Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Radio from my youth...
Just thinking about radio tonight....I really love radio, and probably prefer it to TV (except with sports...I need to be WATCHING sports, not just listening to them). The radio in Maine is terrible terrible terrible, which is fine, because all I listen to is NPR anyway. But then I was thinking about how kids today are, in my opinion, really missing out on a huge piece of 'life' by not having radio stations like I used to have them growing up outside of Boston. I see my students each day with their Pandora, playlist.com, and Spotify. I dont like it. When I was a teen, radio truly defined me, and I have so many memories. Do you?
One of my favorites was listening to 100.7 WZLX with my dad, on Saturdays, as we would drive around, visit Papa Goldsmith in the nursing home, and take the long way there or back through towns like Boston, West Roxbury, Roslindale, Dedham, etc. ZLX had TONS of commercials. They probably played like three songs in a row before going to break. But the songs they DID play. Wow. "Deep album cuts," as they were called. I remember hearing pieces by Clapton, Van Morrison, and Queen for the first time, absolutely floored at 'what was out there' for music besides the stuff on Kiss 108 or 92 PRO FM (the bubblegum, top 40 stations of my youth) like MC Hammer, Another Bad Creation, and Color Me Badd....
And it was so cool to 'ask' my dad about these rock and roll bands....it was discovering a new country (not that I have discovered any new countries...but I bet it would be cool). Maybe that is just it: There is no 'discovering' for kids of today; it is all just kind of spoon fed to them. Kind of sad. When I was kid #oldpeoplesayings we had to 'work' for our music...we had to earn it the old fashioned way, listen, put in time, deal with commercials, pore through CDs at places like Newbury Comics, Tower Records, The Wall, and Sam Goody. There was no youtube instant gratification. But there was, however, a sense of wonder at LEARNING and taking the time to do so. My dad was a treasure trove of information about these artists--but also the stories that went along with them. Take The Doors, for example: My dad used to tell stories, when Doors songs came on, about when he was a teen, and he went to parties, and kids used to dance to "Light my fire" because it was such a long song. My dad would put together reel-to-reel tapes of music for these parties. He would tell stories like this while we drove along and listened to music. On the radio. Songs you had to listen to in their entirety. We couldnt just click the next one on the playlist. Radio taught people patience.
There were other awesome radio stations from my youth--104.1 WBCN (which has now been turned into some lame top 40 station or something) Oldies 103 (which has now been turned into some lame top 40 station or something...oh wait...didnt I just write that?) and 94 WHJY. There were three ROCK stations in my area: WBCN, 94 HJY, and 107.3 WAAF. Each had a different personality. BCN was your "deep track" "true to rock and roll" kind of station. Very smart. Very sophisticated. I used to call HJY "construction worker rock," since they seemed to play the kind of stuff guys would smoke cigarettes to: Lynard Skynard, Aerosmith, ACDC, and the like. Arena stuff. Then there was AAF, which was the maverick of the group: Almost anything went with these guys. Unpredictable. But they seemed to settle on 'new' rock (which, in my day, was a dying breed, since everything 'new' was given the monikker of 'alternative').
I really miss these radio stations. They were cool. Everyone listened to the same stations, and we could share a camaraderie of favorite DJs or even commercials! Everyone could share the experience of hearing the same song at the same time. True human interaction. Is it lame that I think this way? Do I just need to embrace pandora? Spotify? I used to keep a blank casette tape in one of my tape decks so that, when Stone Temple Pilot's "Plush" finally DID come on WAAF, I was ready, in my room, to press 'record' and finally get that song on tape....so I could listen to it whenever I wanted. I have troves of mix tapes like this. Perhaps that is a blog post of the future: The lost art of the mixed tape.....
Finally, some random radio DJs/shows I miss from my youth:
*92ProFM--Love it or shove it
*94.5 WZOU and 'The Madam"
*Kiss 108 High Five at Nine
*WBCN Naked Lunch (acoustic hour of music...AWESOME!)
*WBCN DJs like Mark Parenteau, Bradley J, Oedipus.....
*92.5 The River (one of the best stations EVER) and Bob Stewart
*WBCN morning show "The Big Mattress" with Charles Laquiderra (and the Cosmic Muffin who did your horoscope!)
*Howard Stern on BCN...first AT NIGHT....then as the morning show. Completely changed my life. Unfortunately.
*Dallas Kid K
*Dale Dorman of Kiss 108
*WZLX Double Shot Tuesdays
*Paul the Hall Monitor WBRU
Can you cute little pandora do any of this?? Long Live Radio.....