Posted by Bob Greenberger on April 27, 2012
I grew up listening to voices.
According to my mother and my own dim memories, growing up in Fresh Meadows, I would be done at the playground around 4 p.m. and be taken back to our apartment in time for me to watch Dick Clark and American Bandstand. Back then, the show was aired daily and I was apparently fascinated by the music and the dancing.
After moving to Long Island, I went to sleep with a transistor radio playing (much as my mother used) and the station was set to WNBC, which then was a talk radio format and every night I listened to host Brad Crandall. One night, I distinctly recall going downstairs to call in about some long-forgotten topic but as I sat on hold, I noticed my father watching television, seeing for the first time, a bunch of people in red, blue and gold shirts stand on a platform and vanish. But I digress.
Whenever we drove, the radio was on and I was captivated by Bob Murphy and the crew calling games for the New York Mets. His voice became a constant for me for the next forty years until his passing in 2004.
Harkening back to pop music, the other voice that became a companion belonged to Cousin Brucie. Bruce Morrow was the most popular disc jockey on WABC, the top 40 behemoth that dominated New York radio in the 1960s. For many, many years, it was his upbeat tone that introduced me to one group after another, playing my favorites without my having to ask.
As I entered adolescence, FM radio had become the bastion of progressive rock music and new stations sprouted up. WPLJ was FM’s Top 40 wasteland while New York’s WNEW and Long Island WLIR had the more interesting music and better disc jockeys. I got to know them all, from Dave Herman to Dennis Elsas, from Scott Muni to the Nightbird herself, Alison Steele. Steele, keeping us company from 10 p.m. into the early morning hours, tried to find new ways to differentiate the rise of heavy metal music and coined the term “Thunder Rock”, exemplified by Blue Oyster Cult’s “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll”. While the phrase never caught on, I give her credit for getting us to think about what we were hearing. Her opening poetry and commentary was never less than captivating. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »