Showing posts with label MOR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MOR. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The shack by the track

The shack by the track . . . from above (Google Maps)

I would have thought the "shack by the track" off of "beautiful Choctaw Trail" would have been long gone by now. After all, I've been long gone from Baton Rouge for more than 31 years.

But no. The shack -- a rather forlorn-looking Quonset hut even when it was still home to WIBR radio a half century ago -- still stands at what once was 600 Neosho St. in north Baton Rouge . . . at least according to the latest view available to Google Maps.

Google Maps street view
Back in the day -- my day -- it was hard to miss WIBR when you were driving down Choctaw, about a quarter mile off River Road on the north end of Capitol Lake. You can make quite the impact on a Quonset roof with enough black paint, a giant W, I, B and R's worth of black paint.

Time has worn away the giant WIBR on the roof, revealing the previous "1220 kilocycles" painted up there. To my generation, WIBR always was Radio 13, but when the brand-new station signed on in July 1948 -- Baton Rouge's seventh or eighth, counting all the FM stations its AM predecessors were opening before they closed them in just a few years -- it was WCLA, with 250 not-so-booming, daytime-only watts at 1220 on your radio dial.

In that Quonset hut, with a tower plopped down right in Capitol Lake. That right there had to have helped coverage, and with 250 watts, WCLA needed all the help it could get.

Morning Advocate, July 18, 1948

THAT Quonset hut, stuck between a contrived lake, a grimy industrial park and a "Choctaw Trail" that was beautiful only in the supreme irony of the WIBR announcers having dubbed it such, nevertheless was a tin-can incubator of Baton Rouge broadcasting royalty. Pappy Burge. Bob Earle. B.Z. (Bernard Zuccaro). "Ravin' Dave" Davison.  J.C. Politz.

That Quonset hut was the first radio station I'd ever been in -- the first time I got to glimpse what was on the other end of the radio waves energizing my transistor radio. It had to have been 1969, and I was an 8-year-old geek with mad telephone skillz -- mad enough to be quick enough on the rotary dial to score a MAJOR-LABEL LP from the then middle-of-the-road station.

OK, so the record album was Jimmy Roselli's Let Me Sing and I'm Happy and not the Beatles. Or even Bobby Sherman.

But it was a MAJOR AWARD . . . and it wasn't a leg lamp. ("The soft glow of electric sex" would have been lost on my prepubescent self.)

Yes, I still have that LP today.

When I encountered "the shack by the track" somewhere on the cusp of the '60s becoming the '70s, it was a weekend. I'd won this record album from a big-time radio station in a small-time structure in a city that sometimes confused big-time and small-potatoes, my parents had difficulty with the concept of "regular business hours," and so the old man steered the 1967 Mercury Park Lane off "beautiful Choctaw Trail," through the lovely meadow of Quonset, concrete and quiet despair, then up to the gravel parking in front of 600 Neosho St.

There were two cars there -- ours and the weekend disc jockey's.


A young man answered the door. Long hair, blue jeans, bare feet.

"My boy here won a record album."


The young man let us into the reception area, from which you could see EVERYTHING through the big studio window. They could launch Apollo 8 from that control room.

If you somehow didn't get electrocuted by all the technology in there, you might could get yourself to the damn moon. I did not say "damn", though "damn" was the least of the colorful language I learned from Ralphie's -- uh, my -- old man. Daddy would have whipped my ass; I would have learned a few new terms for future reference, no doubt.

WIBR handout, circa 1955

THE FAMOUS weekend DJ, Steve St. John, apologized for his casual attire and bare feet amid the musical merry-go-round of Andy Williams, Jerry Vale and whatnot. He explained that things were pretty cas on weekends at WIBR, and he was gracious about our lackadaisical attitude toward Monday-Friday, 9 to 5.

And I got my Jimmy Roselli album, which I expect to fully musically appreciate any year now.

Later, I figured out that Steve St. John (who by this time had advanced well beyond "weekend guy" in the WIBR and Baton Rouge-radio pecking order) was Steven Robert Earle, son of Bob Earle, who ran the joint.

Yours truly, a former "overnight guy" himself, also figured out that radio was one of the coolest things ever, in the sense that one "figures out" what one knew all along. Quonset-hut studios, as it turns out, only add to the mystique.

And they're apparently damned durable -- more durable than the major station that gave out major awards to majorly geeky little kids. WIBR, decades past its MOR and Top-40 heyday, is (at best) an afterthought today, something a major radio chain doesn't quite know what to do with. In recent years, it's been off the air a lot more that it's been on the air.

Now, it rebroadcasts KQXL, the big urban station in Baton Rouge. In my mind's eye, WXOK is the big urban station in Baton Rouge, but that's another memory of faded glory . . . in my hometown.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Sophisticated rhythm

We're driving down the middle of Music Road today, spinning sophisticated selections in full-fidelity stereophonic sound to provide the soundtrack for the cocktail lounge of your dreams.

I'll give you a moment to get your Draper on.

Skinny tie? Check.

Fedora? Check.

Old-Fashioned? Hit me again, Sam. And a martini for the lady.

YEP, this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth would not be out of place one bit somewhere on the FM dial of four or five decades ago -- apart from folks saying, "Hey! This is the best station on the radio!"

This week, the Big Show is all about music for grown-ups back in a time when I wasn't one yet. And I must say that the grown-ups weren't nearly so dumb as I thought back then. Their taste in music, I must admit, was impeccable.

Which is as good a word as any to describe what you'll hear this week on this little program of ours. So sit yourself down, take off your hat and order yourself something refreshing. The entertainment's gonna be great tonight.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all.  Be there. Aloha.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Music, Magic and Martinis

Remember when radio could set a mood, even when that wasn't its overt aim?

Remember when listening to the radio in the night, in the dark, could transport you across town . . . or across the continent?

Remember the magic? Remember the variety? 

Remember classy music, grown-ups behind the microphone and a world that wasn't quite your own but nevertheless held this mysterious allure, whether you could admit it back in the day or not?

Remember back in the day?

Your Mighty Favog does, for he is old . . . ish. And 3 Chords & the Truth does, too, this week, for we at the Big Show are in a mood.

YES, we love our rock 'n' roll here, and our country, too, but sometimes . . . sometimes we really miss this stuff. In the '60s and '70s, folks my age thought this was "old people's music."

Now, it's kind of like a security blanket, realizing as we do that we are today's "old people." It's also memories, magic and music in the night, wafting through the airwaves from across town or across the country.

You can't put that in an iPod or a smart phone, though, by God, this week 3 Chords & the Truth is gonna try. Being that's the only option we have these days.

MAYBE this episode of the Big Show should be called "Music, Magic and Martinis in the Night." Whatever you call it, just call it a fine listening experience.

Especially with a martini in the night.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: It's a party!

I'm just gonna say it. I'm just gonna put it out there . . . the heck with modesty.

This year's yuletide edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is the most fun you can have at a Christmas party without bare butts and photocopiers being in the mix.

And the Big Show is a party -- every week, yes, but especially for every year's Christmas edition. This year is no exception. Great music, great times, great program.

By the way, don't ask about the big smudge on the office Xerox machine. Trust me on this one.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Alo-ho-ho-ho-ha.

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Friday, December 13, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Hat trick

Fedoras: Is there anything they can't do?

If you could boil down the latest edition of 3 Chords & the Truth to a single, pithy sentence, that might be it. And right about . . . now . . . you're saying "HUH?"

Let's just say that on the Big Show this week, there's a lot of stuff dating to back when men wore hats. Hell, there's even a song on the program about "When Everyone Wore Hats." Music sure was good when hats were way cool.

Speaking of way cool, French pop music from the '50s and '60s may have been equaled from time to time, but never bested. Yeah, we have some of that this week, too.

Just listen to the gol dang show, will 'ya? In your heart, you know I'm right.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, November 15, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: The listening room

Long ago and (seemingly) far away -- during a time when vinyl ruled the world and the Internet was the Inter . . . WHAT? -- we had things called "music listening rooms," found in college unions and public libraries, and sometimes these things we called "record stores."

There, you'd find a central file of LPs, phonographs and speakers or headphones in little rooms with comfortable chairs . . . and people. Listening to music. Discovering music. Enjoying the latest sounds or rediscovering old favorites.

These were happy places -- relaxing places -- filled with music and the joy thereof.

I'D LIKE to think that's exactly what 3 Chords & the Truth is, only online and digitized for modern times. Pandora and the like are kind of like that, only on the Big Show, you have someone -- an actual human and not a computer server -- curating the whole thing for you. Turning you onto things you might not have thought about. Putting music together in ways that might not have occurred to you.

Or anyone. Because your Mighty Favog marches to the beat of a different drummer. Preferably Gene Krupa. Or Ringo Starr.

Maybe Buddy Miles.

AS LAGNIAPPE, I'm sort of like the "fun" uncle your parents warned you about. "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."

There's a rock song for everything, you know. Or at least close enough for government work. Let the reader understand.

Anyway, that's what 3 Chords & the Truth is all about, this week and every week. This week, likewise, you mind is liable to be blown. In a good and educational way, of course.

So, ignore what your parents have told you about me and the Big Show. They're probably listening to that Foreigner album for the umpteenth time. Or the Worst of Fabian album they ordered after watching that K-Tel TV commercial in 1974.

Your Mighty Favog, he uses vinyl for good and not for evil.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.