Wednesday, January 27, 2016

                               LAST RITES OR LAST STAND FOR AM RADIO?

I read recently an article online by Bobby Owsinski dealing with what many have
 been thinking that sadly, the days of AM radio may be coming to a close. Here's 
some of what Owsinski said:

"One of the reasons is that electric cars like the Tesla Model X or BMW i3 don't 
install them since the AM reception is impossible due to the internal electrical noise
 of the car. That said, the demand for AM has been way down as almost everywhere
in the country AM stations are almost always at the bottom of the Arbitron ratings. 
It's now the place for news, talk radio and sports, but not music. In fact, even sports
is abandoning the band for FM.

In Europe, AM stations are being rapidly shut down on a national scale. Norway and

Germany have discontinued all AM broadcasting, and even perennial heavyweights 
like Radio Luxembourg and Armed Forces Radio have shut down their AM signals.

4 (1)In some cases, even FM may go dark as many countries opt for  

Digital Audio Broadcasting instead."

Yes, how sad, that the medium that used to play the hit music, 
and break the hit music-AM Radio-is on Life Support. It didn't
(or doesn't) have to be this way or this certain. In my view, 
programmers, and radio people gave up trying to resuscitate a 
dying entity. It just was "accepted" that AM could only survive on a diet of news, talk 
or sports. Radio gave up on it's local viability that AM used to provide. 
As Bobby Owsinski went on to say in his article for 
"losing the local musical flavor of radio is a sad twist of fate that will ultimately be bad 
for musicians, artists and bands everywhere. The cultivation of local talent and the 
ability to give them that first break will be sorely missed".

 Why is it we always seem to want to discard the old and/or the out of date 
AM radio CAN be restored to it's near original form just like a '55 Chevy or a 
Les Paul guitar. So, before that last gasp of air (time) for AM Radio comes, someone 
step forward-maybe you-pinch it's nose, then breathe some air into it's electronic lungs..
.to let those "hits keep on a comin'" again. 
Yes, the new technology is here, but it can't replace history. Technology has not 
changed the shape of a clarinet, a trumpet, a violin or most guitars; or the great music 
and sounds they produce.
Likewise, a radio station can't be changed by gigabytes or digital devices
High tech also can not replace the special sound of live radio stations-AM or FM-and 
the sounds they produce. 
Best of all, listening to radio is FREE! No data to buy, no long contracts to sign. 
In America, that's the best price of be FREE. Hold off radio's requiem for now. 
Stop the Last Rites! It's time to make AM radio's Last Stand.  
That's my RadiOpinion...what's yours?    


Sunday, January 17, 2016

                          ARE THERE(or were there) ANY RADIO "GENIUSES" ?

I have always thought that there are few geniuses in the Radio business. Most of the time it's usually
opportunity intersecting with timing. In the case of Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon, they were
innovators and "inventors" of a format style never tried before. Think how opportunity and timing
came together for Chuck Blore, Bill Stewart and the like. They were among the first to be on hand
when Todd & Gordon started their experiment with Top 40. What fortunate timing to be at a station with good dial position, good power, good call letters, good air personalities, great owners, who bet their lives on promotion and persistence. All of the "Birth Of Top 40 Radio" was built on timing and opportunity too. Let's put the whole era in some historical context. Our country was coming off WW 2 plus the Korean Conflict(remember it was not a "war"). This was the mid 1950's. Those children born just before the start of WW 2 and during, were becoming teenagers. Servicemen were now home and getting their G I Bills to go to college, to buy their first homes. Times were good in the mid 1950's. Everything seemed to be booming with innovation. Super highways were being built, the new cars were stylish and futuristic looking, Broadway began a long stream of major musicals, Movies had Cinerama, James Dean & Marilyn Monroe. Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite were still viable, relevant and still on the air. Baseball was alive with Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio; Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano were still boxing's greatest heavyweight champions. In football Paul Brown was about to unleash Jim Brown to the gridiron as Vince Lombardi was about to become the  Green Bay Packers' coach and icon for the ages. The Atomic Bombs' ending of the war with Japan made the U.S. the World's super power. "Ike" Eisenhower was President, and all seemed right with the World...well, except for Radio. Radio's "Golden Age" was fast becoming the "Olden Age" to many teenagers. These kids were ready for something new, something exciting. These '50's kids wanted to break out and feel "free". Everyone, adults and kids alike", were ready to break out of the doldrums of war and sacrifice. It was time to LIVE! But when they turned on the radio, it was soap operas, silly shows and comedy from another decade or two. The '30's & '40's were THEN, the new jet propelled teens of the 1950's wanted NOW!  But what would Radio do? Especially now that this new thing called Television had just come on the scene. Most predicted doom for the Radio industry. How could "voice only" compete with pictures AND voice? Suddenly, another invention came out of this amazing period. It was called: The Transistor!
This breakthrough enabled portable and smaller radios to be produced to take with you wherever you
wanted to go. But what would come out of these new marvels? Well, kids being kids, and somewhat
rebellious by nature, would find a station like WLAC in Nashville with a guy on the air who played what was called "race music". Rhythm and Blues it was. Others found Country stations which aired shows that featured what was described as "Rockabilly". Most of these shows were on at night, and why couldn't anyone get them in the day time, all the time?  Then jukeboxes started getting some new songs and records with a strong back beat to them. Teens of the day flocked to hear these 78 & 45 RPM records by the thousands, only to spend their parents' allowance money to buy these songs to play at home. So it's now, we re-enter Todd Storz and Gordon McLendon back into this backdrop. After watching people feed the jukeboxes to hear mostly the same several songs over and over, the idea came to fruition that maybe this is what the people now want. Storz and McLendon saw opportunity...and the timing seemed right. Let's give people what they want: Music, News and Sports. Throw in a little creative fun, some hip disc jockeys, and Voila! Top 40(or mass appeal) radio was born.
 No question, The 1st "Golden Era" of Radio was about 1935-1955. This was Radio's first entertainment and information "Star". It was LIVE, and for the most part, they got it right. 
Now, it was time for The "2nd Golden Era"-1955-1975! I think they got it almost right again. And when Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis invaded the airwaves it was all over for the "1st Golden Era" of Radio.
Yeah, it was opportunity intersecting with timing alright...but when given that opportunity, Radio and
it's effect on the public awareness, was forever changed. All of the radio stations and formats since
are mere clones of that perfect timing back in the mid 1950's. Genius? Perhaps. The REAL genius is in the "People"...they made it happen. All it took was a couple of guys with radio stations, to recognize and's the people...listen to the people...they'll tell if it's right or not. 
That's MY RadiOpinion...what's yours?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

                                      "HEAVEN'S TO MURGATROYD !"
                                          ( or, the words we left behind )

This expression "hit me" over the holidays when an old friend exclaimed it while watching a
spectacular play in a football game. This led me to try and find out who, where or what indeed
"Murgatroyd" was. Would you believe the online spell checker didn't even recognize the word?
I then started to think how obsolete some words and/or phrases have become since my childhood. I assume this because of the inexorable march of technology. Some of these "lost 
words" include: "don't touch that dial", "carbon copy", "hung out to dry", "you sound like a
broken record"...and that's just the start of a bevy of faded linguistics. Back in the olden days
we'd put on our best "bib and tucker" and "straighten up &and  fly right"."Hubba Hubba"! We'd"cut a rug in some juke joint" then go "petting, or necking while billing & cooing or.. pitching woo in hot rods or jalopies in some passion pit or lover's lane". Heavens to Betsy!
"Gee whillikers!" "Jumpin' Jeshosaphat!" "Holy Moley!". We were "in like Flynn" and "living the life of Riley", and not even a "regular guy" could accuse us of being a "knucklehead or nincompoop or a pill". Not for "all the tea in China!". Yes, back in the day, things were "swell"
which hasn't been used in decades. "Swell" has gone way of pageboys, spats, knickers & poodle skirts. "Oh, my aching back". "Kilroy was here"...but he wasn't. We have become unstuck in time. 
We wake up from what has surely been a short nap, and before we can say: "I'll be a
monkey's uncle" or "this is a fine kettle of fish", we discover that the words we grew up with,
the words that were as omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished! Poof! Gone! The words we left
behind...erased from the landscape and wordscape of our perception, like Mickey Mouse
watches, Hula Hoops and little wax bottles. Where have all those phrases gone? Long time
passing. Ahh "Pshaw"! Were they "banned in Boston"? Were they "bigger than a breadbox?"
The very idea! "It's your nickel". "Knee high to a grasshopper". "Turn-of-the-century". "You
look like the wreck of the Hesperus". "Fiddlesticks!" "Cooties". "Don't take any wooden
nickels". "See ya in the funny papers" and Awaa-aa-y we go!". Oh my "Stars and garters!"
It turns out there are more of these lost words and phrases than "Carter has liver pills!"
Disturbing stuff, this winking out of the words of our youth...words that lodge in our heart's
deep core. We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times. Now we have the
perspective of time to look back and have the advantage of remembering that there were once
words which "strutted their stuff" on the Earthly stage and now are heard no more...except
in our collective memory. It's one of the greatest advantages of aging. We can  "have
archaic and eat it too".  So, go "put another nickel in the nickelodeon" we'll "see ya later

-These words left behind by Gary Allyn