Radio Waves: June 18, 2021

Why you love radio

Last week I asked two questions: do you enjoy radio, and more importantly why?

I didn’t really give much thought to it, but a related question is do you still enjoy radio, but as it turns out, that comes out in your emails over the past few days. Obviously, you do (did) enjoy it, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this column. But your response are important, I believe, to move the industry forward such that it will still be relevant in the years ahead.

“You mentioned  having a transistor radio at an early age. I can do one better…my first was a crystal set that my brothers made in their hobby room upstairs in our house. It couldn’t reach much except for the local station in our small town in northwest Washington, but it was great to listen to underneath the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping at night.

“Later when doing homework in high school, disc jockeys from Seattle at KIRO kept me focused (?) on the work. The Hit Parade countdown to the  # 1 hit was a favorite which we teens waited for each week. Our family listened faithfully to such programs as Fibber McGee and Molly and always laughed heartily when he opened the closet door and the contents came crashing out. Bob and Ray, in later years and their subtle humor was a favorite of mine, and a bit of relief from other  madcap humor of the day.

“Now, FM Classical programming is my choice now and the extensive play list of KUSC continues to fill my home and car.” — June Russell, Laguna Woods

“As an only child living in Southern California I didn’t have siblings or a lot of friends around especially in the evenings, so it was easy to build a “friendship” in my mind with the people in the box. Sports were the source of my first connection.  Vin Scully could have been part of the family … I can still recite parts of some of the Farmer John and Union 76 ads from the games. Scully was so important to the team that almost everyone would bring a transistor radio to the games and you could hear his voice throughout the stadium during the game.

“It didn’t take long for me to find out there were other things on the radio. I made it a point to listen to Lohman and Barkley when I could in the mornings. I loved those crazy characters Lohman made up like Ted and Eva Baloney, etc. As I grew older, the radio became a gateway to new music for me.

“ I will say that the fragmentation of media can be disappointing and even a little dangerous. We all have different playlists and they have all diverged and have less and less in common.  It kind of makes me pine for the innocent days in high school when punk rock fans like me listened to KROQ while the stoners listened to KMET.  “ — John Standiford, Cypress 

“Back in the fifties, I’d lie in bed, in Venice,  listening to Lucky Lager Dance Time on, I think, KFWB.  The sweet-sounding tunes lulled me to sleep.  I can still remember the theme song for that show: “Dream…” And talking about skip: I was stationed in Panama during the early sixties, and remember that, on certain nights, we’d pick up a SoCal station or two.  Good music and back-home news.  Now, that was exciting.” — Mike Levitt

“I was a 40 year long haul truck driver, the radio was essential to keeping me awake and not bored. I love talk radio … missing RUSH more than words can express. For music it was country or classical.” — Pete Fitzek

“My earliest recollections are KMPC with Dick Whitinghill. ‘Around the corner and up your street, now its time for As the Stomach Turns, brought to you by Kers…the last word in crackers.’  And the serial ‘lost’ … tell your mother to go to the market and get lost.

“We listened at breakfast and at 8:25 a.m. or so, it was the business report: a female voice would say: ‘E.F. Hutton & Company, the market, just a moment please.’ When that was over it was time for school. At night it was KMPC and Gary Owens with the ‘teenage underground.’ Then KFWB: Bill Balance and the rest. And oh how I miss Jim Healy’s sports on KLAC.” — Joe Davis, Laguna Niguel

“LOVED your article today about the radio stations of long ago; they were the BEST!!  Everything you said about them was true. I loved KHJ back in the day; Charlie Tuna was my fave!  So glad he ended up on KRTH years ago, and I was lucky enough to get to meet him when he did a couple of outdoor gigs at a Stater Bros. near me – and even had my picture taken with him …  Something I treasure to this day.

“I loved looking forward to going to the record store and getting the latest program with the top songs of the week listed. So fun to see just who was up and coming, and listening to the new songs.  And it was fun to call in and request songs, as well as participate in their contests. I think of our old radio often, as I listen while I drive – so not what it used to be!

“I’m saving your article from today, and putting it in with my old record albums that I still have. It was so much fun to listen to radio back then – and be a part of it.

I miss that. Oh, and don’t forget Jeff Gonzer of KLOS – what a show he had!” — Michele Cruz

“I will spell it out:

“Right here — We can listen to radio anywhere in our home, and just about anywhere outside of home. Activity-oriented — Radio can entertain and lift us while we are doing just about any activity — as it did for you when you worked in the back warehouse at Sears Surplus. Dramatic  — As Jack Benny said, on radio, the screen is as wide as your imagination. For sports fans, a big game is even more epic on radio than on TV, because you are hanging on the announcer’s words and because you become more aware of the crowd noise. Information and intimacy — All-news radio is still the best place for reliable, immediate information on breaking news. No matter how good GPS is, it’s still comforting when driving to hear the traffic problems from a real person (WHY is there such a back-up?). . . . As for intimacy, on TV, you feel the announcer is talking to “everyone.” On radio, you can feel the announcer is talking only to you — it’s just the two of you. Over distance — We can pull in stations from other cities and, at night, other parts of the country. There are few pleasures better than cruising on a highway at night while listening to a terrific interview or game.

“Yours shopping for a new transistor radio” — John Lowe, Seal beach

One response perhaps brought out the real reason we all love radio: the human connection you can’t get from an online jukebox. “Yes, I listen to radio, happily. Simple, easy, interesting, no user name, password … no instructions needed … Sam Riddle, Wink Martindale, Wolfman Jack … I embrace print, radio and human interaction.” — L.T. Karg