A Review of the Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 Programmable Scanner Radio

For the record, I do not own the featured image on this page.

I must give credit where credit is due and I cropped it out of the 1992 Radio Shack Catalog.

Since the age of fifteen going on sixteen (September 2002) I had been listening to scanners.

I didn’t know such a device existed until the Summer of 2001 when I first read about them on

https://howstuffworks.com

Specifically:

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/radio-scanner.htm

I had wanted one ever since, but at the time I was a no income fourteen-year-old with fiscally conservative and technology ignorant parents.

There was no way I could own one, not even an entry-level model.

Without getting too political, I believe that the prices of firearms and scanners are deliberately jacked up in order to discourage ownership of them.

Governments likely demand this but it also represents pure profit for the manufacturers of these ever so controversial instruments.

I will stand by this belief until I am unequivocally proven otherwise.

And by the way, if I can be proven totally incorrect; I will be more than happy to recant this statement.

…Anyway, enough of that…

Scanners are expensive there is no doubt about that.

And since I am living on a disability pension, I cannot afford the latest and greatest scanner really not even an entry-level scanner.

Then why do I own so many of them?

Well, it’s simple, I either buy older models at a very significant discount or people who no longer use them due to their obsolescence or perceived obsolescence give them to me and I always find a use for them.

In the late Summer of 2019, a friend of mine, gave me a Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 and is what this piece will be a review of.

It is not the oldest scanner that I own.

However, it is indeed the oldest scanner that I use.

This particular unit came off the assembly line in July of 1991 and while it may not pick up what most scanner owners want to hear (police traffic) it still picks up almost everything I want to hear. I believe it is an aftermarket rebadged Uniden made for Radio Shack, but I’m not totally sure.

It may be totally obsolete for the overwhelming majority of scanner users.

While I don’t have a very detailed list of the technical specs, I know most of them right off the bat and will give them:

Frequency Range:
137-174 MHz FM
406-512 MHz FM

So, it does not Aircraft or 700/800/900 MHz and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t get VHF Low Band either and that seems like a mistake on the designers’ parts, especially since there were a lot more VHF Low Band users in the early 1990s then there are now. But I get it, this was a budget-friendly entry-level model that had a price tag of $99.95 in the 1992 Radio Shack Catalog. By the way that is $184.45 in 2019 Dollars! The only users on VHF Low Band in my immediate area anyway are some cheaper baby monitors and my local electric utility cooperative. I have other scanners to listen to those transmissions, anyway.

There are only eight memory channels and it does not have a full frequency display. However, it can recall the frequency assigned to any channel but will do it one digit at a time. But since there are only eight available channel memories, it shouldn’t be too hard to remember what frequency was programmed on each channel.

However, it has a dedicated Weather Band Search at the push of a button and it does indeed get all seven Weather frequencies. That is a pretty big deal since not all stand-alone weather radios made in 1991-1992 actually received all seven weather frequencies!

You, the reader, may think that this scanner is a piece of junk by today’s standards, but I am about to tell you why that is not the case.

It may indeed seem very limited both in 2020 as well as 1992 but the receiver sensitivity is where this model beats all of my other scanners. I have a ~12 Inch aftermarket telescoping antenna connected to the BNC terminal on the back, but it pulls in signals loud and clear that all of my newer scanners don’t even stop on. And some of my newer scanners have better antennas as well!

I cannot seem to get a listing of this receiver’s sensitivity as rated in microvolts, but it must be very sensitive.

And that makes this perfect for what I listen to most namely, railroad and marine traffic.

I keep this scanner on my kitchen counter and run it most of my waking hours.

It is running as I speak, but I am in my bedroom at the moment.

There are several navigable waterways within a few miles of my residence and this wonderful scanner pulls in all nearby transmissions on VHF Marine Inland Waterway Channel (156.650 MHz.) It also pulls in the Coast Guard transmissions on the International VHF Marine Distress Channel (156.800 MHz), some fifty miles away in New Orleans. There is a railroad line about ten miles away and it pulls in the dispatcher clear as day and sometimes the engineer’s side as well. I have a local amateur radio repeater that I listen to programmed in there and it works fine as usual. Finally, I have the Fire Dispatch Channel for all of Terrebonne Parish, the Fire Dispatch Channel for Lafourche Parish Fire District 1 (where a good bit of my family resides) and I have two Fire Tactical channels, one for my local fire department and the other for a neighboring fire department. Almost everything this radio picks up, comes in clear as day. And the other times, the signal is still intelligible. One advantage I have is that I live on the second floor. I specifically asked for a second-floor unit so I could get better television and scanner reception!

So, yes, to most this scanner would be a dust collector, given to a thrift store or perish the thought recycled for parts.

However, I have given it a new purpose and I use it daily.

Despite its age of almost twenty-nine years at the time of writing this, it still keeps me informed and entertained on a daily basis.

It even has helped me maintain my sanity during this quarantine!

Most people my age that have to stay home are likely watching various streaming services.

I, on the other hand, listen to scanners, which may have a considerable startup cost, but are free to use. Well aside from the electric bill and the cost of batteries.

My biggest question is:
Will any of the scanners made in 2020 still be operating without issue twenty-nine years in the future?

I guess this, therefore, concludes my review of The Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59.

And yes, I give this product a rating of 5 out of 5 stars because it performs so well and does everything it is supposed to do!

Hopefully, you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

One thought on “A Review of the Realistic (Radio Shack®) Pro-59 Programmable Scanner Radio

  1. I also own many ‘old’ scanners. There’s a Bearcat that runs on crystals… go thry and find some of them now! There an RS-400 something, a base station with a few mods an AOR-1000 (unblocked) with a dead keyboard (my fave) an Icom weeR-5 (unblocked) and a GRE PRS800 now in need of a firmware update I can’t afford… but I live near a seaplne base and get some air chatter and near a hospital where the air ambulance comes in so some interesting times.
    Enjoy your scanners…

    Like

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