With great ineptitude and fuss he finally ran a wire from outside in the hallway to a battered tabletop tarelka. Soviet radio was entertainment enough for anyone with brains, Boris asserted, further recommending Musya listen to the Broadcast for Housewives sometimes.

While writing the third part of LAMENT I got curious about the radios the book had already mentioned several times–different sorts of radios, I’d always pictured. But what did they look like exactly? I learned the answer from a book by British researcher and critic Stephen Lovell. A fine review (with caveats I shared) of his 2016 title “Russia in the Microphone Age” in this issue of Reviews in History includes a link to the author’s response.

A tarelka (tabletop radio) in a Soviet flat; image from http://nplit.ru ‘NPLit.ru: The Library of the Young Researcher’ (Russian site)

So every communally-wired tabletop radio in the story became a tarelka (the Russian word means plate). The well-off in-laws keep their console radio in the wooden case to get the same state broadcasts; and later there’s a crystal set that receives short-wave transmissions of American dance music.

There’s a quick overview of the subject here. You’ll find more excellent tarelka photos here at “Little Histories”(WordPress site in Russian).