Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Red-Eye Radio Nights

Insomnia led me to Doug McIntyre and Red-Eye Radio on WABC during the last two years. Tonight I learned that the gods of the air are moving McIntyre to mornings in Los Angeles. I will miss his voice in the night -- calm, well-informed, very different from most radio hosts. I really don't know much else about him, but I am glad he has been there.

I stumbled across his show one hot summer night when sleep was miles away. A radio friend. I was thinking about all the shows I listened to on my mother's kitchen radio when I was home sick, or on Christmas vacation, or during endless, hot, school breaks. When I was home alone, the radio was always there. It was more immediate than television, more comforting, and I could do my homework while listening to music or a talk show or the news. Today, I still listen to the radio a lot, many different stations, many points of view. During the power outage in New York several years ago, my transistor radio and I were the hit of the block. I balanced it on top of a mailbox and we huddled around to find out the latest news about the outage that rolled east across the country from the Midwest.

I listened to the most old-fashioned shows when I was a kid: Arthur Godfrey (ancient even then!), Don McNeill's Breakfast Club, various interview shows. I also listened to the top-ten on WLS Radio in Chicago -- a powerful station that stayed with us on car trips as far as Ohio. I listened to rhythm and blues on the low-wattage stations and all the news on stations such as WCBS. I loved all those voices.

When I moved to NY in the 1970s, I discovered "Radio Mystery Theater" and its sponsor Shop-Rite. Who could forget this jingle: "Hey mom, what's for dinner? Hey mom, what you got? She loves her family/She does her best?/She something ... something ... something .../ She lets Shop Rite do the rest!" The jingle still haunts me. It's almost as good as "self-styling Adorn .. A-dorn."

Bye-bye, Red Eye Radio. The show ended less than a half hour ago. I'll miss McIntyre's great music and his grasp of the news of the country and the world, his mellow voice in the night.

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