Back in the day, one of the delights of driving south to Florida to get away from the Canadian winter was listening to the local radio stations on the way down.
If you went over to Kingston to go down Interstate 81, or you drove to Detroit and went south on Interstate 75, the people on the radio sounded pretty much like you and me.
But by the time you got to Knoxville, Tenn., where those two highways intersect, the news announcers and disc jockeys were starting to sound different and when you got to Georgia and then Florida, the Southern drawls were pronounced.
Not any more. Most cars these days, when you buy new, have six months of Sirius satellite radio free of charge. Listen to Sirius free for six months and I guarantee that you will then agree to pay for it because you will be hooked. Fifties on Five, Seventies on Seven, Elvis Radio, Seriously Sinatra, classical music and opera channels, all-news channels, NASCAR, sports talk shows – anything and everything you want is there on Sirius XM.
What you lose, though, is that local flavour. It doesn’t matter where you are in much of the world any more, you’ll quickly find Sirius and you’ll be listening to the same stuff that everybody else is hearing.
Now, when I was a teen, my parents gave me a little transistor radio for Christmas that was about the size of an egg. It had an earpiece and you clipped the radio onto the box spring and your bed became a giant aerial. You could lie under the covers till you fell asleep listening to faraway stations like WBEZ in Boston, WABC in New York, WLS in Chicago (Dick Biondi was the star), KSTL in St. Louis and, if you were really lucky and the clouds were at a certain height, KRLA in Los Angeles (Casey Kasem was just getting started on that station and he was on from 6 to 11).
My favourite, other than Biondi, who had a great run at WKBW in Buffalo before being fired for telling his listeners to stone his boss’s car (they did), was Cousin Brucie Morrow, on WABC in New York. And while Biondi is currently off the air (he’s 86), Cousin Brucie (a child of 83) can still be heard on Sirius XM’s Sixties on Six Channel every Saturday night.
Now, why am I telling you this? Because next Saturday night, Cousin Brucie will do his show live on an outdoor stage from the heart of Little Italy in New York during the annual Feast of San Gennaro Italian festival.
It is my favourite show of the year because he frequently has on some of the old groups, or individual members of the old groups, like the Delltones, Jan and Dean, the O’Jays, the Shirelles and so-on. None of them can really sing any more but it doesn’t matter because they’re having the time of their lives and they’re loving every second of being back on big-time radio and having a fuss made over them by one of radio’s all-time top performers.
And not just singers and bands show up to visit. Stars like Tony Danza (pictured at left with Cousin Brucie) might drop by for an on-air chat.
I suggest you get into your car around 7:30 next Saturday night (4:30 on the West Coast) and go for a drive and turn on Cousin Brucie’s Saturday Night Party at 8 p.m. Maybe Tommy James (without the Shondells) will be on again to reminisce and talk about his book, Me, the Mob and the Music, in which he describes how the Mafia controlled the record industry back in the Sixties. Those stories will curl your toenails.
But that’s what makes the San Gennaro broadcast so great. You never know what you might hear. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.