Thursday, October 8, 2009


My friend Keith has a radio show. He’s a professor at the University of the Cumberlands (Williamsburg, Kentucky – in case you’re not familiar) in the Communication and Theatre department and he’s the general manager of the radio station there. Twice a week during this academic year, his show runs from 10-noon (EST) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The show is called Strictly the Sixties and showcases – you guessed it – 60s music. Keith wrote his doctoral dissertation on the music of the Beatles so I guess this was a logical extension of his interests and passion.

Last year, when we reconnected via Facebook (ain’t the Internet grand??) after 20 years, this radio program was one of the things that I discovered. Last year, listening was hit and miss. I was teaching full-time and while his show schedule didn’t actually conflict with my class schedule, unfortunately meetings - bloody meetings - often interfered with my listening. This year, my sabbatical allows much greater freedom so I’m able to listen with more regularity and, more significantly, uninterrupted.

The show is great fun. It runs for 2 hours, starting with music from the early 60s – pre-British invasion. Then it runs through a wonderful variety of stuff that you haven’t heard since you were a kid. The second hour of the show always starts with a set including a triple play of music from the Beatles (of course) and from, what Keith calls, the ‘usual musical suspects’ including Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. This is radio the way you want it to be. There is uninterrupted music – 5 or 6 or more songs at a run – but it is followed by a rundown of what you’ve just heard (including performer and year of release), something you rarely get on commercial radio. You’ll hear a song that you love followed by a song that makes you cringe. Some of the music is funny, some just plain weird, and some incredibly obscure. When’s the last time you heard the Beatles singing “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” (ever?) followed by the beautiful “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “The Fool on the Hill”? It is also interspersed with interesting bits of information and trivia about the bands, the individual performers and the 60s in general. It’s a great cultural history lesson, all delivered to your desktop in manageable 2 hour segments.

For me, of course, a big part of the fun is the fact that it’s my friend’s voice I’m listening to. It almost feels like we’re actually in the same room (the wonder of technology) even though we are 900 miles apart. And we’re not alone in the room. His wife- my friend Marianne, and our friends Bill and Teresa and Gabrielle are there in the room also. I hear all their voices, their laughter, and I feel like I’m sitting in the midst of love and acceptance.

It’s just a radio show – but it’s a radio show that has reminded me of a couple of important lessons. The first lesson is it reinforces what we know in our hearts – that when we’ve connected in a meaningful way with another person, it doesn’t matter how much time and distance separates you. You are connected – you’ve made an impact on them and they on you. They’ve helped to shape who you are and you’re never really without them after that. You carry them along with you and they are part of what makes you who you are. The second lesson? Of course, "plastics."

By the way - for those of you who have emailed me asking how to listen in - here's the web address:
Click on 'Listen Online.' Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment