Is AM radio a thing of the past? Ford is among the automakers to drop AM radios from its new line of cars. AM radio is not available in electric vehicles because EV technology interferes with the AM reception.

As a youth, I enjoyed listening to my local small-town AM radio stations. When they signed off the air, I listened to AM stations from across the U.S., including New Orleans; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Detroit; Chicago; and St. Louis.

Listening to these evening radio programs introduced me to some very talented radio presenters or DJs. I still recall the energetic voices of African American DJs as they talked about music, movies, and life in their cities. AM radio introduced me to America!

While in high school, my favorite nightly AM radio show was from Louisiana. At 8:30 p.m. the CBS station in New Orleans rebroadcast the morning’s Arthur Godfrey Show.

Most folks associate Godfrey (1903-1983) with the early days of radio. His network radio show continued until 1972. His format was talk, music, and light comedy and favorite topics included books, conservation, and the environment.

I met several of Godfrey’s musical guests, including the Irish American singer Carmel Quinn (1925-1921), African American jazz singer Ethel Ennis (1932-2019), ragtime pianist Max Morath, and pop singer Beverly Bremers, who gave me an autographed photo. AM radio introduced me to great entertainers!

When the popular NBC-TV game show Jeopardy! ended its initial daytime run in the 1970s, host Art Fleming (1924-1995) joined KMOX AM radio in St. Louis. I enjoyed his Sunday evening program of talk/interview/trivia. I spoke with him on air. I shared with him how much I had enjoyed his work on Jeopardy! AM radio allowed me to do that.

While an undergraduate at university, AM radio introduced me to The Dr. Demento Radio Show. This odd, three-hour program of novelty records was a delightful way to spend Sunday evenings.

Host Barry “Dr. Demento” Hansen introduced me to great novelty songs artists like Spike Jones (1911-1965), wrestler “Classy” Freddy Blassie (1918-2003), Stan Freberg (1926-2015), the amazing Tom Lehrer, Weird Al Yankovich, and many others.

Dr. Demento eventually moved to XM Satellite Radio and, after that, to his own internet channel. AM radio introduced me to such great artists and entertainment!

In the 1970s, talk formats became popular on AM radio. While enjoying a summer with relatives in Boston, we listened to radio hosts who were experts in real estate, law, finance, and psychology. Larry King (1933-2012) dominated late-night talk radio.

In the 1980s, the talk format expanded nationally with NBC’s TalkNet, with nightly and weekend personal finance hosts Bruce Williams (1932-2019) and Dr. Bernard Meltzer (1916-1998) and relationship hosts Sally Jessie Raphael and Dr. Harvey Ruben. I regularly listened to and spoke with radio wise men Williams and Dr. Meltzer.

When Williams’s AM radio career ended, he moved to the XM Satellite Radio network. I became an early investor and subscriber to satellite radio. AM radio contributed to the wisdom I needed to succeed in my career.

AM radio has given me so many great memories and friends. It also gave me a lifelong passion for news. AM radio gave me a closeness to the news and newsmakers that motivated me to travel, meet people, and make friends I would not have otherwise met.

Today, other media connect people. New media, like AM radio of the past, offer opportunities for us all to continue to develop our interests in entertainment, friends, and personal growth.  

New media is not only for kids. Seniors can easily enjoy the exciting opportunities that new media offers. Why not start learning new media today?


James Patterson is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and speaker.

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