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Reaching the Ruralist
October 1945 Radio News Article

October 1945 Radio News
October 1945 Radio News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

Innovation, out-of-the-box thinking has been responsible for a large part of the world's more successful ventures - ranging from small-time operators to the corporate and university scale. The "War Years" were notably difficult for a lot of businesses not directly involved in wartime production and/or service due to the shortage of supplies and workers. Radio News magazine and others of the era printed many stories to both inform and encourage electronics industry participants. This October 1945 story tells of how radio service and sales shop owner Pat Murphy, of Carthage, New York, devised a system to successfully tap an otherwise avoided customer base - rural farm and home owners. His scheme made a lot of people happy and provided a source of income to others as a reward for facilitating the endeavor. "Reaching the Ruralist" is a great, short read.

Reaching the Ruralist

Reaching the Ruralist, October 1945 Radio News - RF Cafe

"Tell Alvin to keep up the chatter - I think we're getting to the root of the trouble."

By John Latimer

How a rural serviceman maintained a profitable enterprise regardless of wartime problems.

Pat Murphy, Carthage, New York, goes after the rural inhabitants - rather than the city folks. It's true that he can't personally visit the farm house to service an offending farm radio, but he does the next best thing.

He has arranged with a nearby feed mill to allow farmers to leave radios needing service attention there. Murphy visits the mill once weekly, picks up the ailing sets, repairs them and returns them to the mill for pickup by the farmer. The farmer pays the miller who, in turn, turns over the money collected to radioman Murphy. Murphy pays the miller 5% on all money collected - not an unfair commission, nor an extravagant one. Murphy and the feed dealer have a cooperative advertising setup as well. On all postcards and direct mailing pieces the miller sends out - mention is always made of the fact that radio repair can be speedily arranged for at the mill.

Murphy uses a series of radio spots just before arid after the daily noon-time farm program. In addition he parks his service-shop truck at the public market thrice weekly in the spring and summer. Farmers bringing produce to sell can lug along their radios for prompt service.

He is the first radioman in this section of the country to build up a wartime business in farm intercommunication sets. He has actually designed and constructed to meet individual farmhouse specifications over a score of such setups with outlets in farmhouses, barns, and other strategic farm points. Murphy sends each farmer a letter outlining the advantages of a "farm radio hookup" and follows up the letter with a personal visit to the farmhouse. He spends one full day a week in paying visits to farmers - the purpose of which is to persuade them to install an "inter-communication outfit" with all the trimmings. Also he has been an enthusiastic seller of "radio-ear" units, to place in the barn so that intruders would be spotted with ease. He secured a large number of such items just after the war broke out and consequently can still fill orders.

Murphy does provide credit for the farmer on all radio service. Half of the service bill must be paid when the set is returned, and the balance in 2 or 4 weekly installments, depending upon the amount outstanding. To date Murphy reports he has lost less than 5% due to poor credit risks. In many instances farmers place their radio service bill on their feed account. Under this plan the feed dealer pays Murphy spot cash and lets his rural customers pay him as they can.

Murphy finds that a "record rental library" works well for him. He rent a collection of 50 records to a farm family - 2 weeks for $1.50, 4 weeks for $2.50. 100 records are loaned out - $2.50 for a fortnight, $4.00 for a full month. Murphy has several thousand records on hand which he purchased for a few pennies each in past years. Rental of these platters to ruralist assures him of a small and steady profit and at the same time provide him with an entry into their homesteads.

This radioman has a bulletin board in his shop on which are placed photographs of rural lads and lassies in the service. Farm folk come into the servicenter on Saturdays and weekends to leave photos of their loved ones for insertion on the board and also to inspect its contents.

He changes the board's photographic display every other week. He finds it a source of steady store traffic so far as rural patronage is concerned.

Each rural service patron is provided with an itemized list of all repairs made and the date of such repairs - stamped in so that no changes can be made. The farmer must bring or send in that invoice the next time the set refuses to play. If the cause for the set's defunct condition is traced to any item listed on a previous invoice and the interval between service calls is less than thirty days the second repair session is free. A 30-day period is all that Murphy can guarantee, what with the quality of replacements he's getting these days.

Murphy has an unusual sideline worth mentioning - the rental of 16-mm. motion projectors and accompanying films. Because his is a small town, there is no photographic dealer available. Murphy has a number of 16-mm. projectors and several sound outfits. Farmers can rent either silent or sound installations for a week at very reasonable rates. With country roads as they are, Murphy finds that farm families enjoy holding several brief, but entertaining shows on their premises during a "snowed-in" period. Also Murphy cooperates with the local Farm Bureau who will loan the farmer agricultural films while Murphy provides the visual sound apparatus.

He also makes sound movies  of farms which can be shown later on and as a matter of record has made a dozen or more such epics during recent months. A number of farmers band together and finance such a "celluloid record" of the "farm front."

Summing it up, radioman Murphy makes his living from "down on the farm" and is doing nicely at it. Farmers need radios in tip-top operative condition so that they can keep up with news, weather, and crop reports. Murphy provides efficient radio service to meet this situation.



Posted December 8, 2021

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