I gotta admit that I was a pretty lucky young man growing up where I did. Sure, I hated to be a principal and teacher’s son, because many of my classmates would comment that the only reason I was on an athletic team was because of my parents, or my academic standing was solely the result of my parents intervening on my behalf. Few really knew how much work I put into my athletic endeavors. Neither of my parents ran 500 miles total each summer all four years of high school. Likewise, neither of them did all the ballhandling and shooting drills in the driveway. Certainly, my dad, the former head high school basketball showed me the drills, but he didn’t force me to do them every day. All of that came from within.
But, the one thing that was unique about my high school was that we had a student-run radio station. My high school, Pendleton Heights High School, was the first in the state of Indiana to offer such a program to its students. When we were in middle school, that was the station to listen to on Friday and Saturday nights after the broadcast of a sporting event. Those late-night high school kids who were projecting their voices over the air seemed like the coolest kids ever. The station was so popular with the middle school crowd that song dedications filled up the nights until the station signed off at midnight. That was our social media when we could no longer tie up our parents’ phoneline. Nothing was cooler that hearing a song dedicated to you by a girl from school.
When I reached high school, I initially did not have much time to do radio class until it was offered during summer school between my sophomore and junior years. That meant that I had to prove myself during an eight-week course in order to land a coveted broadcasting spot. Sure enough, after doing some sub-work on the weekends, while taking off basketball season, I landed the second most popular shift: Saturday from 8 PM to midnight. With Friday nights being held down by the wacky team of Bradley Wayne (Campbell) and Russ Richie, my partner, Tony Waters, and I had to quickly develop on-air chemistry with the hopes of eventually rivaling Brad and Rusty. The program director, the now semi-famous Andy “Drew” Carey (he got that nickname from us back in the 70s before that other “comedian” ever got famous), who went on to become the producer of the famous radio morning team show on WFBQ (Q95) [and nationally syndicated] “The Bob and Tom Show,” anointed us as “Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather” from that Edgar Allen Poe story that the Alan Parsons Project set to music. Carey had some of the big station on-air personalities create promos for our show, which was highly unusual. In retrospect, we should have been nervous wrecks about the promotion effort being placed in the weeks leading up to our debut. But teenage boys are cocky and arrogant, so we were ready. That nine-week period of time was some of the most fun I ever had. We created all kinds of stupid bits that seemed funny to us, although they seem very juvenile now.
My favorite bit began small, but grew more outrageous as the weeks passed. Basically, back in the 70s, Pendleton only had three stoplights, but the cool part of the town is that we have a creek that runs just north of downtown and it has a small waterfall that is the centerpiece of our main attraction, Falls Park. The park has always been beautifully kept by the community and a source of pride. across the street that runs through the park, parallel to the creek with the falls is a pond with a lighthouse built in the middle of it. Of course, we have a cool playground area there as well. Those two water sources attracted ducks and geese, which only adds to the joy of the young children who come to the park.
In the 70s, the park had become somewhat notorious for our less imaginative couples as a parking area. All of which lead the adults to complain that teenagers were having too much fun after hours in the small park. Without question, that required the Pendleton Police force to constantly cruise through the park to “bust” the lusty teens and move them out of the park.
Sure enough, Tony and I discovered the sound effects records and came up with an idea to have helicopter traffic reports through town. The station’s call letters are WEEM, so our public service helicopter was named “The WEEM Whirlibird.” Now, going against station policy, we did not say the letters individually but read it as “weem.” And, we gave fake traffic reports over the three stoplights, reported on the happenings at our two fast food joints, Dairy Queen and Jimmie’s Dairy Bar. Of course, we also did a report on the happenings of those parking near the falls and the pond. We were always shining a spotlight on a convertible with its top down, complete with sound effects of the couple screaming and/or yelling at us. And, yes, it once devolved from there, which got us in trouble with the station manager, an uptight teacher Mr. Cherry (I kid you not!).
Like I said, we had a great time with the bits, and Tony gave me mostly free-reign with the tunes. There was another point of contention with Mr. Cherry, who had the listening habits of an old lady. The other thing we did that bugged Mr. Cherry was recording the callers who wanted to dedicate songs to their beloved. Without question, we pushed the envelope by embellishing these calls with new questions to enhance the sexual innuendo. That was the last straw for Mr. Cherry, who drove into school and shut us down early that night.
All of which leads me to say that I would love to run an on-line radio stream of some sort. I truly enjoyed doing radio work on the side during my undergrad work in college. I even volunteered for a year at Ball State’s NPR station during the days while working second shift in a lab. And, I was nearly hired as a weekend morning DJ at a Muncie radio station at the same time I was offered my dream lab position. Unfortunately, that was the last time I manned the board at a radio station. Oh, what could have been…
See? I was lucky to have grown up where I did, to have that opportunity to work at a student-run radio station. On second thought, maybe the term should be student-manned, because all of our great ideas for running the station were always vetoed by Mr. Cherry. Mr. Cherry led the station through great growth over the 30+ years he was in charge. Still, the station had fallen behind technologically speaking. When Mr. Cherry stepped down, many of us from the old days joined the station community committee to help the new station manager bring the program into the 21st century. Now, WEEM 91.7 FM is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week station that actually built a nice little following and produced several excellent media people throughout the country. And although I am no longer on that committee, I am proud of the work the subsequent station managers have done. Of course, their success has been because they have all allowed the kids to grow as broadcasters and announcers and given them access to state-of-the-art technology in which to due their work. These kids are much more professional than most of us ever were back in the day. And, that’s because they are simply better than we were.
Yes, I do wonder what if I had gone into radio instead of science? Then again, who cares?
Let’s check out my next ten artists who have been snubbed thus far by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
30. Mary Wells (“My Guy,” 1964). I cannot believe that the first two artists who consistently had hits for a young Motown label still are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mary Wells may be facing more punishment from label impresario Berry Gordy Jr. by being left out of the Hall. Get over it and put her in! And that goes for The Marvelettes too.
29. The Shangri-La’s (“Remember (Walking in the Sand),” 1965). I remember there was a something of a short-lived revival of this NYC-based girl group within the overlapping glam and punk scenes. Hell, even Kiss and Aerosmith covered the girls on their respective Love Gun and Night in the Ruts albums. Unfortunately, Twisted Sister may have dented the ladies’ reputations when the Sister covered the La’s “Leader of the Pack.” Still, Blondie owes this group a huge thank you for Debbie’s persona.
28. Boston (“More Than a Feeling,” 1976). Boston should be in the Hall if only for their self-titled debut. Yes, they take FOR-EVER to create a follow-up album to their latest. But, when they do, they deliver. For better or worse, if it wasn’t for Boston, would we really have gotten to hear Hall members like Journey or Bon Jovi or the likes of Styx, REO or Foreigner? Whether you like that or not, Boston deserves a place.
27. War (“Why Can’t We Be Friends?” 1975). This multi-racial band from LA was one of the tighter funk-based bands around. And much like Santana before them, they were able to integrate Latin sounds into their funk-rock mix that remained true to their East LA background. This band is long overdue its induction.
26. The Runaways (“Cherry Bomb,” 1976). I don’t care that these ladies were put together by that creepy Kim Fowley, The Runaways flat out rocked. And who cares whether they are labeled as glam, punk or metal, because truthfully they were all three and much more. Seriously, if it wasn’t for The Runaways, would we have ever heard my beloved Go-Go’s? It would have been much harder for all all-female bands if not for The Runaways.
25. The Monkees (“I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” 1967). Let’s face it critics! The Monkees TV show hooked a bunch of us Gen Xers and Millennials on rock music. Who cares if they really were the “Pre-fab Four.” They had terrific songs!
24. Pat Benatar (“Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” 1980). With all due respect to the Wilson sisters of Heart, Pat Benatar was the hard rock goddess of my youth. She had Mariah Carey range but with a punk/metal toughness that was difficult to duplicate. Hell, it still hasn’t been done to this day. It just doesn’t seem right that she is not in.
23. Chic (“Good Times,” 1979). Giving Nile Rodgers that faux-induction for Musical Excellence was a complete sham! Give me a break! How can Nile be inducted without his visionary partner bassist Bernard Edwards. Plus, where would those two be without drummer Tony Thompson and vocalists Norma Jean Wright, Luci Martin and Alfa Anderson? Go back and listen to Chic’s 70s albums along with Sister Sledge’s album from 1979 and try to tell me Chic was strictly a disco band. This was a great band who had a couple of great disco hits. This is a total rip-off!!!
22. Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out,” 1980). Speaking of Chic, they produced and performed on Ms. Ross’ best album, 1980’s Diana. Much like Tina Turner was locked in the Hall with Ike, Diana Ross is in the Hall with the Supremes. But, Diana Ross is one of rock’s first wave of divas, so her solo induction is long overdue.
21. Patsy Cline (“Crazy,” 1961). While we are arguing for Diana Ross, why not take a look at country diva Patsy Cline. Her influence and strong female attitude is written all over every subsequent female artist since her. How has Cline been overlooked for so long?
So, we are down to my Top 20 artists who have been snubbed by the Hall for far too long. I hope this series is making you think a bit about the Hall and it’s induction classes. Until next time, peace and love.