Every once in a while, a story comes across my radar that makes me nostalgic for a very specific part of my childhood.
Something that, when I hear four letters put together in a row, makes me smile, and think of good times and laughs.
If you were a kid growing up in the New York area in the 1980s and ’90s, one of the major radio stations in your life was WPLJ 95.5.
They played all the rock hits of the era, they had a fantastic and hilarious morning-show team of Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill, and they were always, always on my radio in my family’s car, and then in my first car, a 1983 Chevy Celebrity that was hideously brown and broke down all the time (I paid $750 for that clunker in 1993 and I totally overpaid).
WPLJ, along with Z-100, were staples of all our lives. My particular favorite part of the channel was the afternoon drive guys, Rocky Allen and his “Rocky Allen Showgram.” Rocky, a gregarious, big-laugh DJ who did great impressions, and his crew got me through many an afternoon and evening working at my video store job in 1993, and they made me laugh with their phone pranks and scams.
A radio station, a truly great one, is a constant companion in your life. Long before satellite radio, and iPhones and iPads, playing any music you wanted at any time, radio stations were our friends, a comfortable place you can turn and know they’ll always be there.
Sigh. I bring all this up today because I’ve just learned that WPLJ 95.5 FM will die in a few days; it’s been sold by Cumulus Media to a Christian-themed group called the Educational Media Foundation (EMF), which will broadcast syndicated programming and music geared to religious listeners.
May 31st, this Friday, will be the final day of the station. And I’ll be the first to admit I don’t listen to PLJ much anymore; since we got satellite radio I hardly listen to FM anymore at all.
But still, it’s a small part of my childhood that’s disappearing, and I’m sure millions of others are feeling a little of the same way this week. Maybe I’ve got you thinking now, reading this, about your favorite childhood radio station.
I’ll probably tune in to WPLJ on Friday, just to think a little bit about good times, and say goodbye to an old friend.
**Next up today, baseball great Bill Buckner died this week, and for many that will bring to mind his famous error for Boston in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, when the Mets made a miracle comeback, followed by Mookie Wilson hitting a slow roller that went through Buckner’s legs at first base, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run in one of the most famous games ever. (I’ll always, always believe that even if Buckner, hobbled by bad ankles at that point, fielded the ball cleanly, no way he beats Mookie to first and gets the third out. Also, Sox fans always blamed Buckner but the game was already tied by that point, Boston’s relievers always deserved much more scorn.)
Anyway, that’s not what I’ll remember about Buckner anymore, not since he showed once and for all he had a sense of humor about his gaffe, on this classic “Curb Your Enthusism” episode. The first clip (above) sets up the second one (below) so beautifully, and hilariously.
Rest in peace, Billy Buck. You never deserved so much hatred.
**And finally today, another entry for the “some criminals are just too stupid” file. Let’s go out to Lincoln, Neb., and check in on Markel Towner, a 26-year-old who had two warrants out for his arrest last week.
Markel was on the scene when police in Lincoln were called to a domestic assault situation, and Markel was on the scene when investigators arrived, and they found Towner seated in a vehicle out front of the house they were called to.
When an officer asked his name he replied, “Deangelo Towns” although a lanyard around his neck read “Markel Towner.”
After a brief struggle, Towner was taken into custody.
Come on, Markel!!! First rule of giving people a fake name HAS to be, “check clothing to see if I’m wearing anything that has my real name on it!”
And also, if you’re giving a fake name, maybe come up with one that doesn’t sound so close to your real one.
Towner was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, obstructing a government operation, false reporting, child neglect and third degree domestic assault.
He also should’ve been charged with stupidity.