Saturday, May 26, 2007

AM Radio

I was always a big fan of AM radio as a kid. From the early sixties to the psychedelic era, when baby boomers got too sophisticated for the stuff and switched to FM, AM radio (sorry Frank Zappa, who called it "ugly radio") was on my regular diet, largely responsible for destroying my brain cells as a youth. As I got older, alcohol finished the job.

There was WABC, Murray the K on WINS and on cold crisp evenings I would wonder the dial for great stations such as WKBW in Buffalo and WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Here, there was the banter, the unending commercials, traffic reports. (Traffic reports were especially fun for those of us who didn't drive. It was a window into the secret world of adults).

In the area around New York you could also receive one of the great AM radio stations, WMCA. It was homier than WABC, had a larger play-list, and was so New York oriented that a kid from New Jersey could pretend for a moment that he was living in Queens.

I don't care what anybody says, the music on the radio in 1965 was a heap better than the stuff on today. Motown was at its prime, the English groups were starting to create a new music, and folk was starting to mature from its New Christy Minstrels phase. Just look at this list from this week in 1965. The scary part is I can probably sing most of the songs in the top 30!

A great television show at the time was Shindig. It featured the Beatles debuting "I'm a Loser" and in 1965 they almost dedicated a whole show to the Rolling Stones, with the band's own guest, Howlin' Wolf. At the end of the show the Rolling Stones introduced a new song. It was called "Satisfaction."
Going to band practice on a bicycle and listening to AM radio. That sums up the summer of 1965 for me. That and two weeks at No Be Bosco. Boy Scout camp we'll save for another installment.

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