We've had quite a few discussions lately about "good radio" ... and how difficult it is sometimes to find it ...
So when we happen to come across a station that is playing the kind of variety that we've been touting here in Forgotten Hits for the past 22 years, we want to share this discovery with our readers. (In a recent exchange with Sean Ross of "Ross On Radio," who published a list of "Lost Songs From The '70's and '80's," we pointed out the fact that this music IS out there ... you just have to know where to look for it ... but once you find it, you'll be THRILLED with the listening experience the moment you do. As such, I’d like to give special props to WRCO-FM for their incredible playlist.
Now my "go to" stations for variety of "forgotten hits" and WOW! songs are typically Rewound Radio and Me-TV-FM. We also enjoy listening to WCFLChicago.com and The True Oldies Channel, primarily because these last two also offer up vintage radio clips from WCFL's hey-day and the interaction of an "almost live" deejay in the way of one of the best radio has to offer, Scott Shannon. (The others are preprogrammed by a computer-generated playlist ... although Me-TV-FM inserts little song intros and interesting facts throughout the day ... and Rewound goes "live" on the weekends and in the evenings.
We've known about WRCO for YEARS and have done several guest appearances on Phil Nee's "Those Were The Days" radio program, a six-hour Saturday Night institution for decades where we've counted down special themed lists. (In fact, we're working on putting together a "Favorite Songs From 1971" countdown right now ... which reminds me, you've only got till Sunday to get YOUR votes in for your Top Ten Favorites!)
WRCO actually offers TWO listening options ... 100.9 FM (which is the station that Phil is part of daily) and 107.7 FM, which is the one we have recently discovered. (Quite by accident, I might add ... when I asked Alexa to play WRCO 100.9 FM, it automatically defaults to the 107.7 station ... and I liked what I was hearing so much that I just elected to leave it on! Another VERY happy radio-listening happenstance!)
In fact, I’ve been listening to the 107.7 channel for the past couple of days now … and been hearing ALL kinds of surprise, WOW! songs, literally all day and all night long! (So much so that this almost qualifies as the "Forgotten Hits Radio" we keep talking about!)
And what a wide variety of tunes … songs I haven’t heard on the radio in ages (or, at the very least, in limited spins.)
For example … when is the last time that you heard “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” by Deodato? This was like a #1 Hit back in 1973. (Well, actually it peaked at #2 … but it was played like a #1 … and I think that it actually DID top the charts here in Chicago)
And then, in
the same 20 minute set: “Big City Miss
Ruth Ann” by Gallery, Jud Strunk’s “Daisy A Day,” “Get Down” by Gilbert
O’Sullivan, “Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano and “Dancing In The
Moonlight” by King Harvest. All within
20 minutes of each other. (I was almost
waiting for a few “regulars” to pop up to help enhance the surprise of what
might be coming next!) Normally, you could listen to an oldies station all week before you'd hear that many surprises ... but this all came within the context of the same 20 minute set!
Spot listening at work yesterday turned up “Could It Be Magic” by Barry Manilow, “Bottle Of Wine” by The Fireballs, “What Kind Of Fool” by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb (!), “Whipped Cream” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (not quite as exciting without the visual, I'll admit ... but still pretty damn impressive after all!), “Thank God For Kids” by The Oak Ridge Boys (talk about a WOW! song … you don’t even hear their biggest hit, “Elvira,” anymore!), “I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine, “My Maria” by B.W. Stevenson, “Who Do You Think You Are” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, “Watermelon Man” by Mongo Santamaria … “All Time High” by Rita Coolidge, “In Your Letter” by REO Speedwagon (!), “Heaven On The 7th Floor” by Paul Nicholas, “Play Me” by Neil Diamond, “Do It Or Die” by The Atlanta Rhythm Section, “Rings” by Cymmaron, “Lorelei” by Styx (you NEVER hear that one!), “Lonely School Year” by The Hudson Brothers!!! (I’ll bet I haven’t heard that song on the radio more than three times in my entire life!!! And what a shame … because it’s a GREAT song!!!)
There are times when the station comes off a little bit like Me-TV-FM … mostly softer rock but not a lot of the REALLY popular stuff (which, quite honestly, would only enhance their appeal … you can’t play ONLY Forgotten Hits or you’ll shrink your audience … but that element of surprise every dozen songs or so will keep your listeners tuned in to see what might be coming next.) In fact, that’s EXACTLY what we did Tuesday Night when I put the station on for 20 minutes in order to drift off to sleep … the music was so good, I just kept listening the whole time … and then we set it for ANOTHER 20 minutes because we wanted to see what other surprises might be coming!
Other times it plays like the old Real Oldies station that was programmed by our late buddy, Ron Smith. For example, in the course of an hour I heard “Cindy’s Birthday” by Johnny Crawford, “The Boll Weevil Song” by Brook Benton, “Mr. Custer” by Larry Verne, “Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton, “Baby Sittin’ Boogie” by Buzz Clifford, “Greenfields” by The Brothers Four, “Let’s Think About Livin’” by Bob Luman and even the original rap song, “Old Rivers” by Walter Brennan!
Now for my money, that’s just WAY too many of these "vintage tunes" in a one hour span … but broken up into about 6-8 surprises spread out over a day and you’ve got magic, friends!
After that, it was anything goes: “Motorcycle Mama” by Sailcat, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” by Joe South, “Dueling Banjos / Deliverance” by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell,” “Java” by Al Hirt, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” (the Silkie version … in fact, I honestly can’t remember if I heard a Beatles song all day … but I DID hear music by The Byrds, The Hollies, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits – “Listen People” – and Peter And Gordon – “Lady Godiva”!!!)
They also played “No Matter What Shape Your Stomach’s In” by The T-Bones, “Yeh Yeh” by Georgie Fame (one of my all-time favorites), “The Unicorn’ by The Irish Rovers (and NOT on St. Patrick’s Day!), “Don’t Let The Rain Come Down” by The Serendipity Singers (!), “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, “Dang Me” by Roger Miller (!), “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione and “Action” by our buddy Freddy Cannon.
I can’t stress enough how much we enjoyed listening to this at work yesterday. (I even turned off Rewound on a Wednesday … which absolutely NEVER happens … just to see what WRCO was up to.)
Now comes the true test … can we listen again all day TODAY and hear DIFFERENT music (but of the same ilk and surprise factor???) Time will tell. But for right now, I can absolutely VERY highly recommend checking this out for yourself …
Here's the link to their website: https://wrco.com/
Just click on the headphones for either station and give them a listen … I think you’ll be suitably impressed! (And please, let us know what you think!) kk
Meanwhile, our FH Buddy Phil Nee does his Saturday Night Oldies Show on their OTHER Channel (100.9). Every Saturday from 6 pm - Midnight you'll find Phil taking requests, playing interview clips or highlighting some of the recent songs and artists covered right here in Forgotten Hits.
I asked him to say a few words about the station ...
Thanks for the kudos.
The music on our 107.7 / 1450 AM station is a throwback to the variety that radio formats used to have. At one time, we were a member of a network and after tiring of the over play that their programs featured and restrictions, a decision was made to do it ourselves. The music is a combination of the station's library and my personal cds. The vinyl is dubbed to digital by a young woman that works part time. Once a week for a couple of hours, she records a stack of 45's or 33's from our record library. You might hear a cue burn and a few pops occasionally, but the songs are truly the ones the station played when the music was new. We add new titles to playlist on a regular basis. There are several local and regional tunes that pop up now and than as well. I am glad that you enjoy it, and thank you for spreading the word.
I've always thought that the IDEAL oldies radio station today would be for someone like WLS, who has a rich heritage of playing Top 40 Music from 1960 - 1985 (and also featured tunes from the mid-to-late '50's, which were then considered oldies on their Solid Gold Weekends) to take their ENTIRE music library and make THAT the basis for their oldies playlist today. In other words, if you heard it here then, you'll hear it here NOW. Remain true to your roots ... and that heritage ... and through the current technology of streaming, recapture your old audience along with a brand new one. They could still offer up vintage radio clips of their legendary deejay staff ... just make it an entire WLS / Big 89 / Music Radio listening experience. (If I ever take over this station, that's EXACTLY what I'm gonna do!!!)
Meanwhile, we continue to salute those stations who are offering more than the same old / same old. So kudos again to WRCO for not being afraid to stray from the playlist those consultants are telling you feature the ONLY songs listeners wanna hear ... because it just ain't true! (kk)
You're still the king of Forgotten Oldies.
Thanks, Bill … much appreciated. (kk)