Great Products: Zenith Trans-Oceanic. Oh, and Bring Back the Zenith Man

We are gloomy and cry when thinking about American manufacturing and electronics. But it is always instructive to look back.

One top product electronics product of the late 1950s was the Zenith Trans-Oceanic, or Royal 1000. To this day, it is seen as one of the top consumer radios of all time.

Luckily, the Zenith brand is still around. Many less wise American companies would have scrapped the brand. LG was too smart for that, and recognized the value. But it didn’t just slap the logo on some cheap TVs. The brand has been completely revived by its owner, LGE. LG Electronics bought Zenith in November of 1995. It started reviving the brand in 1997. In 1999, Zenith became a full subsidiary of LGE. The company launched new national advertising in the U.S. in 2001, and repositioned itself around its old theme, namely being the innovator in television and electronics.

The brand could be expanded further either through licensing or joint ventures. One big opportunity could include service. They still use their classic slogan, “The quality goes in before the name goes on” and that slogan carries with consumers today. Consumers TRUST Zenith.

How would it expand? America’s independently run Zenith Radio Stores were once known as the best TV repair shops around, and often sold televisions as well as installed and fixed them. Today, with the increasing complexity of television and digital entertainment, a fleet of franchised “Zenith Radio” repair trucks would be heaven indeed for retiring baby boomers who not only want the best new Zenith, but would like to have it set up for them, demonstrated and then serviced.

Oh, and don’t call it Zenith HD or some such modern name. It needs to be called Zenith Radio Repair, and BELOW the name is a mention that it does HD and all digitial audio and video.

This would also be heaven indeed for many of the one-man-shop audio/video installers. These guys are often strong in enthusiasm and product knowledge, but do not have the same expertise in marketing, and tend to think of a magnetic sign on the pickup truck door as their only necessary promotional expenditure. The other thing. Because all consumer products are made in Asia by Asian companies, having an American face on Zenith would give comfort to consumers.

Businesses with low barriers to entry make TV installation a field where product differentiation is a must. (Here, a TV repairman from the animator cushwaland.com.) Many of these talented men could increase their business with a franchise of a brand such as Zenith, sort of Geek Squad for digital tv.

And no, they don’t have to wear bow ties, but I swear I would trust a Zenith man with a bow tie.

2 Comments

  1. I miss listening to one of those old shortwave radios as a kid. I may still have one in the shed, however both of the ones I had appear to have somehow lost their ability to receive shortwave broadcasts. Would love to know if any old-school tech experts would know why this is or if it’s possible to repair them.

    1. Usually with old electronics, the electrolytic capacitors dry out (they are filled with a conductive paste). Replacing them usually restores the radio to operation

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