Hits: 127

WPCNR THE SUNDAY BAILEY. December 19, 2021:

Radio got me through college in the great Middle West.

 Radio was a magic carpet of the airwaves in the night.

 It transported me to ballparks to voices of gravel voiced play-by-playmen  from Pittsburgh or Cleveland, (“You can kiss it Goodbye”)  painting word pictures of marvelous diamonds in the night or “swish swash GOOAAAALLLLLLL!” from ice palaces of the past of the Original 6 like Maple Leaf Gardens with the legendary Foster Hewitt mikeside  on Hockey Night in Canada from the gondola, or Les annunceurs des Les Canadiens from “the Yankee Stadium of hockey, ” the Montreal Forum where broadcasts in French sounded like Rocket Richard swooshing down the ice.

Radio was a sound-track of explorations in sound in the night as I read Russian literature into the night.

It got me up for 8 o’clock classes to the sound of “1230, the new WCOL” out of Columbus with the fresh voiced morning deejay announcing “a memory” and Paul and Paula singing, “Hey Hey Paula.” In the wee hours I might hear Charlie Greer on MusicRadio WABC 77, with his 20-record playlist. There was “The Rock of Chicago” and the Art Roberts Show that I’d pick up at 10 PM; until The Big 8 came on at around 1 AM on a Northwest wind. I’d also pick up Dick Summer on WBZ BOSTON.

But the radio station that thrust me into the future that got me going morning and night blown by wind from (then) snowy Canada from Windsor, Ontario, outside the Motor City, was the king of them all.

“The Big 8”


Or to paraphrase the station jingle phonetically, “theAHH BIGGGGG 8! CKAAAAALLLLLLDOUBLE UUUUUUUUUUUUUU DETROIT-WINDSOR”

It was the soundtrack of the night!

It introduced to the Motown Sound we never hear on the East Coast. It was straight out of Detroit and its 50,000 watts blasted the THE HITS, THE NEW SOUNDS,a constant stream of music to drive you through that term paper,  English assignment, or philosophy analysis, from the Canadian Border to New Orleans.

I was reminded of this great station, now sadly a talk radio format, with the New York Times obituary today of the Music Director of this station, a woman named Rosalie Trombly  from the early 1960s through 1982 picked the records played on the Big 8. 

She was renowned for picking future hits and working them into the CKLW playlists. I heard the great sounds of soul for the first time on CKLW, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Miracles (THE BIG 8 was where I first heard “Shop Around,” where I first heard Stevie Wonder, and groups whose records sounded like hits in the first 10 seconds, “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch” and the never-to-be forgotten first 5 seconds of “Satisfaction”.

Ms. Trombley  knew a hit when she heard it.  She was known as the Girl with the Golden Ear.

That was the incredible fascination of The Big 8: you heard new hits and the picks to click. It drove you to the new and made legends of Soul Music in the 60s and the English Sound.

Now today, radio is not the same. It is syndicated, talk oriented. It’s never fresh and highly repetitive.

But Sirius Satellite radio excitement all the way back. Sirius in your car gives you music and your favorites you like the songs that make you happy.  It entertains like The Big 8. The Big 8 was with the student under pressure in the night. It was your friend that fueled your adenaline and kept you wacking the keys to the Motown Sound.

The CKLW music to the max format with limited deejay talk (often only over the record intro) just picked up the tempo of the lonely night in the dorm or fraternity room,  typing on a typewriter . (Today’s student–listen up! You do not know how lucky you are not having to write papers on a typewriter, with having to leave 2 days to type the finished paper over. I still have nightmares like that.)

Sirius Sattelite radio with its Channel 72 50s Gold, 73- 60s Gold 74- BB King Bluesville duplicates that non-stop music format that CKLW pioneered.

CKLW when I was driving back from a football or basketball road game broadcast, kept me awake roaring up I-75 from Athens, or West back to Columbus from Pittsburgh, or back East from Springfield Ohio to Delaware, Ohio.

It was fresh and nostalgic and rocking all the time for you.

Today the horror of syndicated radio that lets local station owners  everywhere sound the same, and save money (with the exception of WVOX  “the BIG 1460” here in Westchester, (where I broadcast Tuesdays for the most exciting 10 minutes of Westchester news on the radio 7:50 to 8:00 AM), has eliminated that driving through the radio of different sounds and in areas around the country. Not to mention defocusing citizens living in those towns on what is happening in their local governments.

I applaud the podcasts and the efforts of  websites to focus on local issues.

They are the journalists filling the lack of local coverage.

Websites and podcasts and zoom casts are coming on, while print, and commercial journalistic websites are failing because they are not getting into the local issues or printing and publishing the facts that must be told for persons to understand what is happening to them.

Back in those CKLW days the stations had local newscasts. (They did not pick up the network radio newscasts, often poorly scripted and unclear today.( All news stations do not explain the issues and waste 10 minutes an hour on weather and traffic without helicopter aerial checks which were far more accurate in the past).

I miss the old. But the very fact you have a person writing on a site such as this means there is hope for media. Hope for better coverage in the future.

And more innovative website programming.

We need it.

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