THE STORY OF "MAKING YOUR MEMORIES"
As a young teenager I was always enthralled with the music in the 50’s. The challenge was to listen to the song, remember the words and try to sing along with the message. Some of the songs were more challenging than others. Regardless, the memory of the song, its melody and many times nonsensical nature was easier than remembering dates, times and figures in class.
I started collecting 45’s and 33 1/3 albums and listening to the radio at the age of 12. With limited funds from a limited allowance, I could only buy a few at a time. Not satisfied with the size of my collection, I shoplifted the small 45’s, putting them under my shirt and sliding out of a neighborhood market that would later employ me. My collection of music grew rapidly and I became known as the one with the best collection. I was invited to small gatherings after school or a Friday night party, but only if I would bring my collection of records. It was only after I was caught shoplifting my favorite song of the moment did my collection of records stabilize.
The collection would grow again, and over the years became a big part of the devotion to the music and artists. It was only when I went into the United States Marine Corps that my collection was again given away, this time by my mother. There is no doubt that she knew the source of the majority of the collection, so in hindsight, I guess I deserved it.
The reports of radio’s demise has always been greatly exaggerated. Growing up ‘watching’ “Gillette’s Friday Night Fights” on the radio with my grandfather transitioned me to listening to the music as well. Today, we are entering a new era of the age of radio where it takes on a new approach and is expanding to new listeners. There is a new definition of what really is radio with its legacy as yet to be totally defined.
Fast forward to the 90’s and beyond and my collection of 50’s and early 60’s CD’s and IPOD music has gone to library proportions. Satellite radio, Groove Shark, Slacker, Songza, Pandora, Spotify and iHeart Radio all are just methods to get to us the listener. Taking on my various careers and pursuit of education, I would spend time commuting. Listening to the “collection” became the therapy to defeat the Los Angeles area traffic. There were still visits to Tower Records, Sam Goody, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and my favorite discovery for music, Penny Lane. Antique stores with their collection of “old” 45’s and albums hidden in the back aisles also called to me. I would purchase an entire album just for the one song that brought back that memory.
My taste in music had expanded. Living in Orange County we had our own station, KSBR. Located at 88.5 FM on your radio dial and broadcast worldwide on the web at www.ksbr.org
It is the most listened to jazz station in the world with audiences in Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe. The studios are located on the campus of Saddleback Community College and the station is licensed to the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees. Their legal ID is “KSBR, Mission Viejo” as they are located in that City. The licensed transmitter power output is a mere 471 Watts. Because it is a non-profit station located in the lower FM band there is never any on-air underwriting announcements or personal statements regarding the music. It is just pure contemporary jazz.
While I respect jazz and those who wrote and performed, it was always background music to life as we did other things. The station called to me because of its local news, delivered informatively by Dawn Kamber, their specialty shows on the weekend with alternative jazz, blues and music of the late 60’s and early 70’s. There was even an 80’s show on Sunday nights. But, no 50’s or early 60’s.
It was a typical, beautiful South Orange County Saturday afternoon in mid-2010 and I was listening to KSBR’s air talent Bob Goodman and his show, “A Whole Nuther Thing”. I do not remember the song but he actually played a song from the fifties. It could have been the Everly Brothers or a tribute to Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly, quite frankly I do not remember. I went crazy! There was no other radio station in the Los Angeles area playing “my music”. The one big station in the Los Angeles and Orange County area that was known for “oldies” was playing 70’s and 80’s for their new audience demographic.
I drove home and looked up the station on the web. I scrolled to the KSBR site and located the name of the General Manager, Terry Wedel. I had this idea. I would ask him if I could loan the station a portion of my collection so they could play more 50’s music for their listeners. I obtained his email address from the website and sent him a brief message, offering my collection for airplay. A few days later, to my surprise, I received a response. “Sounds interesting,” he said, “come down to the station and maybe we could talk about it.”
We settled on a date and time to meet. We talked about the music, my knowledge of the artists and background of songs, and after about 30 minutes he shocked me with his proposal, “I don’t think we have anyone available that knows the music like you do. I will make you a deal. You go to broadcasting school, we will see if you can do it, and I will give you a timeslot to play your music yourself.” He discussed that I would have to take a series of classes in order to produce, mix, engineer and announce as it was a student run station with no support from any fulltime employees.
For the next five months I went back to community college and took a series of classes that enhanced my appreciation of the world of radio and broadcasting. I learned the technical side of the house to a minimally acceptable level, all with the assistance of very patient and professional instructors, fellow students and even a tutor.
In January of 2011 Terry Wedel took a big chance and gave me a Monday morning timeslot playing jazz that had been programed in to the Selector automated play system of KSBR. Within the first week, I had accidently shut the station down by hitting the wrong buttons, played two songs at the same time and talked for three minutes without turning my mike on. I was on my way!
During the Spring of 2011 Terry Wedel asked me to put a concept paper together to give him an idea of what a 1950’s and early 60’s show would look and sound like. As a college professor I taught classes in strategic management and decided to apply those principles to my plan. With only minor revisions, the proposal was accepted and is now known as “Making Your Memories” with “Joe D, The Doctor of Doo Wop.” I have a great time slot of 10PM to Midnight on Sundays. My goal is to have people listen for at least one hour, even if it is a two-hour show. And that is the short version of Making Your Memories!