I listen to WKHR-FM 91.5 quite a bit. True to its motto, ‘Keeping your memories alive’, the music played on this station continually takes me back decades - a lot of decades. I can’t get enough of listening to the music making of the big bands- Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James. Listening to Frank Sinatra belt out a song gets the memory bank open for all kinds of recollections. The inimitable music and voices of Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima is still a treat. Jazz? Dave Brubek or George Shearing and their combos together with a touch of Scotch provides for a foot stomping evening. What better music than that from a Rodgers and Gershwin musical comedy to fill me with nostalgia. WKHR has been catering to the Greatest Generation for over forty years
While keeping my memories alive this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how much longer a station like WKHRwill continue to exist playing music of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. There must be a rapidly shrinking audience for this vintage music. My children are not ‘spring chickens’ but the WHKR programming holds no listening attraction for them. I also wondered when the music of the Gay ‘90s was last played on the air waves. For that matter it appears that music of the Roaring Twenties and radio have parted company. I’m not upset that my radio does not blare out music of the nineties ( nineteenth century nineties that is) or the twenties. I’m sure that when my kind of pop music disappears from the air waves, the Baby Boomers, X Generation and what have you, will not miss it. I return their music appreciation by deploring Rock, Rap and the shouting and screaming which pose as an excuse for music. If that makes me a music snob, so be it.
I realize that as long as I have a shelf to store CD’s or an iPod or MP3 I can preserve any kind of music I like for as long as I like and play it to my heart’s content ( with ear buds if necessary) . Now the iPad, Kindle and Nook are here to further enhance going back to the past with music. But that’s not the point. When music disappears from the radio, a statement is made. The way of life that that music represented becomes history. That way of life becomes a curiosity. That way of life is not relevant any longer. If I’m still around when my pop music is stilled on the air waves, I will play my stored music knowing that time has passed me by.
Before I’m accused of generation warfare , I must take refuge in one field of music that has existed on the air waves for generations and will continue to exist for generations to come. Classical music has stood the test of time. I and my children and grandchildren share the music of Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin. The operas of Rossini, Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Wagner will continue to live on. Classical music provides common ground for people of all ages and cultures. Fortunately in this area we have FM stations such as WKSU and WCLV to keep that music alive and yes to keep our memories alive.
Which reminds me. Clevelanders lament the failure of their sports teams to win a national championship. They should rest easy in knowing that we have an international champion in The Cleveland Orchestra. But I digress.
Sometimes I wonder if keeping memories alive is healthy. My youth also had its bad moments which I would rather forget. Some say that dwelling on yesterday is a disease of the old. No cure is available except death - I prefer not to cure the disease but to nurture it and even now , learn from it.
In the background I can hear Sinatra singing “ I Did It My Way”. So I did, so I did. Time to turn the radio off.