The three of you listened to your music on your boom boxes and walkmans. My source of music was my record player, which I got when my tonsils were removed. (Just Yank Them Out), and a portable radio, known then as a transistor radio, which I was given for my ninth birthday.
Apparently, these radio were manufactured in an array of colors, but I am guessing they cost more than the black one I had, which would explain why this was news to me. My research revealed that the transistors, which is the boring electronic part of the radio that I don’t care to learn about, was invented at Bell Labs, the place where I worked and “invented” the cell phone.
My radio was small—about the size of a cell phone—and played only AM stations. It came with an earplug so that I could listen without annoying Grandma and Grandpa. I remember there was one kid in my elementary school who was always plugged into his transistor radio. He had it hidden in his pocket and wove the cord underneath his clothes. I first thought it was a hearing aid until I learned the truth.
Supposedly, a transistor radio sold for around 15 bucks, which seems like an insignificant amount. However, my inflation calculator puts that at $115 in 2016 dollars, which is a huge amount for my family. I have no idea how my parents afforded it.
I will admit that the only reason I know that I received my radio for my ninth birthday is because the song, Rag Doll, by the Four Seasons, was released around the time of that particular birthday. Whenever I hear “such a pretty face should be dressed in rags,” I am suddenly whisked back in time, landing in my grandmother’s dining room. That song was played over and over, and although I know it was not the number one song on my birthday (#1 was Chapel of Love), I guess that a song set to soar to the top of the charts four weeks later was played a lot.
There was one radio station we all listened to back then—“77- WABC.” Everyone listened to WABC and its famous DJ, cousin Brucie. When I was in high school, he came to our high school for some sort of assembly. How lucky were we!
Occasionally, and I do mean occasionally, I would switch to the other am radio station which also played the songs from the top 40 —WMCA. But WABC was the big station.
It is hard to believe how far the technology has come today. Think about how many stations are available to you just on FM alone—smooth jazz, rock, news, country—to name just a few. When you add the myriad (another word from my favorite word list) of satellite stations available to you, and compare those numbers to my childhood when there were just a few, I have to ask you: do you feel sorry for Dad and me?