WAIF’s Time Machine celebrates 40 years of golden oldies
WAIF’s rock-and-roll-oldies program is itself old, or at least approaching middle age.
Time Machine, a two-hour weekly 1950s rock and R&B ensemble, will mark its 40th anniversary on June 16. The show will air at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the public radio station (88.3 FM).
WAIF first aired in 1975 and Steve Percy hosted the first Time Machine show on June 17, 1981. On air, he is known as the Prince of Harmony and still occasionally serves as a host. The show is WAIF’s second-oldest show, according to Bob Reilly, one of the DJs rotating as the show’s host. Reilly, whose radio name is Captain Bobby Paul, has been a Time Machine host since 1997, typically managing the first Wednesday of the month.
“I’m 74, so I was there when rock and roll started in 1955, 1956, and thought it would be cool to go on the radio and play the music that I love,” says Reilly.
It’s an educated, but somewhat controversial, observation that marks 1955 as the beginning of rock and roll. There was certainly music that would qualify as rock made before this year – much of it landing on the R&B charts – but ’55 was the year that Bill Haley & His Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” peaked. of the pop charts. , the first rock song to accomplish this feat.
Reilly mostly sticks to the 1950s in the series, although he sometimes dives into the 30s and 40s for a song by Louis Jordan or the Andrews Sisters, something that hints at the rock and roll sound to come. He could also play a song from the 60s, like “Denise” by Randy & the Rainbows, which echoes the influence of 50s doo-wop.
Time Machine brings everything home for Reilly. Originally from Cincinnati, he grew up in Evanston, having no idea that some of the music he would later love and play on the radio was made in his neighborhood on Brewster Avenue.
King Records was the place, recording and releasing the music of pre-Elvis rock heroes like Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown, and most famous being the label of the greatest R&B artist of all, James Brown.
“I could have walked there,” Reilly says of the king’s former headquarters. “I didn’t know anything about it, but I lived pretty close to it. When I started doing the Time Machine, I did a lot of research and discovered artists, so I had something to say. , some If you go to Michigan you have Motown. If you go to Memphis you have Stax Records and Sun Records Back then King Records was just as viable as those.
Reilly met James Brown in 1994 and had her photograph taken with him.
In the photo, James Brown is at his best, smiling broadly, standing in front of a soft-top sedan and wearing a black turtleneck shirt, gold collar and blue sports coat. Reilly’s laid-back look is highlighted by a Tide racing t-shirt, which combines one of her interests, motorsport, with her old vocation, soap-making.
Reilly worked in manufacturing at the Procter & Gamble plant in St. Bernard, where he transformed raw materials into electric soap for brands such as Tide, Cheer and Bold. He retired 21 years ago and entered radio, working in promotions for Cumulus Media stations in Cincinnati such as WARM 98, 92.5 the Fox, Cat Country 94.1 and 96 Rock.
“When I retired from P&G they paid you $ 5,000 to retrain you, so I took $ 5,000 and went to broadcast school, then did an internship at WGRR “, explains Reilly. “I did a few night shifts there. I thought, you know what? At my age, I’m not really gonna go anywhere on radio. I don’t work second, third shifts anymore. I will. my shift at WAIF, have fun doing it, play what i want, no one can tell me what i have to play, what i have to say. I just do it as a hobby for pleasure.
Reilly says the popularity of Time Machine, whose other rotating hosts include Big Mike and the Pittsburgh Kid, can be measured in dollars. The show ranks among the station’s best for fundraising during WAIF’s fundraisers, he says. He sees no reason to stop at 40. People love ’50s music, and he explains why: “Lots of good harmonies, lots of good stories for them, lots of good beats.”
But when he compares’ 50s rock to the music of today, Reilly ends up repeating what a grown up of the 1950s probably said about Elvis and the like: “People sing instead of scream and to scream. I’m probably getting old myself. “