Tag Archives: Robert Yowell

Can you identify John Lennon’s mystery radio?

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Robert Yowell, who writes:

Hi Thomas – you might recall several years ago I found a photo of a Sony ICF-2001 in the New York studio where John Lennon was recording his final album “Double Fantasy.”

Well I just recently found this photo of John Lennon which I believe is dated to the late 1970’s [correction: the photo was actually taken in November, 1980, just a few days before his death] tuning an unknown brand of portable radio. Do you think your readers might be able to identify it?

All the best,


Thanks for sharing this, Robert! No doubt, this will be a difficult radio to ID since we can’t see the front of it. Then again, we’ve some savvy radio enthusiasts here in the SWLing Post community! If you think you can ID this radio, please comment!

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Waffle House Tee: “Proudly Serving Ham Radio Operators”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Robert Yowell, who writes:

Thomas – while I was in Dayton last month (after Hamvention), I stopped in a Waffle House and noticed all the workers were wearing the same T-Shirt which had emblazoned on the back “Proudly Serving Ham Radio Operators”!

I asked if the shirts were for sale and was told I needed to contact the regional office in Huber Heights which handles all Dayton area Waffle Houses. It turns out that for the past decade or so, every year in June the Waffle Houses in the Dayton area would have their employees wear shirts to honor Hamvention.

I was told the designs and colors are different every year, but this is what this year’s shirt looks like. They sold it to me do $18 including shipping!

Thank you, Robert. The connection between the Waffle House and Ham Radio has been a mystery to me and you’ve solved it! Each year at Hamvention, like you, I see Waffle House shirts floating around everywhere. Thanks for sharing!

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Can you identify this Hallicrafters model onboard the Columbine III?

The Lockheed VC-121E “Columbine III” (Image Source: USAF Museum)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Robert Yowell, who writes:

I was visiting the US Air Force Museum [Friday] and walked through “Columbine III” which was the Lockheed Constellation used as Air Force One by President Eisenhower from 1954 until he left office. In the back of the cabin was a nice cozy area where this Hallicrafters receiver was installed – ostensibly for the passengers to listen to news or other events while in flight.

I am sure one of your readers will be able to identify which model it is.

Can you imagine flying in this gorgeous Lockheed VC-121E four prop aircraft and listening to HF radio from a built-in Hallicrafters set? Wow…

Thank you, Robert, for sharing these photos. The National Museum of the US Air Force is one of my favorite museums in the world. I bet I’ve visited it more than a dozen times over the past decade–always a treat and always something new to discover!

Post readers: Can you identify this Hallicrafters model?  Please comment!

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Robert discovers radio station lucite artifacts

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Robert Yowell, who writes:

I walked into an awesome store today in Manhattan which specializes in vintage radios and ephemera. He had these two small lucite paperweights which I bought – one from KDKA the other from WOWO – two historic AM stations. The WOWO one contains a piece of the “world famous fire escape” [see above] which was from the original studio building on Washington Blvd in Ft Wayne Indiana.

The other lucite is a mystery that I hope your readers might help with. It was issued in 1995 for the 75th anniversary of KDKA. It appears to be a silver disc sandwiched with something orange colored in the center. Could it be from the transmitter site? I have attached photos here.

Thanks so much for maintaining such a great Blog site for SWL and other radio listeners ! I hope someone out there can help with my question – thank you!

A few hours later, Robert wrote this follow-up message:

Thomas – I just found the answer to my question. I now own a piece of the original KDKA transmitter tower!


What a great piece of history you have there, Robert.  Both WOWO and KDKA are legendary! Thanks for sharing!

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John Lennon and the Sony ICF-2001


Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Robert Yowell, who writes:

“I happen to be a huge Beatles fan, and especially a fan of John Lennon’s solo music as well. The last album he recorded was “Double Fantasy” which was made in New York City during the summer of 1980.

As you probably know, Sony introduced that same year the revolutionary ICF-2001 PLL synthesized receiver. John was known to have been a great fan of home electronics, especially those produced by Sony and other Japanese manufacturers. He also was a great fan of radio – as his appearances on the local WNEW-FM rock music station in NYC in the 70’s attest to.”

Photo credit: Bob Gruen, a photographer who photographed John many times during the latter part of his life in New York City.

Photo credit: Bob Gruen who photographed John Lennon many times during the latter part of his life in New York City.

“The attached photo was taken at the NYC studio called “The Record Plant” during the making of the album “Double Fantasy” in 1980.While I cannot be 100% sure that the ICF-2001 sitting on the table belonged to John – I think it is extremely likely. He still stayed in regular contact with his native England, and at this pre-Internet time, the only easy way for him to listen to the BBC was through this radio.

Another possibility is John enjoyed experimenting with new sounds in his music. During the Beatles, he even plugged in a radio into the sound mixing board when the song “I Am the Walrus” was recorded. You can hear at the end of the song a heterodyne whistle of tuning in a station as it settles on the BBC during a reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Perhaps John was intending to do something similar in the studio the day this photo was taken?”

I imagine that was a good possibility, Robert. Again, many thanks for this bit of Lennon history.

For those of you who have never heard “I am the Walrus,” you can listen below courtesy of YouTube:

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