NO Ear Worms: The Great Music Pumped Out by WDSO 88.3 FM -from Chesterton High School
“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
Music cradled me from infancy and, man, I jumped from its arms and on to the dance floor. The very first tune that I recall came from Spike Jones. It was Lulu Had a Baby (1953) and it had a maniacal tenor banjo driving these lyrics:
Lulu had a baby,
She called him Sonny Jim,
She put him in a bath tub
To teach him how to swim.
He swam to the bottom
And then he gasped for air;
Lulu got excited
And grabbed him by the -
Ring the barber’s bell;
If he doesn’t like it,
Just tell him what the -
Hey there, say there,
How about a kiss?
Hey now, say now,
What comes after this?
Aside from Spike Jones and His City Slickers, I was transported by Irish, Classical, Country, Blue Grass, Blues and especially early/mid 1960’s Rock to my current Dionysian levels of human excitement. My home at 1755 West 75th Place ( in Chicago’s Englewood/Gresham, or Little Flower Parish) pumped out jazz from the Admiral radio parked between the stove and the ice box in our two bedroom Georgian. The radio was fixed at WCFL 1000 khz AM. From the old Admiral, poured forth Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Errol Garner, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan and the incomparable Joe Williams.
At my grandfather’s house, a huge bungalow with a vast yard, at 7535 S. Marshfield, gathered the greatest Irish musicians in Chicago and possibly in America: Jimmy Neary, Terry ‘Cuz’ Teahan, Johnny McGreevy and Elinor Kane Neary. Every Wednesday they gathered while my grandfather, a musician of some small talents, cut the hair of his three score grandsons and sat in, as well.
Warner Brothers cartoons and Popeye introduced me to Wagner, Brahms, Rossini and Mozart.
The transistor radio introduced me to ROCK (circa 1962). The illicit ritual of plugging into a box, operated by batteries, that transferred sounds to the soul took place after homework, bath and prayers under the covers in the sack.
Interestingly, the sounds paralleled the dropping of my own voice from its piercing tones of a Castrati to a modest baritone.
Eddie Cochrane, Wilson Picket, James Brown, The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Zombies and the Stones awakened me to the fact that I was meant to shake my tail feathers and rooster it up aplenty! A poor writer would burden you and belabor the obvious to death and load up all sorts of ‘coming of age and sexual awakenings’ nonsense, but your genial host here will have none of that! Hell, music is cool!
I became a very discerning lover of Rock - The Beatles? Ok, up to Sgt. Pepper. The Kinks? Superb. Same too for The Four Tops, Temptations, James Brown, Creedence Clearwater, Young Rascals, Eric Clapton, Johnnie Taylor, Jimmy Ruffin, Tyrone Davis and Mitch Ryder.
My first dance with Ginny O’Malley in 1968 was sparked by I Will Always Think About You, by Ronnie Rice & The New Colony Six. In 1982, I asked Mary Elizabeth Cleary to marry me while listening to Little Feat:
If you’ll be my dixie chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee lamb
And we can walk together down in Dixieland
Down in Dixieland
Well we made all the hot spots. My money flowed like wine
Then that low down Southern whiskey began to fog my mind
And I don’t remember church bells or the money I put down
On the white picket fence and boardwalk of the house at the edge of town
But boy do I remember the strain of her ain
The nights we spent together, and the way she called my name
She said, “ Okay.”
Music echoes our joys.
I moved to Michigan City last year and dial surfed. Like decent pizza, great music is tough to come by. Returning to Michigan City from my brother’s home in Orland Park on the I-80/94 speedway from Lansing to Gary, I noticed that WDCB 95.9, Chicago’s only Jazz and Blues station, was cutting out. I began the channel surf - ME FM? Oh, yeah, let’s hear McCartney’s We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert for sixty four miles? I think not. Country stations? Nope. What passes for C/W these days is White Boy Hip-Hop with fiddles.
Just past the Broadway exit in Gary heading east on I-94, I happened upon 88.3 FM and was treated to a magnificent magic carpet of tunes and heard not one ear worm*
producing auditory abortions like Billy, Don’t Be a Hero by Paper Lace or ALL BY MYSELF ... by Eric Carmen. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The first tune was Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto’s haunting Girl From Ipanema, followed by Spencer Davis Group, David Allan Coe, John Hiatt, Gary U.S. Bonds, Johnny Rivers, The Buckinghams and a guitar duet by Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins.
I am hooked.
WDSO 88.3 FM is Chesterton High School’s radio station. In its 44rd year, this signature public high school’s radio station has become a regional legend.
Mr. Matt Waters instructs students in the broadcasting arts, news reporting and technical approaches and advances in broadcasting. Students operate the microphones and set the play lists. My compliments one and all.
“WDSO broadcasts seven days a week, 24 hours a day including holiday breaks, June through August.”
The station features daily shows floating in the joyfully endless stream of wonderful music:shows like Pet Talk, Historically Speaking, Porter County Perspective, Profile America, Daily Almanac and Symphony.
The radio station is a non-for-profit 501 (c) 3 charity and thanks to the efforts of the Duneland School Corporation, Mr. Waters and the fund-raising work of Ms. Emily Fletcher, people living in, or driving through, this beautiful region continue to be treated to magnificent music from Brahms to Tim Buckley.
You can purchase on-air advertising for as little as $25 per spot (daytime) and $10 per spot (nighttime) and have your business touted on air by the young people operating WDSO’s airways. You may also wish to join me in sending a modest, or boastful, check to:
2125 S. 11th Street
Chesterton, IN 46304
Irish American News is in the hands of many people who wander Indiana, especially those going to and from the Irish Riviera between Long Beach, Indiana and Grand Beach, Michigan, and their ears could use a treat.
You can pick up WDSO right around Ripley Street on the Frank Borman Expressway as you head toward your destinations near Michigan City and you will not be disappointed.
Avoid the ear worms, dial up WDSO 88.3 FM, or catch the live stream at www.duneland.k-12.in.us.wdso
I’m listening to a toe-tapper by Johnny Cash at this very moment - Michigan City Howdy, Do!
*Ear Worm -An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome
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