RS discontinues most of its own antennas


RadioShack has apparently discontinued its entire private-label antenna line except for one model, the U-75R. While coming up for the images to answer the question in the thread, "How can I find out if my antenna is uhf and vhf capable," I wanted to show the VU-90 since it's a well-known example of a "vee"-style Yagi. Went to the RS Web site... and the VU-90, VU-190 and the 15-264, the no-name channel 7-69 model they've been selling for just a couple of years, were all gone. Had to get the image URL at Ken Nist's site instead.

The VU antenna series goes back decades. At the risk of dating myself, I used to sell VU-90s by the truckload when I worked off and on at various Boston-area RS stores in high school and college in the late 70s. Back then, the antennas were sold under the Archer brand. We all know the VUs were outclassed by competing Channel Masters and Winegards in gain and construction quality. Now that the stores carry several Winegard combos, there's little reason to keep the VU line going, apparently.

Even so, the the VUs were good enough to pull in reliable signals for most suburban and near-fringe OTA viewers for many, many years of service. Millions of those old VU-90s still grace rooftops across the country, some of them decades old. Some viewers, seeking to escape the high cost of pay TV, were pleasantly surprised to discover that their old, unused VU-90 worked just fine for OTA HDTV for the low, low cost of a new downlead and coax transformer!

It may not be worth shedding a tear over their passing, but it is the end of an era, and I thought my fellow antenna geeks might like to know about it.

EDIT: If they're still doing business in the same way as they did back then, local stores may run "Where-Is-As-Is" sales to clear out unsold, discontinued inventory during August. If not, perhaps the manager of a store near you might slash the price on the VUs, just to get rid of them. (I picked up an RS Hoverman clone back in the early 90s for the princely sum of $1.49 this way.) Might be a bargain or two available out there, somewhere...
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Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
This has been true for a while now.

The VU-75XR and VU-90XR were great designs and that they were readily locally available in Radio Shacks nationwide was a big plus.

Radio Shack doesnt carry any large outdoor antennas in stores around here anymore. You can buy the Winegards online, but that is it. And the UHF only U-75R.


As Antenna Directs posts incredible sales numbers, Radio Shack discontinues its antenna product lines. Does this make sense to anyone? Some of those cheap RS antennas actually do pretty well.


Super Moderator
They are the only place you can buy that style antenna with a 40 inch boom. Everyone else dropped their short boom yagi corner reflectors.

I debated forever who made the U-75R and I am now convinced it's Channel Master. In remove the VHF dipole from a CM2016, you have a U-75R, so so close looking at only pictures it has to be.

You know if RS read all the forums, they would see the U-75R suggested over and over from weak suburban to near to even medium fringe.

Then they would see repeated over and over the rest of them are junk compared to the Winegards and the Winegards they sell you can't only buy online so why not buy them from Solid Signal?


Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
As Antenna Directs posts incredible sales numbers, Radio Shack discontinues its antenna product lines. Does this make sense to anyone? Some of those cheap RS antennas actually do pretty well.
Its a crying shame!

The only stocked antennas of any size around here are the RCA or Philips VHF/FM/UHF combo antennas in Lowes and Home Depot. And they only stock one model and one unit. I went by Lowes the other day and it was gone. I dont think they will be rushing to get another one for the shelf.

Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business

April 23, 2007 | Issue 43•17

FORT WORTH, TX—Despite having been on the job for nine months, RadioShack CEO Julian Day said Monday that he still has "no idea" how the home electronics store manages to stay open.

CEO Julian Day

"There must be some sort of business model that enables this company to make money, but I'll be damned if I know what it is," Day said. "You wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."

The retail outlet boasts more than 6,000 locations in the United States, and is known best for its wall-sized displays of obscure-looking analog electronics components and its notoriously desperate, high-pressure sales staff. Nevertheless, it ranks as a Fortune 500 company, with gross revenues of over $4.5 billion and fiscal quarter earnings averaging tens of millions of dollars.

"Have you even been inside of a RadioShack recently?" Day asked. "Just walking into the place makes you feel vaguely depressed and alienated. Maybe our customers are at the mall anyway and don't feel like driving to Best Buy? I suppose that's possible, but still, it's just...weird."

A Radio Shack store that somehow manages to turn a profit.

After taking over as CEO, Day ordered a comprehensive, top-down review of RadioShack's administrative operations, inventory and purchasing, suppliers, demographics, and marketing strategies. He has also diligently pored over weekly budget reports, met with investors, taken numerous conference calls with regional managers about "circulars or flyers or something," and even spent hours playing with the company's "baffling" 200-In-One electronics kit. Yet so far none of these things have helped Day understand the moribund company's apparent allure.

"Even the name 'RadioShack'—can you imagine two less appealing words placed next to one another?" Day said. "What is that, some kind of World War II terminology? Are ham radio operators still around, even? Aren't we in the digital age?"

"Well, our customers are out there somewhere, and thank God they are," Day added.

One of Day's theories about RadioShack's continued solvency involves wedding DJs, emergency cord replacement, and off-brand wireless telephones. Another theory entails countless RadioShack gift cards that sit unredeemed in their recipients' wallets. Day has even conjectured that the store is "still coasting on" an enormous fortune made from remote-control toy cars in the mid-1970s.

Day admitted, however, that none of these theories seems particularly plausible.

"I once went into a RadioShack location incognito in order to gauge customer service," Day said. "It was about as inviting as a visit to the DMV. For the life of me, I couldn't see anything I wanted to buy. Finally, I figured I'd pick up some Enercell AA batteries, though truthfully they're not appreciably cheaper than the name brands."

"I know one thing," Day continued. "If Sony and JVC start including gold-tipped cable cords with their products, we're screwed."

In the cover letter to his December 2006 report to investors, "Radio Shack: Still Here In The 21st Century," Day wrote that he had no reason to believe that the coming year would not be every bit as good as years past, provided that people kept on doing things much the same way they always had.

Despite this cheerful boosterism, Day admitted that nothing has changed during his tenure and he doesn't exactly know what he can do to improve the chain.

"I'd like to capitalize on the store's strong points, but I honestly don't know what they are," Day said. "Every location is full of bizarre adapters, random chargers, and old boom boxes, and some sales guy is constantly hovering over you. It's like walking into your grandpa's basement. You always expect to see something cool, but it never delivers."

Added Day: "I may never know the answer. No matter how many times I punch the sales figures into this crappy Tandy desk calculator, it just doesn't add up."
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Then they would see repeated over and over the rest of them are junk compared to the Winegards and the Winegards they sell you can't only buy online so why not buy them from Solid Signal?
Here's another shocker for you: Solid Signal used to sell VU-190s at one point!

EscapeVelocity said:
"The retail outlet ... is known best for ... its notoriously desperate, high-pressure sales staff."
Gotta love The Onion for those zingers betraying the absolute truth. This sounds exactly like a few store managers I can remember. Their hierarchy was an absolute PITA to every last manager, and Lord help those poor souls who didn't totally buy into their "Annual sales growth at all costs!" gospel.


Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
"Rumor has it that RadioShack is planning to re-brand itself as The Shack later this year, after eighty-eight years under the old name (most of them with a space in between "Radio" and "Shack"). I hope it's not true, because I don't think the move would do a thing to make the retailer a better, more successful business."
Didnt they rebrand their Canadian stores "The Source" and sell them to Circuit City or some such a decade ago?

From the comments section....

The term "radio shack" was coined in the early 20th Century, when shipping companies began to add radio to their vessels. Since the ships were already built, the extra room for the radio equipment had to be added -- there was typically no existing space with both access to the antenna (i.e., above deck) and the necessary electrical power from the ship's plant. (The audible noise from the spark equipment of the day also meant that the equipment, which was used largely at night, couldn't be placed near the officers' sleeping quarters.) Paid for out of operating expenses by the frugal shipowners, these added rooms were typically small and poorly constructed, often from wood, and the term "radio shack" quickly followed.

New ship construction, of course, included a purpose-built room for the radio equipment, still called the "radio shack." Even the Queen Elizabeth 2 has a radio shack. The term quickly moved ashore -- amateur radio stations are in shacks, for example -- and "radio shack" came to mean the place where all the equipment was. From there, commercial use soon followed.
I used to buy parts 'at the last minute' at the rat shack. now, I don't even bother looking anymore and instead just hit up the only valid mailorder places left: digikey, mouser, newark are the big 3.

their parts are cheap enough, they work, they web ordering works and the selection is world class (literally, many people across the world order parts FROM the US distributors and even pay VAT/customs to receive the pkg).
A year from now, I predict 'The Shack' will be liquidating assets under Chapter 11. Anyone wanna take that bet? It would be smarter than buying Radio Shack stock.
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Super Moderator
Well if Winegard were to bring back the PR-9018, we would not miss the U-75R.. Still I might go buy one and leave it in the box for future use.

But honestly , all, every UHF antenna (maybe a few made recently) need to be retuned. All of them are bad below 20 and designed to pull in weak ch 60 stuff that no longer exists.

I guess the jigs are too expensive to retool.
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