Radio Man of Bengaluru

At this radio museum in Bengaluru, every painstakingly collected piece has a touching story to narrate.


Uday Kalburgi with his favourite piece.

Nandu G

Bengaluru: Nestled in a bylane of Basaveshwarnagar in Bengaluru lies a treasure trove of history in the form of the Short Wave Radio Museum and Knowledge Centre, the brainchild of Uday Kalburgi, a prominent member of the radiomuseum.org forum, which has members from around the world, all avid radio enthusiasts. A hospitable person, Mr Kalburgi seems to be at home amid the 110 short and medium wave radios, collected over 25 years. Asked what made him open a radio museum in this age of modern technology, he says “These are all genuine radios which were expensive during their day and to see people just throw them is just not nice, people have spent their hard-earned money on this only source of entertainment at that time”

Standing amid shelves lined from floor to ceiling with radios of all sorts and sizes, the visitors get a surreal feeling. He adds “I have a radio which cost Rs.350 in 1963, along with the original bill, owned by a high school headmaster, whose salary was meagre.”

He also proudly talks of a Philips BX99A, which cost Rs.9000 in 1955, a small fortune, and calls it the “class of the radios” owned by very few in India owing to the cost. When Philips India started making radios sets that cost about Rs.700-900, they became a little more popular.

A view of the collection.

In his collection, the oldest is a 1914 Westinghouse radio, which has individual coils which need to be inserted to change the stations.

Asked of his favourite piece, he jokes that they are all his favourite but slowly gravitates towards a 1936 Pilot G774B, manufactured in Brooklyn NY, which was a gift to the radio aficionado by the Travancore Royal Family. “Every radio here has a story behind it," he says while recollecting one such story from a 1964 Grundig Export Boy 204 on which a person had listened to a number of romantic songs with his wife. After his wife died, he did not want that radio to go waste and donated it to the museum so that the memory of his wife could live on. “Such stories are really touching,” he concludes.

The museum is open to visitors free of cost from Tuesday to Friday. Mr Uday Kalburgi is available on +91 9845043014.

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