Years ago, one of my favorite internet sites to visit was ReelRadio.Com, a site dedicated to preserving the history of (primarily) top-40 radio. It was so much fun, in fact, that my wife, Jean, bought me a new, faster dial-up modem (remember those?) in order to hear the new RealAudio 3 files back in the 1990s.
Over the years as my computers and the internet got faster, ReelRadio got bigger and better. To the point where, today, there are over 3000 selections from which to choose. Classic top-40 radio from KHJ, KRLA, Ten-Q, KFI and more, along with stations from around the country and Canada such as CKLW, WLS, WCFL and KCBQ.
And a few surprises ... such as some radio satire (search for “nine” and “99”) or the famous 1972 “recycled” documentary as heard on San Diego’s KGB as it transitioned to album rock from top-40. The oldest recording on the site is also a treat: 15 minutes with Bing Crosby as heard on KHJ in 1931.
There’s the groundbreaking -- and ratings record-setting -- History of Rock and Roll as heard on KHJ in 1969, narrated by Robert W. Morgan. And Rush Limbaugh playing the hits in the 1970s under the name Jeff Christie. All typically presented in glorious low-fidelity mono as originally heard on your AM tuner.
Not all are AM, either. You can hear recordings of KKDJ before it became KIIS-FM. Or KIIS-FM, for that matter, in its days spent dominating all stations in America ... along with others such as KIQQ with Boss Radio transplants Morgan and The Real Don Steele.
It truly is an online museum of historical recordings known to us radio geeks as “airchecks” ... a clearinghouse of recordings, as their purpose statement explains, “both archival and educational.” And it gives both those who produced the airchecks -- the DJs -- as well as listeners a chance to talk about what they hear ... to “offer comments on our exhibits and to participate in a dialogue about Top 40 Radio, the people, the music, popular culture and history preserved in these airchecks.”
After some time spent in what curator Richard “Uncle Ricky” Irwin called “jukebox mode” in which access to some exhibits was limited as the nonprofit ReelRadio Board of Directors worked out some issues, I was pleasantly surprised to find that as of late March, ReelRadio is back in full operation with a slightly cleaner interface and even more exhibits.
To attempt to cover the costs associated with running the site such as the time spent encoding the files as well as maintaining the servers and paying bandwidth and music licensing fees, ReelRadio requires a small yearly membership fee of $20 to start, $15 to renew. I personally think it is a great deal for all the entertainment value I receive; even my wife thinks they are fun, though she does think I am a bit weird for spending so much time listening.
She is right of course.
Regardless, I’m just excited that ReelRadio is back. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.
KFI (640 AM) -- already one of the better news sources among Los Angeles radio stations -- plans to improve coverage of certain news events by equipping reporters with news drones. According to assistant programmer Neil Saavedra, “Reporters will complete both classroom and field training with an instructor and the KFI News Drones will now be a part of their general news gathering technology.” The drones will be part of general news gathering but interestingly will not be used on-air; instead they will be used for the station’s website and on social media.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this is the future of news gathering," said KFI programmer Robin Bertolucci in a press release. "The news drones will be a great addition to our content capturing technology. Our listeners demand dynamic content on our website and social media. Not to mention, they’re just really, really cool."