By: Art Vuolo
Is it me or is radio just not the same anymore? As those of you who are regular readers of this column know, I’ve been on the road quite a bit this year, and as I travel I listen to the radio — a lot of radio — and much of it sounds the same.
At a recent radio convention (I seem to go to nearly all of them), consultant Mike McVay hosted a panel called “Keeping Adults on the Radio.” He spoke about growing up near Pittsburgh and listening to a talk show by the name of Party Line on KDKA-AM (1020). It was hosted by a husband and wife team, Ed King and wife Wendy, and no delay was necessary because you never heard the callers on the air.
Oddly enough, as a kid, I used to listen to that same program while growing up in Indianapolis, a city in which I spent my “wonder years.”
McVay said it was truly a compelling radio show, and it was that type of programming that made him want to get into the business. How much of what’s on the air today is truly compelling, and does anything you hear today make you feel like getting into the radio industry?
Last week while I was in Pittsburgh, and after more than 40 years, I had the chance to meet Wendy King. She saw the video of McVay and heard his comments about Party Line, and she was impressed with his insightfulness.
For me, it was a thrill to meet the true first lady of talk radio.
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Speaking of KDKA, this past Friday marked the 87th birthday of the first commercial radio broadcast. Interestingly, radio will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Nov. 2, 2020, but what it’s going to sound like in another 13 years?
Personally, I think it’s strange that our own news WWJ-AM (950), which also claims to be the oldest station in the United States, and KDKA are currently both owned by CBS. As a further tie-in, ace morning news reporter Rob Milford at KDKA will be one of the more distinguished alumni returning to Plymouth High next Saturday for a 35-year reunion celebration of the school’s WSDP-FM (88.1), known as “The Escape.” Milford was one of the students who helped put the station on the air. He’s also been heard numerous times on WWJ and over on 97.1 FM with Deminski and Doyle.