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What Is a Radio Hat?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

A radio hat is a type of electronic device in which a radio receiver and a set of headphones are built as part of a hat or helmet. The first device that included a radio receiver as part of a piece of headwear for public sale and use was basically a pith helmet that included a head band with an earphone and internal circuitry to receive radio broadcasts. More modern versions typically utilize more comfortable hats, rather than helmets. A modern radio hat is usually designed as a cap or baseball hat and includes headphones and controls to receive radio stations.

Also called a helmet radio, a radio hat is basically a piece of portable headwear designed to include a radio receiver and audio playback devices. The original helmet radio was constructed as a pith helmet and introduced in 1949 as the Man-from-Mars Radio Hat. It featured a pair of vacuum tubes on the front of the helmet and included a small tuner knob that could be used to adjust the station being received. There was also a round antenna placed at the back that was able to receive broadcasts from up to 20 miles (about 32 km) away.

The first radio hat used a pith helmet.
The first radio hat used a pith helmet.

This radio hat included only a single headphone speaker connected to a head strap on the inside of the helmet. It used an external power source connected to the hat by a wire which could be kept in a pocket by the wearer of the hat. More modern versions of the radio hat have expanded upon this earlier design and allow for more control and comfort while using the hat. These radio hats are typically designed into more comfortable hats, such as caps or baseball hats and do not include vacuum tubes, as smaller transistors have been introduced and are quite affordable.

A modern radio hat may include two speakers, one that covers each ear, and often has controls to adjust the station being received and volume on the side of the hat. Smaller batteries have been introduced as power supplies for these hats, which removes the need for a separate battery pack and ungainly wires. These hats can come in a variety of styles and colors, depending on the manufacturer. Some of these hats can even be customized and ordered with a logo imprinted on them, usually for a popular sports team.

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    • The first radio hat used a pith helmet.
      By: dja65
      The first radio hat used a pith helmet.