Radio and Television Repair Shops

SIC 7622

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in repairing radios, televisions, phonographs, stereo equipment, and tape recorders. Also included are establishments engaged in installing and repairing television, amateur, and citizens' band antennas, or in installing and servicing radio transmitting and receiving equipment in homes, offices, boats, automobiles, or other vehicles. Establishments primarily engaged in installation, repair, or maintenance of radio and television broadcast transmitting antennas and towers are classified elsewhere.

Industry Snapshot

Television and radio repair in the United States is performed by many service centers operated by the manufacturers of electronic equipment or by appliance, department, electronics, or specialty stores. Only about 25 percent of the firms participating in the industry are independent repair shops; for government classification purposes, only the independents are considered part of this industry.

The radio repair segment of the industry has diminished significantly as technology has changed. However, when the industry emerged in the 1930s, radios were the only consumer electronic equipment requiring servicing. All that changed as broadcasting came into its own and households acquired television receivers. Depending on their area of specialization, establishments classified under the radio and television repair shops category install and service household and citizens' band (CB) antennas; they also repair aircraft radio equipment, automotive radios, intercommunications equipment, stereos, hi-fi equipment, tape recorders, phonographs, compact disc players, digital video disc players, public address systems, stereophonic equipment, electronic organs, home security systems, microwave ovens, slide and motion picture projectors, and video recorders or players.

In 2009, establishments in this industry totaled about 8,780, down from 12,023 in 2007, according to Dun & Bradstreet. These firms generated more than $2.5 billion in sales. More than one-half (52 percent) of businesses were sole proprietors an nearly 85 percent had fewer than five employees. California led all states with about 11 percent of establishments for a total of 962 followed by Texas at 9 percent with 759 firms.

Background and Development

Principles discovered in the nineteenth century were the basis for the wizardry of current audio and video home and mobile electronics. Heinrich Geissler first demonstrated in the 1850s that electricity discharged in a vacuum tube caused small amounts of rare gases in the tube to glow. In 1898, Karl Braun produced the first cathode ray tube that could control the glow caused by the freeing of electrons in a vacuum. In 1907, Lee De Forest, known as the father of radio, developed the first amplifying tube capable of strengthening electronic signals.

A few more years would elapse before new developments would make it possible to combine the basic elements of television transmission into a system. In 1922, teenager Philo Farnsworth developed a practical electronic scanning system. The following year, Vladimir Zworykin developed the iconoscope and kinescope, which are the respective basic elements of the television camera and the television receiver. The first public demonstration of Zworykin's all-electronic television system was in 1929.

Radio also developed from technology discovered in the 1800s and gradually perfected in the twentieth century. The infant radio and television medium did not develop enough to warrant a sales and service industry until regular commercial broadcasting began and people started to purchase receivers. Stations KDKA in Pittsburgh and WWJ in Detroit launched commercial radio broadcasting in 1920. Six stations initiated regular television broadcasting in 1946. Both broadcast industries grew rapidly, but television's growth was phenomenal. The United States had 6 million television sets by 1950 and more than 100 million by 1989. In the 1990s and 2000s, almost every U.S. household had at least one television, while almost two-thirds had two or more.

The need for repair technicians was low when commercial broadcasting first hit the airwaves. Early radio sets were simple, with only a limited number of things that could fail and cause reception problems, so owners made most of their own repairs. But as new developments and improvements occurred in the broadcasting industry, the receivers became more complicated. Trade and technical institutes were founded to train technicians capable of fixing radio sets. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, a number of people seeking new careers or ways to supplement their incomes took correspondence courses in radio repair.

After World War II, trade and technical schools flourished to meet the burgeoning demand for trained television service technicians. Aided by the GI Bill's educational benefits, many ex-servicemen who had been communications or electronics technicians in the armed forces entered the field. The invention of the transistor, stereophonic sound, color television, and other innovations ensured the job security of those in the repair industry who kept current with technology. These innovations meant that only trained technicians with the proper testing equipment and tools could repair the resulting television sets, radios, and other home electronics equipment.

The number and variety of electronic devices for home and business use proliferated throughout the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Miniature and super screen projection televisions, video cameras and videocassette recorders (VCRs), and other new electronics equipment--such as digital video recorders and high-definition televisions (HDTV)--sustained a continuing need for trained technicians to install, maintain, and repair what had become essential household items for most Americans. Further, in February 2009 all television broadcasting was transitioned to all digital as analog was phased out by government legislation.

Current Conditions

In 2009, of the 8,780 firms within this industry classification, about 25 percent (2,226 firms) were categorized generally as radio and television repair shops. These firms generated $319.6 million in 2009 revenues. About 7 percent (589 firms) were engaged in the repair of communication equipment, such as aircraft radio equipment, intercommunication equipment, and public address systems. These firms generated $306.3 million in 2009 revenues. Radio repair shops accounted for 15 percent (1,299 firms) of the industry. These radio repair shops, which included auto radio repair and installation, generated $1.17 billion in 2009 revenues. Home entertainment repair shops totaled 4,363 firms (50 percent). Television repair shops accounted for over one-third of the entire industry (34.9 percent); other shops specialized in video repair, tape recorder repair, and phonographic repair. Home entertainment shops generated $645.4 million in 2009 revenues. A small segment of the industry specialized in antenna repair: 303 firms (3 percent) engaged in antenna repair and installation, including CB antennas. These firms generated $74.7 million.

As electronic components became smaller and cheaper, the role of the repair shops continued to shift during the late 2000s and early 2010s. The number of radio repair shops continued to decline as radios increasing became disposable. Televisions sales moved increasingly to flat screen models with technology vastly different from the 1970s. To compete, electronics repair professionals have had to stay abreast of the changing technology.

Televisions, which had moved almost solely to LCD and plasma flat-screen, HD-capable units by the late 2000s and early 2010s, had also become something close to disposable. However, the economic recession of the late 2000s had more consumers looking to prolong the life of their old CRT sets Although newer sets usually were under warranty and thus funneled the repairs back through the point of service, independent repair shops tend to repair older sets and those no longer under warranty. Also, as the economy recovery, the industry anticipated a rise in the need for installation and repair of integrated home entertainment systems.

Workforce

Radio and television service technicians diagnose and repair malfunctions in electronic home entertainment equipment, including radios, television sets, stereos, VCRs, video cameras, compact disc players, audio recorders, video games, and related electronic equipment. Outside technicians make service calls on customers, while bench technicians use test equipment and hand tools in a shop setting to fix problems.

Workers in this industry use their knowledge of electrical and electronic circuits to service and install equipment. Most enter the field by graduating from an accredited technical training program and working for at least a year under shop supervision. Junior colleges and correspondence, private, and vocational schools offer training programs. In addition, technicians may learn the field through apprenticeships or on-the-job training. The latter option generally is limited to existing service shop employees who display a basic understanding of electronics. Because of the constantly changing technology of electronics devices such as high-definition television sets (HDTV), successful service technicians attend short courses given by manufacturers to learn about special areas and current developments.

Some 51,200 electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers held jobs in 2008 according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Of those, about 26 percent were self-employed, more than in most other repairer occupations. The level of employment is expected to increase by 11 percent from 2008 to 2018 as continuing improvements in electronic devices and advances in component technology make equipment more reliable and easier to service. Those entering the field will mainly be replacing those service technicians who transfer to other occupations. Also, oftentimes consumers find replacing their units are less costly than having them serviced thus reducing the need for repairers.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

News and information about Radio and Television Repair Shops

ST. CHARLES COUPLE MAKE PRODUCING ELECTRICITY A BREEZE.(ST. CHARLES COUNTY POST)(AUDREY SNYDER, WALTER SNYDER\ WINDMILL ENERGY USERS)
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO); April 30, 2003; 700+ words
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Set-Aside Alert; January 23, 2004; 700+ words
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The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); November 6, 1988; 272 words
Salvatore DiRusso, proprietor of a radio and television repair shop in Auburndale Square, Newton, for more than 40...Mr. DiRusso was a teen-ager when he opened a radio repair shop in the back of his father's barber shop...
Mary F. Moscato: [Age 88] She and her husband, John, established Baltimore's first television repair shop in the 1940s.
The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD); March 3, 2007; 700+ words
...Baltimore's first TV repair shop in the 1940s, died...correspondence course in radio repair while working...bringing home the radios of his fellow workers...opened John's Radio Repair on South...with a kit for a television set. After a month...turned John's radio ...
C.W. GLOSEMEYER; OWNED TELEVISION SHOP.(METRO)(Obituary)
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO); March 7, 2003; 474 words
...Glosemeyer Radio & TV, a television and radio sales and repair shop in Richmond Heights...doing television and radio repair work from his...opened Glosemeyer Radio & TV. They operated...they repaired TVs and radios and also sold new...
Romuald Bernard, 84 Owned Lawrence repair shop
The Boston Globe (Boston, MA); November 20, 1995; 344 words
...J. Bernard of Lawrence, owner of Bernard's Radio and Television Repair Shop, died Saturday at the Mary-Immaculate Restorative...General Electric plant in Lynn before opening a shop on Broadway Street in Lawrence. He was a communicant...
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St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO); February 3, 2005; 474 words
...eight years for the family-owned Blackwell Radio and Television Repair Service in East St. Louis. In the mid-1950s, he opened Earl's TV, a television sales and repair business in Fairview Heights. Mr. Chapman...
CHESAPEAKE MAN TO FIGHT CLOSING OF HOME-BASED TV REPAIR SHOP.(LOCAL)
The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA); January 3, 1997; 700+ words
...TV/VCR repair shop in his garage...operating a ``radio, television and appliance repair shop,'' among...for repair shops are permitted...repair-shops because the...operating shop comes to...neighbors' televisions, McClain...

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