Auditron Uni Channel FM Receiver
Permanently tuned to 95.7, WFLN-FM
During much of the ownership of WFLN-FM by Broadcast Pioneers founding member Ray Green, the station offered for sale, an FM radio tuned exclusively to WFLN-FM, 95.7 in Philadelphia. The cost was approx. $20 per unit and it could not receive any station but WFLN-FM.
The only one that we know of, is the Auditron SF101 FM radio. Manufactured by Auditron Corporation, a division of Sarkes Tarzian, the SF stood for “single frequency” or uni-channel. This early sixties model is basically the same as the Sarkes Tarzian model 723-517 with the tuning control disabled. The tuning knob is there and turns but it does nothing.
Auditron Uni Channel FM Receiver
Label on bottom of unit
While others have dated this model as being built in 1964, we suspect that it may have been a year or two earlier. Why? Because the address on the bottom label doesn’t have a Zip Code but only a zone.
The U.S. Postal Service announced that the usage of Zip Codes would begin on July 1, 1963. A manufacturer would want to have the “new” zip code on the device. Otherwise, just a zone would date the unit and customers might not want it assuming that it was an old model. Therefore, we believe that it is more realistic that it was built in 1962 or very early 1963.
The founder of the Sarkes Tarzian Company that bears his name came from Armenia. The family left that country in 1907 because of the persecution of Christian Armenians by the Turkish majority and they ended up here in Philadelphia.
Graduating in 1918, he was the top high school graduate in the City of Philadelphia which earned him a fully paid four-year scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his electrical engineering degree and began a long career in the manufacture of radios and television sets.
He first worked for Atwater Kent (who was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 1992) and then RCA in Indiana. In 1944, he founded his own company. It manufactured electronic equipment and later got into the ownership of broadcast stations.
Geof Tyson, a visitor to our website, emailed:
I have the Auditron uni-channel WFMZ, 100.7 which is identical to the one you have pictured. Were these radios only sold regionally (I bought this radio near Pottstown PA) or just limited in sales because of the cost?
The answer is that radio stations across the country sold these radios inexpensively. The reason? They were purposely tuned only to one station so you couldn't listen to the competition.
J.W. Koebel, a visitor to our website, sent along some additional information. The Auditron Corporation started making these radio in July of 1962. Auditron had arrangement with about 100 stations to manufacture and sell these single station units. Orders were taken by the stations and Auditron "drop shipped" the order. That is, Auditron sent the radio direct to the customer with the units being mailed from their Indianapolis plant. In their first 8 months of operation, the company sold 45,000 units.
In some markets, the stations didn't do the order taking but sent customers to local stores who would take the order. The retailer made very little from the deal, but they did get alot of foot traffic into their shops. Reports have it that many customers after purchasing their Auditron units came back into the store and bought higher end FM tuners and receivers.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photos by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
Researched and compiled by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
Actual SF101 radio donated to the Broadcast Pioneers by Norm Gagnon
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