mortar radio retailers even over any income we receive because they’re the only ones actively participating in our hobby. To Amazon, radio is only just another product.

  9. TomL

    Not so much the local news of interest but some of the local advertisements sure are hokey and fun to listen to. I must be shut-in too long!

    For recommendations, I suggest any of the Sangean with LCD screen and digital tuner. Very easy for non-technical people to use and good quality. For shortwave, I do NOT like the Tecsun’s, too many quality problems. Perhaps the Eton portables are the only decent ones. Just my 2cents.

  10. Bill Lee

    Since the average consumer is buying a cheap pocket-sized AM/FM radio they don’t want much.
    Or scouting a local thrift or charity store for a $5 plug-in.

    But they need a list (complete) of local in range stations, some of which they were not aware, and any language. (Spanish, English, Chinese). College stations might be better for news syndications.
    What I find is that even with a list of stations, frequencies, band (important for DXing) people don’t know that AM is longer ranging) and names, new users don’t realize that there are “programs” of different subjects during the day (or night).
    Also that many stations are really repeaters.

    Here is a Seattle (covers SW Canada too) AM list
    and an FM one

    And NC

    Now the idea is that they find the stations, listen for a while and then sample another one.
    And if they can’t sleep, then check the AMs with power and reception boosts in the evenings.
    For example I was getting KGO 810 San Fran at night 1500 kms away; nothing heard during the day.
    If in the US, check the Canadians, if in Canada check the US border stations.

    And tune ss–ss-ll-lo-ow-ly. Wrap a wire 10 times around the radio, or its antenna and hold it up or pin the wire to the window.

  11. Pat

    Retekess V115, also available under other brand names. I got mine from Amazon. It has excellent sound, good reception, pretty easy to operate, and comes with its own USB-rechargeable battery. Also has a built-in MP3 recorder and shortwave. Currently $29.

  12. Kostas

    Indeed! Buying a Sangean DPR-45 was my reaction to an article in a local newspaper suggesting a battery driven DAB radio as a must for every home in Norway now. This revived my old love to AM receivers. DPR-45 is one of the very few DAB radios with MW reception (and FM) available localy. An analog Tecsun R9700DX, as well as a legentary Panasonic DR22 are also on the way.

  13. Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD)

    I’d recommend the Tecsun PL-310ET. Great little radio. AM/FM plus shortwave. Direct keypad entry and ETM that can scans for stations and auto load them into memory. I’ve had mine for a couple of years and it performs very well for a less than $50 radio. Great travel radio also. Plenty of audio volume for the size.

    1. Gafer

      And it has an external antenna jack so no messing with an alligator clip to connect and external antenna to the whip.

    2. Roger Fitzharris

      Also, don’t forget the, very similar, in terms of size and performance, Tecsun PL-380. The PL-380 might have a slight edge in terms of ergonomics; whereas, the PL-310ET might have a slight edge in terms of sensitivity. Either way, for < $45 (Anon-Co) you can’t go wrong with either one of them.

  14. Laurence N.

    I can suggest some sets, but they’ll all include shortwave as I’ve not bothered to purchase any other kind in quite a while (or ever, really). In general, I’d recommend the cheap digital tuned sets, provided they function appropriately with AM. These have several useful benefits. First, numeric entry means they’re easier to tune for those who don’t ordinarily do so, and these sets often have some preset options which makes switching between stations easy as well. Second, most of them can be charged via USB, meaning that there is no need to search the house for appropriate replacement batteries (and given that it would be best not to go to the shops to buy some, this proviso might be particularly important this time). Not to mention that these more modern sets often include extra features like alarms or recording which can be handy. Since these people are unlikely to want to spend a ton of money for them, I’d recommend cheap sets such as those produced by Tivdio or Degen. I’m sure there are non-shortwave sets that offer similar feature sets to those models, but I don’t know which are best.

  15. Kire

    I’m just hoping that the Eton E1 2nd edition, comes out soon, and is just as good as the first or better, and is in ample supply.

  16. Starlight

    I love my Sangean SR-35. Great reception, quality build, simple operation, pocket-sized, speaker or headphones, and long battery life. I paid $18 for mine five years ago.

    1. Tammy

      I’ll vote for the Sangean SR-35 too. Bought one several years ago for the emergency kit, but I enjoyed using it so much during power outages that it stays out of the kit now.


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