Zenith Radio Corp. and FM

Zenith was one of the earlier FM radio manufacturers, but they didn't jump on the bandwagon right away. Though, Zenith's President, E.F. McDonald was a good friend of E.H Armstrong, Zenith was hesitant on manufacturing FM radios untill the FCC had the band finalized

Looking at the radio line-up for the 1941 model year, there are some interesting discrepancies.

Through the years starting with the 1935 25 tube Zenith Stratosphere, Zenith had very high tube count radios (15 or 16 tubes) in the Top-of-the-line positions..... except for 1941.

What happened to the big Zenith radios for 1941???

Well, It seems they had 3 models planned for the 1941 line that never came to light. All 3 with FM. two 9 tube models (9-H-567 and 9-H-594) and a big 15 tube model (15-H-575).

The only evidence I have of these radios is this front cover of one of Zenith's preliminary service manuals for the 1941 models. Unfortunatly, I have no more information about them. If anyone reading this has further information about these radios, please contact me.

Zenith released their FM line-up late in the 1941 model year with 3 models. A standard console (10-H-573), a chairside (10-H-551) and a unique spinet style console (10-H-571). These 3 shared the same 10 tube chassis, therefore there were NO big 15 tube models for 1941.

There also were two 12 tube FM models which seemed to straddle the line between 1941 and 1942. They had a 1941 chassis number with a 1941 style dial assembly but with a 1942 model number (12-H-678 and 12-H-679).

For the 1942 model year, Zenith came back with a WHOPPER of a radio! The first to break the 20+ tube count since the 1935 Stratosphere! Actually, there were two models. The Arlington (22-H-698) and the Concord (22-H-699) both with two chassis, 3 speakers and a whopping 22 tubes! They also introduced a 14 tube model with a phono recorder (14-H-697). All of these had FM.

So, what happened to these 3 radios? were any protoypes made? The manual I have that lists them does not have any information inside. Was there any service information released?

My guess is that Zenith had design or production problems with them. It certainly left the 1941 model year with only a couple 12 tube models to cap the line-up which was unusual for Zenith.

My hope is to fill in the gaps here and find more information about these 3 elusive models. It is mentioned in the Zenith radio series that Zenith was one of the first companies to set up an FM radio station. which also was the first FM station in Chicago (W9XEN then W9XZN, later W51C then WZZR and finally WEFM). It is also mentioned that Zenith used a 9 tube experimental FM radio to test coverage in different areas around the counry that had FM. Was this radio one of the 3??

Another interesting fact. The Zenith FM station in Chicago went through 5 different call signs ending up with WEFM which stood for Eugene F. McDonald. There still is a WEFM station, but Zenith abandoned the call sign in 1981.

Incidently, Zenith used the "H" in their model numbers to indicate the radio had FM. Zenith did release a model 10-S-567 but it, of course, did not have FM.

There will be more pictures of Zenith FM radios here soon.