I accept the fact the the world around me has changed. I also accept the fact that I cannot go back to the world I remember from my school days. I refuse however to forget where I came from. I will always embrace the innocence I experienced as a young man. All of the guys, Frank, Steve and Kenny enjoy as I do, the thrill of finding those great songs that we never heard. Songs with voices, lyrics and arrangements that were every bit as good as the radio hits we ran to the record shop to buy. When I created my first show, “The Innocent Age”, I dubbed these “songs you should have heard”.
The enormity of the creativity and talent from that time is simply overwhelming. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and had the benefit of MANY wonderful radio stations with expansive play lists. Our station is named Tunedex Memories, in honor of my favorite station, WHK. I recently added a video to the blog of “Please Don’t Talk To The Lifeguard” by Laurel Lee from Australia. I actually prefer this version to the one that charted Nationally by Diane Ray. But of course, everyone in Cleveland remembers that song hitting number ONE on the WHK Fabulous Fifty Tunedex by local TV personality Andrea Carroll. Since her version did NOT hit the Hot 100 or even “bubble under” many of you reading this have probably never heard her version. But back then in Cleveland, thanks to WHK, it was a HUGE hit. That was the power local radio once had.
Steve Petryszyn hosted Record Conventions in Cleveland for over twenty years, and I was privileged to play music for him for 13 of those years. When I would play songs like “Flying Blue Angels” by George, Johnny & the Pilots, people at the front of the stage would be singing along. This song Bubbled Under the Hot 100 in 1961, which once again means many of you aren’t even familiar with this song. But locally, it was a WHK “Pick Hit Of The Week” which meant local listeners went to local record stores looking for this relatively obscure Coed 45. That was part of the fun local radio created.
While a great chunk of America was caught up in the phenomenon that was American Bandstand, I was not. I was usually playing baseball or basketball at the school yard with the radio playing in the background. The TV show “American Dreams” implied that most kids in America ran home from school to turn on the TV, but not me. I got my music from my radio.
Our station presentation is meant to convey the many feelings we experienced growing up with our radios. While I still catch many Indians games on the radio, I haven’t been able to listen seriously for over thirty years. Between the blow-hard talk shows and payola-esqe play lists, radio simply ignores the music I identify with. Many of these songs were based on relationships, so some take you back to wonderful times, and others may be tinged with a bit of regret. Some remind you of friends that we have already lost, and others will prompt you to call friends you have lost touch with. This music was our part of the evolution of Rock and Roll and I still love it. While Rock and Roll has continued to evolve since then, and the music of today might not be our first choice, think about this. When our kids talk about music today, we probably sound just like our parents did when we begging them to buy us those precious 45’s and albums. That uncontrollable urge to buy them came from hearing them on the radio.
My kids are NOT strangers to music. They each have developed their own taste and whether it’s .mp3’s loaded on an Ipod, or CD’s they defend their music with the same energy that I defend mine. But NONE of them listen to the radio. There are new Hot 100 entries this year from the Chipmunk Movie. My children grew up with the Chipmunks in the 80’s and now my grandsons are listening to “The Chipmunk Song” just like I did, back in 1958. But the fascination of hearing it on the radio, and the excitement of seeing that 45 in the record shop is something my kids and grandkids will never experience. That innocence died with us.
I’ve done a lot of moving throughout my life. Four years in the Air Force, apartments, houses, condos… and one of the items that has stayed with me since High School is my transistor radio. It’s truly sad that I haven’t had any reason to turn it on for over half of my life. There’s been a large void in my life and I’m guessing in yours as well. All of us who share music with you through Tunedex Memories are happy to take you back to a time in your life when you didn’t have a care in the world.
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