Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Midwest Radio

This is the second post in a series I'm writing about the 50-year-old radio ads I scanned last weekend. In this case the "Midwest" isn't the American heartland, it's the name of a radio manufacturer. They were located more-or-less in the rust belt.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, (Most ads put their address as at 909 Broadway) the Midwest Radio Company was founded in 1920 by A.G. Hoffman. They also had display rooms on 710 vine Street. The company was kept in the family and headed up by his son brother Ed Hoffman starting in the 1940s.

From these ads you can see that they marketed directly to consumers and avoided retail surcharges. The Midwest Radio Museum quotes their sales figures in 1936 to 120,000 customers. They sold shortwave, AM FM and in the 1950s broke into Television. The company shut down in 1957.

They designed and produced a huge array of table top and cabinet style radios mostly with all-wood chassis. While this looked nice, the construction was slap-dash and the finishes were thin. The approach inspired none other than Powel Crosley. Crosleys approach was often summarized as Cheaper = Better. Midwestradiomuseum.com explains that:
"Midwest radios were inexpensive compared to many other makes. For example, an 8 tube 1937 Zenith console may have a suggested price of $89.95 The catalog price of an 18 tube Midwest console started at just $89.50 complete."

Midwest often advertised in magazines targeted at geeky adolescents; Scientific American and a number of pulpy western magazines. I also found a very early ad for the "Miraco" in the May 1922 Issue of Radio Broadcast.