The late sleeper en­joys morn­ing mu­sic

The Willow Grove Guide - - OPINION -

Reg­u­lar read­ers of th­ese es­says know that, back in May, I re­turned to the air­waves — af­ter a 20-year-hiatus — as the Tues­day morn­ing dee­jay (8 a.m. to noon) on WRDV FM 89.3 in Hat­boro. As I’ve said on the air a few times since then “it’s the most fun I could have with­out be­ing ar­rested” (lib­er­ally adapted from the “most fun with my clothes on” line).

From my three past decades as a dee­jay, I have a sub­stan­tial per­sonal col­lec­tion of vinyl records; how­ever, I have burned many of them to CDs and use them in­stead on the air. It’s eas­ier to take a case of CDs than a case of vinyl, but turnta­bles are avail­able at the sta­tion and some of the dee­jays still play the old records. In fact, col­lec­tors of vinyl are, once again, on the rise. New artists are start­ing to re­lease 33 1/3rd RPM records again be­cause, when there’s a de­mand, there will al­ways be some­one look­ing to sup­ply it.

Shawn Nakkula, co-owner of The Rail Stop on Spring Av­enue in Elkins Park, told me dur­ing a re­cent visit that he is now turn­ing his book shop into a record store. He’s ren­o­vat­ing now, but when he re-opens in Septem­ber, he’ll have more than 20,000 LPs for en­thu­si­asts to pour over (the ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor of this news­paSHU LV D KuJH IDn RI YLnyO; yRu’OO finG KLP there for sure). Shawn ac­tu­ally bought one col­lec­tion re­cently of more than 15,000 LPs, many of them still fac­tory sealed. There’s a shop in North Wales sell­ing vinyl too. In fact, there are sev­eral do­ing so within driv­ing dis­tance of this news­pa­per.

Peo­ple of­ten ask me, “Where do you get such great mu­sic?” And I tell them that as a mu­sic col­lec­tor, be­sides go­ing to vin­tage record stores, sim­i­lar to Shawn’s, I also haunt thrift shops and yard sales — from Rio Grande, N.J., to Warmin­ster — look­ing for, and of­ten finGLnJ, JHPV IURP WKH HUD , SODy HDFK week. You can buy them new on Ama­zon, of course, but it’s bet­ter (and less ex­pen­sive) to buy them used. CDs, un­like a vinyl record, seem to re­sist dam­age if han­dled cor­rectly.

OK, so do­ing a morn­ing show means that I have to get up around 6 a.m. (and I am a no­to­ri­ously late sleeper), but I get to play mu­sic each week from the big band and swing era (1930s through the early 1960s). To the point, that means the songs that my par­ents danced to and the ones in life’s sound­track that took me through high school and col­lege. Is that cool or what? Lis­ten­ers of all ages call in and tell me they, too, like hear­ing those great tunes.

There’s Perry Como, whom my mother and most of the ladies of her gen­er­a­tion swooned over from his big band days un­til he was a huge star on TV. Vo­cal­ists and groups like The An­drews Sis­ters, The Four Aces, Johnny Des­mond, Johnny Mercer, Kay Starr, Doris Day, Patti Page (whose hit tune “Old Cape Cod” launched a mil­lion va­ca­tions — and be­came our hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion), Jo Stafford, Frankie Laine, Vaughn Mon­roe, Hoagie Carmichael and, of course, the crooner’s crooner, Bing Crosby.

Still top­ping among the big band lead­ers is Glenn Miller, not only be­cause he died serv­ing his coun­try in World War II at the peak of his pop­u­lar­ity, but also be­cause of his won­der­ful ar­range­ments. He is a lis­tener fa­vorite, and his band is still play­ing and is now un­der the di­rec­tion of vo­cal­ist Nick Hilscher and con­tin­ues sell­ing out venues all over the coun­try and the world. Benny Good­man, Ar­tie Shaw, Woody Her­man and Stan Ken­ton also en­joy pop­u­lar­ity among mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions. Many area high schools have jazz and swing bands. Lots of kids like this mu­sic bet­ter than their other choices.

WRDV FM is a pub­lic ra­dio sta­tion li­censed to Warmin­ster/Hat­boro and with mul­ti­ple net­work con­nec­tions to sta­tions in Bucks County and Cen­ter City Philadel­phia. Ev­ery­one work­ing there — from the big brass to the guy who emp­ties the trash cans — is a vol­un­teer, as in no one gets paid (un­like some pub­lic sta­tions that “out salary and out lux­ury” the com­mer­cial ones). To EH D GHHMDy WKHUH, fiUVW yRu KDYH WR SDVV Dn eight-week course. Pride runs deep among the sta­tion’s staffers.

The dee­jays are from all walks of life. We’ve got a lawyer, engi­neers (of all stripes), teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors, sales­peo­ple, both men and women. Some are re­tired; some are not. The old­est is 86 years old, and he still pulls a weekly fourhour morn­ing shift and plays some of the rarest mu­sic on the air.

Thanks to stream­ing In­ter­net (Live365,, we also have lis­ten­ers all over the coun­try and the world. We can track lis­tener num­bers, and the web au­di­ence is im­pres­sive. Since the big band for­mat isn’t widely copied, mu­sic fans in Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, Mex­ico and Florida are among my weekly lis­ten­ers.

When I played an as­sort­ment of early 1940s tunes around Me­mo­rial Day, I got a call from an 87-year-old man in Warmin­ster who said, “I love the mu­sic; I used to dance to it at the USOs dur­ing World War II.” It’s a fam­ily con­nec­tion be­cause it links the gen­er­a­tions. On my July 2 show ,I played marches from the orig­i­nal big band, John Philip Sousa, and the switch­board lit up.

A sage once said “Mu­sic tames the sav­age beast,” and I guess it does. I know it tames me and makes me look for­ward to Tues­days like I never have be­fore. Life con­tin­ues to be good.

Lis­ten to Ted Tay­lor Tues­days on WRDV FM (89.3) from 8 a.m. to noon or con­tact him at ted@ted­tay­

Ted Tay­lor

At Large

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