Saturday, November 01, 2014

Talk about a cliffhanger...

Whewww! That was a close one.

For six years I’ve been a regular listener of RichBroRadio.com, an internet station featuring oldies from the ‘50s through the early ‘70s. It features a great mix of music, lots of “forgotten oldies”, and classic radio jingles from the era. Yes, if you’re not a baby boomer you’re probably yawning. But for those of us who did grow up during those years, this music is meaningful and significant. (Just wait until your kids roll their eyes when you still play your Miley Cyrus mix tape.)

There are a lot of internet stations out there, and most are amateur and God awful. Rich Brother Robbin, who pilots the station, is a longtime radio veteran and has put tons of thought into his programming. Songs are placed in categories and air in different rotations. It’s not just a bunch of tunes in a library playing in a random shuffle. You won’t hear two ballads back-to-back, you won’t hear two instrumentals in a row, you won’t hear six Beatles records one hour and none for the next four days. You won’t hear “Surfin’ Bird” ever.

And there are no commercials. Which is great except there are expenses.  License fees, server fees, maintaining the computer, etc.  It’s radio in the red.

After six years, Rich had decided to discontinue the station. The final day was slated for yesterday.

Personally, I was very bummed. I certainly understood his reasoning. I don’t make a dime on this blog but at least I don’t lose thousands of dollars. But like I said, his station had become part of my life. And symbolically, this was just one more outlet, which was abandoning the music that meant so much to me and my generation. Terrestrial radio had already dropped ‘60s music. Our demographic is no longer relevant. We now have to go to satellite radio (paying for it), creating our own playlists through Pandora and the like (but at the mercy of their libraries), or seeking one of these internet stations (most operating out of mothers’ basements). Forget Joe DiMaggio – where have you gone, Simon & Garfunkel?

So it was with great joy and relief that at the eleventh hour Rich decided to keep the station going. Grateful listeners like me were all-too-happy to contribute to its upkeep. At the end of the day, Rich just couldn’t abandon his pet project. It’s hard to walk away from your first love.

Thanks, Rich -- for the entertainment, keeping the flame alive, and Roy Orbison records besides “Pretty Woman.”

You can listen to RichBroRadio here.

First the Hamburger Hamlet returns and now RBR.COM. Dare I hold out hope for Howard Johnson’s Wednesday All-You-Can-Eat Fried Clambake?

19 comments:

Stoney said...

I'm familiar with Rich only from airchecks I've heard and I agree his i-station is one of the best around! Internet radio has a ton of potential but it may never get to the same competitive level as broadcast radio. I'd like to hear from Rich about the pros, cons and realities of running a station.

The most ambitious operation I've seen is IRADIOPHILLY. They're running 20 different streams along with a couple temporary and seasonal ones. Their BANDSTAND stream is a good oldies format. (Also, their Pop Hits station needs a name change soon in light of recent events.) I have no idea how much listenership they have in the Philadelphia market but I'm sure it's nowhere near what the AM's and FM's have.

I've been noodling with the idea of starting up internet radio for my area here in upstate New York, where we still have local stations transmitting but all programming is outsourced. But, like Mr. Robbin, I find that money is the only object.

MikeK.Pa. said...

I feel your pain. The Classic Rock station here is much like the station that plays Christmas music non-stop after Thanksgiving. Both have a playlist of about 150-200 songs, overplaying the same 75 day-after-day. The same Billy Joel songs. The same Aerosmith songs. Bob Seger. Talking Heads. Genesis. Foreigner. Even ELO, for crying out loud.

Ignored for the most part, amazingly, are groups like the Doobie Brothers and Moody Blues, yet Meatloaf and the Ramones get into the rotation? (I'll rant another day about the Rock HOF and why the Doobies, Moodys, Chicago and Three Dog Night, among others, aren't in it. Biggest sham going on.)

So, when you find a station that 1)isn't part of a corporate monolith and 2) has a DJ that REALLY cares about the music, then you don't want to give that up. You may, however, want to pass on the fried clams - or at least wait until you check with your doctor.

Scooter Schechtman said...

I checked it out just now and heard King Curtis and Sergio Mendez and I'm already in love.

emily said...

Listening and loving it!

Mike Barer said...

The Big Radio Guy has a station like that.

Scott Cason said...

I was able to make one of his links work in my Logitech Squeezebox in my office. He's now saved as a favorite! Thanks for the heads up, Ken.

Johnny Walker said...

It's great when people can come together, share the cost of something, and keep something alive. Maybe he should try to Kickstarter the budget for another year or something (and anything over goes towards the following year, and so on).

He could at least improve the PayPal link on his website so that it takes you directly to a donation form for his site.

Ooh nice. Cat Stevens is playing. Classic stuff.

tim said...

Rich has come as close to providing what was the best of Top 40 radio as is humanly possible today. He even has a much deeper playlist than HyLitRadio. You can't listen for an hour and a half without saying, "Never thought I'd hear that great song again." And the programming is as delightful as it is subtle. A week or so back he played a WNBC jingle whose melody and tempo precisely led into the next song, "Rainy Days and Sundays." It was so striking that I sent him an email before the song was over - and received and appreciative reply. I would have sent him another contribution yesterday, if PayPal had been cooperative. I will, before the weekend is out. We may well lose ReelRadio, but we CAN'T lose RichBroRadio.

blinky said...

Back in the daze of Top 40 there were at least 40 songs that I heard all the time on the AM radio, not just the top ten. In fact the Billboard charts had 100 songs, so the soundtrack of your life was quite rich and diverse.
With the coming of FM there were album oriented stations that played even more variety.

Howard Hoffman said...

I'm extremely happy for Rich. Maintaining these things is always like navigating bad road. Licensing firms go belly-up and you have to scramble for music clearance. Stream servers can be really spotty. Sometimes THEY decide to quit the game and you're stuck looking for new carriers. And of course, you're also at the mercy of your internet provider. Power outages, computer crashes, equipment failures, service attacks...yikes.

Running an internet station truly is like herding houseflies. Rich's dancing on the edge is something I completely relate to. Congrats on keeping the stream flowing, Bro.

Mike said...

This may be a dangerous question after two days of ranting this week related to the subject, and I ask mainly because I'm not a fan of absolutes, but do you think there could ever be circumstances under which attempting a reboot would be acceptable?

Lorimartian said...

Around 1987 here in LA, I was listening to a radio station that featured music from the big band era into the early '50s. It's where I first heard the gorgeous voice of Dick Haymes. A few years later the station changed formats and that music was gone forever. Your post today made me realize more than ever that some day "our" music will be gone...but so will we...still, it's a bummer to think about right now.

I will check out Richbro. Echoing tim, I'd like to be able to say, "Never thought I'd hear that great song again." Thanks for shining a spotlight on Richbro, Ken.

DwWashburn said...

I discovered Rich through your recommendation. Great station. And I have no problem with "Surfin' Bird" if he wants to put it into rotation. Also I would have no problem with him accepting limited advertisement.

Janice said...

The Hamburger Hamlet is back? Where?

Anonymous said...

The Hamburger Hamlet is back? Where??? I used to love that place!!!

Ken Levine said...

Same spot on Van Nuys Blvd. between Moorepark and Ventura.

Anonymous said...

This is the new Los Angeles. It's now pronounced:

Howar Yonson.

VP81955 said...

I was a bit dismayed after moving to Los Angeles that what purports to be the local oldies station, KRTH, is a rather poor fascimile of New York's WCBS-FM. I realize the demographics for oldies have changed, consequently emphasizing the '70s and '80s over the '50s and '60s (finding any top 40 music from before 1967 is next to impossible now). But KRTH's playlist is terribly narrow; how much "More Than A Feeling" can one man stand?

Classic rock is a lumbering corporate dinosaur, entirely uninteresting. Where is Elvis Costello, Rockpile or Marshall Crenshaw on these stations' playlists.

The same Billy Joel songs. The same Aerosmith songs. Bob Seger. Talking Heads. Genesis. Foreigner. Even ELO, for crying out loud.

Yep -- where's Billy Joel's "A Matter Of Trust," a Top 40 hit of note in the fall of 1986? Where is Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," the gorgeous "Shame On The Moon" or "Rock And Roll Never Forgets" (a far superior song to the overplayed "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll")?

Anyway, the only stations I listen to here are KNX, play-by-play of the Kings, SC or UCLA, and the occasional NPR station ("On The Media," 10 to 11 p.m. Sundays on KPCC, is my favorite program of theirs). Is there anything else on Los Angeles radio that's remotely interesting? I've heard Warren Olney when I lived out-of-town, but I'm not sure when "To The Point" airs in its hometown.

AAllen said...

Might I recommend: http://undergroundgarage.com/index.html This isn't a stream, just an hour and forty minute show every week and an archive, but the songs are carefully selected and obscure, and host Little Steven also bemoans the loss of the 60s on the radio. I like it because I had The Beatles played to me in the womb. My mom went to Help, and felt me kicking to the music.