Picture of the Radio Shack Portable Weather Radio 12-522, showing the Front View.

Radio Shack Weather Radio 12-522 Review

We bought this Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522, NOAA all hazards portable receiver for home use. Why?  Because with rising storm strength and other weather extremes lately, buying this weather radio seemed a wise step.  People should indeed stay abreast of quickly changing and severe weather warnings. So, this alert receiver lets them do that, quite cheaply.

The National Weather Service (NWS) broadcasts up-to-the-minute weather info via more than a thousand US sites.  This Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522 indeed receives these NWS broadcasts.

Picture of the Radio Shack Portable Weather Radio 12-522, showing the Front View.
Radio Shack Portable Weather Radio 12-522, Front View

This receiver is quite advanced over other weather radios we owned in the 80s and 90s.  This hand held radio allows you to filter out weather alerts that do not pertain to you.  Before this, the radios sounded their alarms for all alerts; no matter the location.  But you can tell this receiver the counties and states you want.  It then screens out alerts from all other places.  You choose your desired counties from a list on the radio’s LCD screen.

Radio Shack Weather Alert Radio 12-522: Benefits, Pros, and Features

Nice Red Color

The bright red and black coloring create a definite yet not overbearing color contrast on this weather radio. Yet the color denotes a radio that picks up emergency info.

Picks Up Government Weather Broadcasts

With this weather radio, you hear current weather, forecasts, and hazardous warnings.  You also pick up amber alerts, travel advisories, and Department of Homeland Security warnings as well.  Then too, you hear Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warnings, as well as alerts from local cities and counties.  This receiver gives you data about most any weather related condition in your area.

This Radio Shack Weather Radio is Reliable

The Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522 Public Alert meets the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) stringent standards.

Works Throughout the US

Programmed with all US states and counties.

Hear Weather Alerts on Per County Basis

You can select the alerts you receive by choosing yours and up to nine nearby counties.  They call this feature Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME). It sets this radio alert system quite apart from past weather radios.

This Radio Shack Weather Radio Weather Resistant, Small Design

Radio Shack solidly built this radio. They made it a weather resistant, and programmable, small device.  It’s about the size of a 1970s pocket radio. It weighs a mere 7.6 ounces with batteries.  Quite light indeed.

Backlit LCD Display

The easy-to-read LCD alphanumeric display is back-lit with a blue light for viewing in the dark.  The light glows when you press any button. Then, it turns off after some seconds with no further button presses.

Saves Weather Alerts for Later Viewing

The Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522 has an alert reminder function.  This tells you if you’ve missed any alerts while away from the radio.  Then, it displays text content of said alerts.  E.g. WINTER ADVISORY, TORNADO WARNING, WINTER STORM, and so on.  The unit stores up to four alert warnings for later viewing.

Classifies Alerts

Tells you whether an alert is an advisory, watch, or warning.

Finds Strongest Weather Station

Travel mode finds the strongest weather stations as you move about. Plus, it has an auto-selecting (AUTO mode) drift-free  digital tuner, that picks out the strongest weather station signal.  You can also tune it manually (MANUAL mode) to each channel.

Lots of Ways to Get the Weather Alerts on the Radio Shack 12-522 Weather Radio

Warnings, watches, and alerts show up as text and voice.   Further, a loud tone precedes them.  You can adjust that tone’s volume too.

Built in Thermometer and Alarm Clock

Further, this alert radio has a built-in thermometer and alarm clock, along with battery level and signal strength meters.

Highly Portable

At 6-3/4 inches long, 2-3/4 inches wide, and 1-1/4 inches deep, this radio is small and light. So it fits into most any emergency alert response tool box.

Picks Up All Weather Channels

The Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522 picks up all seven NOAA weather channels.

The Radio Shack 12-522 Weather Radio Features Clear, Loud Sound

For its small size, this weather radio offers a full and clear sound from its 1-inch speaker.

Lots of Ways to Power this Radio

The three AA batteries the 12-522 takes are easy to find for cheap. The unit tales either alkaline or rechargeable NiMH batteries, and can run from household current with an optional power supply. 

While using rechargeable batteries, a visual level gage shows on screen. It shows charge status.

Built In Antenna

The built-in rubber duck antenna works well. It really draws in those weak weather stations in rural areas. In spite of how short the areal is, at 2 and 1/2 inches long, the stations come in clearly indeed.  We wish though, that you could take this antenna off by way of a BNC connector.  Then, you could replace it with longer, higher gain models if you so desire.

Decent Purchase Price for the Radio Shack Weather Radio

This device cost  $54.99.  We hoped for a discount since they stopped selling the radio before we bought ours.  Plus, it was the last radio in stock.  Further, it was a floor model at that.  But Radio Shack policy does not allow for on-the-spot discounts for close-out items.  So, we paid full price.

This all hazards receiver is decently selective and sensitive.  It picks up NOAA stations from up to 50 miles away.  We tested this in our area.

Water Resistant

All ports and buttons have water-tight seals.  So these seals protect the electronics inside from moisture.  But they still allow easy access to these openings.

All Digital Controls

The volume, tuning, and all other function controls are digital; not analog knobs.  So they’re less prone to errors and breakage over time.

Useful Accessories

A plastic, swivel belt clip comes with the Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522.  They also bundled in a users guide that shows easy-to-follow directions.  This manual shows how to get the most out of this NOAA weather radio.

Plus, you can also install a wrist strap, although one does not come with the 12-522.

This Radio Shack Weather Radio Runs in Standby Mode, Waiting for Alerts

Normally, you’d keep this weather radio in standby mode.  That way, it can alert you to coming weather dangers.  But you can also turn it off all the way, to save batteries.  If you’ll be away from the radio for a while, turn it off with the power button on the top.

Users Manual Included

The included users manual explains each menu function.  It also shows how to set or change said functions.

Many Weather News Functions

A list of menu functions on this alert radio follows. Set Alarm. Set Clock. Temperature. Select Channel. Alert Mode. Alert Reminder. Sig Reminder. Area Select. Tone Defeat.

You can also program a Federal Information Processing System (FIPS) code directly. A handy option if you wish not to find your county(ies) from the list on this weather alert radio.

Key Lock Mode

You can lock the keys.  When locked, pressing them does not change any  settings.

Factory Reset Option

You can restore default settings easily with the provided reset routine. They also provide troubleshooting tips.

Picture of the All Hazards Weather Radio 12-522 by Radio Shack, Rear View, showing the product label and battery compartment door.
All Hazards Weather Radio 12-522 by Radio Shack, Rear View

Radio Shack Weather Alert Radio 12-522: Disadvantages, Problems Limitations, and Cons

Manual Only Battery Type Choice

The unit has an ALK/RCH switch. Further, you must set this right, depending on the type of battery (alkaline or rechargeable) used.  But setting the wrong way could cause rechargeable batteries not to charge. Further, it might cause alkaline batteries to leak.  Thus, Radio Shack should automate this battery mode choice in new receivers.

Not Accessible

This weather radio is not fully accessible to blind users.  So we suggest that  weather radios provide voice and tone prompts.  The radio would then speak all shown function settings and statuses. Finally, spoken prompts would make it totally accessible to blind users.

The 12-522 Radio Shack Weather Radio Cheap Belt Clip

The provided all-plastic detachable belt clip seems a bit chintzy. We worry that it would come off of the radio while carrying it on the belt. Then, we’d lose it.

Thus, we suggest that Radio Shack build the belt clip right into the case of the unit. This would stop it from ever coming undone, unless you broke the case.

Lowest Volume Still Too Loud

The lowest volume setting is still pretty loud.  So it’d be nice to be able to turn the radio down to whisper sound levels.

Strong AM Signals Interfere

Very strong nearby AM radio signals can swamp the Radio Shack weather alert radio 12-522 .  We saw this when connected to AC power.  Though a local radio station tower is over a mile from here, their signal still covers up the NOAA signals.  So perhaps better front end shielding. Or more IF circuits would solve this in future all hazards radios.

Radio Shack Weather Alert Radio 12-522: Our Rating

Finally, the Radio Shack 12-522 weather radio is a sturdy, easy-to-work device for novice and advanced users alike.  Indeed, the price is fair for such a good sounding all hazards radio. So, this makes it easy to replace in the event of loss or damage.  Further, the 12-522 has most all the features we like to see in these weather warning radios.

Thus we’d suggest the 12-522 to anyone who must know when bad weather happens in his or her area. It’s also a great tool just to hear the up-to-date weather forecasts instantly, at a button touch.  We like the rechargeable batteries support.  Plus, we enjoy the SAME feature.  So we rate this unit at 95 out of 100.

Where to Buy the Radio Shack Weather Alert Radio 12-522

Look for the 12-522 in the gray and red box at Radio Shack stores.  Or, find it on on eBay or Amazon.com,  since Radio Shack is no more.

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References for the Radio Shack 12-522 Weather Radio

  1. National Weather Service County Coverage Lists
  2. NOAA Weather Radio   on Wikipedia
  3. Users Manual   for the Radio Shack 12-522

Revision History

  • 2019-05-19: Tuned the key phrase targeting for ‘Radio Shack Weather Radio’ and added tags.
  • 2018-04-19: Revised post title and content for improved keyword targeting.
  • 2017-02-18: Revised the tags list.
  • 2015-11-15: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-21: Mentioned that Radio Shack has gone out of business.  So, to find this weather radio, one should look online.  Check at yard sales, or in used radio gear shops.
  • 2014-11-07: Added pictures.  Corrected typos.
  • 2012-07-13: Initially posted this article.