About a year ago, I shared a compilation of wacky telephones that I had found in a novelty collector’s book. Shortly after publishing, I received a bizarre, cryptic email from an anonymous individual, identity hidden for security purposes, with a tip about a far greater hobbyist ring. These were AM/FM radios.
We exchanged a few emails. The man wanted to be referred to as “The Buzz.” He claimed that he needed to keep his profile a secret in order to protect the “greater good.” By this, he was referring to the topic of discussion: novelty radios. I wanted to learn more. And then he disappeared.
It wasn’t until recently that “The Buzz” reappeared. Writing from a burner email account, the message read “IT’S BUZZ. I NEED YOU TO CALL ME: 989-###-####.” The area code is Northeastern Michigan. Without a doubt, I thought someone was fucking with me. The joke wasn’t even that funny to begin with, but I was still curious.
We talked for nearly forty minutes. He rambled in an erratic manner, and the reception was very poor. I think he was using a voice modulator. To be honest, I could barely understand anything “The Buzz” was saying. Something about “them” and “they.” This unspecified faction has been tracking his every movement since 1987. The collection of gimmicky AM/FM radios, however, that is what they wanted. Allegedly, “The Buzz” has the largest collection of these plastic oddities known to mankind. And he would stop at nothing to make sure “they never got them.” It was pretty weird.
There are few allies in the underground world of souvenir radio collectors. I would imagine at one point the resistance had only communicated through their product, but “The Buzz” advised me that encryptions were sent using Hotmail’s MSN Messenger. It’s a growing network and, for some bizarre reason, I could be trusted as an outsider. I wonder if they were originally skeptical because I would write a piece on my discovery - exactly what I am doing right now.
This morning, I received a discreet file-sharing link to a folder with hundreds of pictures. Yes you guessed it, each a photo of different, beautifully categorized novelty radio. There wasn’t much context behind the immense image dump, but it definitely came from “The Buzz.” He gave me his blessing. Now I wonder, by ‘largest collection’, did he mean in physical or digital form? Because this, what you are about to see below, this could be what he was referring to along. These photos could be what “they” are after - and I could be risking my life by sharing them with you. I tried giving “The Buzz” a call to clarify, but alas, his voicemail was full.
Take a look at some of the greatest novelty radios in human history below:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Take a look at highlights from this large collection of wacky vintage novelty phones