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From AM to FM to AM on FM


whitefang

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Anybody in my age bracket(59)or older will remember the days when if you wanted to hear the latest "rock'n'roll" hits, you tuned into a station on the AM band. There WAS an FM band, but who listened to THAT? Nothing but foriegn babble and classical music. And while many forum members now like classical music, it was not happenin' back in the day.

 

AM was KING. Every station had some kind of gimmick. There must've been a few thousand "Jack The Bellboys" around the country. One station here in the Detroit area broadcast in reverb. And personalities abound! Here there was a DJ whose real name WAS Robert Lee. He jammed an E in the middle and called himself "The Rebel With a Cause". Another had a Soupy Sales "Whitefang"(NOT me!) sounding character on his show called the "Woolyburger". "Rate-a-record" segments where callers decided a record's fate. Rquest lines and call-in contests. And NO DEAD AIR. There was no actual break between the DJ's chatter,commercials or records. And it seemed the faster the music got, the faster the DJ's talked.

 

But by the later '60's, it started to change. There was music being played on the FM band. It was that "commie-pinko-hippie-fag" type music that AM corporate moguls refused to play, thinking it would go away. But instead, their LISTENERS started going away. And those DJ's! Well, most of them preferred to be called announcers, they talked so LAID BACK. NO 1,000mph chatter. NO "rate-a-record" nonsense. NO talking into the beginning of a song, or talking while the fade-out was playing. And instead of the record to DJ to commercial to song to DJ to commercial and on and on crap, they would play upwards of five or more songs before you heard the announcer or a commercial. And if a song were 10 minutes long? Well, so be it! It was almost like heaven to me.

 

Of course, AM still tried. They cut back on the hyper-chatter, and gave in to playing that "hippie" music. But it was too late. And the way they went about it was all wrong...they forgot to drop the three minute rule! So you heard songs on AM like "Magic Carpet Ride" not only months after FM played it, but also minus the middle part. Verses and solos would be edited out to "keep it short". So by the mid '70's, AM rock stations were obsolete.

 

When FM "underground"(a phrase the market liked to use)stations started up, a lot of us had to scramble to discount house and thrift shops to find radios with FM. We had one at our house, but it was my Mom's. And that meant, "Keep your goddam hands OFF!". So I found one at Sally Anne's(local slang for Salvation Army)for six bucks. And for a few years, listening to the radio was OK. Couldn't listen to the FM in our cars, because car FM radios were hard to come by. And it was a few years away from "post-production" AM-FM stereo/cassette replacements. But it seemed that all good things eventually come to an end...

 

I first noticed it around the mid '70's. There entered a local radio announcer named Arthur Pennhollow who often gave out a growly "BABY!" at the end of sentences. He took a recording of the distinct sounding horn on excursion boats popular on the Detroit river called "Bob-Lo" boats. They were used to carry people to a now defunct amusement park on Bob-Lo island in the middle of the river. Anyway, he used a recording of those boat horns at regular intervals throughout the summer to signal the time to change tanning positions. "BLLLAAAATTT! It's 82 rock'n'roll over degrees here in the Motor city. BABY!"

He was as close to an AM DJ personality as one could get. The next indicator was when another long time "hip" FM station had a contest. CONTEST! For winning "Kiss Army" gear, because Kiss was coming to town. KISS! What SERIOUS rock music lover from the day GAVE a shit about THEM???

 

Well, now it seems there's no difference between what AM once was and what FM now is. Granted, there's no more silly three minute rule, but the personalities, characters, contests, celebrity impersonators are the mainstay of just about every FM station. They've gone back. Just stayed on FM.

 

One big difference between the modern day FM AM stations, and the old AM stations is the matter of race. Even though AM stations played rock'n'roll, they didn't limit music presentation to only one "race". You could hear Del Shannon one minute, and the next there'd be some tune by Brook Benton or Gary "US" Bonds. Or from the Beatles to the Supremes and so on. It was all good. But now, most of the time you have to tune into a specific format. You could tune in to WRIF and hear mostly(Rather, exclusively)music from white hard-rock groups. Or, you can tune into what Arbitron likes to call the "Urban" stations to hear black artists. There ARE a few that play a mix of music, but damned few.

 

Of course, this is MY experience with the change in radio in MY area. It all might have went down differently where some of you other members lived.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Yes, I remember those days- the AM would play:

1 Rock n roll song

1 country song

1 pop song

1 soul or r&b song.

Then repeat the whole format.

I can remember listening to WLS in Chicago (500miles away!) on my little AM transistor radio, under my pillow, when I was supposed to be sleeping.

Seems that 8 track tapes came about that time that FM started playing rock. We had 8track players in our cars, because automobile FM radio's where hard to come by.I couldn't beleive the little FM station in my hometown started playing Cosby, Stills, Nash, Jimi,Proco Harem, etc- all the good stuff. But they didn't broadcast 24/7, The FM station was only on certain times of the day.

"Who's gonna teach the children about Chuck Berry?"
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True here, too. The first FM "underground" station was WABX. The station existed for some years before. But the "hippie" music would start at noon and continue until the station signed off at 6:00pm. After a few months, it became 24/7.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I caught the last year of adult, progressive FM Rock where they would play an hour special on Kraftwerk and then play Return To Forever or Al DiMeola. It ended abruptly in 1977 and then a few years later...the corporate created playlist reared it's ugly head.

 

There is no more terrestrial radio for me (except for Jim Ladd on KLOS which is now streamed at night on the Internet) Satellite radio is the only place to hear different genres of music. It will probably one day get bad, but for now it's the best alternative.

A Jazz/Chord Melody Master-my former instructor www.robertconti.com

 

(FKA GuitarPlayerSoCal)

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You guys might look into your local Public Radio station- not NPR, but an offshoot of your Public TV station.

 

91.7, my local one, has proven to have a joyously eclectic playlist.

http://kxt.org/music/

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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Well, here in the Detroit area, the manufactured hip-hop, pop and psuedo r&b got so popular that the sydicate that had control of the 50 year old(at the time)classical music station, WQRS, shut it down because the listenership, which had the same arbitron numbers since it started, was too low for their liking.

After a decade without any classical access(except the Canadian station, which played too heavy a mix of chamber and quartet pieces for my liking)a public station located in nearby Ann Arbor started splitting Jazz and Classical format. Classical by day, Jazz at night.

 

Being within 40 miles of Ann Arbor, a college town, there are alternatives to the situation I mention in this thread. And many of those college stations operate pretty much like the old school "underground" stations of yore. But depending on what you're listening on, or time of day or night, reception can often be dicey. Part of what the trouble is with the modern "AM on FM" stations stems from the fact that they insist on being "genre specific", and will play only what the suits who peddle product in those genres send them. The early FM rock stations and the public stations often go and FIND the music they play, and DAMN being tied down to genre!

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Whitefang, I grew up on AM radio - Cousin Brucie, on WABC-AM New York, TYVM. Hell, I used to sleep with a transistor radio under my pillow at night, and I bet I'm not the only one. I got to hear James Brown, and The Beatles, and Johnny Cash, or Roger Miller (not the guy from Mission of Burma!). You know what I'm talking about, a time before all popular music had to be pigeonholed for White audiences, or Urban audiences, or whatever marketing idiocy is in vogue now.

 

Of course, here in DC we were right on the crest of the whole "Shock Jock" movement, with Howard Stern, The Greaseman & Don Geronimo all on the air in the mid-80's - bloody awful! I remember Howard Stern on-air, asking the price of a plane ticket to the 14th Street Bridge, and Greaseman's hideous racist remarks concerning Dr. King's birthday.

 

Now, Clear Channel owns as much of the radio dial as they can buy up, which is part of why local programming, and creative programming, is dying a death. All the stations have going for them are dubious 'personalities' as jocks, screaming and yelling and acting like a-holes to get attention. I actually felt embarrassed for one of the local guys when I realized that he was in his 40's, and still carrying on like a brain-dead frat brother every afternoon for drive time.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Here's one solution: dig the best radio blues show for 4 hours every Saturday night !

Steve Cushing's Blues Before Sunrise outta Chicago.

That cat has not only an encyclopedic knowledge of the music but he clearly loves it, too. He's a musician, his show is sponsored by Victoria Amplifiers AND every week he ends by playing Petey Green's "Albatross" !

 

 

 

d=halfnote
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