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Supercollectors: Boomboxes

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

LL Cool J once proclaimed “I can’t live without my radio.” It was an ode to the massive, but portable, AM/FM/cassette players of the 1970s and ‘80s. Today, photographer Lyle Owerko still can’t live without boomboxes. He owns more than 50 of them, as documented in the book “The Boombox Project: The Machines, the Music and the Urban Underground.” He joins us to take your calls, in the latest installment of Supercollectors.

Lyle Owerko
Photographer Lyle Owerko's boombox collection (and his dog, Luna)
Lyle Owerko
Images from Owerko's photo exhibition at Clic Gallery in New York
Lyle Owerko
Images from Owerko's photo exhibition at Clic Gallery in New York
Lyle Owerko
Images from Owerko's photo exhibition at Clic Gallery in New York
Lyle Owerko
Images from Owerko's photo exhibition at Clic Gallery in New York
Lyle Owerko
Images from Owerko's photo exhibition at Clic Gallery in New York
Lyle Owerko
Images from Owerko's photo exhibition at Clic Gallery in New York


Lyle Owerko

Comments [18]

jim from Williamsburg

Most people have zero idea what good sound (or taste) is. Even the best boomboxes are simply audio junk compared with even a lowly 1980's NAD budget audiophile receiver of the same period with a decent set of speakers. What annoys me is that so many ignorant, tasteless trenders spend hundreds and hundreds on boomboxes and ipods that sound like louder versions of a subway PA-- and the $3,000.00 plus earphone stupidity doesn't help the ipod either. It's hard to tell some died in the wool, thoroughly cooled-out hipster that his or her cutting edge boombox and fashion was first worn and carried by your mother or father 40 years ago. Yes, big radio portables date back to the late 1950's early 1960's. And they were annoying even then.
'livin in Willaimsburg and hatin' it.

Feb. 17 2012 05:20 PM
shari from brooklyn

I am listening in my studio now on my panasonic boom box. I bought it in the 70's. Still works great although the tape player needs scotch tape to keep it shut.

Feb. 15 2012 10:16 PM
Anne Benenson from Hightstown,NJ

I don't think I thought of my radio as a Boombox.In the sixties it was my connection to my favorite radio talk shows. It went to the beach with me,to the back yard as I worked on my garden.
And now, in my two room retirement home, it is my source of news and all the great programs on NPR. My big Yamaha stereo receiver sits silent(lousy reception here in NJ), while my old Panasonic RXFS450($5 at a yard sale) in the living room,and my Optimus( Radio Shack long ago),in the bedroom,antenae fully extended, give me true Surround Sound!

Feb. 15 2012 04:32 PM

I always had a good collection of cassette tapes with MC's at live parties. I have some great memories of walking with a boom box and getting stopped and asked "who is that rhyming on that cassette?" I'd get many requests to dub that tape.

Feb. 15 2012 02:34 PM

'member all the cut up corrugated cardboard boxes, all over the place, that were used by the breakdancers[beat-boys].

Feb. 15 2012 02:31 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

LL Cool J's ode to the boombox - "Radio" was probably his best Album he ever made.

Feb. 15 2012 02:28 PM

Summer camp ....the counselors would blast music every afternoon from each cabin and the kitchen staff were always dancing around to mix tapes. Now we send our kids with their pods and it's just not the same!

Feb. 15 2012 02:28 PM
john riddle from brooklyn heights

Have you ever heard of Super Bad Brad? He sings on the Streets of nYC. He's great! He was on the apollo. Check him out! mention him.

Feb. 15 2012 02:28 PM

Check out this boombox with LED lights! HOOKED UP!!!

Feb. 15 2012 02:27 PM

Don't forget Frankie Lyman's "Portable on my Shoulder"!

Feb. 15 2012 02:27 PM
Soigne (swan-yay) from Madison, NJ

The boom box, with the proliferation of "dubbing" boom boxes (that is, a boom box with 2 cassette decks and a function for one deck to record a copy of the cassette playing in the other) gave rise to the culture of collecting and trading "DJ mix tapes." Back in the 80's DJ's started recording their club sets on cassettes so collectors could dub them and circulate them. I still cherish my tapes from DJ Marty, which he made in the Limelight Club in Atlanta in 1982 and 83.

Feb. 15 2012 02:26 PM
JFreely from NYC

Believe it or not I'm listening to WNYC on my old boombox right now! I bought it here in NYC in 1995! I could be listening on my Macbook Pro but am still impressed by the great sound this Samsung broadcasts!

Feb. 15 2012 02:24 PM
Annie Roberts

My 18 year old just got a ipod station with tiny speaker but looks just like a boom box!Big but light! RETRO!

Feb. 15 2012 02:19 PM
Dan B from Manhattan

Boom boxes beat listening to people talking on their cell phones...

Feb. 15 2012 02:19 PM
Kevin from Grosse Pointe Mi.

How would anyone be able to break dance now on the IPOD?

Feb. 15 2012 02:16 PM
Benjamin Gross

Just checked ebay - the SHARP GF-777 is still going upwards from $999.

Feb. 15 2012 02:10 PM

although, we were, more "party-sociable" back then,before humans morphed into androids, with wires sticking out of their heads,walking around like the living urban dead.

Feb. 15 2012 02:04 PM

i get a headache just looking at these damn things.

Feb. 15 2012 02:00 PM

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