Monday, June 9, 2008

And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools

I love radio. Always have, always will. I can remember listening avidly every weekday morning as WTIC-AM in Hartford broadcast the Bob Steele show. He was the epitome, and the zenith of local morning talk show hosts of the time - amiable, informative, funny, smart.

I remember firing up my grandmother's old cathedral radio from the thirties and finding it had a shortwave band that allowed me to listen to the BBC, and to the strange sounds of music and radio from Japan and India.

I remember my first broadcast experience, as part of a group broadcasting the nightly rosary from a local radio station in New Britain.

I remember getting on the air, via phone, regularly with WPOP DJ, Lee "Babi" Simms, and begging him to play the Animals, and Bob Dylan.

I remember nights at the Connecticut shore listening to the exotic New York top forties station with Cousin Brucie, and the like, and staying up to the early morning hours just to hear them play that new single by the Box Tops one more time.

I remember the birth of "underground FM" radio in Hartford with WHCN (and WWUH), and listening at college to the pioneers of FM in New York on WNEW and WPLJ.

So, radio is a rich part of my life. But apparently not a vital part of the lives of the current young generation.

Depending on your perspective, radio is being killed by the iPod and the internet and by broadcast television (which is also beginning to suffer), or it's killing itself with abusive amounts of advertising, restrictive playlists, idiot talk show hosts and even more idiotic owners and managers.

And when radio disappears, what mellifluous word will songwriters use to conjure up the mystery of music pulled from thin air. Will Van Morrison discover a soulful rhyme for "MP3?" Will Michael Stipe extol the wonder of youtube? Will Regina Spektor wonder how she lost her heart while listening to a shared file?

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