Saturday, June 10, 2017

You'll Never Find Another Station Like This

A look at the songs that have shaped
my life and ended up on my devices.
During my childhood in Kansas City in the early 1980's, I loved to see what distant stations I could pull in on my bedroom TV. When the weather conditions were right, mainly during thunderstorms, I could get stations from hundreds of miles away. One late summer Sunday night, I remember picking up "Solid Gold" on KOLN-KGIN in Lincoln-Grand Island, Nebraska, and Lou Rawls was singing this tune.

"Solid Gold" was appointment viewing for me. I used to catch it on KQTV in St. Joseph -- another station pulled in from afar -- Saturday nights at 10:30. It featured the latest hits and the week's top ten countdown (different from the one on "American Top 40," skewing more towards Adult Contemporary radio airplay). I even got my Grandmother Lawson interested it at one point when she was babysitting my brother and I over at their house, and "Saturday Night Live" was running a bit too raw for her tastes.

"See, Orton," she said to my grandfather, "you can keep up on all your hits."

I scratched my head as to why that one Nebraska station needed to be on two different channels, 10 and 11. A little more than a decade later, I would be driving through that part of Nebraska on my way to an interview for what might have been my first TV job, and I would be very familiar with this part of south-central Nebraska and its overlapping TV stations and unusual channel configurations, a product of geography, demographics, financial considerations and efficiency.

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