Just to let everyone know, I do not own the featured image on this page. Rather I downloaded it from eBay. I give credit to whomever credit is due!
It was Labor Day September 3, 2001. I was out shopping with my Mom because I had some extra cash on me from doing various odd jobs.
I was hoping to buy some CDs with that cash, but the employees of the music store refused to sell them to me because I wasn’t old enough and the lyrics were explicit.
In the previous summer, I had begun to cultivate my interests in all radio electronics. At that point, I was amazed by the fact that television signals could still be received over the air for free. I wanted to experiment with that. I had even asked my parents to put up a television antenna so I could experiment but they flat out refused. They were never supportive of my electronics interests at all, but they sure call me up whenever one of their electronics is on the blink. They had subscribed to cable since before I was born and they didn’t like the idea of watching over-the-air television. To this day, they still don’t. Must be a Boomer thing…
So, while my Mom was shopping at Southland Mall, I had wandered over to Big Lot’s which had recently been established there and was only a few feet away. In those days Big Lot’s had a much better selection of electronics than they do now.
I had seen a few interesting things in there but what caught my attention was a Coby CX-17. Not only could it receive standard AM and FM broadcasts but also the audio from TV channels 2-13 and Weather Radio broadcasts!
And that radio receiver is what this piece will be a review thereof.
Technically this was my first Weather Radio, although I never used it for that purpose nor do I remember it ever picking up the weather broadcasts.
I wanted it to be able to hear the television audio, so I could experiment with that.
When I got home, I remember standing near the dog kennel in my parents’ backyard and listening to FM. I don’t recall which station I was hearing but it was playing, “Push” by Matchbox 20. I did appreciate the audio quality when it was indeed able to lock onto a station.
In the following days, I tried to be able to hear the television signals with varying degrees of success. The stations that were easiest to hear were WWL-TV which was on Channel 4 and WDSU-TV which was on Channel 6. I could also hear WYES which was on Channel 12.
Unfortunately now, this radio is mostly obsolete because television audio signals are no longer analog FM as they were before June 12, 2009. The FM selection is nowhere near as good as the selection on even the cheapest dedicated FM receivers. This is because it shares the bandwidth selection with TV channels 2-6. So there’s not much space for FM and therefore very poor selectivity.
I think I was only able to receive the stronger stations on AM but I wasn’t much of an AM listener at the time.
For the Weather Band, I don’t ever recall hearing a weather broadcast on this radio, but maybe I never tuned it down to that position, since TV Channel 13 was at one end of the band and Weather was at the other end. Also, this isn’t the strongest of receivers and the two weather broadcast stations nearest me were about 40 and 50 miles away, respectively.
On Friday, September 7, 2001, there was a teacher conference and so I was with my siblings and younger cousins at our Grandparents’ house. I was experimenting with that radio. The day was quite stormy and we were in between thunderstorms. I commented on how my radio is picking up a lot of static, so I think another storm is coming. My Paw Paw commented that the static had happened because he “just expelled a gas.” For those that knew my Paw Paw, you would all understand, but for those who didn’t, he was constantly cracking dad jokes or toilet jokes. He probably made me laugh more than anyone else.
A day later my brother had a bantam football match in the Superdome and I stayed with my Grandparents again. I was trying to improve the reception with aluminum foil but only had marginal results. There was some tennis match being covered, I remember that.
So this wasn’t the best of radio receivers, not by a long shot.
However, it does have sentimental value one for it helping me further cultivate my interest in radio electronics. And this was the radio I had with me on September 11, 2001. I don’t think any American alive on that horrible day will ever forget where they were when those radical islamic terrorists carried out their egregious attacks.
I was in class, an Eighth Grader at Vandebilt Catholic High School.
I did have that radio in my pocket throughout the day.
I wasn’t carrying a flashlight at that point in my life out of fear of harassment for liking flashlights.
Carrying a knife or multi-tool to school would have meant automatic expulsion and criminal charges.
One girl pointed out that I had a radio in my pocket during lunch and she threatened to tattle on me. I have no idea how I talked her out of it.
Later that day, after school I stood on my parents’ driveway and tuned in WWL-TV’s audio signal. Dan Rather was covering the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
I carried that radio with me everywhere until October of 2001 when I began to get interested in FRS and bought a BellSouth 1010 Communicator. I should do a review on that radio as well.
My Cob CX-17 broke some time a little over a year later and I was disappointed because of the sentimental value it had.
Earlier today, I ordered another one on eBay, for old times sake. I plan to keep it in a safe place when it comes in.
If I had to give a rating of it, I would give it a 3 out of five stars. While it is very compact and does indeed look cool. And yes the audio is fairly decent. But the selectivity, especially on FM is poor and the receiver sensitivity especially on Weather Band is also poor. This radio would have been more appropriate for those who dwelled in a major city, not someone living on the broadcast fringe like myself.
All in all, I guess this concludes my review of the Coby CX-17.
I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened, and maybe, somehow even entertained.
May God richly bless you!
PS, Here is a YouTube video of this radio in action. And it may be the only one!