I love radio. I always have. Even as a kid when television was sweeping the land, I was still a radio fan. I remember when we got our first color television set and watched Bonanza and Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. They were both broadcast in "living color."
Now we have progressed to the world of high-definition video. It’s lifelike video bringing clarity to a blade of grass at a golf tournament or a bead of sweat to the forehead of an Olympic athlete.
But back to radio. The stations I remember the earliest were KAAY and our local station KBJT in Fordyce. KAAY was playing rock and roll and had DJs such as Doc Holiday and Clyde Clifford. Clifford would sign on late at night and play the harder stuff like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Led Zeppelin. That was when their signal was broadcast from the top to the bottom of the country at night.
I think KBJT played country music but they had all the great old shows like the "swap shop" where folks would trade items. Plus, my brother was one of their first DJs, hosting a show while still in high school.
I also remember the good old days of Larry King on the radio. He had one of the greatest radio shows of all times. On any given night, he would have Sinatra and the who’s who of Hollywood. A huge game changer was the introduction of FM radio. It totally changed the way we listened to radio. Now the sound was clean and in stereo. Like the old Steely Dan tune, "FM," there was "no static at all."
Where are we today? I think we have regressed a bit. Conglomerates such as Cumulus and Citadel own most of the radio stations. Community stations are few and far between.
Let’s go left to right on the FM dial, beginning with a community-funded radio station, KABF, 88.3.
It seems to be a hodgepodge of different folks’ personal musical tastes and political positions, particularly aligned with ACORN. Not much there for me. I do enjoy Amy Garland’s show, Back Roads, on Friday at 5 p.m. Some other highlights include some decent jazz programming here and there, plus lots of Hispanic music.
Next on the FM dial is 89.1, KUAR, the National Public Radio affiliate. This is usually where my radio stays. It has the best overall programming filled with the only reliable and consistent news reporting, plus entertainment programming such as A Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, and local shows Arkansas Cooks, Not Necessarily Nashville, and on and on. It also features the only real local news reporting. Oddly, they do no sports reporting to speak of, even though they are primarily funded by and are housed at UALR.
Their sister station, KLRE 90.5, is next to them on the dial. They play classical music. That’s about it. It is so one-dimensional, it is hard for me to listen to. Hopefully, they will add some life to the station and add other kinds of music and more arts-type programming. It’s a little on the dull side unless you can live on a diet of Mozart, Beethoven and Liszt.
The newest game in town is 93.3, "The Source." It has the best locally produced sports show on the air and the worst sports show on radio. Bo Mattingly’s show at 2 each afternoon is the best local sports show you’ll find. It has a national quality about it and he usually doesn’t let every small town goober drive the show with their inane phone calls and observations. I won’t talk about the other one.
The station also features a fun show called "Weekly Fried" with Blake Eddins and Rex Nelson. It’s a two-hour chat about everything from catfish to local politics.
We’ll pick up it next week at 94.1 and continue to the right of the dial until we reach 107.7.
Would love to hear your comments about radio. Keep listening.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore owns a creative consulting firm, Neal Moore Creative. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter, @kneelmore.