On the all night radio

September 3, 2006

“Where was I when the lights went out
Up in my room listening to twist and shout
Hot summer nights by the window fan
Out on the air waves with a big dance band
On the all night radio”

Things were really different for us back in the day…or were they?

My radio was my best friend. It was my link to everything outside of my neighborhood. News of world events were directly tied to the music for me, and have remained so even to this day. At that time we had only AM radio, WLS and WCFL, both Chicago stations. Disc Jockeys like Larry Lujack, Dick Biondi, Clark Weber and John “Records” Landecker were names we all new and we didn’t miss the top forty countdowns.

“Gotta hear that new sound from across the ocean
All strange and soulful full of blue emotion
Makes you wanna miss somebody that you don’t even know (Thanks!)
Lying there in the dark all alone with the sound down low
On the all night radio”

New 45’s came in down at the corner dimestore, “Jeanies”, once a week. She usually had at least the top ten, according to that week’s countdown. I could save up and get one record. This was mid 60’s…I don’t think I even knew what an album was for three or four more years. All I knew was there was some really cool music coming out of my radio, and I could not get enough.

At that time, at least for me, that was my choice… play records, or listen to the radio. Additionally, electrical current being a necessity, even the clock radio on my nightstand had its limitations. My transistor radio went with me to all other locations and I was in good shape, as long as the 9 volt battery held out.

Wherever I went, my trusty transistor radio went along. If I walked to the park or rode my bike, the radio was close to my ear so I didn’t miss a stitch. It became a point of irritation for my parents who did not always have my full attention. This was about status quo up until the time when I could drive…and the car radio diminished the need for a transistor. As technology advanced, so did the means of satisfying the music junkie within.

Now, forty some years later, my transistor has been replaced by an iPod. It holds a gazillion more songs and the battery lasts a lot longer. There is a docking station at work and in my car. Almost our entire cd library fits in a little pocket in the front of my purse.

Everyday I see people of all ages, in all walks of life, with a little battery powered box that brings their world a little closer. And I wonder, are things really that different now than they were back in the day?

“Where’s that music coming from?
Sure got a whole lotta soul
On the all night radio
When you close your eyes to the dark soft glow
Tune into the world on the all night radio”

All Night Radio – Tim Krekel

Per eBay:

Vintage Transistor Radio
Soundesign Model 1177
Unusual 2-tone Radio
Circa: 1963
Battery: 9V (not included)
Wrist strap – Nice retro design
Great radio to collect or put on display

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12 Responses to “On the all night radio”

  1. mjd Says:

    Wow, your entry is very much about “Back in the Day” and brings back floods of memories. I grew up listening to the radio too; however, my experience is very different than yours. Since I lived in a city that did not have television until the 1950’s, radio was a main source of entertainment for many families. In my family, my father turned on the radio when he woke-up in the morning, and we kept the radio on until my parents went to bed at night. For some strange reason, we did not usually turn-off the radio even when we left our house. We listened to Arthur Godfrey and Paul Harvey. My sisters and I listened to adventure serial dramas like “Sky King,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “The Shadow,” which was a very scary program to a little five year old girl. I believe that some television soap operas like “The Guiding Light” and “Search for Tomorrow” actually began on the radio. We listened to music as well. My favorites songs were “I Taut I Taw a Puddy-Tat by Danny Kaye and a song with what seems like questionable lyrics called “Roving Kind.”

    Those were the days, my friend.

  2. willi Says:

    I have heard tale of radios such as these. I think my sister had one.

    I remember the transistor radio, but mostly sports. I remember listening to the Razorbacks play football. We listened to them on the radio in the Saline River bottoms while we were stacking wood for deer camp.

    I also remember working at Lynn’s Grocery Store on Saturday’s when the Razorbacks were playing. Mr. Lynn would turn the radio on through the p.a. system and all the shoppers could keep up with the game.

  3. Jay Says:

    I remember when I was a kid we only had one radio station in town. But, I could barely get a station in Little Rock and listen to “Crazy” Craig O’Neal in the mornings sometimes.

    Our local radio station broadcast on both FM and AM. The AM side was at 900 on the dial and they went off the air at 10 pm. After that I could listen to WLS out of Chicago. Chicago was so far away. It might as well been half-way across the planet for me.

    Good times, good times.

  4. dilling Says:

    does it date me horribly if I say I remember those? If I remember a use for 9V batteries? Thank god for my mp3 player….

  5. debi Says:

    What a lovely post.You totally took me back in time.I had forgotten what a big deal it was when they came out with the transistor radio.During World Series season everyone had a radio glued to their ear at recess time.Teachers too. Thanks,deb

  6. daddy d Says:

    Radio sounds are always great. They pretty much are free. They can come into your space from around the world. Many, many years ago I bought a radio antenna kit from GE. It would have pulled in stations from around the world … if I would ever have installed it. But then some good projects don’t get done … It is funny that I think of that failure to complete the project. But then your writing makes me think. Thanks

  7. chuck e Says:

    I’m pretty sure the Soundesign 1177 pocket transistor radio was actually manufactured in the 1970s. Do you recall just when you had yours? I have the red version (I collect radios)…I like the 1177’s center tuning dial, it’s just a trip back in time dialling around the AM band, and a special treat at night when the distant stations roll in. Aahhh, the memories of WLS fading in and out on my transistor radios as a kid. Too bad music is all but gone on AM (though there still is some). For me a good old transistor radio is still more fun than a device like an iPod, which I have yet to own…

  8. Anonymous Says:

    This is so funny, cause back in the day-WJJD was the Top 40 station from 1955-1960 So up here in Chicago, we DX’ed stations like KOMA,Ok City, or WBZ Boston, WABC NY, WIL St. Louis and many more–because WJJD was daytime only. WLS began Top 40 in 1960! At that time I lived in Joliet, so WLS came in stronger than any other station, wow! All that music and any radio would pick it up. All that is left of the music is Real Oldies 1690. realoldies1690.com
    The station is gone already, but the internet remains. Paul Drake

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Makes you wanna miss somebody that you don’t even know

  10. Kelly Says:

    I remember getting my red Soundesign transistor radio for Christmas in the mid-70s. I took it everywhere with me. I too listened to WLS and, after reading this commentary, remember Larry Lujack. I lived about 1 1/2 hours away from Chicago so mine came in crystal clear. Brings back so many memories. What I remember most is my Barbie dolls dancing to the hits on my transistor radio — tuned into WLS — hidden behind my vinyl fold out doll house.


  11. […] you have been reading here for awhile you will remember me sharing him with you here, and here, and here. John wrote about him here. Early on  you couldn’t find him on youTube, […]

  12. Kathleen Says:

    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds
    also, Thanks.


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