Radio Daze Flashbacks

Stand By Me - movie - boys on railroad tracks

By Judy Berman

As I head home for dinner, a song comes on the radio, and it transports me into the way-back machine.

Some tunes have that power. They bring to mind people and places that you miss.

When I hear Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” I recall the coming-of-age movie. It took me back to more innocent times: roller-skating car hops, drive-in movies, and time spent with my family and friends.

But I also remember driving thru Syracuse’s north side and cranking that tune up when it played on the radio. Workers, leaving the Crouse-Hinds plant, pass by and smile. One gives me a sign of approval.

What is there about certain tunes? Some are a flashback to my teen years. Others, to my days working in radio.

Just a few notes from “Use Ta Be My Girl,” and I smile. It’s 1978. I’m in the news booth at WOLF-AM radio. Across the hall, I see “Big John” Gabriel in the DJ’s studio.

“Oh My. Oh Gee. Oh Wow. O’Jays,” Big John intones in his inimitable baritone just as the song is about to begin.

Then, my thoughts bounce back to my bumpy beginnings at WOLF. (Story here) Folks like Ron Bee, my first news director who hired me, John Gabriel and Peter King were among those who helped me overcome the rough spots.

Ron Bee, my former news director at WOLF-AM radio

Ron Bee, my former news director at WOLF-AM radio

Whether it was technical advice or just a sympathetic ear, it was appreciated. Ron Bee helped me shape my writing and interview skills. On the flip side, I also learned a lot thru Peter King’s knowledge of music trivia when I worked with him at WOLF and later at WHEN-AM.

I’m soaking all this in. Later, these early lessons prove useful when I add music beds and sound to my radio news stories.

What will enhance the story? In my head, I hear their advice and I pay attention.

The music and the DJs’ banter were comfortable friends to have alongside, whether it was on a long ride home alone at night or a raucous wake-up call on my radio from Rick and Ron in the morning.

That wild and crazy irreverent duo made me giggle as they urged their listeners to get their “crack out of the sack.”

What a great way to begin the day.

John Travolta dancing - Saturday Night Fever

Then, the Bee Gees’ “Night Fever” comes on, and it has me dancing.

It’s not rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s all music and memories to me.

A year ago, I wrote about Ron Bee who gave me my first job in radio at WOLF-AM in Syracuse, New York. Sad news. He passed away March 18, 2015. Ron was a wonderful mentor, and he is missed.

What song brings back memories for you?


Main Photo: “Stand By Me” – movie – boys on railroad tracks

Photo: Ron Bee – on air – The news director at WOLF-AM in Syracuse, New York, who first hired me.

Photo:  Photo: John Travolta (as Tony Manero) dancing with Karen Gorney (Stephanie) in “Saturday Night Fever”

Music Video: Ben E. King – “Stand By Me” – (1961) This song is featured on the soundtrack of the 1986 film, “Stand By Me”

Music Video: The O’Jays singing “Use Ta Be My Girl” (1978)

Music Video: Bee Gees – “Night Fever” (1977)


I’m Still Standing

Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's

By Judy Berman

It was September. The leaves were turning. It’s a time when the elements begin to make me feel hemmed in.

That feeling only intensified when I learned that I was being transferred to the newspaper’s Rome bureau – not the exotic city in Italy, but a small city in Upstate New York.

There were two women in the Rome bureau, a district circulation manager and a receptionist. Within two weeks, they were gone.

I dreaded working in an office all alone.

It hit me – much later – that I was looking at this situation all wrong.

This is where, if this was a music video, the phonograph needle would be scratched across the full surface of the album until your ears bled.

Elton John in 1980s

At times, I felt like the Maytag repairman at the Rome bureau. Few of the calls were for me. Most were from irate customers wondering where their papers were.

The good news? I didn’t have an editor hovering over my desk, pacing back and forth, waiting for me to “send my copy to rewrite, sweetheart.”

The transfer cut my 55-mile, one-way commute to the main office in Utica to 40 miles. Winning!

In winter, however, I might eat up that savings when I shadowed a snowplow at 10-miles-per-hour.

That beautiful white blanket is a deceptive and seductive enchantress. Amnesia sets in each winter, and you forget the misstep that can alter your skip across the highway into a careening, nerve-racking, steering-wheel-clutching, off-road tumble.

Still, I met fascinating people stranded by snowstorms just off the thruway on my way to work. For a reporter, hoping to score a weather quote, perfect!

Mask - Germany

With Christmas fast approaching, I didn’t bother to decorate the office, as I was the only one who would see them. So, time saved twice. I wouldn’t have to put away any decorations, either.

Unlike the residents of Cicely, Alaska, in the TV show, “Northern Exposure,” I wasn’t isolated or trapped in a remote location.

Any time I wanted, I could head down to the police station or city court. While I was gathering info for the police blotter or a story, we’d share a few laughs. There, I learned some things that proved valuable later.

Sometimes, it led to a bigger story. Others, to excellent contacts.

Six months after my transfer, a fellow reporter, Pat Corbett, joined me in the Rome office. We would bounce ideas off each other and joke about some happening that day.

At first, there was only one computer. So we took turns using it to file our stories from the bureau to the main office. Then, we commandeered a second computer from the main office – with permission, of course.

Elton John in 1980s - I'm Still Standing - video

A year after my transfer, I was back in the main office assigned to a job that I really wanted: night cops reporter. I’m grateful that what I learned in Rome paved the way for this beat.

It took a friend of mine at a competing paper in Syracuse to put my transfer into the proper perspective for me. A few years after my move, his paper opened more bureaus.

I asked how he felt about that. With a twinkle in his eye, the reporter joked that the main office was in a shambles. The move for them “is like when the royalty shipped their children to a safe haven during the war so they wouldn’t be hurt.”

Love that warped sense of humor.

Did looking at a situation thru a new lens ever alter your view?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Music Video: “I’m Still Standing,” by Elton John (1983)

1. Main Photo – Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – movie trailer screenshot.

2. Photo: Mask – Germany – Author: Gexon from Darmstadt, Germany. Photo taken June 12, 2011.

3. Photo: Elton John in 1980s – author –

4. Photo: Elton John by piano, video screen shot from “I’m Still Standing.”


In the Misty Moonlight


Judy, deer and cousin Tony 2

By Judy Berman

An old, dusty, red tin box, tucked into a corner of the closet, holds a treasure-trove of memories.

Like a time machine, it transports me. The contents, however, might mystify today’s teenagers.

Black round discs with a huge hole in the middle. I smile as I pluck one of the 45s from the stack. The song takes me back to an unforgettable trip to visit my Aunt Martha’s family in Pennsylvania.

Some of my recollections are as foggy as the misty moonlight that hung low in the night sky.

But one thing remains certain. I had a wonderful time.

My aunt lived in Three Square Hollow. Just the name conjures a remote, woodsy place filled with mystery and adventure, and neighbors a distance away.

My Mom told me that I always referred to Aunt Martha as my fabulously wealthy aunt. The reason? I think it had something to do with a spring on her property.

If I close my eyes, I can see it still. In the woods, water tripping over polished stones. I swear that water tasted better than soda pop. That description always cracked Mom up. But it was true.

Aunt Martha wasn’t well-to-do in terms of money stashed away in some bank or hoarded in a secret hiding place.

She was rich beyond measure in kindness, generosity and just plain good fun.

Judy and Aunt Martha2 - Aug. 1993

Her home was nestled in a wonderful place to romp and roam.

Years earlier, when my family visited, a fawn stumbled into their lives. It was abandoned. While I was there, I fed it and the tiny critter squirmed as I held it. Quite a thrill. I never knew what to expect there.

What was not surprising is there were children everywhere. Hardly a surprise. Aunt Martha had 11 children. Some of them were grown and on their own. The ones at home were determined to show me a good time.

One night, we hopped into a car. My cousin, Danny, egged me on to take the wheel. That was pretty courageous on his part, as I didn’t have a driver’s license.

Not a chance of any traffic stops, though. There wasn’t a police car within miles. We had a ball.

When I arrived, I was almost a stranger to them. We rarely saw each other as my family had moved to another state when I was nearly eight. Yet I got a warm welcome and I felt right at home.

Mountains - mists

The night before I was to return home, they really surprised me.

They threw a party for me. It might have included a bonfire, marshmallows and a cookout. I don’t remember.

What I will never forget is this song, “In the Misty Moonlight,” that played that night, and how special my aunt and cousins all made me feel.

Like visiting royalty.


Is there a song that reminds you of a special place or time? Is there a time when others surprised you by doing something special for you?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Music Video: In the Misty Moonlight by Jerry Wallace 

1. Main Photo: Me holding a fawn and my cousin Tony Barnhart at our Aunt Martha’s.

2. Photo: Me and Aunt Martha – Three Square Hollow, Pennsylvania – 1993

3. Photo: Mountains – mists, Environmental Protection Agency – Date: May 1973

Drug Raid – The Cupboards Were Bare

Drug Raid - in Dudley, United Kingdom

By Judy Berman

Minutes after an undercover police officer made a drug buy from the back window of a house, I heard him over the police radio.

“It’s a go. There are three people in there.”

Then, six police officers, dressed in black, ran down a city street and around the corner.

With guns drawn and two mighty whacks with a battering ram, they knocked down the door and ran in.

The suspect tossed $350 and 12 baggies of crack cocaine out the window. Investigators said the suspect had 11 baggies on him, and he’d just sold three.

It was like the movies. Only, this time: no guns blazing or suspects jumping out of windows to avoid arrest.

This is from the way-back files when I was a cops reporter in Utica, New York.

It was a rare behind-the-scenes look for me at what goes down during a drug raid. Utica Police Chief Benny Rotundo gave the go-ahead to me and to one of the Observer-Dispatch’s photographers to join the investigators.

We wanted to be in on the action from the get-go. But they were overly cautious – and with good reason. What if something happened?

“You never know what’s behind that door,” said Sgt. Angelo Partipelo, the department’s senior investigator of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

Liability concerns and safety are the reasons why many police agencies hesitate to grant this kind of access to reporters and photographers.

I told the police chief that a story I was working on – about 7 ½ years of drug arrests by SIU – would look a lot better if it was tied to a drug arrest – with me and a photographer along.

Rotundo was a savvy man. He agreed.

Once inside, the investigator, who wore a Stetson, smoked a huge cigar as he searched for evidence. He wore plastic gloves because “these places aren’t the cleanest,” and to protect himself if one of the suspects was bleeding.

He’s hearing nothing but polite denials and excuses from one of the women in the house.

“No, officer, I just came here to see my cousin, Angel,” she claimed.

The officer disagrees.

“You’ve been seen coming to this drug house several times and were inside when a drug buy was just made,” he said.

Then, he starts singing “Angel in the Morning.”

In the kitchen, there’s a box of baking soda on the counter. A cigarette butt is out in the drain.

I gingerly open a fridge door by using my pen on the handle until one of the investigators gives me plastic gloves. Inside, there’s only a can of Sprite.

Utica drug bust - UPD Sgt. Angelo Partipelo and me (Judy Berman)

Other than salt-and-pepper shakers, the cupboards are bare.

After the raid, Deputy Chief Nick Yagey joked that I was a con artist and had hoodwinked investigators into letting us go inside the drug house.

“You weren’t supposed to take any photos identifying SIU members,” he said.

Yagey claimed he could ID one who was bent over searching thru a couch for evidence.

“You couldn’t pick that face out of a crowd,” I challenged, knowing that SIU had vetted the photos before publication so no undercover officer was put in jeopardy.

“His butt, maybe,” I laughed.

Fortunately, Yagey was laughing, too, when I left his office a few minutes later.


Kudos to the police officers in the Utica Police Department who often assured my safe passage as a cops reporter at some very dicey scenes – especially Utica Police Chief Benny Rotundo, who died in 2010, and Sgt. Angelo Partipelo, who died in 2001.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Movie Trailer: The French Connection (1971) – Undercover cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) in his famous high speed chase in pursuit of a criminal – great film. But this is reel life – not real life.  

Music Video: Bad Boys (1992) by Inner Circle.  

Video: Dragnet (1951) – TV show starring Jack Webb as Sgt. Friday. The just-the-facts ma’am detective.  

Main Photo: Drug Raid – in Dudley, United Kingdom – taken Feb. 22, 2013 by West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom

Photo: Utica Drug Raid – Sgt. Angelo Partipelo and me (Judy Manzer Berman) at the scene of a drug bust in Utica, New York.


The Beatles Pleased, Pleased Me

The British Invastion - The Beatles - Kennedy Airport - February 1964

By Judy Berman

Motown’s soul music and surfer music had me in its grasp. But like any fickle teen, my heart soon belonged to a shaggy-haired mop-top group from Liverpool: The Fab Four.

Parents had no sooner stopped gnashing their teeth over the swivel hips of Elvis Presley and his effect on their children’s morality when their attention shifted to a new threat: The Beatles.

When asked how long he thought the Beatles would last, John Lennon said at the time: “About five years.”

Even Dr. Billy Graham thought the group was just a blip on the screen. “The Beatles … they’re a passing phase: of the uncertainty of the times and the confusion about us.”

Both underestimated the staying power of The Beatles.

For me, it’s been a lifelong love affair. I loved their wit and mischief. But the closest I’ve ever gotten to them was watching their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 8, 1964.

Their upbeat love songs with harmonicas, guitars and drums morphed into complex orchestra arrangements with deeper messages.

Years later, we visited their Abbey Road Studios when we were in London. We walked over the zebra crossing as The Beatles did on their album, “Abbey   Road” – their last recorded album released in September 1969.

This album cover added to the rumor that Paul McCartney had died following a car accident in 1967. That speculation was fueled by his limited public appearances after he married his first wife, Linda, and while he was contemplating a solo career.

I thought it was a hoax, but I was caught up in the mystery. I honed my sleuth-like skills and examined the evidence.

On the radio, a DJ (disc jockey) claimed, that when the lyrics were played backwards, it proved that Paul is dead. Some suggested that in the song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” that band-mate, John Lennon, uttered “I buried Paul.” McCartney later revealed that the actual words were far less sinister. He said they were “cranberry sauce.”

Then, there was the album cover itself. Some interpreted it as a funeral procession. John Lennon, in white, symbolized the preacher. Ringo Starr, in black, was viewed as an undertaker or mourner. George Harrison, in denim jeans and shirt, symbolized the grave digger, and McCartney, barefoot and out of step with the other band members, symbolized death, according to sources quoted in Wikipedia.

Fortunately, they were wrong. But the demise of the group took place the following year in 1970.  They went their separate ways and onto successful solo careers.

From my teen years to motherhood, The Beatles were part of the fabric of my life. I recall playing (poorly) the song, “Good Night,” (1968) written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr, to our girls when they were young.

In December 1980, I awoke to the heartbreaking news of John Lennon’s murder on the classic rock station (WAQX-FM, where I worked at in Manlius, New York). His death was devastating, to say the least.

George Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. Paul and Ringo continue their musical careers. I thank all four for the fun, creativity, thoughtful and musically diverse offerings they played for me, my family and all their fans. They did “Please, Please Me.”

Music Video: “Love Me Do” – The Beatles ’62 

Help – The Beatles – movie trailer (1965)

All My Loving – The Beatles – 1964

Please, Please Me – The Beatles (1963)  

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Main Photo – The British Invasion – The Beatles – KennedyAirport – February 1964,_Kennedy_Airport,_February_1964.jpg

Lennon and Rev. Billy Graham quotes from: “The Beatles an Illustrated Record,” by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler (1975).

Feeling Happy – New Attitude


By Judy Berman

One Sunday, as I was leaving church, I turned on my iPhone and started dancing in the parking lot.

One man smiled as he left the parking lot. A woman, however, seemed to be hurriedly walking past me as she ushered her child to her car.

Probably thought I was crazy. It made me smile.

For anyone who knows me, this is not my usual behavior.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que owner, John Stage once described the way I threaded thru his restaurant/bar crowd in Syracuse, New York, as “cautious as a hemophiliac in a razor-blade factory.” I always found that to be dead-on and hysterical.

What prompted the change? Rapper Pharrell Williams’ very upbeat song, “Happy.” I definitely caught the vibe. Every time I listen to it, I want to burst out singing or dancing.

Pharrell Williams - Happy

As the song says, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof … because I’m happy.” It’s a feeling I wish that everyone shared.

The song comes from the film, “Despicable Me 2,” which Pharrell helped create the soundtrack for, according to

The song is 4 minutes long and plays in a loop 15 times an hour on 24 hourlong videos found on the website I watched two one-hour segments. Some feature celebrities like Steve Carell. It also includes extras, your average Joe or Jane on the streets of Los Angeles, who just wants to dance and have some fun.

That number might get a little old for some folks. Maybe their ears are bleeding after the first 1 ½ hours.

Despicable Me - Minions

But, not for me. It was a quick pick-me-up.

Depending on your perspective, you might dance and sing along as well.

How we look at things and how we react to things can make or break our day. Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude” (1984) in the movie, “Beverly Hills Cop,” sums it up well.

So, if you see some woman rockin’ out to a music video you can’t see or hear, try not to freak out. She might appreciate it if you dance and sing along.

Happy, Happy New Year!!!

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Music Video – Pharrell Williams – “Happy” (2013)  

Main Photo: Dancing – taken by Jesus Solana, Madrid, Spain – April 6, 2009

Photo: Despicable Me – Minions – figurines from movie – taken  by Sonny Abesamis on June 24, 2013

Photo: Pharrell Williams – Happy

Music Video – Patti LaBelle – “New Attitude” (1984)

Musical Memories and Love

The Fab Four

The Fab Four

By Judy Berman

Your first crush? No need to ask: “What’s your name?” You do remember the time … and you remember it well. How the fragrance of his cologne lingered long after he’s gone.

Looking over the music of several decades, the songs I recall tell a story of puppy love, heartbreak, exuberance, questioning, self-examination, hopes, dreams and fond memories.

1. Puppy Love by Paul Anka (1960)

My first love was a shy guy from Colorado, a real gentleman. When I asked him to go with me to a Girl Scout ice-skating party, he didn’t tell me he didn’t know how to skate. He twisted his ankle when he was practicing on borrowed skates, but he went anyways. I was the envy of a lot of girls that night.

– Paul Anka’s inspiration for this popular song was Annette Funicello, whom he was dating at the time. Annette, one of the most popular Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club, died April 18th at the age of 70. I adored both Paul Anka and Annette Funicello.

2. Why Do Fools Fall in Love? by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (1956)

Ah! The dating years. I introduce my friend to my date, and he winds up dating her. So many cads, so little time.

– Frankie Lymon was only 13 when he wrote this song, but this is one question I’m sure many of us have asked ourselves at one time or another. (The song was in the movie “American Graffiti.”)

3. She Loves You by The Beatles ( 1963)

That magical, incomparable feeling. I was so ecstatic when I discovered my crush felt the same way about me.

4. How Deep Is Your Love? by The Bee Gees (1977).

It seemed so right at first. Then, unsure of where we were heading, I began to question if our love would last for the long haul.

– This song was used as part of the soundtrack to the film, “Saturday Night Fever”

5. What Have I Done to Deserve This? by The Pet Shop Boys (1987) – featuring Dusty Springfield

Now the angst begins. Where did I go wrong? We planned a future together, then it was over. I briefly wallowed in self-pity before I picked myself up, brushed myself off and moved on.

6. Where Did Our Love Go? by The Supremes (1964)

So what happened? It seems our love was over before it even began.

7. Do You Want to Dance? by Bette Midler (1972)

Let’s face it, Bette is talking about much more than a stroll across the dance floor. Her message: you’re back … and you’ll be fine. I was and I am.

8. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by The Shirelles (1960)

This is question that goes beyond whether what happened was a one-night stand. It’s one you’ll ask throughout life. We all seek reassurances from those we love whether it’s our parents, spouses, children or those we admire.

–  Some radio stations had banned this record when it first came out because they felt the lyrics were too sexually charged, according to wikipedia.

9. Remember the Time? by Michael Jackson (1992)

The lyrics recall a youthful love affair, a sweet look back at happier times, of the one you wish had not gotten away. Or, better yet, it’s a bit of nostalgia that you savor and share with the one you love.

These are just a few of my favorite tunes. What songs would be on your playlist?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or
earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original

Photo: The Beatles – as they arrive in New York City in 1964.