The Colossus of Radio
Figure 2. Close-up view of one of the four
electronics chassis inside the WLW model receiver.
Figure 1. The rear of the Crosley
Super-Power set. Everything that
could be was chromium-plated.
each chassis had
its own serial
The speaker bank consisted of three high-range
tweeters and two 12 inch “mezzo” or mid-range speakers,
plus an 18 inch “auditorium” speaker for the low-range,
with the voice coil circuits phased for maximum quality
sound reproduction. The speakers were focused in three
different directions and the low-range speaker sat in a
special cushioned mounting to prevent cabinet
resonance. Because of weight considerations, the WLW
model was shipped with the speakers uninstalled. (The
18 inch speaker alone weighed 85 pounds.) With the
speakers installed, the WLW Model Super-Power Receiver
tipped the scales at 475 pounds.
In keeping with the Crosley tradition of adding
something extra to everything the company built, the
WLW Model radio receiver featured a public address
system and a microphone. The microphone was a 4 inch
crystal type, attached to the set by a 25 foot cord. The
microphone’s input could be switched to any or all of the
set’s three audio channels. A two-way switch either cut
out the radio entirely or allowed the microphone’s input to
be blended with a radio program. This was probably the
first account of a radio being equipped with a PA system.
The designer rated it as having sufficient volume to
address a crowd of 10,000.
NUTS & VOLTS
The receiver could reproduce the entire range of
audible sound — from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second. Its
tuner brought in every frequency from 540 to 18,300
kilocycles, which, at that time, encompassed the
commercial broadcast, police, amateur, and ship bands,
as well as foreign stations.
Such an impressive radio demanded an impressive
cabinet. A modern style was chosen and seven different
types of wood went into the cabinet’s construction. A
grille cloth designed especially for the Crosley WLW
model completed the stunning exterior; the fabric’s
design was a classic flame motif that was popular in
tapestry and furniture
upholstery, as well.
user control was included. An eye-catching 12
tuning dial was mounted
at chest level and
beneath it were two
volume controls (one for
low and middle frequencies and the other for
high frequencies), two
tuning knobs, and a
special fidelity control
that incorporated the
The fidelity control
allowed the user to select from five preset frequency
ranges. The “Normal” selection passed only the middle
range of audio frequencies. A “High Fidelity” selection —
ideal for listening to music — increased the response for
40- and 4,000-cycle frequencies by several decibels. A
“Mellow Tone” setting made whatever radio program was
on sound as though it were issuing from the inside of a
large barrel. This was accomplished by suppressing the
high-frequency response. A “Bass” selection accentuated
bass response and cut off high frequencies. The final setting offered by the Fidelity Control — “Noise Reducing” —
emphasized the high- and low-frequency response. A
mechanical display to the right of the tuning dial’s center
indicated which fidelity setting was in use, including OFF.
The fidelity control feature was apparently popular
only briefly in the mid-1930s. It probably added too much
to a radio receiver’s cost to appear on any models, except
for the high-end ones. Also, many radio owners may have
found it too complicated to use.
Tuning was accomplished with two knobs — one for
fine adjustments. The knobs turned two clock-like sweep
hands (one short, one long) on the dial’s face.
Appropriately, the outer rim of the dial was marked with
the numbers 1 through 12, just like a clock face. The
clock numbers and sweep hands comprised a mnemonic
device for remembering station settings. A station tuned
in with the short hand pointing at 10 and the long hand
pointing at 3 on the dial might thus be remembered as
“10: 15.” The feature was called “Timelog Tuning.”
A mechanical display to the left of the dial’s center
showed the name of the band that was tuned in.
Three tone controls were set in their own panel on the
left side of the cabinet — one each for bass, mezzo, and
treble control. The microphone input and controls were
on the right side of the cabinet. Hinged, curving wood
panels covered both sets of controls.
An external feature of special interest was a visual
tuning indicator, which was Crosley’s answer to RCA’s
“Magic Eye” indicator. This indicator was incorporated