A Review of the Realistic (Radio Shack®) 12-161 Pocket Weatheradio Alert

Just to clear the air, I do not own the featured image on this page. To give credit whereupon credit is due, I cropped this image out of the 1980 Radio Shack Catalog.

My wife and I had a little money left over for the month of November 2022. She purchased a few items and I purchased a vintage but still in very good condition Realistic 12-161 Pocket Weatheradio Alert.

For those wondering, mine came off of the assembly line somewhere in the Republic of China in December of 1979.

This means that at the time I received it, it is almost forty-three years old.

However, it works just flawlessly.

The speaker’s sound is crisp and clear.

The reception is dead on.

There is even no static in the volume potentiometer!

I have been keeping it near my bedside and listening to the weather forecasts almost every night since it came in.

The only drawback is that it only receives the three main weather radio channels and not the other four intermediate channels but in 1979, there were no intermediate weather radio channels and wouldn’t be for at least a decade.

I never owned the 12-156 (which is the step below the 12-161.) However, I have owned two of the 12-162 weather radios which is the predecessor model to the 12-156. As much as I think a rotary tuner is cool, it is not anywhere near as reliable as the crystal-controlled tuner that the 12-161 has. Also, the 12-162 seems to be much more flimsy than the 12-161.

I get it though, the 12-156 and the 12-162 were meant for the outdoors and traveling, for getting weather data on the fly. They are more weather resistant and because of that, they were made of that plastic whereas the 12-161 is made of some plastic but also brushed Aluminium.

I could picture those younger boomer teenagers and older Xer children taking the 12-156 and 12-162 while walking to school and even carrying it in their coat pockets.

The 12-161, however, was maybe meant for a traveling business person, to be placed at the bedside in his or her hotel room. The standby alert feature enforces this theory of mine.

I could also see some people using this for off-the-grid living and needing emergency weather information.

Still, a rich or nerdy boomer teen or Xer child may have also carried one of these.

The price of the 12-156 in was $12.95 throughout its production run from 1979 until 1982 ($39.99-$53.16 in 2022 US Dollars.) The 12-162 was at its highest price in 1975 at $15.95 ($88.35 in 2022 US Dollars.) It would sometimes go on sale for $10.95 in 1974 or 1975 ($66.19 and $60.65, respectively.) Near the end of its production run in 1978, it sold for $11.95 ($54.62 in 2022 US Dollars.) However, throughout its production run, from late 1979 to 1984, the 12-161 cost a whopping $32.95 ($94.51-$135.25 in 2022 US Dollars.)

This inflation is hurting everyone, but I won’t speak any further of it, lest this blog becomes political.

However, I will let the numbers do the talking.

I think that you, the reader, can now see why I have the theory that I have.

The 12-161 would have been a pocket portable weather radio for the well to do and 12-156 and 12-162 were for those who needed weather radios outdoors or just cheap access to vital weather data.

I am still wondering if any school children carried weather radios on their foot commutes to and from school or anywhere else they went in the mid-1970s throughout the 1980s.

I could not find any conclusive data about this.

I cannot yet write accurately about the 12-156 but I can say that in terms of longevity, the 12-162 was a poor performer in later years and both fell apart on me.

However, the 12-161 is robust and still working well almost 43 years later!

If it were 1979 or 1980, I would have to give it the full five stars.

In 2022, I would give it 4.5 out of 5, because it only has the three main channels, no S.A.M.E. feature, and probably would not be good for outdoor travel.

And there are now weather radios available in 2022 that indeed do have those provisions.

I guess this, therefore concludes my review of the Realistic 12-161 Pocket Weatheradio Alert.

I hope that you, the reader, have been informed, enlightened and maybe even entertained.

May God richly bless you!

Back to “Product Reviews”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s