About the scratchy static - it sounds kind of like you're describing radio interference from a cell phone. I'm not totally sure though from your description. Does the "static" have a pattern, or is it just randomly appearing white noise? If it's completely white noise, then it could be a preamp issue.
Also - I absolutely LOVE the blue lights on my Kenwood KR-9600. It is so nice to look at when it's on that I had to really debate my decision to list it for sale. I just WANT it to sound better than my SX-1980, even though it's just a little warm.
What... wait, you might be selling your SX-1980? We gotta talk!