Still Classic After All These Years
A reader who found his way here via a Google search sent me an e-mail recently. He had been looking for information on the WLS year-end countdowns, and wondered if there are any Internet radio stations playing the hits from those days in that style. Well, the single best site on the Net for Classic Top 40 is still Reelradio. They've been on a subscription-only basis since February, but a mere $12 a year will get you access to a wide variety of airchecks from the 50s to the 80s. Normally, an aircheck is jock-talk only, but more and more Reelradio airchecks include all the music, commercials, and newscasts, so you can hear the shows just as they were heard back in the day.
If you're looking for free sites, there are a couple of good ones at Live365.com, streaming free of charge 24 hours a day. Oldies Generation programs playlists from various classic-era Top 40 stations such as WLS, WCFL, WABC, WQAM, WRKO, and so on. For example, as I'm writing this, they're playing music heard on WABC during the week of March 8, 1961 (the set started with Lawrence Welk's "Calcutta," but also included Elvis, the Shirelles, and others). The program also include occasional jingles, news bits, comedy bits, and station promos, although not airchecks as such. But if you're looking for the music from back in the day, Oldies Generation has it.
Many young Top 40 geeks spent hours recording their favorite stations off the air. I did a bit of it myself, but the few tapes I made are long gone. At WLS Airchecks, they live. This station programs a collection of actual WLS recordings from the 60s to the 80s. The audio quality isn't always great--but I am guessing what we're hearing are ancient cassettes. The airchecks include the music, the jocks, the commercials, and occasionally the newscasts. If you want to know why I fell in love with Top 40, this station gives you the chance to find out, in real time.
You'll need to download the Live365 player to hear these stations, and if you register (which costs nothing), you can customize your player with presets for your favorite stations. Be sure to browse the station listings--if you can't find something you like, you're not trying hard enough. Some stations require a subscription fee, but the vast majority do not.
Coming later this week: My return to radio cranks up another notch.