Archive for the 'AM Radio' Category

AM Radio Vs. Old Buildings

Friday, March 11th, 2011

I love old architecture. I love live local radio, AM in particular. We have a rare abundance of both in Buffalo. When I compare a similar rust belt city I am very familiar with, Cleveland, to Buffalo, in both regards, it makes me truly appreciate the treasures we have here in Western New York. Our talk radio station, WBEN AM 930, is phenomenal with both local talk show content and local news coverage. I remember once being stuck in Cleveland because Dead Man’s Curve on the I-90 had flooded. So I thought, WBEN In Buffalo would cover this in depth, as they did with the “Arborgeddon” October Surprise of 2006, so what is the radio equivalent in Cleveland? Well, I thought of common denominators here – WBEN carries both Rush Limbaugh and Coast to Coast AM, which I know are heavily-syndicated AM talk radio shows of the highest quality, so I decided to search who carried those programs in Cleveland, then I would probably stumble upon WBEN’s sister station, if you will. I found the woefully disappointing WTAM. No extensive news coverage of local, then-happening events. No local talk equivalents to WBEN’s Tom Bauerle, Sandy Beach or Ron Dobson to further expound about those events worth expounding upon. I had to guess when Dead Man’s Curve (shouts out to Jan & Dean as heard on WJJL singing its theme song on occasion) was passable again. So I stayed an extra day and hoped for the best, as the radio THERE sure wasn’t going to inform me! Well, today on WBEN, both Tom Bauerle and Sandy Beach were discussing the wonderful old architecture here in Buffalo. The Statler Hotel being saved. The Central Terminal(my favorite building of all time) re-use plan.

Buffalo Central Terminal

Buffalo Central Terminal

But to my disappointment, the hosts of these shows and many callers were railing against the preservation of the Statler (as $5 million in public funds are sought by the developer to rehab it), and touched on the Grain Mills (another love of mine) and were also against THEM as being worthy of the LaBrea tar pits. But both these classic buildings and the great local talk shows on this station are part of what makes Buffalo, BUFFALO, and makes me love this area. I feel torn when two such wonderful things are at odds with each other. Usually I enjoy these talk shows and their topics of discussion that can range from local, state and national politics, to weather emergencies and traffic updates when the weather makes driving tough, to issues of local concern of every variety imaginable. Well, WBEN has an awesome building of their own. The one near their broadcast towers, which looks so much from the same Art Deco school as the beloved Central Terminal it appears as if it came to life from the comic book pages of Gotham City. How’s that for a resolution? A real “two for one” there! A great local talk station that utilizes an incredible classic building. And without both, great buildings and great talk radio, Buffalo just wouldn’t be as awesome as it is! A true jewel in the rust belt crown it is!

WBEN's Transmitter Building

WBEN's Transmitter Building

WJJL & Lenny Rico

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Our favorite electronic media medium at Obscurity and Decay is the “original and best”, as miraculously dreamed of by Nikola Tesla, not Marconi. Again, the wrong person gets the “credit” in mainstream ‘thought’…

Our favorite radio station is the truly unique and one of a kind, WJJL 1440 AM, with main studios in the beautiful Southgate Plaza (which is itself a beautiful thing to behold) and satellite studios in the Niagara Arts And Cultural Center, which is a wonderful old “high” school which has been put to most excellent re-use, a concept we wholeheartedly endorse, just as the old Moog Synthesizer factory on Walden Avenue currently houses the most wonderful Super Flea!

Red Door Entrance

The NACC

We were treated to actual visits to WJJL when our friends Bill & Skitch hosted “The Go Show” on the station in the Summer of 2009.

Bill Lannen Scott "Skitchy" Steele

Bill Lannen & Scott "Skitchy" Steele

With “a little help from their friends”, Zeus and the mysterious Mr. Ski-Mask, which seemed like something out of the Counter-Culture of the 60′s paired with some of the modern aspects of “shock”.

Look at these random freaks

Outside of WJJL

That’s where our “vintage” Southgate Plaza pictures originate, as the station is now in a different location – so glad we were able to document this time in history – note the superb Elvis wall hangings in the lobby, no doubt in honor of one of the station’s best programs, “WJJElvis”, one solid hour of Elvis music hosted what appears to live by Uncle John Phillips, on Fridays 11AM to Noon! We never miss it!

"Vintage Studios"

WJJL

Also at the top of our list is “Casa Rico”, the oldest running heritage program on radio, hosted by one of the most talented, entertaining, and humorous radio hosts I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, Lenny Rico. The show specializes in “Paisan favorites”, often incredible remakes of 60′s hits with vocals sung in Italian, and often with some pleasant fuzz, as in the cover of the Monkees song “I’m A Believer” this week that literally blew my mind. Interjected in between is some old school humor. My favorite segment, though, has to be “Spaghetti Spotlight” – the introduction Lenny Rico has put together to start this segment of the program is pure genius – a sonic pastiche worthy of George Martin, if you ask me. There are sound effects of creaky-sounding decrepit machinery when the guest pepperoni stick spinner spins the pepperoni stick to rate the song sent in by a local artist. There is a rating system, as explained by Lenny, in which the pepperoni stick will fall on a range of between 1 and 10 meatballs, which are arranged “in circular fashion, just like a clock”. The pepperoni stick, by the way, is nailed to a piece of plywood, for as Lenny informs the listener of constantly, “this is a low budget show”. It is a living example of what radio must have once been like when the likes of the Mad Daddy from Cleveland were running the airwaves before the days of demographic market automated bot programming. The show is on both Saturday and Sunday mornings for a Power Paisan Weekend!

Mr. Ski-Mask, Lenny Rico, Scott "Skitchy" Steele

Mr. Ski-Mask, Lenny Rico, Scott "Skitchy" Steele

As for “The Go Show”, to quote Lenny, “The Go Show WENT“…just like most of the things we enjoy here at Obscurity and Decay!