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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Small Radio for the Kitchen



Find the perfect little addition to your kitchen to listen while you cook!
Find the perfect little addition to your kitchen to listen while you cook! The Panasonic Radio at Amazon.

The kitchen and its radio are synonymous. Breakfast is incomplete on a Sunday without your favorite radio show. Cooking on a weekday is way more enjoyable with the background hum of the afternoon news. It fuels conversation over dinner and provides your day with some food for thought. It’s an essential, and it has been for around a century.

I can remember a gorgeous radio from 1950’s West Germany sitting in my childhood kitchen. Featuring tubes similar to the most coveted guitar amplifiers, this radio featured all kinds of interesting, old-timey knobs and frequencies. It had a stained oak cabinet, and a plush fabric screen. The thing weighed about 15 pounds.

The best? I like the Panasonic Radio at Amazon.

The coolest part—the radio actually worked! And with reasonable consistency, to boot. It would even sometimes turn itself on in the middle of the night, giving the house charming background white noise. In addition to its kitschy aesthetic, the voices and music that emanated from it kept spirits light and lifted during all operational kitchen hours.

The Future of Radio is Here

Whether it’s a small and cheap portable, or something more advanced, the radio you get depends on what you use it for. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. A good radio for the kitchen makes all the difference.

You’ll want to consider the size, the volume (kitchens can be noisy!), and the portability (you’ve often got to do some impromptu rearranging in the kitchen). Naturally, the price will be an important consideration, as well.

But don’t forget your personal preferences. Do you just want something functional, without too many bells and whistles? Do you need a radio that can talk to your mobile phone and source recipes from Google? Or, are you looking for something in between?

To hear a voice, a group of voices, or music while cooking in the kitchen—knowing that you are tuned in as part of a larger listening group—creates an invaluable sensation of community, even from the privacy of your own home. To tune in is to belong.

Which Kitchen Radio is Best for Me?

So you’ve decided that your iTunes playlist just isn’t personal enough for cooking in the kitchen. Smart move. Let’s take a look at some of the best kitchen-worthy radios on today’s market.

Listen to Classical on a Classic Radio -Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio

Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio (Black)

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We’ll start out small, in terms of ideas anyway. Sometimes you just want to play classic hits on your favorite radio station. This kind of radio serves the same function as the bathroom radio—just something to sing along to while you complete a banal task. For this kind of radio, you’ll find plenty of Sony models with extendable frequency rods. These are perfect to sit on the refrigerator, and they’ll happily sing to you while you do the dishes.

The Sony Portable AM/FM has been around for decades and it’s still a family favorite. Cheap and basic, it’s what most you might have listened to as a kid. You can pick these up for about $30 and they last a long time. Most families bought one back in the 80s and they’re still bashing out the tunes 30 years later.

The problem with the old Sony models is that they never developed their style to keep up with the 90s and 00s. They look straight out of the 80s, which nostalgic moms and dads might still appreciate. Younger generations might want something a little more modern to suit their trendy kitchen.

Cook to Electronic Beats on a Futuristic Gadget : Triby – Smart Portable Speaker with Amazon Alexa

Triby – Smart Portable Speaker with Amazon Alexa, Red

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For the modern family, look no further than the Triby. This voice-activated smart radio with fridge magnet is the height of kitchen radio technology. It’s a beautifully minimalistic design with a slightly retro feel to it, perhaps a compromise between the above. What makes this stand out from any competitor is that it encompasses smart technology.

The Triby connects with your other smart devices, accessing everything from calendars to music. The delightful Alexa voice service will meet all of your demands, and she learns too. The more information you offer her, the more she knows about your preferences. All it takes is to engage her with “Alexa?” and she’s listening to your next request.

Alexa will tell you the latest news headlines, information from Wikipedia, set alarms, source you a ride from Uber, and even access other smart devices in your home. The Triby smart radio is the ultimate kitchen radio, and it sticks securely to your refrigerator, the center of all domestic activity.

Help the Visually Impaired with Guided Voice-Prompt Radio : Sangean AM/FM Portable Radio

Sangean PR-D17 AM/FM-RDS Portable Radio Specially Designed for The Visually Impaired with Helpful Guided Voice Prompts, Black, 10 Station Presets (5 AM, 5 FM), Stereo/Mono Switch, Alarm Timer

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The Sangean radio offers a perfect middle ground between all angles of portable radio. The simple design hearkens back to the simpler times of the Telefunken models of yesteryear. Modern DAB (digital audio broadcasting) technology, coupled with standard FM reception, guarantees crystal-clear reception. The simple interface is user-friendly, and features a metal handle and telescoping antenna. 10 preset stations allow for maximum customization. The unit runs on C style batteries, for hours of uninterrupted listening pleasure. While this unit was specially designed for the visually impaired, it really works well for anyone. The audio prompts will help any senior or advanced age user, and it is especially dementia-friendly.

A Compact Radio for Cramped Counters : Panasonic RF-2400

Panasonic Portable AM / FM Radio, Battery Operated Analog Radio, AC Powered, Silver (RF-2400D)

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For those not so enamored of throwback design (or the associated price tags!), the Panasonic RF-2400 offers a sleek, modern design. Its simple interface offers a clear, readable AM and FM dial. The volume knob is durable. One integrated speaker pumps out surprising depth and volume. Its compact design lets it fit virtually anywhere—you can even slip it into a jacket pocket! This radio operates on AA batteries, which are not included with purchase.

Jam to Vintage Tunes with a New Vintage Style Radio : Victrola Retro Wood Bluetooth FM/AM Radio with Rotary Dial

Victrola Retro Wood Bluetooth FM/AM Radio with Rotary Dial, Espresso

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Oddly enough, in this postmodern world we live in, vintage-style models have become popular, more so than the originals of the 80s. Places like Urban Outfitters sell tons of models, vintage in appearance but equipped with all the latest tech. You can easily find a “vintage” radio that you can plug an iPod into. These are more expensive than Sonys, but they do look quite nice.

Have a look at the Victrola Retro Radio. It looks like a total blast from the past, despite having modern bass and treble controls. It doesn’t have any other special features, but it might fit into a more modern kitchen, alongside a Smeg refrigerator perhaps.

Give your kitchen a fresh, new look on a budget with these trendy drawer liners.

Jazz It Up with a 1920s-Inspired Radio : Studebaker FM Radio

Studebaker SB2000TG Turquoise/Gold Retro Classic Portable AM/FM Radio with Aux Input Limited Edition

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The KitSound Swing FM Radio offers a sleek, modern design. The design takes its inspiration from radios of the 1920’s, but it features modern innovation. It can switch between battery (four C batteries) and main power sourcing. The knob display is easily read compared to digital displays. It has a carrying handle to take on the go. Its simple interface is perfect for casual use in the kitchen—you can simply take this radio out of the box and start using it. It’s not rocket science! Find it at Amazon.

Tune In–In the Kitchen

When considering a new radio for the kitchen, think long and hard about what you want, and what you want to spend. If you want the simplicity of listening to the morning news over your toast, I’d recommend a Sony. If you’re concerned about aesthetics, I’d suggest going straight for the Triby. Smart technology fans will also enjoy all it has to offer, which is a lot.

Whether you’re after sophisticated public radio broadcasts or Motown soul, make your kitchen cozier with the charm of a small, portable radio.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Kitchen Radio?

That’s difficult to answer, as that really depends on what features you value most in your kitchen radio. Is it volume? Design? Portability?

Since we’re usually busy with our hands while we’re in the kitchen, the best kitchen radio not only provides us with modern DAB technology but with helpful audio prompts (in both English and Spanish). Designed for the visually impaired, the Sangean AM/FM Portable Radio has easy-to-see and grasp yellow controls and ten preset keys to make controlling the radio with your hands full much easier. And, of course, it’s the best choice for anyone looking for the best kitchen radio for an elderly relation or neighbor with dementia or deteriorating eyesight.

What Is the Best Small Radio to Buy?

Most folks looking for a kitchen radio are most probably in the market for something that’s compact, but still good quality. For that reason, the best answer to the question, “What is the best small radio?” is probably, “The Panasonic RF-2400“. It operates on batteries and therefore can be depended upon during power outages; plus, it’s so compact that it can fit in your pocket without sacrificing quality of sound. Finally, it’s a great small radio for those on a budget.

How Long Do Batteries Last in a Portable Radio?

That depends upon the size of the batteries as well as the radio’s general power consumption.

As a rule, though, C batteries in a continuously playing portable radio should last a bit more than 18 hours. AA batteries have a much shorter playing life: only about two hours or even less, while D batteries will last up to or over 24 hours.

Additional Resources

Image credits via Flickr Creative Commons: jev55; Vegan Feast Catering; highwaysengland.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: David McLemore

David learned to cook at an early age after his mother told him that he couldn't live on pizza forever, Dave uses his modest kitchen skills to recreate sorely-missed recipes from home and to occasionally make new favorite ones from places he is visiting.

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