Something happened on the path to the future: the past got in the way.
I’ve spent some time lately reading online forums and other pages devoted to vintage electronics. This includes sites that involve sharing the passion and getting help, like I did with an old Zenith TV console that my wife and I bought shortly before our wedding. Granted, it really isn’t worth anything, but I hated throwing it away. So for $ 2, three capacitors and some time later it works fine again. I will be using sites like this to repair and restore old tube radios, as well as the RCA transistor radio that I mentioned here months ago.
Reading the news and watching videos (a Shango066 YouTube account was my guilty pleasure; a SoCal local, he makes old stereos and televisions work again, including some that were just found thrown on the side of the road). I discovered something fascinating.
Remember those console stereos you could find in living rooms from the 1950s and 1960s? They are back. Seriously.
This was from an era before the component stereos which took over in the late 1960s and 1970s. The best models from Magnavox, Zenith and others combined fancy furnishings, good sound and sometimes even a large screen for his television. Earlier models were, of course, tubes; solid-state designs came later.
There is a small, dedicated group that restores these old consoles, and there are companies around that will do it for you. Some restorations incorporate modern technologies such as Bluetooth connections and media players. But what surprised me is that you can even buy new models from several companies.
They are not cheap. Partly because the wood used in the furniture is incredibly beautiful, and the products are handcrafted here in the United States. Wrensilva models (wrensilva.com) and Luno (iamluno.com) are built in California; list prices range from around $ 7,500 to $ 15,000 depending on the model. The new consoles include a record player but no radio tuner. To listen to the radio, they rely on streaming internet services, or you can add an auxiliary tuner. This isn’t necessarily bad, as the apps they use are often as easy to use as an old radio, and the sound is generally better.
So what’s the point of bringing back an old idea that, in most minds, is past its prime? Interestingly, it’s a new technology that is driving it: flat screen TVs. Pair a new large wall-mounted flat screen with a new or refurbished stereo console in finely polished walnut or mahogany, and you have a new elegance that most modern electronics lack. The added bonus: even the old ones can make your home entertainment system sound great.
Kevin and Sluggo
In case you missed the story, Kevin Ryder, longtime morning star on KROQ (106.7 FM) when he was half Kevin and Bean, has been paired with Doug Sluggo Roberts for the Kevin and Sluggo Show on KLOS (95.5 FM). The program is broadcast on weekday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
So what are two old KROQ jocks doing on KLOS? Play music and have fun. The management of KLOS is taking a different path than so many other stations by not only maintaining a local presence, but allowing the station to still have some personality.
I’m looking to get in touch with station programmer Keith Cunningham to find out more about the station’s long term plans, but I absolutely can’t wait for it to work. In my mind, radio has to be local to compete with Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora and others. And KLOS is smart in taking the plunge, just as other stations across the country offer regional or national programming. Intelligent, very intelligent. I will watch and listen carefully.
It’s funny. Whenever I mentioned Rush Limbaugh in this column, no matter what I wrote, I received letters and emails from people accusing me of being both a wacky leftist and a right-wing fanatic. I guess this shows that there has been a polarization with politics longer than I thought.
But it cannot be denied that the Limbaughs show, at least in its early years, rejuvenated talk radio and, in a sense, extended the useful life of AM radio. Granted, as the show got older, the average listener got older with him and her, but the show’s early days brought in a new type of listener to talk radio and with the band. I’m sure Limbaugh’s past life as a Top 40 DJ is one of the reasons.
Limbaugh knew how to entertain. Like Tom Leykis, another entertaining conversationalist and who was once the liberal counterpoint to Limbaugh when they were both on KFI (640 AM), his training came from playing the hits. He knew how to entertain and keep people hooked. Indeed, if you listen to Limbaugh’s airchecks in his early radio days when he was known as Jeff Christie, you hear someone who was actually a hell of a good DJ. And you hear early versions of some of the elements he used when he launched his talk show, first in Sacramento, then nationwide.
It was the entertainment aspect that made Limbaugh different. His show was exciting. Topical. Funny. Fun. It was designed to appeal to conservatives, but especially in its early days it also attracted some from the left. He even put Liberal callers before the line if they call. And like many big stars and resorts of the past, it was hard to copy, although many tried. Without success, on both sides of the political spectrum.
Is there someone who can take his place? It’s difficult. Right now, no one needs Premiere Radio, which distributes the program, is going to use archived programs to keep their voices on the air until a long-term plan is made.
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