When I look back over the course of my life, which began in 1959 by the way, I realize how important music on the radio has been to me. I have very clear memories from the time when I was six years old of hearing songs like This Diamond Ring in my sister's boyfriend's Corvair when we listened to the Armed Forces radio station near Madrid, Spain. (She is 15 years older than I and eventually married him. He moved on to better cars.)
One of the first songs I remember as a favorite was from the summer of 1967, Light My Fire by the Doors. I had no idea how controversial this band was at the time but I knew I liked what I was hearing and the bluesy groove of that song exposed me to a style that would stick with me for the rest of my life.
During my teens in Ohio my love of a wide range of rock & roll really kicked in - from Santana and Cat Stevens to the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, I grew to appreciate a wide range of popular music. Music became a central part of my life and I started playing guitar. WVUD in Dayton was my go-to station playing an extremely eclectic mix of music with really knowledgeable DJs, most of them students from the University of Dayton. One of my favorite shows was Wax Museum, where the station would play an entire rock album from beginning to end with no interruptions, usually at midnight. That’s where I learned about Frank Zappa and a band called The Tubes. (Look them up, pretty crazy stuff.) WTUE was a more mainstream rock station that I also listened to frequently. So enamored with radio was I that for a junior high drafting project on perspective I drafted a cityscape featuring the radio station WJJB, featuring my initials.
The 1970s was the heyday of the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format and their playlists were incredibly diverse playing B- and C-cuts from LPs as well as playing relatively obscure bands from a variety of genres. It was common to hear a mix of folk, rock, Southern Rock and even some funk on one station. Southern Rock was coming on strong in those days and I gained an appreciation of the Allman Brothers, Poco and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among others.
My buddies and I became devoted album collectors and concert-goers at UD and Hara arenas in Dayton. Hara Arena was the fairly run-down home of the Dayton Gems minor-league hockey team. We also started a cover band called Full Force that played at local high school dances.
Radio and records were important to us and we made a point to watch In Concert on ABC on Friday nights. This show was one of the first to feature live band performances on TV and we were transfixed, seeing many of our favorite groups for the first time. It was authentic and really featured the bands straight-up performing in a concert. Competing show, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert was slicker but less authentic – it seemed more contrived with many of the groups lip-synching. Kirshner became famous, and often mocked for his dry, deadpan introductions of bands.
What are your ‘radio memories’?
(End of Part I)