Radio Days or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Listen to KDWB’s Rob Sherwood

When I was a baby, my parents plunked me in front of the living room stereo. I was lulled to sleep by classical music.

Well, at least that’s what they said happened.

Radio has always been a great friend. It’s fed me, informed me, delighted me.

In the late ’60s, Grandpa Adams gave me my first 45 record, Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “SS 396.”

Then, when we moved to Minnesota, I started writing my own lyrics and once sent them off to a company in Boston which put one of them to music. After hitting Dad up for the bucks, they sent me a 45 of “my song” (pictured below at right), which was titled “Traveling On.” I was proud, even though Dad was a couple dollars poorer for the experience. He never complained.

The folks bought us musical instruments—a piano, guitars, brass instruments—all in the hopes we’d become musical. Oh, don’t misunderstand. They weren’t musical themselves: Dad could only mutter and croak during the hymns at church and Mom’s pitch and range were on a par with Edith Bunker’s. They were great music appreciators.

However, musicality never took with baby brother; I stuck with it, especially with piano and later cornet lessons in 1973. In high school I bought an Ibanez electric bass and learned to play that.

I kept a clock radio on my bedroom desk. Every night before going to sleep, I couldn’t wait to listen to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater with E.G. Marshall, with its creepy music and creaking door. “Come in. Welcome. I am E. G. Marshall.” Always gave me the willies. This episode was broadcast in January 1974.

Years later Dad bought a HAM radio. I used to go into his den and listen to the BBC World Service. The chimes of Big Ben and the announcer’s “This is London” at the top of the hour always thrilled me.

Radio took me away from the present, transporting me to a world that seemed as real as the one immediately around me.

Music could do that, too.

On the bus ride to the junior high school, the radio blasted the local AM station, KDWB, where we first heard Led Zeppelin (“The Immigrant’s Song”), The Who (“I Can See for Miles”), Jethro Tull (“Living in the Past”), Black Oak Arkansas (“Jim Dandy to the Rescue”), Free (a perennial favorite, “All Right Now”), The Raspberries (“Go All The Way,” which thrilled and mystified our little preadolescent hearts) or, at the time, loads of Jim Croce, America, Bread, James Taylor, Lobo (a song a lot of us kids absolutely loved), Carole King and Chicago.

Late night DJs used to play the extended versions of songs like “Beginnings” or “Nights in White Satin” (Graeme Edge’s poetry especially fascinated me), or the mesmerizing opening of Traffic’s “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys.”

Imagine a frigid, blue-white winter in the Upper Midwest.

Lonely kid stares out the window. Then—like a warm, sweet, distant breeze—the opening guitar riffs of “Beginnings” ring out of the speakers.

Lonely kid falls to his bed, rolls over on his back and daydreams he’s on a Tahitian beach with a beautiful, tanned blonde, where they hold hands and stare meditatively out at the azure sea. “Only the beginning, of what I want to feel forever…”

The radio does that. Gets in your head and flings open the windows so you can dream (blondes optional).

In the winter of 1974, I listened to Rob Sherwood’s call-in show on KDWB. He often took requests and bantered with his listeners. At his fingertips were all the songs I wanted to hear. He was in the catbird seat of power and I was drawn to it.

So on a Thursday night, Jan. 10, 1974, to be exact, I phoned the station and Rob put me on hold. He was just finishing Paul McCartney’s “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” He did his spiel before cutting to a commercial, came back on the line and asked for my song request.

“Ah, it’s you again. You know what? You’re a nice kid.” On the air again, he said, “A few seconds ago I got a call from the famous Mike from Mound. He says ‘hi’ to Mike G.”

In February he put me on the air after I called in saying I’d written a poem about his show. He set it up for the listeners and let me fly:

“Rob Sherwood starts at six o’clock,

With music to fill the ear,

By the time he gets to nine o’clock,

He’s really in full gear.

I’ll always start to wonder at

Words like ‘doogie-woogie,’

But with Rob I’ll always understand

A shout like ‘C’mon, let’s boogie!’

B.S. can have Truman Coyote,

That’s all just fine with me,

But with Sherwood and his wild gang,

They’re number one at KDWB.”

I’d nearly forgotten “boogie” was so ubiquitous in the ’70s. Anyway at some point we’d become a listener-DJ comedy act. I interviewed him over the phone:

“So how does one get to be a DJ, Rob?”

“Well, Mike, you gotta go to DJ school.”

“Yeah, I heard they train by putting marbles in their mouths. That true?”

“You heard right, Mike. Then they take them out one-by-one…”

[long pause, then it’s my cue]

“Yeah?”

“…until they LOSE ALL THEIR MARBLES!”

[cut to sound effects, hysterical recorded laughter and segue to this.]

Radio in the 1970s was grandiose, like the music, bigger than the day-to-day grind, looming over our lives. Back then, it took two to tango.

It was a conversation, much like social media is now.

And that was just all right.

[Above radio photo courtesy ©2011 Michael Dant. All rights reserved.]

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~ by completelyinthedark on February 27, 2011.

7 Responses to “Radio Days or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Listen to KDWB’s Rob Sherwood”

  1. Lovely. Did you keep diaries or do you have superhuman memory!? The details make it so real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going forward with the blog, I’m pulling details from all my diaries and journals. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Cool memories! I seem to remember listening to Wally Walker and Benjie McHie back when KQ was actually a good station. And I still remember the first time I heard ‘Roundabout’ on whatever their late night show was called.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Take a look and listen. Old Studio photos of Rob Sherwood and old 1970’s recording of Rob Sherwood off the air at:

    http://www.TwinCitiesRadioAirchecks.com

    Look at menu on left and go to the KDWB page.

    Rick B

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rick. Awesome. If you know how I can get in touch with Rob Sherwood, that’d be hilarious.

      Like

  4. http://www.pavekmuseum.org/bleu.htm
    http://bayarearadio.org/hof/index.shtml#2007

    Loved the line about “The Raspberries (“Go All The Way,” which thrilled and mystified our little preadolescent hearts)”

    Liked by 1 person

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