Local Current Blog

Reunited with an old friend: Kevin Beacham’s renovated boombox, the Sharp GF-575

Kevin Beacham in high school with his boombox (1990)
Kevin Beacham in high school with his boombox (1990)

I got this Sharp GF-575 radio for my 12th birthday. It was an integral part of my life from middle school thru high school (and slightly beyond). First off, this was the main way I heard music during that time, which includes playing tapes and listening to radio shows. It’s also how I usually got new music in that same time period. And, while I was buying a decent amount of records in that time, I was also borrowing people’s tapes to dub (sometimes without their knowledge on the sly tip), hooking this radio up to my Dad’s Kenwood Wood Grain stereo system to record vinyl to tape, and later on in the high school years, recording WNUR’s Rap shows. I also used to walk around town with this radio in hand, so that it could deliver my life soundtrack and theme music.

The same year I got it, I also got a cheap Radio Shack microphone, and that is how I first recorded my voice to tape rapping, with me and my best friend rhyming over instrumentals — Fearless Four “Rockin It” and The Nice & Nasty Three “The Ultimate Rap” — a tape which I still have.

All of the stickers for the radio came from the “gumball machine” at the Junction City, Kansas Skating Rink, where I frequented on most weekends circa age 15. I went to hear the music, see friends, and mingle with the ladies more than I did any skating… although my group, 3D Crew, did win first place at a Rap contest at that same skating rink, and of course, my Sharp GF-575 was there with us during the show.

It’s travelled with me from Karlsruhe, Germany to Stuttgart, Germany, to North Chicago/Waukegan, Ill., to Minneapolis, Minn. I’ve used it as receiver before I could afford to buy my own speaker system. I’ve used a photo of it for an AD in Caught In The Middle Magazine. I used an image of it for the cover of my Hiss-Story mixtape. Essentially, we’ve been through a lot together and over the years it slowly stopped working, but I always kept it around because of the memories.

It’s been my version of displaying an antique in my place, but my good friend DJ Plain Ole Bill connected with Marc Bloomquist, who is a master collector and fixer of Boomboxes, and he has got my baby back in full working order, complete with Bluetooth functionality as an added perk!

The other day when it got dropped off to me at work, it was like two old friends reuniting. I can’t wait to get it set up in my music room and put it back to work. There are still more memories to come…

Kevin Beacham co-hosts H2 on The Current Wednesday nights at 10 p.m.