By far the best birthday gift I ever got was back in the fourth or fifth grade when Mom and Dad gave me a home radio station play set that I spotted in the Sears' catalog. It was a package set complete with a turntable, microphone, headphones, and marker board that allowed me to set the radio station's schedule and songlists.
A short while later I got a recordable 8-track player that allowed me to spend most of my weekends creating radio shows that featured my not so good radio mimicry voice and burgeoning 45 record collection.
My station featured the stone solid Stoney Duncan's new show in the morning and the wacky Figgy Figueroa noon time stint, a show that was a bit too close for comfort to WCCO-AM's Steve Cannon's. The day's highlight however was probably Shotgun Smalley's drive time show featuring all the latest hits from Barry Manilow to Paper Lace.
Somewhere in my Father's house are a bunch of 8-track tapes featuring the last broadcasts from WQSR's many talented DJs. I'm sure if listened to now they would fall neatly in line with the hall of fame tapes of Eddie Cantor, Fred Allen, and all those other classic radio shows.
It should be clearly stated that one of my many cocky misconceptions about my own abilities (and it ranks right up there with my belief my baseball abilities are of Major League caliber) is that my few talents rise above even the given geniuses of this world. I've never shaken the belief that the few things I do well, I do better than anyone I know.
Among these hidden talents lay the DJing skills that could light up the radio dial like no one from here to Topeka. Up until this past week, my favorite DJ was the Current's Mary Lucia, who is among the few people left in this world who has the ability to make me chortle aloud.
Having just received my XM Satellite radio, I have fallen under the spell of a new favorite DJ whose skills I have to admit go far beyond my own. The second installment of Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's possible to hear something brand new that still sounds as if it has existed forever beyond time.
There are several things to recommend about Dylan's show. First and foremost is his obvious knowledge and love of music. This has been evident before in the covers of songs he has done over the years. The songs DJ Bob plays from Ruth Brown to LL Cool J, reinforce the man has a great ear. The other thing that has been a delightful reminder is Dylan's wicked sense of humor. In the first theme time hour that featured songs about weather, he introduced a Judy Garland tune saying something that Ms. Garland was from Minnesota, "just like Prince."
His second theme time hour featured songs about moms and included a wonderful opening poem about all the things moms do for their kids. "M is for all the things mom has done; O is for the other things mom has done; T is for all the things mom has done..." My favorite part of the mom show was Bob's introduction to Julia Lee's "Mama Don't Allow It." "This is Julia Lee, one of those singer/piano players. Lots of double entrendres, making her very popular in Kansas City." HUH?! It reminded me of the first week's observation that Chicago really isn't the Windy City but rather that distinction should obviously go to Dodge City, Kansas.
It's a long road that carries one from the days young dreamers used to hide a radio underneath their pillows late at night to try and catch the 50,000 watt stations located throughout the country to now where we have satellite's beaming down independent channels providing an alternative to the generic stations that one dials up on a regular radio. That new/old road crosses with another that has someone somewhere losing himself in dreams on a system advertised in the Sears catalog.