My radio hero “Diamond Jim”

Jim and Marvin, Dec. 05, 2006

I cannot believe how fast time goes. I will always remember however, December 5th, 2006 when I met for the first time my radio hero, Jim Nettleton, so-called “Diamond Jim”.

He had a 50-year career in radio working for WFIL and WOGL (Philadelphia), WABC (New York) and many other stations and just started a 50’s/60’s Oldies Internet station.

My interest in possible  involvement with something similar for new music, like my program at WPRB, prompted me to search the Internet.

In 2006, on the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, I found his email address on the Internet and wrote to him with questions about Internet radio, not expecting much.

Within hours I received a response and an invitation for lunch.

Since he lived not far away we met for lunch at a local restaurant. I was very nervous and remember standing near the restaurant’s entrance wondering if I would recognize him. When he walked in, I knew immediately and said to myself “Oh my God, that’s him!! That’s Jim Nettleton.”

From the first moments of our meeting I felt that I knew him in person for years. We talked about Internet radio and his career as well as music. We talked about not only popular music, but also jazz, bluegrass and to my surprise – classical. Like me, he hated to categorize music.

The lack of creativity on many homogeneous  radio stations disturbed him. He said something to me I will always remember,  “Unpredictability is entertainment.”

How true it is, regardless of what radio format one listens to.  His vision for rock and roll stations was the same as mine for classical.

After that meeting we kept in touch by e-mails and occasional lunches.  The last time I communicated with him was in 2009, only a little over a month before his death.  At that time he was going through a number of tests while being optimistic, we were planning meet again soon. I was hoping that he would be the DJ for my recent high school reunion.

His death hit me very hard. I do miss  his voice on the radio and am very sorry that I didn’t contact him sooner. I guess I was just afraid that he would ignore me.

When I presented Jim’s memorial tribute on Classical Discoveries, I had a hard time controlling my voice.

Since Jim also did Voiceovers, I still occasionally hear his voice on television.

You can read more about Jim and his incredible career and listen to his glorious  reading  of “Yes, Virginia”.  Just perfect nostalgia for the upcoming holidays.

“Yesterday” – In Memory of Jim Nettleton on Classical Discoveries

Music of the Americas for Thanksgiving

I have not been keeping up with my blog at all. I really do not know where and how fast my time goes. I get too involved with each blog subject and have no time to finish and post it.

I envy people that constantly write about different issues, have time to attend wonderful new music evening concerts and do a variety of other things. I am thinking about getting Dragon Dictate to speed up my writing. Unfortunately I always miss concerts and events because of my teaching schedule.

I am bit sentimental about Thanksgiving, not because of the boring family dinners in an overpriced, snobbish restaurant outside of Atlantic City with the air conditioner running full steam and my wife turning to icicles, but because of my Thanksgiving specials that in my early years at WPRB actually aired on Thursdays.

My first Thanksgiving at WPRB, 15 years ago had all characteristics of my current program as well as the same title “Music of the Americas”. I never imagined that 15 years later I would prepare for the same show.

Driving to Atlantic City each holiday (before CD players were in the car) was very uninspiring, since I relied only on the radio at that time.

Yes, we had at least 3-4 stations within the listening range, but changing the dial did not help the situation. Each station played the same popular warhorses with an occasional token of Americana. In fact each Thanksgiving morning between 4-5 am while driving to Princeton from Pennsylvania I hard exactly the same works.

After 4 years of listening to same stuff, I switched to WOGL in Philadelphia with the hope to hear the golden voice of Jim Nettleton, my major inspiration in radio. It is hard for me to believe that he is gone for over 2 years!

A big diversion after my show on the way to dinner was a stop at the old good Tower Records in Cherry Hill, despite the fact that each year the classical section was constantly shrinking. Over the years, I purchased quite few wonderful CD’s. Yes, great memories!  I think that the only thing that inspired me to go to the boring family dinner was the fact that there would be a stop at Tower on the way.

When I got my first 6 hour Thanksgiving special actually on Thursday, (because all students went home for holidays), I decided to devote my whole program to music of the American Continent and yes, classical music aired on WPRB until noon.

Why the Music of the Americas on such a nationalistic holiday? I always played much American music but I thought that Thanksgiving should be a celebration of the continent where the first pilgrims made their home at the beginning of a new nation.

I guess my decision made many people very happy since the phone was often ringing until the end of the program with inquiries about repertoire.

I still remember a phone call from a Boston listener visiting her family. Yes, that was a 2 years before I got an e-mail address, 4 years before my website was born, and 7 years before the WPRB playlist was added.

I miss those phone calls, telling me about cooking preparations, visiting family members and other exciting things.

Most listeners now just check WPRB or my playlist and do not care to talk to me anymore. Oh, well, I guess I am dull!! The technology somehow prevents people from close and more personal contacts.

So here I am again for my 15th annual Thanksgiving program with one difference, 2 hours of Avant-Garde and electronic music for those of you with a taste for it.

It might not be on Thursday, but it shares the same holiday spirit celebrating music by all the wonderful composers of the American Continent.

My Thanksgiving holiday is different now. All my family is gone and we will be spending the holiday with good friends. Unexpectedly I got an invitation to spend Thanksgiving in the Pennsylvania Dutch County. I know it will be not boring like those old family dinners.  Time for a few pieces of shoofly pie!! Actually, since I love it so much I will probably bring a couple of them home!! Yum, Yum!!!!

A safe and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

 

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