Depending on how you looked at it; 1957 was either the best it was going to be, and it would all be downhill from there. Or it was the big Question Mark; the future seemed rife with doubts and you could feel ‘something’ was happening and it was scary. Pop Psychology wasn’t popular, or even considered around this time, but the whole idea of “who am I, what am I doing and where am I going” was what was on most people’s minds in 1957. Oh yeah, we still had the Red Scare to consider. And the Middle East was hot in the grips of another war, this time over who had rights to The Suez Canal – and there was always Berlin. But back home it was Civil Rights and sit-ins and marches – tear gas, fire hoses and German Shepherds.
Popular Music was still pretty tame, for the most part. Elvis was riding high, having made his debut on Ed Sullivan earlier in the year, and his very first starring movie debut, Loving You coming out within days. This was your music; the music you were familiar with, and like all music from certain periods in life, the stamp is indelible. This was the state of Top-40 radio. It wasn’t rapid-fire and frantic; there was quiet between records. Joe Niagara was calm and slow in his delivery, making sure you understood every word he was saying. Music wasn’t all rock n’ roll, it was everything that came out, everything that anybody would like – all in one place. Made for some pretty fractured listening, but you were used to that, that’s what music was all about to you as you grew up.
If you were born at the beginning of this century, listening to this is unquestionably strange and foreign to you – maybe as strange and foreign as the kids (yes, those are 16-17 year olds) in the picture above. But that’s what life was all about – and consider this; people born 20-30 years from now will be wondering what it was you were listening to in 2018 and how strange it was.
All depends on how you look at it – but right now, take a half-hour break and dive into the Joe Niagara Show on WIBG in Philadelphia from July, 1957.