A year ago I entered the final demographic. So far, so good.
@Deanland texted earlier, asking if I had a new affinity with WFAN, the New Yawk sports station that radiates at 660 on what used to be the AM “dial.” Back when range mattered, WFAN was still called WNBC, and its status as a “clear channel” station was non-trivial. Clear channel stations were the biggest of the big. The maximum power allowed was 50,000 watts, but only a handful stations in the U.S. and Canada, by agreements that dated from the 1930s, operated on channels that were clear of other stations at night. So statoins on those channels could be heard across the continent and to some degree the oceans as well. This is why, as a kid in New Jersey, I often listened to KFI from Los Angeles in the wee hours and as an adult in California I sometimes got WBZ from Boston. Now even “clears” like WFAN are protected only to 750 miles away, which means any or all of these stations also on 660 splatter over each other. Reminds me of a fake ad I did once back when I was at WSUS: All the world’s most beautiful music—all at once. We overdubbed everything we could onto one track, so it sounded like a cocktail party in hell, where everybody speaks loudly and nobody is listening.
Which brings me to something my 16-year old son asked about radio no long ago: What is the point of “range” and “coverage?” He’s a digital native who is used to being zero distance from everybody else on the Net, including every broadcaster, so by his frame range and coverage ar bugs, not features. His question wasn’t sarcastic, but it was meant to poke a point at my own frame of reference.
He poked again last month when we were driving from Boston to New York on a Sunday afternoon, listening to the only radio show he actually cares about: All A Capella on WERS. While WERS is one of Boston’s smaller stations, it has a good signal toward the west, so we got it nearly to Worcester. So, when we lost the signal, the kid pulled out the family iPad, which has a Net connection over the cell system, got WERS’ stream going, jacked the iPad jacked into the car radio, and listened to the end of the show, somewhere in Connecticut.
What he poked was the giant pile of obsolete trivia in my brain, about how AM and FM broadcasting works. It’s like knowing about steam engines.
But mostly I keep living in the future. That’s why I’m jazzed that both VRM and personal cloud development is rocking away, in many places. Following developments took me on three trips to Europe in May and June, plus two to California and one to New Zealand and Australia. Lots of great stuff going on. It’s beyond awesome to have the opportunity to help move so much good stuff forward.
Speaking of distance, the metaphor I like best, for the birthday at hand, is “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” Composed in the ’40s by Bobby Troup, the jazz composer and actor, it has been covered by approximately everybody in the years since. The Nelson Riddle sound track for the TV show Route 66 was evocative in the extreme: one of the best road tunes ever written and performed. In addition to that one I have ten other versions:
- Erich Kunzel
- John Mayer
- Chuck Berry
- Nat King Cole
- The Cramps
- The Surfaris
- Oscar Peterson & Manhattan Transfer
- Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby
- Manhattan Transfer
- Asleep at the Wheel
My faves are the last two. I’ll also put in a vote for Danny Gatton‘s Cruisin’ Deuces, which runs Nelson Riddle’s beat and muted trumpet through a rockabilly template of Danny’s own, and just kicks it.
Anyway, my birthday is happy, so far. Thanks for all the good wishes coming in.
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