MACOMB - He can recall who graced TV Guide covers dating to the '50s and tune in TV stations halfway around the world.
Jeff Kadet, 42, is a self-described TV junkie who moved his mail-order business from the East Coast to Macomb in 1983 because it's one of the best places in the country to capture long-distance television signals.
He began years ago as a ham radio operator, but discovered it's as much fun to see faraway stations as to hear them. His northeast Macomb home is flanked by two giant antenna towers and a downstairs bedroom holds eight sets--all receiving from different antennas--as well as Kadet's intricate tuning equipment.
When he's not searching the airwaves for new signals--he has viewed stations from 45 states, Mexico, Canada, Europe and the Far East--Kadet sells old TV Guides by mail.
He bills the 12-year-old business, TV Guide Specialists, as "the world's first and largest vintage TV Guide dealership." He has every issue in stock--and there have been nearly 2,000 since the magazine began in April 1953.
The Boston native says he started collecting the magazine when he was 7, and saved every issue over the next three years. His parents finally forced him to throw them out. When he turned 30, Kadet again decided to collect TV Guides.
In trying to get a complete set for himself, Kadet found that he garnered a lot of duplicates. Selling to other collectors helped trim his stock.
As with other collectibles--books, comics, stamps--some TV Guides are worth more than others, Kadet says.
"It's a combination of age of the magazine....and who's on the cover," he adds. Issues in demand feature vintage shows with renewed popularity, like "Route 66".
Prices in his illustrated catalog start at $3 for recent issues. More expensive ones include a 1966 with "Green Hornet" ($95), another 1966 with "Batman" ($85) and a 1956 with Elvis Presley ($200).
The first issue, dated April 3, 1953, spotlighted Lucille Ball's baby. Kadet doesn't even list a price for it, just the notation to write for more information. Ditto for his favorite guide, another 1953 issue featuring "Superman."
But Kadet, who holds a college degree in psychology, enjoys the freedom of running his own business. "I like mail order, because the only time I deal with customers is over the phone. I don't have people picking through my inventory. I don't have to be up at any certain time of the day."
His mostly baby-boomer customers are from around the globe, he says, pulling out a few letters from Europe and Australia.
He also can recall the cover subjects of most guides, but says, "I don't think that's anything to really brag about."
At one end of this sparsely furnished living room, Kadet houses another hobby--his collection of vintage TV sets. "'48 was the only year when TVs didn't look like TVs", he explains. "After '48 they all looked alike."
Kadet says people tend to expect him to be an expert on television "And I usually am. I mean, I like TV. I watch a lot of TV, my hobby is picking up faraway TV stations, I collect old TVs...So, I mean, TV is my life,sort of, so I'm pretty knowledgeable."
Kadet describes TV DXing as "a strange hobby -- totally useless, but interesting." The 20-year-old club to which he belongs only has about 300 members worldwide.
He's seen more than 1,000 stations using the equipment.
"Just the other day I picked up a TV station from Australia," he says. "It only happens once each 11 years, from the sun-spot cycle. In the past few months I've seen Australia, Norway and Sweden...I take pictures of this stuff so people don't think I'm nuts."
Related Web Sites: