Sylvania Model 9000 FM Radio (1960s)


This Sylvania model 9000 radio is an odd duck. It receives only FM, unlike most radios of that vintage, which combined AM and FM.

FM broadcasting didn't really take off in the US until the late 1950s and early 1960s. Prior to World War II, it was largely experimental and used different frequencies than the modern FM band. In the late 1940s, some people bought an accessory FM tuner, such as my Pilotuner, to plug into the Phono receptacle in the back of their AM-only radios.

During the 1950s, FM was mainly appreciated by the "hi-fi" crowd, who enjoyed listening to music without static. As the decade went by, more FM stations appeared and FM radios became more affordable, broadening the audience and the market.


The cabinet of a Sylvania 9000 is certainly distinctive—some would call it gaudy. Combining aqua, black, red, and shiny gold, it attracts more attention than most compact radios of the time.

The dial plate is reverse-painted onto thick Lucite, making it difficult to photograph without distracting reflections.

The radio uses five tubes, 12DT8, 12BA6, 12BA6, 14GT8, and 50C5. Here is a view of the chassis.

It's obviously an inexpensive radio, using bare-bones construction methods. Unlike older tube radios, all of the small-value capacitors are ceramic, rather than wax/paper or plastic/paper, so there isn't much restoration to be done, apart from cleaning the controls and checking the tubes.

The label on the bottom of the radio says that it was manufactured by the Golden Shield Corporation of Great Neck, New York. The name on the dial plate says, "Golden Shield by Sylvania." Golden Shield was a Japanese company that marketed transistor radios under its own name in the 1960s. I'm guessing that Sylvania contracted with Golden Shield to build this radio in the twilight years of all-tube radios, perhaps the early 1960s.

With a small speaker, nobody would call this a hi-fi radio, although it does produce static-free sound. Oh, well—it's a piece of radio history, and it can join the tiny fraternity of green radios in my collection.

If you are interested in FM-only radios, check out Andrew Mitz's comprehensive website devoted entirely to this topic. There are more of these than you might imagine!

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