The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

December 30, 2010

Spirit of the Radio

By AMBER POMPA
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Dale Allen, known as “Radio” Dale by many in the community, has been collecting radios and radio related items for the last 20 years, though he has been repairing them for far longer than that.

“I’ve been repairing radios since high school, at least,” said Allen. “That’s when I realized I wanted to be a radio designer.”

Allen went to Purdue University where he majored in electrical engineering, eventually finding himself in Florida working as a radio designer. After 20 years designing radios, Allen moved to Virginia to work for E-Systems, which soon became Raytheon.

“I’ve been associated with radios all my life,” said Allen. “It’s only been in the last 20 years that I’ve become a serious collector, though. I do a lot of my purchasing on eBay.”

Allen has a very extensive radio collection, one that many museums would pay a good deal to have in their possession because it’s more than just radios and radio memorabilia ... it’s history.

The Allens have lived in Florida, Virginia and Washington, DC, but it was retirement that brought Allen and his wife, Kay to Greenville.

“We had grandchildren in Plano,” said Allen. “So it was either Texas or Oklahoma and we decided Texas. I didn’t want to live in Dallas, because the crazy people lived there. So my wife was literally looking at aerial views and stumbled upon Greenville. I had my doubts at first, but she did the research and eventually found a lot for sale.”

Allen was concerned over the power lines on the aerial view not far from the development they were looking at.

“The static could really ruin my hobby, so when she went to check out the lots I made her take a radio along,” said Allen. “She started at the power line and walked until she could no longer hear static and we bought the lot that she ended up on.”

The history behind the radio, how the invention came about and how it has connected people over vast distances is what really fascinates Allen.

Allen has transistor radios, phonographs, vacuum and radio tubes and all matter of radio related memorabilia including Radio Girl perfume, antique toys and prints and radio-related knifes, salt and pepper shakers and bottle caps, just to name a few.

His collection consumes an entire room in his home. In fact, the home was designed with displaying Allen’s the vast collection in mind. Not to mention his workshop that branches off the garage, which he spends roughly four to five hours a week.

“If I’m bad, then Kay will send me to ‘my room’ for a while,” he said with a laugh.

Kay is very involved in her husband’s hobby.

“As any wife will tell you, she would be stupid not to take an interest in whatever her husband enjoys, if she can,” she said. “We didn’t date but six months before we were married.”

On their first date, Allen took Kay antiquing. They got separated as they wandered around but found each other again as Kay was admiring a piece of radio equipment.

“When she called it by name, I just knew that this was the woman for me,” said Allen.

Unbeknownst to him, her uncle had enlisted her assistance in his radio repairs and so, ever since, Kay helps Allen as best she can with anything he needs help with in regard to restoring old radios.

Dale is a member of the Vintage Radio and Phonograph Society of Irving and has become the local authority on radio restoration and repair, though he does it less for the money than for the fun of it.

“I can’t really see myself doing anything else,” said Allen. “It’s a hobby, yes, but it’s also a big part of my life and who I am.”