Yesterday

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When I was young, I would listen to the radio, waiting for my favorite songs, "Yesterday". This first line of an old Carpenters song has been repeating in my melon lately. It was a nostalgic song from the 1970s, accurately and fondly recalling growing up in the 50s. There was an ad campaign phrase at one time that referred to radio as the soundtrack of our lives, and nothing could be more accurate. Many local stations were affiliated to some extent to a national network that provided national news and features at the top of the hour, and some of them actually had local news reporters as well. But the centerpiece was the music. Everywhere you went, and while you were doing whatever you were doing, somewhere there was a radio, playing "your" music.

The only real specialized AM music station locally was WDOD, which played strictly Country, most of the rest were Top 40 stations. On a Top 40 station, you could listen to Pat Boone, followed by James Brown, Montovani, Al Martino, Brenda Lee, The Beachboys, or anything else that was selling records at Woolworths, or the Record Store. The few FM stations on at that time played strictly Classical music. Most of the DJ s were strictly that, played music, read the weather and an occasional ad, said their name once in a while, and more music. 

The early years air personalities were those of  your parents; Luther on WDEF of course, Harry Thornton "The Milkman" on WAPO. "Peanut" Faircloth on WDOD. Is there anyone of todays' generation who can fathom the "Milkman" moniker? When Harry went off every morning, he was followed by the "Les and Ritch Show", one of the earliest forms of local talk radio, in that they discussed other material between the music. They also co-owned a local record store.

As we began to relate more to what were becoming "air personalities" instead of DJ s, stations began to do more remote broadcasts, so we could actually see ,as well as hear the voices on the radio. The stunts became more outrageous, "Sonny Limbo" and Charley Champion did a thing in the show window in front of the old "Three Sisters" dress shop, where they broadcasted constantly for several days. WFLI was probably the first strictly Rock station in town, and they hit with a splash, and Chattanooga began to experience "churn", the constant rotating format changes of the majority of AM stations, especially as FM began to enter the mainstream.

Don Hill

Signal Mountain - North of the border



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