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.
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.
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?
Photo: Ron Bee – on air – The news director at WOLF-AM in Syracuse, New York, who first hired me.
Music Video: Ben E. King – “Stand By Me” – (1961) This song is featured on the soundtrack of the 1986 film, “Stand By Me” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbg7YoXiKn0
Music Video: The O’Jays singing “Use Ta Be My Girl” (1978) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=164Th7leQxY
Music Video: Bee Gees – “Night Fever” (1977) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ihs-vT9T3Q