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FM Radio is Dead so I Move on

The death march for FM radio has started and Norway is leading the charge, beginning to switch off FM radio this month (January 2017). Switzerland, Britain, Denmark among others to follow.

I am now officially old. I have a real, indisputable benchmark. FM radio in the NYC burbs in the 60/70s is where all the cool kids hung out. Dennis Elsas. Alison Steele. Jonathan Schwartz. Dave Herman. Vince Scelsa and man he was the trippy-est, he got the weird shifts at the times you were really ready to listen, and as soon as you heard the tape loop ending with “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” it was Game On for the heads.

John Lennon drops in on Dennis Elsas at WNEW-FM in NYC. Image from Dennis Elsas' website.

 John Lennon drops in on Dennis Elsas at WNEW-FM in NYC.

Rainy Sunday afternoon, 28 September 1974. I was in first year at university, sitting out on the “balcony” (embellishing here) on the old brownstone at 113th & Broadway. I started uni in engineering which meant we had to take an elective course outside of engineering, and for me that was an introductory astronomy course. So I was reading Abell’s Exploration of the Universe Text. Consider all this detail and more I can/will give you in light of the fact I can’t remember my “new” mobile number, which is about 18 months old now or most else. But I can still smell the wet air and will not forget Elsas saying he had a visitor stopping by to spin some discs and that dude was none other than Dr. Winston O’Boogie.1 The next couple hours were a gas and somewhere maybe still I have a cassette tape of the broadcast, because the cassette player I had included a FM radio. Because at that time FM radio was not dead, although cassette players are. Channeling Vonnegut “so it goes.”

Ha the weather report Lennon read was silly and a total LOL on his reading of the ad for the NJ club The Joint in the Woods.2

Sadly I also remember sitting my in the penthouse of the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute working on my thesis instrument, a Fabry Perot interferometer and hearing what went down on 8 Dec 1980. And then was another time I got much older. And I didn’t hear that on FM because back then Fairbanks was mostly off the grid and we liked it like that.

How and where we listen to music and assimilate pop culture is so different now. So much choice. No better, not worse, but kids I remember that I would sit up way to late to hear Lothar and the Hand People’s Space Hymn, because you just could not hear it any other way but on FM radio.3

  1. http://www.denniselsas.com/john-lennon/

  2. “he said losing his green card…”

  3. Although ultimately I did find it in a cut-out album bin.


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