Sunday, March 15, 2015 210pm. I am in a euphoric mood as the Detroit Redwings pound the Pittsburg Penguins 5-1 and the skies are grey with periodic breakthroughs of sunshine. As of 2pm PST a wind advisory is posted with gusts predicted to reach 45 mph, now they are blowing from south to southeast at 20-30 mph. Complementing all of this is the online radio station KUSC out of Southern California. You may asking, why this particular station Jim? Well, it goes back to the mid 1960s when I was at the tender age of 7 years old.
Mom and Dad usually stayed up to about 11pm and with siblings and I snug in bed they tuned the radio on the nightstand in their room to WJR 760 AM. At 1130pm the monotone sound of a jetliner increasing engine power while taxing down the runway then liftoff drifts from the speaker, then the DJ announces, “Night flight 760 now leaving.” The sound fades and soft classical plays as all have pleasant dreams until the morning news at 6am. This is my introduction to classical music. Compounding the initiation where the Beatles incorporating classical musicians in some of their music and space rock Pink Floyd expanded my musical interest into the stratosphere and beyond. In 1982 with a move to Southern California I searched the radio dial and found KMPC which played “The Great Stars and The Great Songs” such as Glen Miller and Bing Crosby. I continued listening even though some of my friends scratched their heads as they were into Blondie, Talking Heads, and Flock of Seagulls. One night, around 10pm, while on a long drive heading home radio station KFI AM, if memory serves correct, is on when an old-time radio broadcast of, Jimmy Stewart as the Six Shooter airs. The stars were aligned that night for this was the first time I had heard a show from yesteryear; elated I listened and felt like a child from the 1940s parked on the living room floor in front of the radio. Instantly, I became a fan and regularly tuned in to hear Burns and Allen, Sherlock Holmes, The Great Gildersleeve, and my favorite Jack Benny. I’d only seen Jack Benny on television in the twilight of his career doing holiday specials so hearing his radio program was unexpected surprise; I became a fan immediately. I still listen to it today as I have all the radio broadcasts on disc. Highlarious!
I did not discover Classical KUSC until a couple of years ago when yearning for a compliment to the surroundings I was writing in, the local library. Patrons reading the day’s newspaper, laptops open to school work, other writers finishing a story, and the noise of children having fun. The internet now provides great sounds through earphones as I gaze about searching for the right words.
There is a local classical station in Portland, Oregon near to where I reside but the music of Isaac Pearlman, Yo Yo Ma, John Williams, Holst, and Mozart, among others sounds better coming from Southern California, powerful, energetic. Maybe because of the 15 years I lived there or because of the hot sun shining on beach goers, the Santa Ana winds blowing out the smog creating fantastic panoramas, or the Rose Parade in Pasadena? Could it be that I am a romantic at heart, eh?