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THE HISTORY OF TRUETONE RADIO


"Truetone" was a brand name used by the Western Auto Supply Company for radios, phonographs, televisions and guitars.
In the early 1930s, Western Auto Supply of Kansas City began marketing "Truetone" branded radios
as part of their full department store catalog, which included their well-known "Western Flyer" bicycles,
another of Western Auto Supply's brand names.
"Wizard" was another of Western Auto's brands used on many of their catalog items,
including outboard motors, appliances, lawnmowers, paints, vacuum tubes, and briefly on radios.
Western Auto Supply Company was founded in 1909 by George Pepperdine, the founder of Pepperdine University.
Hundreds of Western Auto Supply retail stores spanned the country by the '40s and '50s.
The Los Angeles offshoot of the Western Auto Supply company began marketing "Western Air Patrol" branded radios in the '30s as well.
All types of wood and bakelite radios were offered from large wood floor consoles to portables to very small table radios.
Models for every pocketbook were made, from expensive, high tube-count radios to inexpensive 4-tube radios intended for the youth.
Truetone tube radios were sold into the late 1950s and their radio sales continued into the transistor era.
Many Truetone radios were beautifully designed and now highly sought after by collectors.

Truetone Radio Dial Collage


Western Auto never made radios themselves but sold radios made by radio manufacturing wholesalers,
with Western Auto's "Truetone" brand name added to them.
Over the years, Truetone radios were made by various manufacturers who also made radios for many other retailers.
Radio manufacturers included Belmont, Detrola, Warwick, Wells Gardner and Continental Radio & TV
who also sold radios to other big name distributors who used their brand names;
including Coronado (Gamble Skogmo), Airline (Montgomery Wards) and others.
Radios with identical cabinets are commonly found with different model numbers,
different decals or names on dials, or the name sometimes embossed into the cabinet.
These names included Admiral, Airline, Air King, Belmont, Coronado, Delco, Detrola, Freshman Masterpiece,
Good Year, Goldentone, Grantline, Mantola, Sky Rover, Truetone, Warwick, Whelco and Western Royal models.
(see the Admiral, Belmont, Coronado, and Western Royal radios in the collection for examples of cabinet crossovers.)
Some Truetone models seemed to be made exclusively for Western Auto.
The "Coronet" design, for example, has only been found with the Truetone name.
Some outlets used the manufacturers name like Belmont and Detrola labeled on the sets.
Radio makers are identified by W.G. & Co (Wells Gardner), BRC (Belmont Radio Corp.), C.R.&T.C.(Continental Radio & TV),
W.M.Co. (Warwick Manufacturing Co.) on the cabinet, label or chassis license tags.
To help find service schematics, you sometimes have to find your radio's equivalent, with a different brand and model number.

From 1942 to 1945, radio manufacturing was halted, mandated by the government.
All factory manufacturing resources were to concentrate on helping the WWII war effort and needs.
When WWII ended, radio manufacturing resumed and in 1946, bakelite radio models that were first released in the early '40s
were issued again as the same radio molds were brought back out of storage.
Although the same radio cabinets were used, some chassis updates were applied and new model numbers were assigned.
This was especially the case in most of the Belmont-made bakelite models.
The Truetone "Coronet" models D1015 (1941) and D2611 (1946) are a good example of this.

(see BELMONT Radio History for much more information on one of Western Auto Supply's biggest suppliers)


Click on the Truetone collection below to see much more information on each radio and close up photos.


Truetone Radio collection

(1941 catalog)
1941 Truetone catalog Coronet model

Truetone Radio 1941 catalog model D911

Truetone D1001 1941 advertisement

Western Auto catalog

(1950s)
Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1950s

Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1950s

Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1951

Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1951

Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1951

Western Auto Truetone Television ad

Western Auto Truetone Television and guitars ad

Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1959

Western Auto Truetone Radios ad 1941

Western Auto headquarters, Kansas City
(now a residential loft condominium)
Western Auto headquarters Kansas City building

gold divider bar


See many more beautiful radios inside Classic Radio Gallery!

Sparton Radio art with Strider the watchdog
1936 Sparton model 557 mirrored radio





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All pages created by Merrill L. Mabbs