B. Mitchel Reed – WMCA – June 28, 1963 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
I’m sure it’s a bit more complicated now, but back in the Dark Ages, when AM radio was the only game in town and Top-40 radio held sway over just about all your burgeoning musical taste, you depended on your radio to be the keeper of information and of all things current. The Disc Jockey, the guy who spun the records and filled in the quiet spots with rapid-fire delivery and insane situations was the most trusted person in your world, except maybe for Walter Cronkite, but that’s another whole media experience.
Top-40 radio echoed your life in those days, and did all the way until FM came out of the woodwork and changed everything. Top-40 was the era of the 2 minute masterpiece – the musical saga, putting its finger on every emotion you were coming up with, during these, your formative years. And they were confusing years – and you weren’t sure if you fit in or even fit. You were a jumble of feelings and impulses and run-on sentences. And for some reason, those songs spoke to you in ways your family or even your friends couldn’t.
And the guy doing the spinning and talking and offering t-shirts knew what you were thinking. You could tell – he talked like you thought; short bursts of insane sentences, put together for no discernible reason – but it all made sense, at least to you.
That was the power of the disc-Jockey in those days. The imparter of knowledge and sage advice, who you trusted implicitly. The one who created those indelible memories which, even listening 20, 30 or 50 years later, brings you right back to the exact place and time you first heard the song that changed your life, or your life for that moment. Until the next life changing moment came along, a few moments later.
You were, after all, a teenager.
So this half-hour of B. Mitchel Reed from WMCA in New York may ring bells, especially if you were there. If you weren’t, it may seem strange and foreign and the reason you don’t understand people older than you. Everybody has their own imprint on their own lives, no matter who or how old they are. It’s what makes us different.
Crank it up and enjoy.
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