(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Gather ’round, one and all, as the middle-aged radio man attempts to share a bit of car radio history. Oh, and a few killer tunes, too.


This all started innocently enough. I took in my mail recently, and there was my quarterly copy of Your AAA, The Official Magazine of AAA Northeast. Yes, I am a AAA member. I’ve been a member for years, and that membership has bailed me out of quite a few auto-related emergencies. Come to think of it, now that my 18-year-old is driving, I’d better add him to the family membership, too.


Anyway, with my membership comes the aforementioned magazine. And I like that. I realize that magazines, like newspapers, are in the process of being replaced with digital media. But I’m a Gen-Xer. I grew up on MAD Magazine and Rolling Stone and Thrasher and punk zines of all varieties, so I appreciate the novelty of having an actual, physical piece of media to pick up and leaf through.


Car Radio History: A Timeline and Playlist

Kinda like how I appreciate the car radio. Not just because it’s existence has, quite literally, allowed me to make a comfortable living (at times) supporting my family and doing what I love. But because the car radio has been my friend, a constant companion and source of endless entertainment during the thousands of hours I’ve spent behind the wheel or as a passenger.


So it was pretty cool to see “A Timeline of Car Radio History” in my copy of Your AAA. Funny enough, there’s an online version of the article, too. I’ve taken some of the parts I feel to be the most important and shared them below, along with my thoughts. And appropriate tunes, too. Because I’m the middle-aged radio man, after all. On your car radio weekdays from 11 a.m. ’til 4 p.m.

  • 1930

    Back in 1928, brothers Paul and Joseph Galvin were producing battery eliminators. The Great Depression hit, and Galvin Manufacturing needed a new product to produce. The brothers and their engineers got to work on building a radio that could be installed in automobiles. The car radio was born. It debuted at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association Convention. This song might have played on it.

  • 1953

    Becker debuted their Mexico car radio model this year. It was the first to feature FM stereo and a station-scanner, features that would become standard in future car radios. Bet this one sounded killer.

  • 1955

    Just two short years later, Chrysler introduced an in-car record player. And here I was, blaming tape decks and CD players and the aux cord for cutting into people listening to me on the radio. Turns out it’s been happening a lot longer than that!

  • 1965

    Oh, wait! I forgot the 8-track player. That debuted in 1965 and sat alongside car radios throughout the ’70s. In mono, of course.

  • 1984

    Tape decks supplanted 8-tracks in cars in the ’70s. Then, in 1984, the relatively-new technology of the CD player became available in automobiles. The first factory-installed CD player came in the 1987 Lincoln Town Car. Boss ride, especially when you were cranking this one.


  • Now

    The 2000s are here and so is every damn audio option you can imagine. USB, aux cords, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Audio, you name it. But it’s all good: you can still listen to ROCK 92.9 on your good ol’ car radio or via any of the aforementioned options when you use the FREE ROCK 92.9 app. And I’m still ridin’ shotgun with you weekdays from 11 a.m. ’til 4 p.m. Thanks for reading, and thanks for listening.


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