It’s March 1959 – You’re A Teenager – You Live In New York – Your Parents Bought You A Tape Recorder For Christmas – They Are Regretting It.
New York AM Radio Dial Hopping – March, 1959 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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You finally got it. After months of hounding, hinting and placing copies of magazines with Webcor ads all around your apartment, your parents finally broke down and got you a tape recorder for Christmas. Two Speeds – you can record on both sides of tape and you can record for a whole hour on each side. Which is good, because you only got one reel of tape and it’s up to you to get more. You don’t have it quite down yet. You only have so much time on a tape before it runs out, so you can’t exactly record whole songs, or even much of your favorite disc-jockey. But you don’t care – you take your tape recorder everywhere – every time Alan Freed announces a new song, you hit the record button. And if you like it, you keep it – if you don’t, you can erase it – most of the time you miss the names of the songs because you’re either late hitting the record button, or busy erasing the song after.
Still, you’re thrilled and you’re thinking of all the money you’re saving not buying 45s anymore. Your friends aren’t so thrilled, because you’re cutting off the beginnings and endings and no one knows what the name of the song is or who’s singing it. Your parents aren’t thrilled because you play the same tape over and over for days on end and its getting on their nerves.
But you’re just getting started.
Here is an hour’s worth (give or take) of various DJ’s on New York Stations from around March of 1959. Alan Freed figures in there a lot, and a lot of the songs are totally unfamiliar. And, like most kids with tape recorders (and there were a lot, since this was new technology in the 1950s) tapes were a precious commodity and you had to make them last as for as long as you could. So this hour, like a lot of hours, is jumpy and somewhat schizo, but the history contained on these tapes, however disjointed, is invaluable. You’ll also notice the sheer makeup of music genres being played during the average show is wildly all over the map. Further evidence early top-40 radio was a lot more eclectic than we imagined.
Anyway – apologies for the fits and starts and chopped beginnings and endings. If I could go back in time I would tell the kid to knock it off and buy him case of tape just to quit it. But no . . .can’t do that quite yet.