It’s time for another installment in our ongoing series Radio Obsessives, in which we share tales about people who are passionate about radio.
So far we’ve profiled Garrett Wollman’s Radio Tower Quest, Jose Fritz and his amazing Arcane Radio Trivia website, Radio Sticker of the Day curator Greg Blouch, and radio historian/Seattle Radio Theater founder Feliks Banel.
Blogger Jeff McMahon muses about radio on his blog Herculodge. Although the blog is ostensibly focused on a myriad number of topics (from vegetarian cooking to parenthood to cars), Jeff found that his posts about radio seemed to generate the most interest and excitement from readers.
Filed under the category “Radio Lovers Can’t Be Cured,” Herculodge’s radio posts typically focus on reviews of both new and vintage radios, as well as radio-related products. Written by Jeff and a crew of guest contributors, the radio section of Heculodge is kind of like a clearinghouse for feedback about specific radios. I was also amused by a post by Radio Russ enumerating a “12-Step Program for Radio Addicts.” He writes that step 1 is: “We admitted we were powerless over Radios, that our lives had become unmanageable without a radio in every room.”
On the site, Jeff also has a 3-part semi-autobiographical story “The Man Who Loved Radios Too Much,” in which he describes both the origins of his radio love and how he has descended into obsession.
In our email interview, I chatted with Herculodge founder Jeff McMahon about his website and why he’s so passionate about radio and radios.
Jennifer Waits: Herculodge covers a range of topics, but the majority of the most recent posts deal with radio. What’s the main goal of the blog and how does radio fits into that?
Jeff McMahon: I had no main goal except to cover a wide range of passions, radios, books, movies, etc., but I noticed early on that over 90% of the web traffic was for radios, so I focused more and more on them. You know the saying, a tree that falls in an uninhabited forest makes no noise. I wanted readership. I wanted my posts to be read and I learned early on that a blog should be focused, achieve brand identity, and fill a niche. I still write about other topics, but mostly I deal with radios.
Jennifer Waits: Why is it that you are so passionate about radio?
Jeff McMahon: My radio passion stems from childhood memories of radios, falling in love with the music of the Delfonics, the Ojays, The Isley Brothers, Carol King, to name a few bands and singers whose songs played secretly through my earbuds and a transistor radio while listening to KFRC in San Francisco; also, a good radio is like a security blanket, a constant friend during nights I don’t sleep well. In general live radio makes me feel connected. Readers talk about the same nostalgia and sense of connection, so I know I’m not alone.
Jennifer Waits: What is it that you find fascinating about radios themselves (vs. radio broadcasts)?
Jeff McMahon: I like that a familiar voice can be something, a personality, who becomes part of your life over the years. Of course, it remains a miracle to me that voices and music can play through a little box.
Jennifer Waits: When did you start collecting radios and what was your first radio?
Jeff McMahon: I got the radio bug inexplicably in 2004 after eating a Lucille’s Barbecue. My wife Carrie and I exited the restaurant, entered a nearby electronics store on a whim and I walked straight toward a blue Tivoli PAL and bought it. That began a long trek into a radio obsession.
Jennifer Waits: How many radios do you own and what are your favorites?
Jeff McMahon: I own or have owned about 50 or so. My favorites are my Panasonic RF-888 and Sony ICF-5900. My favorite modern radio is my Sangean U3 worksite radio, which I use in my office/power yoga room.
Jennifer Waits: Do you prefer vintage or modern radios?
Jeff McMahon: I like both. Obviously, a heavy vintage has a grandeur that today’s cheaply made radios don’t have.
Jennifer Waits: Have you ever worked in radio? Where?
Jeff McMahon: Never. I’ve been a full-time college English/Composition instructor for 25 years.
Jennifer Waits: What type of radio programming do you enjoy the most? What are some of your favorite stations?