Saturday, March 6, 2010
The Golden Age of Radio
From 1982 to 2004, Dick Clark of $10,000 Pyramid fame produced and hosted a four-hour oldies radio show called Rock, Roll and Remember, spinning dusties and tossing off facts like a less-organized but more factual Casey Kasem. In 2004, Clark had a stroke, ending the series' run, and his speech has been noticeably impaired ever since, although he still lays claim to being America's only 80-year-old teenager. If you've seen his brave but unfortunate post-stroke appearances on New Year's Rockin' Eve since then, you know he doesn't have the voice he once did.
But Rock, Roll & Remember is still out there in syndication, including on my local oldies station, where it airs every Sunday. I keep listening for some indication that these are very old shows - not so much a clarification like on the old American Top Fortys in syndication, which makes it clear these are "classic" re-airings, but an error of fact introduced by the passage of time. The release date for the Walker Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" is not likely to change, but Dick might mention that Ray Charles is still going strong or something. I did hear him refer once to the late George Harrison, but the Dark Horse is more than likely to remain dead.
More than that, though, I find it disquieting to hear these shows, passed off as current programming, when I know Dick Clark isn't physically capable of doing this. Radio is supposed to be more immediate than that, isn't it? I watched All the President's Men on TV the other night, and it didn't bother me at all that Jason Robards is dead. That's fiction, though; radio is nonfiction.
Someday, Dick Clark is going to die, as much as we all wish he wouldn't. Will Rock, Roll and Remember keep airing after that? Come to think of it, I bet they could edit and repackage some old episodes of the Paul Harvey News, and no one would know the difference. The perfidy of Congressional Democrats is an eternal topic.