I bought this radio — the Grundig YB400PE — in 1995 at the Circuit City in Union Square, NYC when I was starting Forbes.com and needed some tunes in the evening while studying Latin in my room at the Yale Club (don’t ask …).
I fell in love with the design. It was so Germanic, so functional that I had to have it despite its steep price — $150 — for a radio. Ah, but what a radio. Ten years later and I’m still listening it, typing away while it plays the wonderful public radio station WUNC (I think the best public radio station I’ve heard, and Boston has two giants, WGBH and WBUR). This is the radio I’d take on safari, the one I’d listen to during my solo circumnavigation or while holed up in the bar of the Intercontinental during the next military coup.
AM, FM and Shortwave, it came with a retractable 30-foot shortwave antenna. Now I have no great interest in shortwave, and the radio won’t find any stations without the antenna draped over the room and over the window sill, but the tuning on the unit is entirely digital — you punch in the frequency on a dial pad like a phone, press "Freq" and bang, there you are. It saves 40 pre-sets, has a great alarm clock, and is small enough to tuck into a garment bag. This is truly a classic piece of global traveller equipment.
The model has been discontinued and replaced with a newer one, and Grundig, a 50-year old company, was acquired a few years ago by Eton. For an interesting history of Grundig, click here.
The sound quality is excellent, and I’ve used it for years as a shop radio while I work on my boats or bikes. The funny thing that I realize is that despite the presence of a sleek black Nano iPod in my rucksack, it’s the Yacht Boy that gets used the most.