Many Saturday nights in the early 1960s included parking with a date at Rocky Knob overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, listening to “Cousin Brucie” Morrow on WABC-AM on the radio of my ’57 Ford Fairlane hardtop.
WABC was a clear channel 50,000-watt station back then and a decent AM car radio could pick it up at Rocky Knob, along with Chicago’s WLS AM with Dick Biondi spinning rock music records and St. Louis Cardinal baseball games on KMOX-AM in St. Louis.
With luck, a date would spend most of the evening at the overlook stretched out in the back seat of the Ford as we kissed and explored each other while music bathed us from a pair of good rear speakers.
AM Top 40 rock ruled the airwaves in the 60s before FM gave listeners better sound and fewer commercials into the 70s and beyond. Today, more people listen to popular music on iPods and similar devices.
Cousin Brucie still spins records and entertains on XM Satellite Radio.
Biondi left WLS in a dispute but found work at top stations in Los Angeles and elsewhere before returning to the Windy City in the 1980s and worked for WLS-FM into the next century. He left the airwaves in 2017 and has not returned.
Biondi always pushed what then was “the edge.” He offered tickets to a drive-in movie theater one night to the first person who called him and correctly guessed the word that “started with ‘F’ ended with ‘K.’ ” After more than an hour, he told those who called in with, for the most part, an obscene guess, that the correct word as “firetruck.” The joke got a reprimand from the station.
Another reprimand came when he played Gene Pitney’s “It Hurts to Be in Love” and dedicated it to “all the virgins in Chicago.”
Today’s “shock jocks” got a lot further and don’t even raise an eyebrow, much less risk of a reprimand.
Rocker Meatloaf remembered the old days of car radios and teenage lust with “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” in 1977, written by Jim Steinman, with lyrics like:
You got to do what you can
And let Mother Nature do the rest
Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
‘Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed
Yes, I have fond memories on those nights at Rocky Knob with the music, Cousin’ Brucie, Dick Biondi and teenage hormones.
Seems almost innocent now.