matthew

But is it really?

Babe Ruth made baseball history when, on September 30, 1927, he hit his sixtieth home run of the season. It was the 151st game of a 154 game season.

That record was not tied until September 26, 1961, and broken five days later by another New York Yankee, Roger Maris.

Roger Maris hits number 61 — Photo: Sports Illustrated

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, for Maris, the major league schedule expanded to 162 games that season to accommodate the new expansion teams that started that year. Maris tied Ruth’s record in game in game 159 — five games after the 1927 season would have ended. Maris broke the record in the last game of the season — game 162. Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick decreed that there should be two sets of records, one for the 154 game seasons and another for the 162 game seasons. As a result, Maris’s record was always shown with an asterisk (*) until it was officially removed in 1991.

A record of another sort was made in the Billboard Hot 100 chart of April 4, 1964. The Beatles held the top five positions:

1: Can’t Buy Me Love (Capitol)

2: Twist and Shout( Tollie)

3: She Loves You (Swan)

4: I Want To Hold Your Hand (Capitol)

5: Please Please Me (Vee Jay)

Source: Billboard Hot 100 Chart for April 4, 1964

Recently, much has been made about how this record has been shattered by current artist Taylor Swift. However, I would suggest that there is more of a difference between the Beatles and Swift records than between the Ruth and Maris records.

I have a couple of them — Photo: My Collection

I don’t have anything against Taylor Swift, although I personally am too busy chasing kids off my lawn to listen to her music. However, one can’t deny that how the Billboard charts are done now is much different than how they were done sixty years ago. In 1964, to be high on the charts, enough people had to to the store and pay 98 cents (or whatever) to buy a round piece of plastic measuring seven inches across. I Want To Hold Your Hand was number 4 on April 4. It had previously had been number 1. You know what did not count toward the song’s position on the chart?: the (US) album Meet The Beatles.

Look what the first song is on side 1 — Photo: My Collection

That album hit the number 1 spot on a Billboard chart on February 1, 1964 where it stayed for 11 weeks — or until two weeks after the Hot 100 chart of April 4. I Saw Her Standing There was the B side to I Want To Hold Your Hand and may have been considered as part of the single’s sales, but no other song on the album was given a position on the Hot 100 based upon sales of the album.

Things are done differently in 2024. While there are several factors that affect a song’s position on the chart, the biggest factor is downloads or streaming from paid sites such as Spotify. Free streaming sites such as YouTube are way down the list of significance.

What does this mean? Here is a post I found on Redit:

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – Down Every Road 1962-1994 – 46,216,442

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – Best Of The Best – 46,216,442

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – Mama Tried – 46,216,442

A different version on a different album

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried – The Essential Hits Collection – 170,725

Redit post by Fuzzy_Mic from three years ago

Downloads from different albums of the same version of Mama Tried by Merle Haggard were added together. One album had a different version of the song and shows a different song count.

Taylor Swift is very popular. Many people want to download or stream Taylor Swift’s latest album. However, the way the system currently works counts an album download as a sale of each individual song. If things worked that way in 1964, George Harrison would have had his first big hit in in 1964 with Don’t Bother Me.

Congratulations to Taylor Swift for her success, but holding the top 14 slots on the Billboard chart under the current methodology is not the same as the Beatles holding the top five slots in 1964.

But is it really? Read More »

Was it a dream?

One of the more interesting inventions in the early 1970’s was the Mixar “Flying Pinto.” It was a modified Ford Pinto which you could drive to your local airport and attach a set of wings. It gained a lot of attention in the summer of 1973. It was on magazine covers. It was on network newscasts. It was going to put flight in reach of the middle class.

Mixar “Flying Pinto” Photo: popularmechanics.com

In September, 1973 I began my senior year in high school. My brother worked evenings at the Officer’s Club on Hamilton Air Force Base just north of San Francisco. Once upon arriving home after midnight he popped into my room.

“The Pinto Plane crashed. The people working on it were killed.”

In a half-asleep state I acknowledged what he said.

The next morning I looked in the San Francisco Chronicle. I could find no mention of the plane or the crash. After school I heard no mention of it on the radio. There was no mention of it on the TV news. It was as if it was a project of the Mission Impossible team and the Secretary had disavowed any knowledge of the project and the people working on it.

What Pinto Plane?

Less than ten days later, I was asleep and my brother again popped his head into my room when he got home after midnight.

“Jim Croce was killed in a plane crash.”

The next morning I looked in the San Francisco Chronicle. I could find no mention of the the crash or of Jim Croce. Nobody mentioned it at school. After school I heard no mention of it on the radio. There was no mention of it on the TV news. I still don’t know why. Maybe it was too late to make it in the morning paper but old news by the time I got home from school. That day happened to be my brother’s day off. I asked him at the dinner table:

“Did you come into my room last night and tell me that Jim Croce was killed in a plane crash?

“Yeah.”

“And a few days ago did you come into my room and tell me that the Pinto Plane had crashed?”

“Yeah.”

Funny. I have not seen anything about either one. I was thinking they were dreams.”

“You must have just missed it”

I have read that Croce planned to tell his wife when he got home from that tour that that was his last tour. He wanted to be around to see his son grow up. He was not going to get out of music, but he was going to get into areas where he did not have to travel so much. He never got the chance.

Jim Croce and Maury Muehleisen in one of their last TV performances. I saw this when it first aired.

That was fifty years ago. Besides being a tragic event for the people involved, it makes you wonder what great things he could have accomplished. While Croce’s most well know songs are somewhat in the novelty vein, he also wrote some heartfelt songs as well.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Croce.

Was it a dream? Read More »

Lost in Translation

Shortly after the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967, my oldest brother borrowed it from a friend. I listened to it a number of times. One of the songs that got my attention was She’s Leaving Home. My understanding was that the young woman in the song wanted a better life than the poverty-like existence that she had with her parents and was going to elope with “a man from the motor trade” — a young executive from Rolls Royce or Jaguar. The “motor trade” just sounds oh so upper class.

My wife is English. Although we have know each other for twenty years, even today sometimes she will use a Britishism or I will use an Americanism and we would look at the other and ask, “What did you say?”

Words or expressions are used in songs that are understood in the country of origin of the song but maybe not elsewhere. My wife has explained a number of such things, bringing clarity about a songs meaning. The young woman in She’s Leaving Home did not leave to find happiness with an up and coming industrialist.

She ran off with a used car salesman.

Beatles’ songs are full of English phrases that can be easily misunderstood by an American. I thought that knickers were something that golfers wore. There is a line in I Am The Walrus that says “Boy, you’ve been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down.” OK. She pulled her pants down. I guess that is naughty.

Oh, knickers means something a little more, er, intimate?

I have read that No Milk Today is Peter Noone’s favorite song of Herman’s Hermits. When I first heard it in 1971, the line “A terraced house in a main street back of town” made me think of a lovely home with terraced gardens on a hillside overlooking the city. But it’s not a “main” street, it’s “a mean street back of town.” And “too up, too down?” I thought he was having mood swings. No, the line is “two up two down.” The home has four rooms on two stories with two rooms on the ground floor and two on the floor above that.

And “a terraced house in a main street back of town?” A terraced house is what Americans would call a row house — in a mean street means it is a row house in a slum.

I wonder if one of the reasons the song was not that big of a hit in the US was because too much of it was not understood, losing much of its meaning.

I am not the only one who does not understand lines in British songs. While it seems to have been corrected, online lyrics for the Rolling Stones Get Off Of My Cloud had the line “In the morning the parking tickets were just like flags stuck on my window screen.” You would think people would think about the line and realize that parking tickets on a window screen made no sense.

I am sure there are many American songs that have people in the UK scratching their heads. As Churchill famously said, we are two people separated by a common language.

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The Last Deejay

After my wife and I got married in the mid 2000’s, it took about a year before I received my permanent resident visa that allowed me to move from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. During that time I would get off work at about 2 AM on Sunday morning and drive to my wife’s apartment in Vancouver, arriving at about 4:30 AM. I would drive my wife to work on Tuesday morning then head back down to Seattle where I was due at work at about 3:30 PM.

One Tuesday morning I won a contest on Vancouver oldies station, 650 CISL. A week later I stopped by the station to pick up my prize. The station was in Richmond, the city just south of Vancouver. I got off Highway 99 and went westbound on Steveston Highway and wound my way to the studios. I waited at the front desk as they got my prize. I later mentioned to my wife that I wished I could have had a tour of the station.

A week or two later when I arrived on Sunday morning, my wife told me that we had an appointment at 10:30. I had no idea what the appointment was for but I did not think too much about it. I got a few hours of sleep, awakened, and got cleaned up. We got in the car and drove south on Highway 99 listening to Red Robinson’s show on CISL. My wife told me to exit Highway 99 at Steveston Highway.

As we drove west on Steveston, my wife asked me if I recognized where we were going.

I was incredulous. “No!” was about all I could say. My wife had arranged for me to meet Red Robinson.

Red let us sit in with him for about 45 minutes. As we were leaving, my wife took a picture of Red and me by a jukebox in the station lobby.

Red Robinson and me, a meeting arranged by my wife Photo: Personal collection

Red Robinson was a DJ and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He got his start on radio in Vancouver in 1954 when he was still in high school. His first name was Robert. According to his autobiography he never went by “Red” until he was on the air. His fellow students did not know that after school he would go to the station for his air shift. He was concerned that those we now call “jocks” would not take kindly to his after school job so he used the nom de voix “Red” so that they would not know.

He met many of the stars of early rock and roll, many of whom he considered friends. He really appreciated their music and, in the formative years of the genre, the humility of most of the artists. He told of one night after a concert he, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, and Buddy Knox went for a burger at a White Spot (think Denny’s) and just sat around talking for several hours.

In the early 1960’s he went to work at a station in Portland, Oregon. Red would do imitations on the air. While he was there, Walter Brennan had a hit record with Old Rivers. One day Red’s manager went into the studio and asked Red to do his Walter Brennan imitation. After he did it, the real Walter Brennan walked in saying “I don’t sound like that!”

At that time, Red would have been in his mid 20’s. As he was a young man living in the United States, he registered for the draft. One day he got his letter from the President. He weighed his options: he could return to Canada or he could honor his obligation. He chose the latter. He served in the US Army at Fort Ord, California.

After his stint in the Army, Red returned to Vancouver. In 1964 he emceed the Beatles Vancouver concert. Vancouver Police told Red that if the crowd did not settle down, the Beatles would not be allowed to play. As Red tried to settle the audience, John Lennon cussed him out telling Red to let the group play. Red explained the situation and John backed down.

Red Robinson’s radio career went on for many years. He also branched out into television and advertising. He did a great deal of charity work.

Red Robinson passed away this week, two days after his 86th birthday. The music and broadcasting industries lost a gentleman, as did the world as a whole.

The Last Deejay Read More »

Personal Music Descriptions

Of course I know In The Mood by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, but it was a hit many years before I was born. My personal description for such a song is, well, that I know it.

Of course I know it. Doesn’t everybody?

A song I know does not necessarily have to be from before I was born. It could also be something that I am old enough to possibly remember from when it was a hit, but don’t. One such song is Lies by the Knickerbockers. Even though it is from 1966, I don’t remember hearing the song until late 1968.

And like everyone else I thought it was the Beatles.

Another song I missed at the time but heard later on is Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats. For some reason, also in late 1968, KJR Seattle played it so often that I though it was new even though is was it was a hit on the US charts a year and a half before. This is another song I know.

It wasn’t until late 1969 when I heard KFRC say it was from 1967 that I knew it was an oldie when KJR played it.

Know is the most basic category of song to me. From there we move to songs I remember. A song I remember is one that I remember from the time it was a hit.

One song I remember was from 1964 after we moved to Germany. AFN Frankfurt had a country show from 4-5 PM (or should I say 1600-1700). From 5 to 6 (1700 to 1800) was a popular music program — the first half hour was top 40, the second half hour was what used to be called MOR (Middle of the Road). This particular song was on both the country and pop charts so it was played on both shows. That song was We’ll Sing In The Sunshine by Gale Garnett. I definitely remember this song. No wonder, considering I heard it twice in the two hours of limited music programming on the station.

And I’ve hated it ever since.

In late Spring, 1969, there was a song KJR started playing. By the time we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in late August, it was ready to drop off the KJR play list — a recurrent in radio parlance. When we got to San Francisco and found KFRC, that song was Hitbound. It is the only song that I heard run its course two consecutive times of heavy airplay. Yeah, I certainly remember Smile A Little Smile For Me, Rosemarie by the Flying Machine, and I sure got tired of it, too.

I guess it wasn’t really their fault.

The thing with a song I remember is that, while I remember it when it was a hit, it does not bring back the vivid mood of a specific time I heard it. It was just part of the woodwork so to speak — even if I do remember a specific time I heard it.

That brings me to what I call Time Machine Songs. Not only do I remember such a song from when it was a hit, but hearing it again transports my mind back in time to a specific time I heard it.

After my grandmother died in January, 1963, we drove from Staten Island for the funeral. After the funeral my mother stayed in Washington DC to help my grandfather. My father was in the Army. He stood like a ramrod and was forever telling us to “stand up straight.” As he drove my two brothers and me back to New York, the latest song by the Four Seasons came on the radio. My father could not pass up the oppourtunity to tell us that that is what we had to do — Walk Like A Man.

On the Pennsylvania Turnpike again.

I previously touched on one particular song from 1965. Whenever I hear I Can’t Help Myself by the Four Tops, I am sitting in our living room looking at the July 9 issue of Life Magazine. I can see many of the pictures. I am not quite nine years old. The song takes me back there.

And the girl on the cover was nice, too.

When my brother was a junior in high school he was involved with an organization called Junior Achievement. One night a week my mother would drive him to the meetings. I would go along for the ride. I don’t remember any other song that I heard on those rides, but Georgie Girl by the Seekers has me in the back seat of the car driving on the hills of downtown Tacoma.

It gets dark early that time of year in Washington State.

Music from any time can bring back memories, but a time machine song puts me in the moment.

Personal Music Descriptions Read More »

Drumming to a different beat

Some thirty-odd years ago I went to a party at a friend’s house. As Robert answered the door there was someone a few feet behind him. Knowing that outside of himself I would be the only person at the party who would recognize the name, Robert whispered to me “That’s Sandy Nelson.”

While his heyday was a bit early for me, I certainly knew who Sandy Nelson was. He had a number of hits in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s, starting with Teen Beat in 1959.

I am not much of a social butterfly at parties. I am the kind of person who will find a like-minded individual and spend my time talking to him. Sandy Nelson was the same kind of person. We made some small talk and went into the kitchen and sat down.

Nelson asked me if I played any musical instruments. I told him that I made noise on the guitar. He had lost part of a leg in a motorcycle accident so he could not really drum anymore. He still wanted to make music so he was teaching himself the piano. One thing that confused him, though, was why the layout of the bass clef and the treble clef were different. I explained to him that they were originally laid out as one giant score with an added line in between for Middle C (which I since found out may not be exactly true). I pointed out that the top line of the bass clef was an A note. Above that was a space for a B note, then a ledger line for Middle C, a space for a D note, and the bottom line of the treble clef was an E note. One almost picked up where the other left off.

“A Guitarist who can read music. I’m impressed.”

“I’m not very good at either.”

“That’s OK. That’s still very good.”

We talked for a quite a while. He talked about the music industry in the late ’50’s. “If you had a kit (a drum set) and a car, you were a session musician.”

After we went out into the living room, Robert brought out a stack of Sandy’s albums. The liner notes on one of them said how he “drummed to his own beat.”

“That means I couldn’t drum my way out of a paper bag.”

I had a very enjoyable evening. Sandy was a nice guy. He did not talk down to me at all, nor did I act like a star-struck fan. We were just two people at a party with similar interests. I never talked to him again.

I just found out that Sandy Nelson passed away last Valentine’s Day. Rest in peace, Mr. Teen Beat.

Drumming to a different beat Read More »

Eureka!

Except when we were in Germany, I remember always having a piano in the house when I grew up. Recently I found the original receipt for the family Wurlitzer piano from 1957 — the year after I was born. I imagine that my mother always wanted a piano, and my father was able to fulfill that wish some eight years after they were married. I took piano lessons the summer I turned 13 but I cannot say I remember my mother ever playing the keyboard although we did have a collection of music books.

While my father used to sing, especially along with Richard Kiley on the Broadway Cast album of Man of La Mancha and later with albums of Irish music, he was, to the best of my knowledge, not a musician of any kind who played an instrument.

…except for one piece.

I have fond memories of my father standing at the piano and playing an upbeat tune. I remember this from time to time over many years. I had no idea of what it was he played. I asked one of my brothers about it. He suggested maybe it was Chopsticks. I know Chopsticks, and that was not it.

This was not it.

I thought I would never know what the tune was considering I remember it from sixty years ago.

Fabricio André Bernard Di Paolo is a Brazilian musician on YouTube known professionally as Lord Vinheteiro. His videos cover a wide variety of topics from songs you have heard but don’t know the name of, the difference between a cheap and expensive piano, and many more. His videos show a dry sense of humor.

Lord Vinheteiro Photo: https://livecoins.com.br

Lord Vinheteiro’s appears to be a stern head master. He clearly is very good musician. One of the hallmarks of his videos is that he usually scowls directly at the camera which is usually to the side of him. There have been several comments that a piece is especially difficult if Vinheteiro has to look at the keyboard as he plays.

Several days ago, Lord Vinheteiro posted a video showing the progression of a piano player from one second to ten years. For him, maybe, but not anyone I know. The best I could do after two months of hard work was a rousing rendition of Tommy’s New Drum March.

1 Day vs 10 Years Playing Piano

At the 35 second mark, Vinheteiro said “One day playing piano.” What came next was a shortened version of the tune I remembered my father playing all those years ago. The tune is known around the world by a number of different names. According to Wikipedia, it is known in Japan as I Stepped on the Cat and in Spain as The Chocolatier. In other countries it is know as the Flea, Pig, Dog, Cat or Donkey March, the Cat’s or Fool’s Polka, or by several other names. In the United Kingdom it is know as Chopsticks — but not what we know by that name in the United States.

One of the many renditions.

The song is said to be an easy tune to play although you could not prove it by me. My father played a boisterous, almost boogie woogie rendition. I would love to hear him play it again.

Eureka! Read More »

There are premiers then there are premiers.

A few days ago I was listening to the ’60’s channel on Sirius/XM. They played She’s a Lady by Tom Jones. I remember the first time I heard the song in 1971 (go figure). Usually if I remember the first time I heard a song it is because I associate it with something. In the case of that recording by Mr. Jones, it is because Bob Foster, the announcer on KFRC, said it was the world premier of the song.

The world premier?

Even though I was 15, I wondered at the time why the world premier of a record by someone from the UK would have its world premier on a radio station in San Francisco. New York I could understand. Maybe Los Angeles. But San Francisco? But if Bob Foster said it, it must be true!

Ten years later I lived on the Central Coast of California. Our cable service gave us TV stations from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. One night I was watching an LA station and they ran a promo about a movie they were going to show in a week — the “World Television Premier” of the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That’s right, the world television premier.

Two weeks later — a week after the “World Television Premier” on the L.A. station, I was watching a San Francisco station. They had a promo for something they were going to be showing in a week — the “World Television Premier” of the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. While they might not like to think so, I always thought that Los Angeles and San Francisco were on the same planet.

That got me to thinking — what is the fastest a recording made it on the air after being recorded? I don’t mean something that was done live on TV and recorded for the purpose of being released as a single such as All You Need Is Love by the Beatles.

I found two videos of the original broadcast but they both “freeze up” accidentally on purpose at the same spot.

Nor did I consider Elton John’s reworking of Candle In The Wind for Princess Dianna in this regard, as releasing it as a single was also a fait accompli.

From the original broadcast in September, 1997

Instead, I considered a case where a song was recorded in the normal course of events. What was the fastest a record made it from the studio to the radio in the shortest amount of time? The record for the shortest time it took a record (sounds redundant, doesn’t it?) to make it on the radio has to be from 1961 for one Pat Boone.

Boone went in to the studio to record a song. After he was finished, he had a few errands to run. As he drove he listened to the radio. The producers of the recording must have thought they had something great on their hands. The made a quick copy of it and rushed it over to a local radio station. Before Boone even made it home, the song — Moody River — was already on the air.

Today it would have to be approved by the consultants first

Talk about quick!

Just as a side note, in 1978 I was the first person at the station I worked at to play Stuff Like That by Quincy Jones. That wasn’t because I was some important person tasked with breaking hits; I just happened to be the person who was on the air when the record was brought into the control room.

With my help this made it all the way to #21 on the charts!

There are premiers then there are premiers. Read More »

Brothers

I was the youngest of three boys. My brothers and I were always pretty close. My oldest brother Larry and I seemed to have the most in common in terms of music. I remember many of the songs that he liked over the years,

The Brothers; Steve, Larry, and me — 1958

I remember him liking a Brenda Lee song that was a hit unto itself and was also the flip side of I’m Sorry. It was a song that I found many years later, much to my surprise, was written by Jerry Reed: That’s All You Gotta Do. The reason I was surprised was because once I heard that factoid, it was so obvious that I felt I should have known it. Larry played that record so many times that I am surprised we did not hear I’m Sorry playing backwards along with that song.

This sounds like Chubby Checker when you play the 45 at 33.

Larry never wasted an opportunity to ride buses. He never realized it, but one of his dreams when he was young was to be a Greyhound bus driver. In early 1963 there was a song that I loved so much that my mother sent Larry out to buy the record for me — Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary. Whether he had to or not, Larry spent just about the entire day taking buses all over Staten Island to find it.

Larry bravely chased around to find this record for me.

Later that year Larry bought a record for himself. I was with him one day when he played it when my Mother walked in. I don’t know why but she got really mad at him for his purchase: The Kind of Boy You Can’t Forget by the Raindrops. To this day I still have no idea what got her so mad.

This struck a nerve for some reason.

When we moved to Germany in 1964 we did not have television so music was one of our biggest forms of entertainment. We bought records like we never had before. One of the first Larry bought was Remember (Walking In The Sand) by the Shangri-las.

I feel like my brother is here when I listen to this.

Maybe the reason my brothers and I were so close is because we moved around a lot and saw a number of different things, such as our trip to Berlin in 1965.

Me, Larry, and Steve at the Berlin Wall — June, 1965

After we returned to the United States, we drove across country in June 1966. My father always had the radio on in the car and one of the songs we heard was Little Girl by the Syndicate of Sound. Larry liked it but was not sure of the name. He bought the record before we had any way to play it, not sure if it was the right one. He saw in the TV listings that the group was going to be on American Bandstand. Larry never really watched the show, but he made sure he did that week.

The original video, albeit with the sound re-dubbed.

Another song Larry liked in 1966 was Hey Joe. He did not know who it was by, but he saw it on an album so he bought it. When I saw the album cover, I was totally bewildered. I had never seen anything like it before. It was a bit much for my ten-year-old brain to comprehend.

What the fiddlesticks? Photo: Reprise Records

That was not the version he wanted. He was looking at the version by the Leaves which he found on KJR 16 All American Hits.

Back in the days of Channel 95
Original video with original (lip-synced) sound

Years went by. College, marriages, life goes on. The three of us would have a chance to get together from time to time.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — Easter, 1983
After sitting on the front porch all night talking and watching satellites go by — May, 1995

On January 1, 2002, the three of us got together in Leavenworth, Washington. Besides being New Years Day, it was also Larry’s fifty-second birthday. Larry and Steve had their wives and the five of us had a great time.

My birthday was on a Saturday that year. To help me celebrate it, my son was going to spend the weekend with me. At about 2:30 in the morning, my son came in to tell me that my Father was on the phone.

“Your brother, Larry, is dead.” I know why he phrased it that way. My mother had been fighting cancer for over twenty years. As “mother” and “brother” sounded very similar, my father wanted to be sure I understood exactly what he was saying.

The last photo of the three brothers together — January 1, 2002

It has been twenty years since I last saw Larry. It took me years to come to grips with his passing, but I still am not used to it.

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Songs On The Radio

If a driver of a standard automobile were to see a NASCAR race car, he could tell it was an automobile. However, he would notice many things that were different on it than what he had at home. A similar comparison could be made with turntables. Someone with a good home turntable would know what a broadcast turntable did. He might even be able to figure out how to operate it, but he would recognize that a broadcast turntable was a different animal from a home turntable.

The following video shows what an old broadcast turntable looks like. Before you play the video, look at the picture. The turntable has a 45 on it. Looking closely, you can see that the 45 is in a recessed area of the platter. That recess also includes a large spindle for 45’s in the center. The raised outer area of the platter is where an album would rest. Above the recessed 45 spindle is the standard spindle for albums.

The platters were very heavy and were driven by a rubber roller that transferred power from a high-torque motor. That motor allowed the turntable to come up to speed in about one-quarter of a turn at 33, one-third of a turn at 45. The shaft from the motor had three levels on it to provide the three different speeds. The speed control lever also had one or more neutral positions available that allowed the platter to be turned by hand.

Unlike the way the person who made the video would cue a record, I would put the turntable in to neutral. That allowed me to quickly cue up a 45 — literally in less than five seconds once the 45 was on the platter.

Tour of a broadcast turntable.

Songs On The Radio Read More »