Cartoon by Bill Carney, Retired WMNR Broadcaster
Bill Carney, retired WMNR broadcaster, has shared his artistic talents with us over the years. He recently drew a cartoon expressing the current generation's befuddlement when presented with a vinyl album. His artwork prompted a reflection by Jeffrey Johnson of Monday Afternoon Classics. Jeffrey writes "Over the past few years musicians and music lovers raised on vinyl records have been surprised at the extent to which analog technology, seemingly surpassed, has been rediscovered by the digital generation.
Some have argued that the sound of vinyl is warmer and somehow more human than digital recordings, in spite of the fact that the opposite argument held ground in the early-to-mid 1980s when compact discs were first introduced. The sound of these differing media does seem slightly different, but regardless of preferences we all agree that ever-present MP3s and YouTube videos, while convenient, are not designed to be high fidelity sonic experiences.
This wonderful cartoon by Bill Carney teases us by showing young folks discovering an artifact that might very likely change the way they hear music. But there is another meaning to this cartoon.
Like many people who have moved several times and lived for years in small NYC apartments, I abandoned most of my LP collection over the years so that I have less than 20 vinyl records that I owned in the 70s and 80s. I digitized. It remains thrilling to be able to play a recorded excerpt of almost any musical work you can name to my university students at any time.
But in late 2013 I realized just how much I missed that old sound of LPs. We brought an inexpensive turntable/stereo unit with cheap speakers into my office. We started playing vinyl records and remembering how much fun it was to watch the progress of the needle. We laughed and laughed. I live in a house now. There is a basement….
I started digging. Not in the ground (yet) but through thrift stores and the wonderful used record stores that have survived, against all odds. It is a new process of discovery that is filled with serendipity, just like it used to be.
In the old days I was lucky to be able to afford a single record a week. I remember all of the good ones. Used records cost four or five bucks-a-piece in those days, sometimes more, and those were dollars that bought more than they do today. Now one can buy high quality labels (especially in classical music) for a dollar or less…even opera boxes and a multi-record gatefolds. It is not unusual for me to come home from a digging expedition with twenty records. My basement is filled.
It is not only the sound that attracts me. It is the smell of a well-cared-for record. It is the artwork and often creative visual presentations. It is the libretti. It is the ritual of pulling the disc from the sleeve, cleaning it and placing on the platter. It is watching the progress of the needle. It is also the inconvenience. It is the idea that this stuff is so special that it is worth the effort. It is the idea that there is only one place, in one room, where this ritual can happen.
It is also the thrill of the hunt, the digging…"
Evening at the Opera host Mel Siegel
Our Evening at the Opera listeners will recognize the name
Mel Siegel, as Mel guests hosts the program from time to time. Mel tells us he
"became interested in opera in the early 1960s while in college and I have
been hooked ever since. My collection includes several hundred 78s, as well as
LPs, CDs, cassette tapes and over 600 open reel tapes." Mel's connection
to WMNR began in the early 1980s when Don Goldberg, a former guest host,
invited him to co-host an Evening At the Opera program. Later, current host
Doug Fox invited him to do several programs and Mel has since done numerous
Adds Mel, "I am also a reviewer for The Record
Collector. My first feature article for the magazine, a profile of the tenor
Galliano Masini, will be published in the September issue. I am also a member
of The Vocal Record Collectors' Society and have done a number of programs for
them at their monthly meetings. I spent over 40 years in the New York City
public school system, most of them as an Assistant Principal. I am now retired
so that I can spend even more time indulging my interest in opera." Mel's
next program is October 13, "Halloween Spells." Join us for Evening at the Opera, every
Tuesday at 8:00 pm.
WMNR's Newest Translator
On July 1, WMNR began broadcasting from a new location and frequency. We are now operating at 91.9 FM from Middlefield. This new signal covers Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown, Portland and portions of Cheshire, Cromwell and Wallingford. Please let us know if it improves your reception.
WMNR Streaming on Demand
Five WMNR broadcasts share some of their programs for listening to on demand on the internet. Will Duchon of Friday Evening Classics offers his programs The Night Café and Words & Music, as does H. William Stine of Turntable for One. Also Garrett Stack of Broadway Bound and American Jukebox is also archiving his programs after they air and making them available to listeners. They join Jay Harris who put 19 of his One Great Song programs available. Peter Shimkin has put some of his Evening at the Opera programs up for streaming on demand.
Haven't yet tried listening yet? It's simply a recording of a radio program, archived on the internet, available for listening anytime you are online.