The 2007 Vanishing Radio
By Professor Spellbinder

This past summer I got into a discussion on one of the forums about how no real improvements in the Vanishing Radio effect have come from those making the props for commercial sales. The Vanishing Radios being produced don’t really reflect the modern radios that are available in stores. Instead they tend to look like the same vanishing box that started with Robert Harbin, the inventor of the effect. Of course, when he invented it (c. 1930’s), radios actually did look like wooden boxes, so it made perfect sense.

The only improvement magic dealers and prop builders made to the effect was to have the radio collapse into a tabletop. The problem with that method, as I pointed out in the forum, is the “flush effect” the radio makes as it vanishes. It invariably sucks the covering cloth inward, giving away the movement of the radio. Besides, I pointed out, it is time that the radio prop begins to look like modern plastic boom-boxes instead of non-existent console box radios. Better yet would be to vanish a real radio purchased from a radio store.

I took on the challenge myself, since no one else seemed interested. I was intending to produce a vanishing portable TV set, but right now the current state of the art TV is being transformed from a box into a thin picture frame… no challenge there! So I returned to the vanishing boom-box idea and this is what resulted.


My $40 K-Mart radio. Jim Gerrish took the photos for this article so you'll see his hands all over it.

I decided to add the signing of the radio to authenticate that the radio produced is the same as the radio that vanished. This is done by having the spectator sign a piece of masking tape, which is attached to the handle of the radio before it vanishes, and which is verified as being attached to the handle of the radio when it is pulled from the box.

One more drawback to the commercial vanishing radio effects I wanted to avoid- the overly careful placement of the cloth on top of the radio. To make the covering of the radio seem at all natural (why don’t you just make the thing vanish visibly, hey, Mr. Magic Man?) the cloth should just be thrown over it in a carefree manner.

The entire effect now boils down to this:
1. Display the radio, show all around, turn it on, change the station, etc.
2. Cover the radio with a cloth in a carefree manner.
3. Lift the radio into the air by the handle. Take the signed sticky tape and attach it to the radio's handle.
4. Lift the cloth, change the station one last time.
5. Toss the cloth in the air; the radio has vanished and the sound stops.
6. The sound of the radio can be heard coming from a box which has been in plain view all along (and yes, it can be a nest of boxes if you think that will improve the effect!).
7. A spectator opens the box and retrieves the radio, complete with signed tape on the handle.

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