Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Sales Pitch About WLTD's Weird Program Schedule

<First, thanks to everyone who chimed in regarding last week's (edited) post. I appreciated the conversation. I do understand the points of those of you arguing for keeping things historically accurate, and will make future decisions on a case-by-case basis. That said, I am also struggling with some professional reasons why it might not be the best idea for me to share such recordings unedited.>

And now....

WLTD was a station located in central Evanston, IL, during the 1970's. The station existed before that point under other call letters, and still exists, but again, has had different call letters for many, many years now. It's biggest claim to fame, after the fact, is that it was the original station to host the now-legendary show "Those Were the Days", featuring Chuck Schaden and hour after hour of Old Time Radio. This is one the programs which kicked off the nostalgia craze for OTR.

I believe that when it was WLTD, it was one of those stations which sells off time for programming to anyone who wanted to air a show which fit in with the stations larger goals, but I could be wrong.

If I'm right, however, that would go a long way to explaining the near-schizophrenic programming described in this promo reel for advertisers - they go from light classic music right into discussions of abortion and suicide! They clearly want the buyers to know that they have an older, upscale listening audience, but aside from certain elements of the programming that clearly would appeal to parts of that older audience, I'm not sure who would be sticking around for all of the haphazard changes of format which seem to have gone on every day.

And all this is in addition to the idea that, by the early '70's, anyone would have been looking for a "Fine Arts" station, with a frequent focus on Classical Music, on an AM station. That seems unlikely. Oh, and that unctuous salesman announcing the sales pitch is about as big a turn off as I can imagine. Ecch. I do, however, love the descriptions he gives of the opulent lifestyles of the listeners your products will reach - it's well over the line into self-parody. And the way he sells the idea that most news of the day is aggressively unimportant. Classic. Oh, and who is this fabulous composer Bokohrock that he mentions?

Download: WLTD Promo Reel

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Few Minutes of Songs and Jokes with Randy, Bobby and their Family


First, the bad news. My tape recorder has a minor problem, but one which I cannot correct myself, and one which renders it useless. I will be at the mercy of whatever time table my trusted neighborhood electronics shop uses to get it fixed. I hope to fill that time with whatever pieces of tape I've digitized for my own entertainment (or future use), but if it takes longer than expected, posts here may slow down a bit. Let's hope not.

And now, on with the countdown:


Today's feature is a (mostly) charming little visit with what sounds to me like a southern family, from (I'm guessing) circa the mid-'60's, given the multiple references to the Batman TV series that shone so brightly and fizzled out so quickly.

Only two children are identified by name, Bobby and Randy. There's a third child present.

The first minute or so features a few adults chatting about bullfrogs and illness, among other things - this isn't terribly interesting, but I thought I'd include for the sake of completeness. It only lasts 75 seconds.

At 1:20 the real show begins. Randy sings a rather tuneless song which seems to consist of the same phrase over and over again, then sings "Santy Claus" an equal number of times. Bobby is a bit older, and sings a Halloween song, followed by what he terms "Batman Jokes", but which largely seem to be simple facts about their lives. Then there is a bit of acting out of a Batman episode.

The adults don't want to talk, so Bobby continues his Batman episode, which includes some very minor crime reports (a few torn up books??), plus, a fantastic Joker impression.

A weird bit, sounding like nothing so much as off-kilter coffee club poetry and guitar, follows. It's only 30 seconds, but boy, is it odd.

Next is a brief hymn by the third child, who knows a few actual Batman jokes, and Bobby gives the answers. The second one is aggressively juvenile but made me laugh out loud.

This same child sings two songs I'm sure we'll all agree share many qualities, "Cottonfields" and "Hanky Panky", again helpfully dating this tape to 1966-67. Bobby tries to get an old children's rhyme in before the tape runs out, but only part it gets recorded, and the tape ends.

<Note: up there I included a modifier, and said the tape was "mostly" charming. I want to acknowledge that I've edited out about 45 seconds of racist material - a song and a joke - because I don't want to be guilty of spreading that sort of thing out into the ether. I recognize that there is another argument to  be made for sharing the tape completely, in admitting the attitudes of the place and the time. I'd be interested in hearing what readers/listeners think about this.>

Download: A Family At Home

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Few Hundred Barbershop Quartet Enthusiasts Walk Into an Auditorium...

Hi, everyone,

First, I want to mention a couple of notes I got that the sound files for download on earlier posts weren't working. This is correct - they weren't. This problem seems to have now been solved, as they were working for download five minutes ago.

About the name of this post: here's a short bit of tape (four minutes) that I just LOVE.

This segment came in the middle of a fairly lengthy tape of a barbershop quartet contest. The tape quality was awful - it was recorded at the low-fi speed of 1 7/8 AND the tape was literally coming apart, flaking away in places. I had one shot to copy it, and I kept the part that I found worth keeping, before throwing what was left of the tape away.

For in the middle of the program, while setting up for another act, someone on stage had a bright idea (maybe this is common at these contests, I don't know): we have several hundred fans of Barbershop Quartet singing in our audience. It's a good bet most of them know how to sing in Barbershop style. Lets have EVERYONE sing a few Barbershop standards, since they'll all know at least one of the four parts.

The results are just lovely, even given the cruddy quality of the sound. First, there are two goes at "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", and then a stab at "I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad".

This is truly one of the "little" treasures of my collection.

Download: Barbershop Audience Sings Together

(And that's a group that did it's share of Barbershop Quartet singing - The Mellomen, with Thurl Ravenscroft on the right.)