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Disclaimer: The material presented in the Radio and Television Nostalgia section was recorded from copyrighted sources prior to 1978 and more than 28 years ago (copyright protection was extended considerably for works produced in 1978 and beyond). As such, the items I recorded presumably have passed into the public domain. Furthermore, these are low-bandwidth recordings that rank in the category of "telephone quality." If you believe that something offered here violates your intellectual property rights, please send me a link to a site where the same material can be purchased, and within ten business days of receiving such notification I will link to your site and, if you insist, withdraw my low-bandwidth recording from here.

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Radio and Television Nostalgia

  1. WGN Television News at 1:00 PM Sunday, May 5, 1963 - I don't know what motivated me, as an 11-year-old kid, to lay a microphone up against the television speaker on this particular day, but it certainly was a "newsy" day. The Russians, admittng for the first time that Adolf Hitler was dead, provided descriptions of the evidence they had found in 1945. Chateaugay had won the Kentucky Derby the day before. Other news included a sunken boat, an assassination, and unrest in Haiti. Nelson Rockefeller had just remarried; prisoners had escaped from the Louisiana State Prison; a book dealer in Poughkeepsie, NY had been evicted to make room for an expressway, and more. I found this 12.5-minute clip interesting enough to preserve for posterity.
  2. Sir Winston Churchill - Funeral, 1965 - Early in 1965, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill died. I captured 12 minutes of audio from the television news coverage of his funeral.
  3. Clark Weber on WLS-AM, August 5, 1965 - I became a fan of Top 40 radio in the mid-1960s, and Clark Weber, host of the WLS-AM morning show, became my favorite radio personality. I especially enjoyed the ongoing rivalry he carried on with evening host Ron Riley. So, when I obtained an AM radio tuner that could plug into a microphone socket, naturally I tuned it to WLS and plugged it into my tape recorder. Especially interested in his comments about Riley, I cut out almost all of the commercials and much of the music, resulting in this 27-minute clip.
  4. Northeastern U.S. Blackout, November 9, 1965 - It was the first widespread power outage in the USA, and while most of the northeastern radio stations went silent, AM station WHAM in Rochester, NY came back on the air using emergency generator power. By turning my directional radio in a way that suppressed the Chicago stations, I was able to pick up WHAM in between them, so I recorded 12.5 minutes of their live coverage.
  5. First Football Game and Field Dedication - Munster High School's Mustang Field, October 22, 1966 - Munster, Indiana's newly-built Munster High School opened its doors to its first students in September 1966, and I was there as a member of the Class of 1969. The first football game ever played on our brand-new Mustang Field happened at the first MHS Homecoming on October 22, 1966, and I was there as a charter member of Munster's band. Radio station WJOB broadcast the game, so I started a tape rolling before leaving home and stopped it upon my return. I then edited it down to remove long breaks and unrelated material preceding and following the game. This 108-minute audio clip includes much of the play-by-play coverage and the post-game highlights.
  6. WLS During The 1967 AFTRA Strike - When the regular radio personalities walked off the job for a few weeks in the spring of 1967, management and clerical staff manned the microphones instead. Here's a 30-minute sample of how WLS-AM sounded during that time. Too bad I didn't record that U.S. 30 Drag Strip commercial, of which you can hear only the beginning! Little did I realize then that it would eventually be considered a classic ad. WLS played those ads so often that I considered them annoying at the time.
  7. WKFM Antenna Disaster, February 2, 1970 - As my musical interests drifted away from Top 40 hits and into stereo, I became a fan of easy-listening station WKFM. On the morning of Ground Hog Day in 1970, their signal suddenly vanished, and WLS News had the story in this 41-second clip. Young reporter Jim Johnson covered it, and Jim continues to do news on WLS more than 40 years later.

 

On-Location Sound Effects

All maps in this section are courtesy of Yahoo! Maps. (Yahoo! hosts this web site.)

  1. Theremin Sounds, 1968 - I was a big fan of electronic music, including the Moog Synthesizer and other synthetic sound sources. After reading a magazine article about an obscure electronic musical instrument called a Theremin (named after its Russian inventor), I ordered a kit of parts and assembled one. I quickly learned how to make spooky sound effects with it, so I signed up for Munster High School's 1968 spring talent show and gave an on-stage performance. Later that year, in preparation for Halloween, I recorded 43 minutes of spooky Theremin sounds, from which I dubbed the eeriest 15 minutes' worth onto a tape loop that I played through a speaker mounted in an open upstairs window on the big evening. It was a hit with the local kids, so I gave encore performances each Halloween for a few years thereafter. Here's the complete 43-minute recording, which is inherently monophonic but has synthetic stereo effects that vary from one segment to the next, starting with a simple delay and ending with a back-and-forth bouncing echo effect. The presence or absence of reverb adds additional variety.
  2. Grand Trunk Railroad Trains and 45th Ave. Traffic, 1970 - I made my first train recordings along the Grand Trunk Western Railway about a block east of White Oak Ave. (map at right) in Munster, IN (near the northwest corner of Indiana). Now a business district, the section of 45th Ave. near which these tracks pass was rural residential in 1970, and my neighbor had a cousin who lived there. We visited them and walked out behind their property to record some trains passing by. I had just bought my Hitachi TRQ-222 portable stereo cassette recorder and decided to take it along, primarily for the purpose of showing people how good it sounded (I had pre-recorded some music to use as a demo). The idea of recording trains first occurred to me after we arrived there. This segment of the Grand Trunk Western Railway was, and still is, one of the busiest railroads in America, though it now operates as part the Canadian National Railway system. After recording a couple of passing trains, we walked out to the front of the property and recorded some traffic passing by on 45th Ave. This 5-minute clip has it all, including a very short train, a normal train, automobiles, and a motorcycle.
  3. Penn Central Fast Freight, 1970 - Just 96 seconds from the first distant toot of the air horn to the last fading sound of the caboose disappearing in the distance, this northbound Penn Central was one of the fastest-moving full-length freight trains I ever saw. I recorded this train in downtown Lansing, IL, along the east side of the tracks on the south side of their Ridge Road crossing (map at right). Although they still appear on maps, those tracks have been gone for many years now. Ridge Road still dips down to cross the old right-of-way, segments of which have become (and more are still becoming) bicycle trails. This location is just a short distance northwest of where I recorded the Grand Trunk trains. Notice the three-way railroad junction near the lower right-hand corner of this map -- it also appears at upper left on the Grand Trunk recording location map above. The Illinois/Indiana state line appears as a faint dashed line passing through the Lansing Country Club. Curiously, the wrong tracks have been removed from the map on the Illinois side. The Grand Trunk Western (now Canadian National) appears to end at the state line, though in fact it remains active, and the Penn Central still appears on the map, though in fact it is gone.
  4. Erie Lackawanna Freight Slowly Accelerates, 1970 - While driving through Hammond, IN, in the vicinity of Gavit High School, I spotted a northbound Erie Lackawanna freight parked a short distance south of the 175th Street crossing. I parked my car, walked over to the east side of the tracks at the south side of the crossing (map at right), set up my stereo cassette recorder, and waited. Eventually the diesel's headlight brightened, suggesting that it was preparing to move, so I started recording. Sure enough, the train blasted out a warning from its air horn and began a gradual acceleration, taking nearly 5 minutes to pass completely by. Toward the end it was moving quite rapidly, and a washout under one of the rails made the boxcars sway vigorously from side to side, bottoming out their springs and making loud banging noises. I became concerned that they might even tip over, so I backed away from the scene and hoped that I wasn't about to witness the demise of my recorder. Fortunately, no disaster happened, and I gained a rather remarkable recording. This location is just a short distance northeast of where I recorded the Penn Central train. Notice the I-80/94 interchange at Calumet Ave. near the left-hand side of this map -- it also appears near the upper right-hand corner of the Penn Central recording location map above.
  5. Raceway Park, May 29, 1971 - A popular stock car racing track located at 130th St. and Ashland Ave. in Calumet Park, IL (map at right), Raceway Park attracted thousands of fans from the South Suburban Chicagoland area and beyond from 1938 until the end of the 20th century, but eventually it closed down and fell to the wrecking ball. I often went there with some friends during the 1960s, and by 1970 one of my neighbors, the late Bob Howerton, had begun driving car #7 on that track. On Saturday, May 29, 1971, my stereo cassette recorder and I went along with Bob to Raceway Park and captured nearly 38 minutes of nostalgic audio. I recorded a stop we made at a gas station on the way (most likely on Sibley Blvd., located south of the map area) as well as some of the action at the track. Hear us pull into that good old-fashioned gas station -- the bell clangs as we drive over the air hose, and a radio in the service bay plays old standards -- where we meet an enthusiastic kid who asks us many questions. Then you'll hear the announcer at the track calling out the time trial results followed by a few races. Familiar drivers and car numbers include Bud Koehler #77, Stosh Coleman #4U, and others.
  6. U.S. 30 Drag Strip, circa 1971 - The commercials on WLS were predictable and frequent: "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! at wailin' U.S. 30 Drag Strip, Drag Racing Capital of Chicagoland! Where the Great Ones Run!" Located on the west side of Clay St. between U.S. 30 and County Rd. 330 in Hobart, IN (map at right), the track ran from east to west in what then was a desolate area but now has malls and other businesses just to its south and west. In the early 1970s I occasionally went there with a couple of friends, and one time I brought along my stereo cassette recorder. Hear some super-stocks followed by the ever-popular Funny Cars, including "Big Daddy" Don Garlitz, "The Hawaiian" Roland Leong, and others in this 30-minute nostalgic audio clip. Reputedly, the first Funny Car ever to race did so at U.S. 30 Drag Strip in 1965, and within a very short time they became the track's top attraction.
  7. Grand Trunk Train #1 and Grand Trunk Train #2,  November 6, 1988 - By 1988 the area east of White Oak Ave. along 45th Ave. had been built up into a business district, and the home from which I had recorded trains and cars in 1970 (map near top of this page) was gone. I returned to that area to record some more trains, this time setting up my recorder adjacent to the railroad's White Oak Ave. crossing, just a few hundred feet west of where I had recorded before. On this particular day I caught two trains just a short time apart, moving in opposite directions on the double main line. Each clip runs just over 4 minutes. The second clip has a long lead-in that includes a bit of traffic passing by, the gates coming down at the crossing, and the traffic stopping before the train arrives.
  8. Crows and Geese, November 6, 1988 - While waiting for the trains to come, I heard several crows cawing and also a flock of migrating geese passing high overhead. I captured two minutes of these nature sounds on tape.
  9. Grand Trunk Double Train, November 19, 1988 - I returned to the White Oak Ave. crossing one more time in the hope of capturing the sound of two trains passing one another on the double main line, and I succeeded. In this 6-minute audio clip, much of the first train has passed by when the second train comes along from the opposite direction. After the first train has ended, the second train continues until it trails off in the direction from which the first train came.

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