Retiree restores antique radios

Staff writer

Inside a workshop behind his Hillsboro home, Pete Klassen tunes Internet radio to music of the 1940s and ‘50s, while repairing radios made in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Outside of the workshop and within the same garage, Klassen has a hundred other antique radios, half of which are future projects while the rest serve as a radio salvage yard.

He sells some and refurbishes others that people bring to him.

“Oh I’ve messed with radios all my life,” he said. “I’ll work on anything over 50 years old.”

Klassen began in grade school in the 1930s, repairing crystal radios that required headphones for listening.

He also built radios during that time, when parts were easier to come by.

“When they were newer they were not hard to repair — usually just one little part, you find it, and replace it,” he said. “Now the older ones, there are usually a half-dozen things wrong with them.”

An electrical contractor by trade, Klassen has worked full-time on radios for the last 10 years.

“It’s kind of labor-intensive,” he said. “Certainly not a lucrative trade by any means, but for me it’s more of a hobby.”

Klassen appreciates the woodwork that went into many older models, such as an RCA Radiola model he has, one of the first commercial models.

Born in 1928, Klassen grew up listening to radio like television of today.

“About 1930, everybody lived by the radio,” he said. “They got all their news by it, and they were very important to everybody’s life.”

As much as he enjoys working on radios, Klassen likes to share his work with friends who will come by and watch him. He also would teach anyone interested.

“We all have our own God-given talents,” he said. “And we try to use them the best we can.”

 

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