People rushed to buy transistor radios in this northeastern province after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recommended them as a reliable channel for flood information.
Jin Seng, 55, owner of Tia Sae Huat shop, said he had been the local wholesale outlet of Thanin brand radios for three decades.
The radios used ordinary batteries and had once been very popular, especially the TF-268 series which could receive both FM and AM broadcasts, he said.
“People bought them to listen to music and news in their plantations and paddy fields. It was convenient, because they are light and durable,” he said at his shop on the Mitraphap Highway in Muang district.
They fell out of favour about 20 years ago, as people turned to getting their news and music on mobile phones. Sales of transistor radios dropped and the only buyers were farmers from other districts, Mr Jin said.
And then, on Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told provincial governors during a teleconference that in the event that other communications systems crashed, they could issue flood warnings through radio stations that people could listen to on transistor radios. This had worked well during the flooding of 2011, when there were widespread blackouts, he said.
The prime minister’s comment was leaked and went viral, with critics scoffing at the use of such outdated technology. However, a government spokesman insisted that many people still listened to old fashioned radio, especially in rural areas.
Former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn ridicules Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s recommendation by posting a photo of himself with a transistor radio on his Facebook account on Tuesday, with a message saying: “Listening to flood news.” (Photo: Somchai Srisutthiyakorn’s Facebook account)
And at Mr Jin’s shop on Wednesday, customers flocked to buy transistor radios. Most were store owners from other districts ordering-in transistor radios for resale to their local communities.
Mr Jin said he was selling the TF-268 series of Thanin radios at 290 baht apiece, but with the sudden surge in demand he had at most 10 of them left.
His customers included 71-year-old Arun Silpa, who has a general store in Kham Thale So district and still has a market for the radios.
She said they remained popular with low-income farmers, who could afford them and enjoyed listening to music and news while out in their fields.
“Yesterday I was shocked when customers suddenly bought all the transistor radios I had in the shop. I didn’t know why, until I learned on the news about the prime minister’s comments, which prompted people to buy them all,” Ms Arun said.
She said she had been using and later selling Thanin brand radios since childhood.