The Murdock Family Radio

with No Comments


My first photo taken with the Murdock Family Radio, 1951 Mom, my brother Steven and me as the cute    baby


No kid actually wants to wake up for school, but waking up to the radio blasting to the sounds of KSL 1160 on the dial was enough to render us instantly cranky.  Besides the blaring box, mom would be yelling ” It’s 7:30 you will all be late for school and have to go without breakfast”  Who cares if we’re late, and I hate breakfast.  (mom always lied about the time, it was usually only 6:30 or 7) Her favorite radio program was always on at this ungodly time of the morning – Margaret Masters Kitchen – I pictured her looking a lot like Aunt Bee on Andy Griffith.  She had all kinds of household hints and recipes.  I thought she was annoying – not even the shrill voice of Margaret Masters could get us going in the morning, what we needed was a cup of coffee.

The Murdock Family Radio 1947 Emerson 535 Radio, case designed by Raymond Loewy (knobs replaced, mom wore them out cranking up the volume) 



I started wondering about this Emerson radio, so much a part of the family for so many years.  This little wooden box with sounds coming from it – what story does it have?


Victor Hugo Emerson was an early recording engineer and executive who was at one time employed by Thomas A. Edison.  In 1915 he established the Emerson Phonograph Company in NY. In 1920 it was described as the 3rd largest record manufacturer.  The Company passed into the hands of Benjamin Abrams and Rudolph Kanarak in 1922. In 1924 they entered the radio business, renaming the company Emerson Radio & Phonograph Corporation, and the rest is more history. 

A few of the stats about our little radio:  Category Broadcast Viewer or past WWII tuner; 5 Tubes – 12BE6, 12BA6, 12AT6, 50B5,35W4; Super heterodyne; 6 AM circuit broadest only ; AC/DC Set; 105-125 Volt; Loudspeaker Permanent Magnet Dynamic, moving coil; Model 535 Ch = 210045; Wooden case, table model up to 14″; width BC band tuning ranges 540-1620 KHZ, Built in loop antenna, Price: $29.95.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the Murdock Family Radio is that the case was designed by the famous “Raymond Loewy”. (1893-1986) a French-born American Industrial Engineer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design effects across a variety of industries.  Besides being the designer for the case of the Emerson 535, some of his more famous accomplishments:  Logos for Shell, Exxon, TWA, Design of the Coca Cola Vending Machines and fountain dispensers, Coldspot refrigerators, Studebaker Avanti, Greyhound Sceniccruise bus, Lucky Strike cigarette package, NASA’s Skylab space station.

One of Raymond Loewy’s most Icon designs The Coca Cola fountain dispenser

Just think about it – the family radio and the Coca Cola dispenser are practically cousins !!!! being designed by the same guy.


I feel I should also say more about the infamous “Margaret Masters”. As I research her, I decided that as a kid even though I found her totally boring and annoying, she was a great lady and accomplished great things.

She was born Margaret Roseabelle Masters on March 17, 1908 in Seymour, Missouri.  During her time in Missouri she was a midwife and delivered many babies.  She fell in love and married John Franklin Smith . Sometime in the 1940’s they moved to Utah.  Margaret AKA Maggie Smith, was known to Utahns as Margaret Masters, KSL Radio and TV personality for over 40 years.  She wrote the vignettes for the issues of Today’s food section in the newspaper. She was featured twice weekly on the KSL TV show, “Good Friends”.  “I stand on a fence and talk one day and I do a cooking spot on another” she says.  Smith gathers information for her “Good Friends” show by putting down whatever anyone says who passes under her nose.  Her friends, 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren provide plenty of input for this.  She always said “people don’t die, they just shoot on over” – what a coincidence, Margaret Masters Smith “shot on over” the same day as the Challenger Explosion, January 28, 1986.


An excerpt taken from Billboard Magazine June 26, 1948 gives a synopsis of her radio program.  “Margaret Masters Kitchen, KSL Radio, SLC, Producer, Writer Margaret Masters, Announcer, James Peterson, Cast:  Margaret Masters and guests.  This is a good program with homey atmosphere and leisurely pace, differing from others in the genre in that it has a good production.  There is recreated family atmosphere and the script is packed with homemaking hints.  Miss Masters discusses recipes in the Hazel Stevens food plan, a budget plan for families.  Miss Stevens is the dietician with the Utah Board of Health.  The program also features a good cook of the day.  There was little of that artificial atmosphere associated with some of these programs.  Just homemaking, good food, talk and Miss Masters conversational manner with announcer James Peterson and the guest seemed just right.  Topics were  pertinent and handled in an interesting manner.


With all the talk about Margaret, I felt I should include one of her famous recipes.

3 egg Whites

1 cup sugar

1 cup coconut

1 cup nuts

3 cups corn flakes

Beat egg whites till stiff, fold in sugar, then add coconuts, nuts and corn flakes.  Drop on greased cookie sheet and bake 325 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cook slightly for a couple of minutes on sheet before removing – recipe from Margaret Masters Kitchen Booklet


Leave a Reply