In mid-January the latest version of RealNetworks (http://www.realnetworks.com)
RealPlayer turned gold. The free version is called RealPlayer
7 Basic and available at (http://www.real.com/player/index.html).
For those of you new to the world of computers, turning "gold"
means the current version of the program is out of beta testing
and now in its final released form. During beta testing there
could be some bugs in the program. Ideally the final released
version should have no bugs but with the complexity of today's
programs that may be more of a goal than reality. We have only
to look at the Windows 95/98 operating systems for examples of
non-bug free environments. The term "final release"
is also somewhat tentative now-a-days. Companies are continually
pushing the technology envelope and of course trying to make
a profit. To keep ahead of the competition work starts on a new
and improved version (called an "update") immediately
after and very likely before final release of the current version.
Thus the cycle is continually repeated. With the advent of the
Internet this product development cycle has been greatly accelerated.
But I digress. I started talking about RealPlayer 7.
Don't know why RealNetworks keeps changing the RealPlayer
designation. We had RealPlayer 5, then went to RealPlayer G2,
and now we are back to numbers with RealPlayer 7. In any case
it works fine. I did not see any really dramatic changes other
than a flashier, more mod looking skin. There is a Take 5 feature
which alerts you each day to 5 media downloads they think you
might want to view. An icon with a "Gleam" as they
call it appears in your System Tray indicating Flash news. They
claim RealPlayer 7 has been streamlined to start playing 40%
faster and is easier to use with back and forward buttons and
a favorites folder for saving and organizing clips. RealPlayer
7 also has 100 Live Stations from around the world already bookmarked
for you. It is almost a mini browser. In fact I found you could
just drag and drop a GIF or JPEG file into RealPlayer 7 and it
would be displayed.
In trying out RealPlayer 7 I decided to do a little searching
around the net for media content. I had been thinking about all
the wonderful advances on the Internet and in this computerized
world we now live in. As
so often happens my mind began to wander (they don't call me
the wanderer for nothing). I began thinking about some of the
past events in my life and how I got to where I am today. I remembered
my college days and how on weekends I worked for WLS radio in
Chicago as a receptionist. (I'm the guy on the right in this
picture from August 1962. The guy on the left was another part
time receptionist.) Now this was back in the early 60's when
the "in" radio format was Top 40, i.e. the days of
the Beatles, Elvis, The Four Seasons, etc. I usually worked on
Saturday afternoons or evenings and sometimes on Friday evenings.
On Saturdays I would give studio tours between noon and 2 pm.
It was always a full house with kids coming up to see the DJ's
behind the glass partition. During "Newsbreaks" the
DJ's would come out to sign autographs and chat with the kids.
Among this chaos I opened and sorted mail and answered the telephone.
It was really a fun time in my life and one I remember fondly.
Two of the DJ's I remember most were Art Roberts and
Dick Biondi. Art Roberts was "middle of the road"
and what you typically picture a DJ to be. He was straight forward
with a little bit of humor tossed in. Dick Biondi on the other
hand was "the rebel". He was known as the "wild
Itralian" (that's not a typo). Dick had the evening shift
and he would certainly keep me busy. He took phone requests for
songs and "hello's". It was my job to answer the phone,
type up all the requests, and when the page was full rush it
into the studio for Dick to read on the air. We had something
like 10 incoming phone lines and they were usually filled, the
phone lights blinking away with people on hold waiting for me
to take their requests. This went on for three hours. Dick also
loved to order pizza with anchovies so we usually had some snacks.
So with this in mind, I wondered what had happened to these
DJ's I had worked with in the early 1960's. Where was Art Roberts
and Dick Biondi today? Well the Internet is the world's largest
repository of information. Why not check it out? Surely there
must be some sound clips somewhere and most likely they would
be in RealPlayer format.
logical starting place would be a search for WLS. I immediately
found WLS at http://www.wlsam.com.
But WLS today is far different from when I worked there. (Here
is a picture of me working the phone calls back in February 1963.)
WLS is now a Newstalk radio station. If you have RealPlayer installed
you can listen to WLS NewsTalk 89 live online by clicking
on the "Listen To" icon at http://www.wlsam.com/listenlive.asp.
WLS may now be Newstalk radio but oh what a rich history as
a Top 40 station. A search of the WLS website lead me to Jeff
Roteman's WLS Website at http://musicradiowls.musicpage.com/.
Wow, was this a bonanza of nostalgia! Even if you don't have
a personal curiosity about WLS radio history as I do, I think
you will enjoy this site. Under "WLS Jingles & Airchecks"
I found many links to all kinds of RealPlayer sound clips including
some at the Reel Top 40 Radio Repository (http://www.reelradio.com).
If you are at all interested in radio history be sure to also
checkout Jeff Roteman's Radioville at http://Radioville.mainpage.net/.)
Jeff Roteman's WLS Website also lead me to Scott Childers
Online page, WLS The Bright Sound of Chicago at http://www.Scott.Childers.net/WLS60.htm
which wonderfully describes WLS history in the 1960's. Graphics
and photos of the time are included. This page brought back many
memories of my days working for WLS. As a tribute to WLS Radio's
75th Anniversary, Scott actually has online "A Comprehensive
Look Back at the Big 89 from 1924 to Today!" (http://www.scottchilders.com/timecapsule/TCWLS.htm).
Much to my surprise there is a lot of nostalgic radio from
yesteryears on the Internet. Go to Reel Top 40 Radio Repository's
Find AIRCHECKS search engine at http://www.reelradio.com/findit/findit.cgi.
On my search I typed in "Biondi" and sure enough it
came up with a RealPlayer sound clip "Dick Biondi on
WLS, Chicago, 1963".
You can hear this 11 min 39 sec clip from a May 2, 1963 show
Another of my searches for "Biondi" yielded "WBEZ's
Ken Davis on 'Studio A' Interview with Rick Sklar and Dick Biondi"
This is an extremely interesting 53 min interview recorded Jan
15, 1990 on Public radio station WBEZ in Chicago. They discuss
the huge impact of the AM Top 40 radio stations in the late 50's
and early 60's, the freedom disc jockeys had in those days, Payola,
Alan Freed, the 1959 "DJ Convention", and how radio
was changing by 1990. Deregulation and clear channel AM radio
stations and their impact is also discussed. This interview makes
clear that Top 40 radio in the late 50's and 60's was a completely
different era from radio as we know it today.
I found that Dick Biondi is still working in radio. He is
now at WJMK, Oldies 104.3 in Chicago (http://www.wjmk.com/).
You can read about Dick Biondi's current activities and history
Dick is currently on the air weekday evenings, 7PM - 12 Midnight
and on Saturdays, 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM. Unfortunately WJMK does
not broadcast on the Internet.
the several RealPlayer sound clips I found for Art Roberts were
two that lasted 51 min 27 sec each. The clips are Art Roberts
on WLS, January 1, 1966, Parts 1 and 2 available at http://www.reelradio.com/1998.html#arwls66-1.
Another 6 min 34 sec clip is Art Roberts, WLS, Chicago, 4/16/67
I found Art Roberts has his own website, Art Roberts Communications,
If you are looking for radio related information be sure to check
out Art's Top 135 Communication Links at http://www.artroberts.com/communicationslinks.htm.
Some good stuff here! Art apparently is in semi retirement in
Finally, in my searching I came across a comprehensive list
of 4300 U.S. FM Radio Stations on the Internet at http://members.xoom.com/_XMCM/musicradio/uslist.htm.
Along with Call Letters, Frequency, City & State, it indicates
which have "live" Internet broadcasts. For a similar
list of 797 U.S. AM Radio Stations go to http://members.xoom.com/_XMCM/musicradio/usamlist.htm.
The AM list is a bit dated as it says "as of 6/11/98".
There is no "as of" date on the FM list.
Note: Web Master Wanderings
articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are
constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information
links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date
beyond the date that this article is originally published.