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Category: Internet radio

The New York Station Trifecta

This used to be a modest 1 room cottage. Photo by Peter Skiera.

When I was a kid, my parents owned a primitive beach cottage in southern Rhode Island. Don’t picture anything extravagant. After they bought the one room cabin, they hung a up bed sheet to create a “private” room. The sink had a hand pump that went to a well in the back of the house. There was no TV, no telephone, and no bathroom. Our neighbor across the street let us use their shower until we finally installed one of our own in the shed. It may have been primitive, but it was our little slice of paradise for some 17 summers. My mother nicknamed the cottage “Peace of Mind”. I drove by it last year and the original cottage is long gone, replaced by some monstrosity with central air on tall concrete pilings.

Its location is important to my story because it explains how I was able to pick up AM radio stations from New York. Along with Rhode Island beautiful music station WLKW, I credit these stations for sparking my interest in a career in radio broadcasting. The three NY stations I listened to were WNBC 660AM, WINS 1010AM, and WNEW 1130AM. All 3 are still around today in one form or another.

1. WNBC 66AM

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When I was a wee listener, WNBC-AM was a talk and “adult top 40” music station. It was the flagship radio station of the NBC radio network. I was around 12 or 13 years old at the time. This station was my gateway drug to Don Imus and Howard Stern, both of whom went on to become national shock jocks. One WNBC poster pictured Stern and Imus with the slogan, “If we weren’t so bad, we wouldn’t be so good.” If my mother had known I was listening to them she would’ve confiscated my radio!

In 1988, General Electric, who had purchased the NBC network, sold off all of NBC’s radio stations per FCC regulations during that time (one company couldn’t own both television and radio stations in the same market for fear of a monopoly). WNBC-AM was sold off and became WFAN-AM, the world’s first 24/7 sports station. WFAN still resides today at 660 on the NY AM dial (I use the word “dial” knowing radio “dials” don’t exist anymore).

Thanks to the miracle of Internet radio, you can listen to original WNBC-AM broadcasts, sans Don Imus and Howard Stern, courtesy of Time Warp Radio out of NY. The station streams at 128 kbps in MP3 but I must warn you, the sound quality of some of the recordings is sub-par. The source material is aircheck tapes. Back in the day, air check tapes were cassettes a DJ would use to record his air shift. The station’s Program Director used the tapes to critique the announcer’s performance. The tapes were typically “scoped”, only capturing the DJ’s chatter (the tape machine automatically went into record mode every time the microphone was turned on), not the music or commercials. However, the quality of such tapes is much better than some of what I’ve heard on this station. I have an aircheck tape from my time in radio and the quality is very good. Perhaps some of these tapes were late generation copies of the originals and/or were in poor condition.

You’ll hear the original announcers (with plenty of reverb, making them sound like they’re broadcasting from deep inside the Bat Cave), news, station jingles, and the original commercials. You’ll hear the music as well, but since these are aircheck tapes, there will also be segments where all you hear is the DJ introducing the songs and speaking at the tail end of songs. In other words, no music. You’ve heard the slogan, “all music, all the time”. During those segments, it’s all DJ’s, all the time. There are also segments where the program ends abruptly, presumably marking the point when the aircheck tape reached its end and stopped recording.

If you’d like a sound quality upgrade and more music, try 66 WNBC. It’s a tribute Internet radio station streaming out of NY that replicates WNBC’s playlists from the late 1970’s to the early 80’s with an occasional original station jingle but no announcers (and no annoying reverb). The first time I tuned in they were playing the top 66 (for “66” WNBC) songs of 1976. Another time they were running down the top 66 songs of 1982. Sweet.

If you want to relive the days when AM radio was still a primary source for listening to music, check out WNBC 660 Time Warp Radio and 66 WNBC. I’ve included the streaming links at the end of this article.

2. WINS 1010AM

WINS was one of the first all-news radio stations in the US and it still exists today on the AM and FM dials and on the Internet. In fact, I was in New Jersey briefly a couple of months ago and rented a car to get to my destination. I punched up WINS 1010 AM on the car’s radio and it instantly brought back memories of listening to WINS at our R.I. beach cottage all those years ago. After WINS switched to an all-news format in 1965, it had the sounds of teletype machines running in the background while the news was being reported. Originally, they had a live microphone stationed at the machines in the newsroom to capture the sound. Sadly, they stopped the teletype SFX several years ago which is a shame. Fast forward many years later when I read the news live on WPRO-AM, I played the sounds of a dot matrix printer in the background.

Be that as it may, if you don’t reside in the tri-state area, you can tune WINS on the Internet and hear what’s going on in New York and around the world. Give them 22 minutes and they’ll give you the world. Unfortunately, your imagination will have to supply the teletype sounds in the background.

3. WNEW 1130AM

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WNEW-AM was a massively popular radio station primarily playing music from the great American Songbook (not to be confused with WNEW-FM or WNEW-TV). So why, at 12 years old, was I listening to this AM music station? What can I say? I was a strange child.

A NY subway advert for WNEW-AM circa 1973. Image from

I well remember WNEW’s wonderful specialty shows like Tony Bennett Time (Bennett actually recorded a jingle for the station), The Make-Believe Ballroom, and Sinatra Saturdays. Legendary WNEW DJ William B. Williams has been credited as the first to nickname Sinatra the “Chairman of the Board”. I also remember some of the DJ’s occasionally going off the rails and slipping in a Beatles, Bee Gees, or Stevie Wonder hit or some other song that had nothing at all to do with the great American songbook. I never understood that. Don’t get me wrong. I love music as much as the next person, but I also appreciate structure, and WNEW-AM wasn’t a free-form radio station. As a listener, it was like sitting comfortably on a train going 100 MPH and the engineer suddenly hitting the brakes without warning.

WNEW Station Director’s office, 565 5th Ave, NYC. Photo from the Library of Congress LC-G612-T-49671

The station wasn’t only known for its music. It spent a fortune building a first-class radio news team. At its height, WNEW’s newsroom had more than 26 reporters and writers. It was said to be the first music radio station that broadcast local newscasts every hour. According to writer Paul Colford, WNEW’s reporters roamed the country and the world, traveling “to Africa to interview Albert Schweitzer, they roamed the South to size up the civil rights movement, they broadcast from Vatican Square and Cape Canaveral.” 

As time went on, the station began to show its age, as did its listeners, who ranged from 80 to dead. Such an audience was not appealing to advertisers. Fewer advertisers resulted in reduced revenue. This, combined with the fact that the days of AM radio stations playing music were all but over, resulted in WNEW’s death. Colford wrote this obituary: WNEW-AM / 1130, the 58-year-old outlet for the music of Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Mel Torme, and America’s greatest songwriters, died today after a long illness marked by financial losses, anemic rating, schizophrenic programming, and the dismissal of practically every personality who made it special.”

The new owners, Bloomberg, changed the call letters and put in place an all-financial format. As the New York Times put it, WNEW went from Sinatra records to stock reports. It was the end of a slow, painful death. Prior to that, the station had been sold in 1986 and the owner’s cut costs and screwed around with the programming, adding talk shows and gutting the newsroom. It marked the beginning of the end…the Titanic started taking on water. The station changed hands again in 1988 and the new owners further contributed to its decline. In December of 1992, WNEW 1130 gently slipped below the airwaves. It’s hard to believe the station has been gone for more than 30 years and that makes me feel old and irrelevant.

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. WNEW-AM is back! Well, sort of. Time Warp Radio, the same Internet radio network that brings you vintage 66AM WNBC broadcasts, also streams old WNEW-AM broadcasts. As with the WNBC stream, WNEW 1130 Time Machine’s sound quality at times leaves a little something to be desired, though it streams at an above average bit rate of 192 kbps. It also relies on airchecks, meaning there will be segments where you’ll only hear the announcer and no music.

The station’s playlist includes music from the 1920’s and 30’s, which makes no sense to me. All of that said, I’ll take it over nothing at all. In a way, the quality makes it even more authentic since music over AM radio wasn’t exactly high fidelity. It’s a gas to hear the original WNEW announcers, station jingles, weather, news (I heard a story on Watergate), and even the commercials the station played back then (Gimbels, Barneys, ShopRite, etc.).

Here’s a thought- How about WNEW-FM creating an HD2 station for WNEW-AM? WNEW-FM has had a string of failed HD sub-channels…all Christmas music, Smooth Jazz, and even a Russian language station (pause to scratch scalp). I would think a WNEW-AM HD2 channel would be a no brainer.

Other Options

I’m pleased to report there’s another option with consistently better sound quality: Metromedia Radio out of New York City. Metromedia was the company that owned WNEW-AM from 1956 until 1986. Metromedia officially closed in 2014 and Metromedia Radio, launched in 2010, operates with its blessing.

The station features former WNEW announcers and original jingles, yet the shows were recorded after WNEW went silent, which confused me. The station’s description says it streams “in the tradition of WNEW 1130…the world’s greatest radio station…with the help of former WNEW-AM and Metromedia Radio talent and executives.”

Joe Fay. Photo from LinkedIn

I got a hold of Joe Fay, Metromedia Radio’s General Manager, to help me understand what I was listening to. “About 12 years ago”, Fay explained to me in an email, “I was able to buy a large collection of various surviving reel-to-reel tapes from the WNEW-AM archive (about 200). The tapes were largely WNEW jingle packs, various promotional materials, and actual pre-recorded shows such as WNEW Music Spectaculars. I digitized everything and started the Metromedia Radio stream back in 2010. As I digitized, I also edited content, resulting in WNEW bumpers and the voiceovers of [WNEW announcers] Jim Lowe, Ted Brown, and William B Williams. It’s been really fun crafting this station. Thankfully, I have had the support of the Brown and Williams famil[ies].

“I also started a Facebook group”, Fay continued. “Via the group, I met up with former WNEW talent such as Bill Quinn, Dick Carr, and Marty Wilson. In 2014 we started producing radio shows for syndication. Unfortunately, that did not work out, but those shows were put into our Metromedia Radio library. Bill Quinn is still producing shows for us on a weekly basis. Additionally, I was able to connect with Sid Mark, Mark Suduck (former Metromedia Los Angeles) and Jason Wall along with other DJ’s who were interested [in] airing content on the station. Most recently I have been able to find and digitize about 100 mid 1970’s show[s] produced by William B. Williams.” 

As to the origin of the music and the format, Fay told me, “The automated stream of music is from my personal collection. Our streaming of automated music is model[ed] after the Dick Carr, Middle of the Road format. Dick was the Station Manager at WNEW from 1967 through 1969. [The programming] is consistent with the music WNEW played from 1955-1985. Within the archive, I have old tapes labeled ‘Non-Stop Music Hours’ that also served as a source for building out my person music collection and would naturally be added to the automated stream. Artists like David Allen or Jane Morgan [was] unknown to me, until I listened to some of the old tapes. They are now on the playlist.”

That playlist remains much more faithful to the great American Songbook than the WNEW Time Machine stream, but lacks the authentic vibe WNEW 1130 Time Machine provides. You’re listening to actual WNEW-AM broadcasts on the Time Machine, whereas Metromedia Radio is more of a tribute station with Live365 commercials. Still, a high-quality copy can be almost as satisfying as the original, and that’s certainly the case here.

The last WNEW related Internet radio station I’ll mention is The Jonathan Station, named after famed WNEW-AM announcer Jonathan Schwartz. His is the only name (and voice) I remember from those summers listening from Rhode Island so long ago.

One of Schwartz’s record albums.

If his name sounds familiar, it should. Schwartz is the son of composer Arthur Schwartz (That’s Entertainment, You and the Night and the Music, Dancing In The Dark, and By Myself). He’s written several books including an autobiography and recorded a handful of albums. He was on the radio for nearly 60 years, most of that time on WNEW and later, WNYC. He also had a stint at Siriux/XM radio on their Sinatra channel.

Schwartz at the mic in 2018. Photo from Schwartz’s facebook page.

Schwartz’s on-air delivery was unique to say the least. He would talk for lengthy periods with frequent pauses, both of which are third rails for most DJs. He would recount stories of famous singers and songwriters, including Frank Sinatra. According to Wikipedia, “Sinatra himself was amazed by Schwartz’s knowledge of every song he had ever recorded.” Schwartz wrote the liner notes for the Sinatra release, The Voice- The Columbia Years 1943-1952, for which he won a Grammy for Best Album Notes in 1986.

Five years ago on Father’s Day, at the age of 80, Schwartz launched his own Internet radio station called The Jonathan Station. As you might have surmised from Schwartz’s background, it features music from the great American songbook. Surprisingly, Schwartz’s color commentary is nonexistent. You’d think he’d be all over the station since he named it after himself and has the name recognition. He didn’t even record any station IDs. It’s as if he went out of his way not to be on the air, yet his vast knowledge and gentle voice was exactly what I wanted and expected to hear. The Jonathan Station’s website says the station is “the home of Jonathan Schwartz”, yet whenever I tuned in, Jonathan wasn’t home. Schwartz did host live weekend programs on his station before he retired in 2021, but so far, I’ve yet to hear repeats of those shows. Individual shows are accessible for playback on The Jonathan Station website, but I wanted to hear them on my Internet radio as part of the station, not from a computer. After all, it’s The Jonathan Station, not The Jonathan Computer.

Instead, what I did hear was a show called “The Penthouse”. At first, I thought I had tuned the wrong station or that the station’s metadata was incorrect. Strangely, The Jonathan Station’s website makes absolutely no mention of “The Penthouse”. Likewise, The Penthouse’s website makes no reference whatever to The Jonathan Station! I donned my detective’s fedora and requested clarification from The Jonathan Station’s Program Director, Bob Perry, who coincidentally, also happens to be President of the company behind “The Penthouse”. Weeks have passed and I’ve yet to hear back but will certainly update this section if/when I do.

Legend has it, the last Sinatra song WNEW-AM played before going off the air was Frank’s cover of We’ll Meet Again. Thanks to WNEW 1130 Time Machine and Metromedia Radio, we have.

Tony Bennett Time

Tony Bennett, 1926-2023. Photo from Bennett’s facebook page.

One major drawback to such “set and forget” Internet stations is that they rarely break from their standard programming. However, a few days after his passing, Metromedia Radio played an old William B. Williams radio show that featured an excellent interview the announcer did with Bennett along with lots of his music. At least one station was paying attention.

You now have a plethora of stations that will give you a blast from the past. I’ve listed all their streaming links below for your convenience. If you’re a Recommended Stations supporter, your support helps to keep this blog and these kinds of articles going. To become a supporter and discover even more interesting stations, join today for just $1 and get my Recommended Station in your in box every month.

Trivia: During one of his radio shows, Jonathan Schwartz gave a negative review of the third record in Frank Santra’s “Trilogy” album. Unfortunately for Schwartz, Sinatra knew the man who owned the radio station and had Schwartz fired.

Trivia: Both 66 WNBC and 1130 WNEW were advertised as broadcasting in stereo. How could mono AM radio stations be in two channel stereo? In the 1980’s, some AM stations broadcast in stereo using 1 of 5 different competing systems, each requiring dedicated hardware to decode the stereo signal. The FCC adopted Motorola’s C-Quam (Compatible Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) system in 1992 as the AM stereo standard. That standard had already been employed years earlier in Canada, Australia, Mexico, and Japan. According to Wikipedia, there are 43 AM radio stations in the US still broadcasting in stereo using the Motorola system, most of which are small, independent stations.  

Radio from a different era. Image from

Trivia: In 1966 and 67, WNEW-AM partnered with the Superior Match Company to feature WNEW announcers on matchbook covers. Inside each matchbook was a coupon for free entry into NJ’s Palisades Amusement Park, which at the time cost 40 cents.

Station streams:

WNBC Time Machine



WNEW 1130AM Time Machine

Metromedia Radio

The Jonathan Station

Radio Replay: ATOS Radio

Direct URL stream:;stream/1

Station website:

ATOS website:

I profiled this Hitchhiker Station in January of 2020 when I was writing Recommended Stations for Como Audio’s blog. Theater Organ Radio is the kind of station name that gets my attention. To be honest, when I think organ music, I think of being at a hockey or baseball game, in church, or riding a vintage carousel. ATOS Radio, however, is not that kind of station.

The American Theater Organ Society funds and runs ATOS Theater Organ Radio. The ATOS is focused on the preservation and promotion of the theater pipe organ and its music. Founded in 1955, the non-profit has over 60 chapters worldwide with over 3,000 members. I wonder if their members are organ donors as well. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

It’s hard for us to imagine going into a movie theater today and seeing and hearing a live organ, but in the 1920s and 30s when films were silent, the mighty organ provided the soundtrack. According to Wikipedia, there were over 7,000 organs in US cinemas between 1915-1933. Wurlitzer was perhaps the best-known theater organ and the company built more than 2,000 of them into the early 1940s. According to Smithsonian Magazine, in 1926 at its height, Wurlitzer shipped an organ a day. After the early 1930s, many theater organs were sold or scrapped. Less than 40 organs remain in their original venues today.


Since I wrote about this station 3 years ago, there have been some important changes. For one thing, ATOS Theater Organ Radio now streams at 128 kbps in the AAC codec instead of MP3, so the sound quality is even better. Secondly, the station has added more music to their library which now includes 6,000 CD tracks, 2,500 vinyl remasters, 1,200 live concert recordings, 500 archival tracks (78’s etc.), and exclusive content drawn from their archives. There’s even a new station logo.

What will you hear on ATOS Radio? The selections are surprisingly diverse. Here’s a sampling of songs that were piped into my ears during my listening sessions: On the Sunny Side of the Street, My Heart Will Go On, Brahms Lullaby, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover, The Way You Look Tonight, Send In the Clowns, Shaking the Blues Away, How Great Thou Art, As Time Goes By, Baby Elephant Walk, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Ebb Tide, The Man I Love, Send a Little Love My Way, and Puttin’ on the Ritz.

You won’t hear commercials (the station is funded via listener donations) though there are occasional public service announcements for ATOS sponsored events. There’s only one announcer- Steve Ashley- host of the specialty show, “Hot Pipes”. There’s also two “curated” specialty shows from two of ATOS’ chapters, Dickinson and Eastern Mass.

Summer Camp

One of ATOS’ previous Summer Youth Adventures. Photo from ATOS’ website.

ATOS sponsors a kind of annual organ summer camp mid-this month “designed for young theater organ enthusiasts who are interested in learning, developing, or refining their skills with the theater organ.” That should make for an interesting “what I did over my summer vacation” essay!

ATOS sponsors a kind of annual organ summer camp mid-this month “designed for young theater organ enthusiasts who are interested in learning, developing, or refining their skills with the theater organ.” That should make for a unique “what I did over my summer vacation” essay!

I reached out via email to Steve Worthington who recently retired after 30 years as ATOS Theater Organ Radio Producer, to get the story behind the station:

Peter: When did ATOS Radio first start streaming?

Steve: “The original stream was ‘Theater Organ Replay’ which featured older vinyl records and started in 2000 on live365. ATOS radio started in 2008.”

Peter: What decades does your music library span? What qualifies as “theater music”?

Steve: “Our library runs from 1920’s thru today, so basically 100 years. Theater organ music really spans a mix of entertainment played on the unit orchestra as built by Robert Hope Jones and Wurlitzer and refined by a number of other builders such as Barton, Kimball, Morton, Möller, etc.”

Peter: Do you play any rare recordings?

Steve: “Yes, we have a number of 78 [RPM] and acetate records in the playlist. Some of the most famous are those of Jesse and Helen Crawford.”

Peter: Are the recordings strictly solo organ or do some pieces include other instruments or vocals?

Steve: “There are lots of tracks that include more than just organ, be it vocals or more – examples are Billy Thorburn’s The Organ, The Dance Band & Me or recordings featuring Buddy Cole with [his] orchestra or big band, or Bob Hunter records with orchestra. Another example I’d [cite is] Gerhard Gregor with military bands.”

ATOS’ Steve Worthington. Photo from LinkedIn.

Peter: Do you know what and where the rarest working organ in the USA is?

Steve: “No such thing – lots of operational organs – there are remnants of one of the earliest Wurlitzer organs from Seattle in a Church in Spokane.”

Peter: Does ATOS Radio broadcast any live concerts?

Steve: “We have looked into live broadcasts of concerts but this is now mainly done through YouTube as video is as important as audio. All the concert material is recorded.”

Peter: Why do you encourage people to see organs in action?

Steve: “Not so much see as hear. Pipe Organs are about a presence that needs to be felt not just heard!”

Peter: Is there anything about organs or organ music that most people don’t know?

Steve: “Theater organs and church organs are very different and the repertoire is also different. Theater organs are about entertainment and a wow factor that can only be understood by attending a live theater organ event.”

The bimonthly ATOS Journal includes reviews and informative articles focused on past and present theater organ related activities, plus directories and other factual articles focused on documenting and teaching various aspects of the theater organ.

William Gelhaus sits on ATOS’ board and took over administration of the radio station in January of this year. I hit him up with a few more questions:

Peter: What’s the purpose of the ATOS Theater Organ Radio stream? 

Bill: “To promote Theater Pipe Organs, to make people aware of them and the wide variety of music they can provide. It also provides background music for those that want a more-gentle sound.” 

Peter: What are the top 3 countries where the bulk of your listeners are based?

Bill: “USA, England, Australia.” 

Peter: Are there any particular recordings you’re very fond of?

Bill: “As to favorites, with 12,000 items in the library, it is really hard to pick one. I do tend to enjoy some of the more current interpretations of music from the 60s on. The fun thing is that the Theater Pipe Organ can play almost any type of music with a little work and imagination by the artist.

“One example is one of the younger artists records ‘backing’ tracks with full drums, synthesizer, and other ‘sounds’ and uses that to add to the experience. Others do duets with various instrument and vocalist, one even did several songs with full harp, not something you would expect to see or hear.”

ATOS’ Bill Gelhaus. Photo from ATOS’ website.

Peter: Do you know how low some of the recordings go? For example, 20Hz? Audiophiles and people with subwoofers will be interested!

Bill: “It depends on when and how the original recordings were made, and on which instrument. The pipe organ has a frequency range of 8Hz or below with sub-harmonics from a 64 ft pipe like those on the Atlantic City organ (typically most have 16 ft pipes with some larger instrument having 32 ft or equivalent) to 20kHz and above with the shortest pipe and their overtones (also the tuned percussion like bells, chimes, and the like, have very high harmonics). The instrument can also have a dynamic range of over 120db depending on the size of the instrument and its blower(s) and the voicing. You don’t want to spend a lot of time in a chamber when it’s being played. Of course, the older the recording, the less of a range, but it is surprising as to their quality.

“On the original recordings I’ve made to digital you can definitely see the subwoofer pumping. What’s interesting is if you are listening without it, you might not miss it, and then turn it on and you may not realize it’s there, but when you turn it off it’s like the floor disappeared. With today’s microphones and digital recorder[s] you can capture the full sound of the instrument.”

Peter: Back in the day, live organ music in a movie theater was standard, right?

Bill: “They were designed to accompany silent movies. That’s the reason they have what’s known as traps, percussion, and a toy counter. Today they are used still to accompany silent movies, along with walk-in/out music and stand-alone concerts.”

Peter: Anything else to add, Bill?

Bill: “If it’s in the online library you can request the system to play it, as long as it does not violate any of the streaming rules that exist.

“There are thousands more recordings that need to be saved, restored and transferred to digital in our archive. You can donate to its support at:

“Much of the current library has been ‘encoded’ over a 30-year period under various standards, requiring us to either re-in-code or ‘re-level’ the online library if the original source material is no longer available. 

“We are also in the process of updating the software and website but it’s going to take a while.”

After the early 1930s, many theater organs were sold or scrapped. Less than 40 organs remain in their original venues today.

If you love the organ, or the theater, or just want to close your eyes and imagine how it felt to sit in a cinema 100 years ago, tune in ATOS Theater Organ Radio…and go ahead and turn up the bass a few notches!

Trivia (from“The biggest pipe organ in the world is the organ in the main auditorium of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, United States. It is so big that the number of pipes is not accurately known. Published documentation suggests there are 33,114 pipes, and it is said that there are at least 32,000.”

Trivia (from Smithsonian Magazine): “The Smithsonian’s instrument is a rare, completely original Wurlitzer donated by the estate of Lowell Ayars, a New Jersey music teacher, in 1993. Ayars kept it in museum-quality condition during the 30-some years it was played in his home. When Ayars died in 1992, he willed it to his friend Brantley Duddy, and Duddy contacted the Smithsonian, which gratefully accepted it for the musical instrument collection of the National Museum of American History. For now, it sits in storage, its burnished white-and-gold console protected by a sheet of plastic. But there are plans to restore it to glory.”

Did you enjoy this article? Learn about other stand-out and unique Internet radio stations every month by becoming a Recommended Stations supporter today for just $1!

Patreon Profile: Catherine Rahal

A couple of months ago I debuted the first Patreon Profile, where I spotlighted a Recommended Stations Elite Supporter. That supporter ran his own beautiful music Internet radio station, WJST, and used to be a truck driver.

In this Profile, I introduce you to charter supporter and Como Audio customer Catherine Rahal. When Como Audio still existed, Catherine would contact me directly when she had issues or questions about her music systems. She became one of my closest acquaintances over the years and I thought it would be interesting for all of us to get to know this author, mother, former financial advisor, and fellow Internet radio enthusiast a little better.

Peter: I’ll start with a rapid-fire round. Where were you born? How many siblings do you have? Do you have children? 

Catherine: I was born in Berlin, a few years after the end of the war. We left for the US when I was about 3 ½ months old. I have a younger brother – he is currently working on a great product – the Velo Chair – for people who have use of their legs but cannot stand or walk for very long. I have two sons, a writer and a chef, who are now in their 40s.

Peter: You recently added “author” to your resume with If You Love Them Leave Them Lists. In a nutshell, what’s your book about?

Catherine: The book is a guide to help people put together in one place the information that will be needed by their power of attorney, their healthcare and financial proxies, and their executor. Particularly important is noting the location of documents and what you want done with your “stuff”.

Peter: You write in your book that you lost your husband in an Air Canada plane accident when you were just 33 years old. To add to the pain, you received a sizable award following a lawsuit against the airline but someone you trusted stole the money from you. Was that part of the motivation for your book?

Catherine: I think that financial loss was the catalyst for becoming a financial advisor, which I was for almost 30 years. I focused on making sure that I educated my clients as much as I could so that what happened to me would not happen to any of them.

When my husband died, we were just starting out and hadn’t accumulated much. A few years later his brother died, also way too young, and he left a notebook for his wife with all of the information she would need to carry on. That stuck with me.

Catherine Rahal. Photo from Catherine Rahal.

Peter: It’s not easy planning for future health or financial issues or for death. These can be uncomfortable conversations to have with family or friends but they’re important. 

Catherine: Most people don’t like confronting their mortality, and those conversations have been considered taboo in some families. My mother categorically forbade me to discuss anything death related with my father in his last years. With her, I forced the issue, though I admit it made me feel that I was being a bit harsh with her.  My parents lived through the second war in Germany, and were forced to confront their own mortality on a daily basis for several years. Perhaps that explains their reluctance to revisit that subject.

Peter: You describe the various documents or lists in an easy-to-understand way. Does your advice apply equally to readers in the USA or just in Canada?

Catherine: I think the book is somewhat universal – most people living in developed countries have broadly similar assets, insurance policies, investments, residences, and our digital footprint crosses all sorts of borders – and is larger than most of us reckon with. Someone has to take care of things when you go, and these lists are the place to let them know what you would like done.

Yes, there are references to Canada, and we have also noted things particular to the US. One thing I learned though, is that even across the US, different states have different requirements. It can even vary from one county to the next, as I have seen in settling my parents’ estates.

Peter: What was it like to write your first book?

Catherine: I have been writing for a long time, but this was my first book for publication. I was blessed indeed to have a wonderful collaborator and designer in Wendy Moenig. Not only is she a top- notch graphic designer, but she was enormously helpful in how the book came together – And she designed the lists.

I have learned a lot about self publishing. I have learned how crucial it is to have distribution, and that you have to put yourself out there to sell books.
I have learned a lot about self publishing. I have learned how crucial it is to have distribution, and that you have to put yourself out there to sell books.

Amazon screen shot.

Peter: How can someone buy a copy?

Catherine: The book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo (in Canada), and for now, a few local bookstores in Montreal, Quebec and Almonte, Ontario. We are hoping to expand the reach. It is available in print as a large paperback and as an ebook. The easiest way to find it is by going to my website – all of the sales options are there:

Image from WQXR’s Twitter page.

Peter: Changing gears- What kind of radio programs did you listen to when you were growing up in Canada?

Catherine: I actually grew up in the US and only moved to Canada in 1982. My parents were classical music listeners (Elvis and the Beatles were not allowed – until I got my own radio in my room) so we listened to the local classical stations, notably WQXR in New York. We also listened to the various radio series like Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Our Miss Brooks, My Little Susie, The Jack Benny Show, and so on.

We were also fans of WBAI (Pacifica Radio) in the 1960s and 1970s. My father had eclectic taste in music. While he loved Mozart, Beethoven and Bach as much as my mother did, he also listened to everything from the Red Army Chorus to Olatunji, with sprinklings of the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem and other folk artists thrown in. WBAI offered a lot of that. We also listened to the Goon Show

When I was in high school, a friend turned me on to raconteur Jean Shepherd, who broadcast weeknights at 11 on WOR in New York, and from the Limelight in the Village on Saturday nights. You can hear the old broadcasts these days at Insomnia Theater.

I also listened to The Radio Reader, which came out of Michigan State University and offered 30 minutes on weekday mornings of whatever book host Dick Estell decided to read. Kept me sane while driving kiddie carpool!

My introduction to Canadian radio was the CBC – The Royal Canadian Air Farce, The Max Ferguson Show, and Allan McFee’s Eclectic Circus – not to mention Disc Drive with Jurgen Gothe (who was, like me, Berlin born).

Catherine’s Duetto below a portrait of her grandmother. Photo by Catherine Rahal.

Peter: How did you become interested in Internet radio?

Catherine: I had discovered that I could listen to radio stations on my computer and did that for a while. When Como began its Kickstarter campaign, and when I realized they would be of a quality similar to or better than [the owner’s previous company], I was hooked. I bought a Duetto and a Solo so that I could have one at each end of my apartment. It is so nice to be able to have it all go smoothly with no lag between devices. I bought one for my mother, but she was beyond the point where she could manage it on her own, so I ended up taking back and now have one in each room. It is wonderful. My orchids particularly seem to love baroque music, so when I am away it plays 24/7. I was gone for two weeks – when I came back, they were all in bloom or about to bloom (I have 9 orchids now).

Image from

Peter: What are a few of your favorite Internet radio stations?

Catherine: Because each of my Como radios allow 6 presets, I have 18 of them available, as well as favourites. I tend to listen a lot to WQXR, Radio Klassik from Hamburg, CBC in Montreal (and the French Radio Canada as well). I also have Insomnia Theater pre-set, which, paradoxically, I put on when I sneak a mid afternoon nap – this may be because I listened to Jean Shepherd at night when I was in bed in my high school years, so there may be a vestigial Pavlovian component there. I further have several PBS stations set because if I miss a broadcast on one of them, I can easily flip to a different time zone and catch it there. I have a few oldies stations saved as favourites for when I am feeling nostalgic. Every once in a while I go exploring and have come across some other interesting stations. I also listen to a few podcasts – Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, The Moth, Fast Politics and others.

Peter: You became acquainted with Recommended Stations through Como Audio?

Catherine: I did, and I have been following along and checking out different recommendations.

Image from Patreon’s Twitter page.

a friend turned me on to raconteur Jean Shepherd, who broadcast weeknights at 11 on WOR in New York, and from the Limelight in the Village on Saturday nights.

Peter: For someone unfamiliar with the Recommended Stations articles via Patreon, how would you describe what it’s about and what you personally get out of it?

Catherine: It is a wonderful way to get out of your usual routine and explore something new or different. Yes, I have my particular likes, but it is also great to [listen] to something completely different from the usual fare. There are so many stations that it is difficult to know where to start, so I use Recommended Stations to help me along that search.

Peter: Any parting thoughts?

Catherine: I watch TV and movies too, but for me there is nothing like radio. You can exercise your own imagination when you listen to radio drama, you can drift away on a tune, whether it is a romantic ballad, a glorious symphony or a golden oldie that you danced to in high school.

And one other note – I really enjoy your blog, and…..I am grateful to you personally for all of the help you have provided when I have had questions about my Como radios. I have learned a lot and you make it easy.

My thanks to Catherine Rahal for taking the time to answer my questions. As she mentioned, her book can be purchased from Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and Amazon.

Trivia (from

“According to a study conducted by Google Books, there have been 129,864,880 books published since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440.

There’s a catch, however. Google Books doesn’t factor in books published after 2010, nor does it include self-published book titles. Digital publishing has risen 246% since 2010, according to Bowker.”

If you’ve been a Recommended Stations Elite Supporter for at least 6 months and would like to be the subject of a future Patreon Profile, drop me a line at

Join Patreon

Happy Birthday, Gunsmoke!

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Once upon a time, there was a popular TV Western called Gunsmoke. The show ran for 20 years, from 1955 to 1975, making it the longest running dramatic TV series ever. Over 630 episodes aired during that time span, not including 5 made-for-TV movies. The show frequently received top ratings and the series won 15 Prime Time Emmy awards. It outlasted NBC’s Bonanza and survived CBS’ infamous “rural purge” of the early 1970’s when it cancelled its Western-themed shows. A few years later, in 1975, without any advance notice to the show’s cast, producers, or the viewing public, CBS unceremoniously pulled the plug on Gunsmoke.

Many of you probably remember the series or have at least heard of it. What some of you may not know is that Gunsmoke the television show was adapted from a radio series by the same name. It was 71 years ago this month when Gunsmoke the radio series first took to the airwaves on the CBS Radio Network. The Western drama aired on the radio every week for 9 years.

For the varmints who don’t know, Gunsmoke was set in Dodge City, Kansas, and centered around Marshal Matt Dillon’s efforts to enforce law and order in the wild west. Other key characters included Dillon’s Deputy, Wesley Proudfoot, Kitty Russell, owner of the local saloon (and Dillon’s love interest), Chester Goode, Dillon’s assistant, and Doctor Charles “Doc” Adams, the town physician.

Whoa, take ‘er easy there, Pilgrim.

During the entire 20 year run of the TV series, actor James Arness played the lead character, U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon. The 6’2” tall Arness looked and acted as if he was born for the part. He bore a slight resemblance to John Wayne and even sounded a bit like Duke. Legend has it Wayne was offered the starring role but turned it down.

In the radio series, however, William Conrad played Matt Dillon. You’ll remember Conrad as the 5’7″, 260 pound detective in the popular 1970’s TV detective series, Cannon. Nobody could’ve looked more the antithesis of an 1870’s Marshal than Conrad. I pity the horse that had to transport him. But this was radio, not television. Conrad had extensive experience in radio and it was his voice, as deep as Hells Canyon, that rightly earned him the part.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Since I’m focusing on the Gunsmoke radio program and he was the star, allow me to devote a few sentences to Conrad. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1920, the son of movie theater owners. He became a fighter pilot in World War II and was a producer-director of the Armed Forces Radio Service. He directed numerous films and TV episodes and acted in many more over his 5-decade long career. He was the narrator for The Fugitive, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He married 3 times and had 1 son. His last starring role in a TV series was Jake and the Fat Man, a crime drama that ran on CBS for 5 seasons. Conrad died in February 1994 of a heart attack.

From Mark to Matt

Before the Gunsmoke radio series began, two different pilot episodes were recorded, both in 1949. The Marshal’s name for the pilot episodes was Mark Dillon and Conrad didn’t play the lead role in either episode. Neither ever made it on the air and the hero’s name was later changed from Mark to Matt Dillon.

For Adults Only

Unlike other radio Westerns of the era such as The Cisco Kid and The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke was strictly geared for adults. It tended to be somber and often featured explicit and violent content, yet is generally regarded as more realistic than its television counterpart. From the radio show’s introduction: “There’s just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers and that’s with a U.S. Marshal and the smell of gun smoke!” Or as William Conrad as Marshal Dillon put it in his baritone voice: “[I’m] the first man they look for and the last they want to meet.”

Being the radio geek that I am and having been employed in said industry for years, I’m continually amazed at the work that went into these old time radio productions. Listening to the Gunsmoke radio shows, I put aside the story lines and concentrated on the other elements…the quality of the scripts, the music, and of course, the all-important, multilayered sound effects. An enormous amount of effort went into each and every weekly episode and the quality still shines through 7 decades later.

James Arness chasing down outlaws on Gunsmoke. Image from

Watch and Listen

If I’ve managed to inspire you to catch Gunsmoke the TV show, you’ll find the series airing weekday afternoons on the MeTV network (which, incidentally, also airs Cannon). Can’t get enough? The INSP cable network airs Gunsmoke episodes multiple times throughout the day and evening. Tarnation! On the other hand, if you’d prefer to acquaint (or re-acquaint) yourself with the original radio show, check out Internet Radio station WRCW Radio – Home of Gunsmoke, streaming out of Virginia. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Dodge City, Kansas anymore.

Image from

Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Most OTR (Old Time Radio) Internet stations play a variety of old time radio programs. Some OTR stations are genre specific like mystery/science fiction or comedies. There aren’t too many that dedicate themselves to one specific series like WRCW Radio – Home of Gunsmoke does. With WRCW Radio, it’s all Gunsmoke, all the time. I’m talking hundreds of episodes all broadcast on one radio station. You’ll even hear vintage adverts for Vicks cough drops and the original sponsor, L&M cigarettes. Interestingly, L&M was founded in 1873, the same time period the Gunsmoke episodes were set in. It’s bizarre to me to hear cigarettes advertised as having “flavor” and being “light and mild” with an “easy draw”, not to mention the white “miracle tip” filter. The L&M brand still exists today unlike some of their customers.

25 Years of Gunsmoke Radio

There are other Gunsmoke-only Internet radio stations like a similarly named radio station, Home of Gunsmoke. That station only streams at 64 kbps and it’s been my experience that this is typical of the majority of OTR Internet radio stations. WRCW Radio – Home of Gunsmoke streams at 128 kbps. It’s a minor point since the quality of the old time radio mono recordings aren’t exactly high fidelity, but I applaud WRCW Radio for going above and beyond. They’ve also been streaming Gunsmoke longer than most. The station celebrated its 25th Anniversary just last year. In 2005 it was nominated as Live365’s best station.

I spit-shined my Marshal’s badge, hopped on my trusty horse, and tracked down Marlene Micele, WRCW’s Founder. I asked the little lady what her inspiration was to start WCRW Radio – Home of Gunsmoke. “The inspiration to start the station came from my memories of hearing the show on the radio when I was only a few years old”, Micele wrote me. “I didn’t like the TV version of Gunsmoke”, she added.

As I mentioned, WRCW Radio plays all the Gunsmoke shows, well over 400, with one exception. “I air all the episodes that are available”, Micele told me. “There were many repeats during the show’s run, and I have removed them from the broadcast as to not be repetitious.”

Pull Up A Chair

One mystery that still endures…why William Conrad didn’t get the starring role in the Gunsmoke TV series after successfully playing the lead for 9 years on the radio. It’s been implied his girth was the reason behind the snub. Micele commented, “I quote from hearing Dennis Weaver [who was in the TV series] tell it: ‘The scene called for Conrad to jump up from the chair, and when he did, he got stuck because of his weight.’ It was clear Gunsmoke the TV series was either going to need bigger chairs or a thinner Marshal.

Just the facts, ma’am.

WRCW has some sister stations worth noting which also stream at 128 kbps. If Gunsmoke isn’t your cup of wild west whiskey, there’s WRCW Presents Dragnet, dedicated to Dragnet, another very popular TV show that began life as a radio series. WRCW Radio 2 Home of the Old Time Westerns airs Westerns in general, and WRCW Crime Story streams vintage radio crime dramas. Perhaps the “RCW” in WRCW stands for Radio, Crime, Westerns.

“Unlike other radio Westerns of the era such as ‘The Cisco Kid’ and ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Gunsmoke’ was strictly geared for adults.”

Without getting ornery, I have two quick cons about this Internet station. First, it’s not non-commercial, so be prepared to hear 2 minute commercial sets beyond the original vintage sponsorships. The commercials help reduce the station’s cost of the streaming platform and is often a necessary evil for Internet stations to exist.

The other quibble I have is that KCRW Radio’s metadata doesn’t identify the original air date of each Gunsmoke episode. The title of every episode is displayed but it would be interesting to know when they first aired. This information is readily available so I don’t understand why it’s not included. To be fair, the other Gunsmoke Internet stations I checked out also failed to indicate the broadcast dates.

Gunsmoke still looks and sounds pretty darn good at 71 years old. Without it, one has to wonder whether shows like Yellowstone, 1883, and 1923 would exist. Unless you’re yellow-bellied, rustle up some Gunsmoke on WRCW Radio or get out of Dodge!

Trivia: William Conrad wrote Gunsmoke radio episode #59, “Sundown”, which aired on June 6, 1953. He also directed two episodes of the TV series.

Trivia: James Anress, who portrayed Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke the TV series, had a famous brother…Peter Graves, who starred in his own hit television series, Mission: Impossible.

Arness is best, but there’s Festus for the rest of us.

Trivia: The Gunsmoke TV character, Festus Haggin, played by Ken Curtis, released several records. Long before Gunsmoke, Curtis was a professional singer and had a brief stint as lead singer with the Tommy Dorsey band in 1941 after Frank Sinatra’s departure.

A sampling of metaphors by Festus Haggin from the Gunsmoke TV series:

He ain’t got the gumption to pound sand down a rat hole.

I thumped him ’till his ears rang like the liberty bell.

Crookeder than a dog’s hind leg.

Hold `yer taters.

I’ll get onto you like ugly on an ape.

He can’t see past the brim of his hat.

This here stew will put muscles in your whiskers.

It’s hot enough to fry a horseshoe.

Tighter than the feathers on a prairie chicken’s rump.

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Most Popular Radio Stations

The Como Audio Musica. Photo courtesy of Como Audio, Inc.

It’s been at least a year, possibly two, since I last published a list of the most tuned Internet radio stations by Como Audio owners around the world. As many of you know, I worked for Como for over 7 years as Vice President of Product Development, and more recently, General Manager. I found it fascinating to learn what stations our customers were listening to and enjoyed bringing these lists to you on a semi-regular basis. With the company shutting its doors literally just a couple of days ago, I thought I’d author one final article on the most popular stations amongst Como Audio users and also amongst the millions of people using the Frontier Silicone platform.

Accordingly, here are the top 50 Internet radio stations ranked from the most to least listened to by Como Audio listeners:

Radio Swiss Jazz
France Inter
WCRB Classical
Rás 1
WQXR 105.9 FM
BBC World Service
NPO Radio 1
BBC Radio 4
Rás 2
BBC Radio 6 Music
VRT Radio 1
WNYC 93.9 FM
Bylgjan 989
WDNA 88.9 FM
Classic FM
NPO Klassiek
France Culture
VRT Klara
Radio Swiss Classic
BBC Radio 3
France Musique
Radio Italia
NPO Radio 5
SomaFM – Left Coast 70s
NPO Radio 2
WBGO Jazz 88.3FM
WGBH Boston Public Radio
KEXP 90.3 FM
WBUR 90.9 FM
La Première RTBF
VRT Klara Continuo
98.7 WFMT
Classical California KUSC
BBC Radio 2
Classical California KDFC
VRT Studio Brussel
Hitradio Ö3
Radio Paradise
Radio 10 – 60s & 70s Hits
VRT Radio 2 Oost-Vlaanderen

In scanning through the above list, it’s not surprising to find Radio Swiss Jazz in the top spot. Anytime I’ve published this list it’s always been number one, and for good reason. Radio Swiss Jazz was stored in preset #1 in every radio we made and it was our go-to station whenever we performed product demonstrations. Streaming in the superior AAC audio codec at 100 kbps and playing a great selection of mainstream jazz, the station always sounded fantastic.

Now, here’s the list of the 50 most tuned stations by everyone using a Frontier Silicon platform-based radio of which there are millions around the world.

BBC Radio 4
Radio Nowy Świat
RadioMv – Slavic
France Inter
NDR 1 Niedersachsen Hannover
NDR 2 Niedersachsen
SWR1 Baden-Württemberg
BBC Radio 2
Hitradio Ö3
Radio Paloma
BAYERN 1 Oberbayern
NPO Radio 1
Radio 357
RTÉ Radio 1
SWR4 Baden-Württemberg
Absolut relax
WDR 2 Rheinland
Klassik Radio
NPO Radio 2
NPO Radio 5
SWR1 Rheinland-Pfalz
OLDIE ANTENNE – Oldies but Goldies
Classic FM
BBC Radio 3
France Culture
Radio U1 Tirol
Sky Radio
Bremen Eins
Radio Swiss Jazz
BR Heimat

The thing that stands out immediately to me with this list is there’s only 1 or 2 stations from the USA. That’s because the majority of these listeners reside outside the USA. Surprisingly, unlike the Como Audio list, Radio Swiss Jazz ranks almost at the very bottom.

The Como Audio Internet radio station directory currently has over 68,000 free stations and grows every month.

It never fails to surprise me how many people have no idea Internet radio exists or even understand what it is. So, I get very excited when people discover it and the wealth of free entertainment it offers, regardless of what brand radio they use. Unfortunately, many users are discouraged by the amount of effort it sometimes can take to search through almost 70,000 Internet stations. That’s why I launched Recommended Stations via Patreon. With Recommended Stations, I do the searching for you and recommend a different radio station every month in addition to uncovering a bizarre station you never thought would exist. This month’s Recommended Station is unique in that it mixes two different music genres. Most radio stations are dedicated to a single genre, but not this station. Last month’s Hitchhiker Station (the name I give strange stations) is dedicated to the oral orifice. If this sounds interesting, sign up for a free trial using the link at the bottom of this article. And if you’re a Como Audio customer, join at the Elite level and I’ll be available to address any Como Audio tech support questions you might have about your music system.

I get very excited when people discover it and the wealth of free entertainment it offers, regardless of what brand radio they use.

That’s me with Como Audio’s founding CEO Tom DeVesto in our previous Boston office measuring the voltage of a Solo. Photo by WCVB TV.

Farewell Como Audio

As we started to wind down Como Audio last month, I personally received emails from many people thanking me for their music system(s) and for my assistance over the years. It was a lot of work developing and voicing every model while keeping to a totally unrealistic schedule. We also provided over- the-top customer service, especially for a very small company with limited resources. There were many instances where we took care of customers who were very clearly in the wrong or were downright unreasonable, but CEO Tom DeVesto always placed a very high value on customer support. We made our share of mistakes as well, but we always did our best to admit to them and to try to make them right.

The lats 2 years were difficult ones. You have no idea how hard we worked to try to keep the company going and the sacrifices that were made. As part of the cost saving measures my hours were gradually reduced to the point where I was only working 1 day per week. In November of 2022, I was forced to sell my home because I could no longer afford it. As was my luck, the red hot housing market had cooled off by then and I didn’t get the price I should have. I’ll put my violin back in it’s case now.

We were all hoping things would turn around for Como Audio but they never did. In the end, we had to face the reality that the business just wasn’t sustainable. Our most popular model, Musica, proved to be our chief downfall because we couldn’t get them in a timely manner due to parts shortages, high required order quantities, and price increases.

I may not have been a doctor saving lives or a scientist curing diseases, but it was very gratifying to bring music into people’s lives, especially during the pandemic when we were all isolated. Sadly, Como Audio is now history, but Internet radio lives on. As we were fond of saying to our customers- enjoy the music.

A view from Lake Como in Italy. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Trivia: Como Audio was founded 7 years ago last month and was named after beautiful Lake Como in Italy. It’s the third largest lake in Italy. Actor George Clooney owns an 18th century, 25 room mansion on Lake Como which he bought after falling in love with the area while on holiday. He was made an honorary citizen and often spends the summer months there.

Trivia: That’s Como Audio General Manager Peter Skiera’s voice speaking the confirmations from the Como Blu Stereo system.

Trivia: The default preset Internet stations in presets #7 & 8 on Musica were hand picked by Peter Skiera.

Trivia: While brainstorming names for our first two models, Peter Skiera proposed naming them Musica 1 & Musica 2. This was rejected in favor of Solo and Duetto, but our top of the line model was named Musica. Skiera also introduced the hickory finish.

Trivia: Peter Skiera started with Como Audio before the company had an office. He would meet with Tom DeVesto at DeVesto’s home on Cape Cod or at a cafe in Hingham, MA.

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Patreon Profile

Any Elite Supporter of Recommended Stations has the option of being the subject of a profile article which allows fellow supporters an opportunity to get to know them a little better. We’re like a family supporting the same cause so why not get to know each other? In this, my first Patreon Profile, I introduce you to Chris Cromwell, founder of WJST, my Recommended Station nearly 1 year ago.

An American Airlines music tape. Photo from WJST’s Facebook page.

As a reminder, WJST, “Jet Set Radio” out of Lexington, Kentucky plays “easy listening” reel-to-reel analog tapes as originally played over airline entertainment systems in the 1970’s. Other related reel-to-reel tapes of the same vintage are also featured. Cromwell adds occasional “announcements” from his “crew” to reinforce the in-flight experience.

Cromwell was a big rig truck driver and was frequently out on the road, but he’s currently recovering at home from a health issue so it was an opportune time for me to present him with some questions for this profile.

Peter: Where were you born? 

Chris: I was born at the Vandenberg Air Force Base Hospital in California; near Santa Barbara. My dad was in the Air Force at the time.

Peter: Was music a part of your childhood?

Chris: Yes! Definitely! An interesting story behind that! Around late 1967, early 1968, my mom grew more weary of the turning tides of rock music she once liked. First it was the Beatles using drugs and claiming they were more popular than Jesus. She frowned hard on that. Then it was The Rolling Stones’ deeper use of hard drugs, she really didn’t like that! Finally, when she heard Jim Morrison of the Doors on the stereo, that pretty much drove the last nail into the coffin. She was DONE with rock music. So, she started tuning around the FM dial for better music she would enjoy. She stumbled onto Beautiful Easy Listening station KSBY, among several others located around the area; like KPMJ. She quickly fell In love with Beautiful Easy Listening and soon got my dad to love it, too! They always found a Beautiful Easy Listening station no matter where we lived. So when I was born in December 1970, I was born directly into Beautiful Easy Listening Stereo Music and of course Reel To Reel Tapes! My folks had two Sonys back then! I kind of liked Easy Listening, but soon got into the more mellowed out rock music of the mid-late 1970’s. My mom gave Rock music another chance in the mid-late 70’s; especially with disco. But as time went on, she was listening to more Beautiful Music with my dad, and I eventually grew more to like it too, especially as I got further into my 40’s. Now Beautiful Easy Listening music is all I listen to.

Peter: Who are some of the artists in your personal CD/LP/download collection?

Chris: In my 20’s-40’s I was into New Wave Music, (Pet Shop Boys, Til Tuesday, The Ramones, Art Of Noise, New Order, etc.). I was also into Classic Rock, (Eric Clapton, Moody Blues, Heart, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, etc.). I also had a good decent collection of Disco Music from the Bee Gees and many others. A good variety from almost everybody. But I no longer have my CD/LP collection any longer. I gave away 5 big cases filled with CDs for free. Same thing for my cassette tapes. Everything except my Reel-to-Reel tapes are gone now.

Peter: What was the best concert you’ve ever been to? Did you ever meet a famous music star?

Chris: The only concerts I could go to was Christian music concerts during the 1990’s. Mostly because they were free for me to go to, or really cheap price; working at the Christian AM Radio station back then. There were several, I long forgotten who they were. I think one was Eddie Degarmo & Key, also Rachel Rachel? Or Amy Grant was another maybe.

I did meet Eddie DeGarmo personally for a few minutes to say hello. 

There was one Christian music concert I went to, I forgot who the artist was, but she pointed me out to everyone that I was totally rocking out with her! That was pretty cool! 

Peter: When did you first discover Internet radio as a listener and what about it appealed to you?

Chris: Perhaps the very first time I discovered Internet Radio was in 1998-1999. The dial-up connection of 32-56k was laggy at best, but I was quite surprised to hear different kinds of streaming music playing! At that time, I thought how cool it was to hear any kind of station or music from anywhere, not heard before. A free glimpse into everything!

Peter: How do you usually listen…a computer, an Internet radio, a smartphone app, an Alexa device?

Chris: Most usually I listen through my iPhone 12Pro. I use GetMeRadio or MyTuner Apps; maybe Live365 app. In the car the iPhone will connect through Bluetooth, and I can listen to the apps that way. I do have an Alexa device, but it’s only turned on for testing the WJST Jet Set Skill. Other times I might listen through my PC computer.

Peter: How often do you listen and what stations do you listen to (not including your own)?

Chris: I listen to Internet Radio pretty often, especially to the LoFi Music Stations, such as LoFi Girl.

Peter: Is there anything about Internet radio as a listener you wish you could change or improve upon? 

Chris: I wish Internet Radio could just sound better, instead of the compressed sound all the time. Unfortunately, most legal streaming platforms only give you a low compressed signal for too high a price.

Peter: For anyone interested in listening to Internet radio or starting their own Internet station but afraid to take the plunge thinking it’s too complicated, what would your advice be?

Chris: I would say, if you have the serious passion and drive, go for it! Only the most passionate and creative broadcasters can be successful thinking outside the box.

But if you don’t have much passion or creativity for internet radio, you won’t see much use for it.

In reality, having your own internet station isn’t really all that complicated at all. It’s more about trying to build an audience over time.

Peter: Do you think Internet radio makes a difference in people’s everyday lives?

Chris: I would say it does! I have seen multitudes of positive comments from listeners. They all mention how healing and beneficial the music or programming is. Goes for me too!! Unfortunately, not many people are into sharing a station they like with others. So, nobody knows what they are not told.

 10-4, good buddy. Photo from WJST’s Facebook page.

Peter: You used to be a truck driver. How did you listen to Internet radio when you were out on the road?

Chris: From 2000-2017 I used XM Satellite Radio, or my USB Sticks to listen to my favorite music out over the road. My cellphones didn’t have unlimited data streaming capabilities back then. Eventually in 2018 I began listening to internet radio over the road using my Samsung Android phone. I was able to connect to the truck stereo using [the] Bluetooth connection. The Live365 app being the only one I knew of at the time. I would eventually discover other streaming apps.

Vrrroom. Photo from WJST’s Facebook page.

Peter: I see from your Facebook photos that you own a motorcycle.

Chris: Yes! I still own (currently buying) a used 2011 Harley Davidson Nightster Sportster 1200. Fuel injected with Tachometer, Vance & Hanes exhaust pipes, plenty loud to be noticed with a car horn installed. It’s a pretty nice bike! Good mixture of blue, black and chrome.

It only has a 3.25-gallon tank, so I mostly ride it around locally near the house. Sometimes I might take it down to Richmond, Kentucky or down by Lancaster, Kentucky where my folks live. So not too many interesting places recently.

However, back in 2006, I had a brand new 2006 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 Low dark metallic red, with all kinds of extra options, chrome, gauges, and goodies! It had a 4.5-gallon tank, so I enjoyed riding it down to Knoxville, Tennessee, around parts of Colorado, and of course, different places in Kentucky. I probably should have just kept the loud Harley instead of trading it in for a 2011 Chevy Camaro. That didn’t turn out too well.

Cromwell behind the mic. Photo from WJST’s Facebook page.

Peter: In 2018 you started your own Internet radio station, WJST. What do you enjoy most about having your own station?

Chris: What I enjoy most is, knowing that me and several others that work with me, are making a positive difference with other listeners. 

I’m told frequently how healing and melancholy the programming is. They think of their past relatives, loved ones, memories, childhood, etc. They appreciate the Easy Listening Relaxing music, compared to the anxiety filled Rock Music of today.

Peter: What changes have you made to WJST since it was named a Recommended Station?

Chris: I have made quite a few new changes since winning the award! It was a motivating factor to introduce a lot of new Easy Listening, Lounge, Exotica & Christmas music! I also introduced a bunch of new poetry that airs overnight during Music Till Dawn! Some of the Poetry is read by Chief Stewardess Something Blue! Late night drink recipes are read by Koop Kooper! Just recently, I added two new weekly shows to WJST! 

“The Tiki Lounge Happy Hour” from D. Argyle Vermouth airs Wednesday at 6PM Eastern Time. Followed by “The Atomic Age Cocktail Party” with Jason Croft! Wednesdays at 8PM Eastern Time. Both programs are one hour long and feature music built around a central theme.

I have also included many new singing jingles. You will often hear a British girl singing about WJST!

Last and certainly not least, I introduced a new Captain to the Jet Set Plane to replace Gary Miles. She is known as “Captain Martha”, and turns out to be my spouse as well! Several listeners told me they really like her sound on WJST.

I recently signed up an account with Strimm and uploaded a good handful of my videos from YouTube to try it out. On January 20th, 2023 at 1:15AM, I launched WJST Jet Set TV 65 on Strimm! Channel 65, meaning the year 1965, when Jet Setting was in full swing, playing popular music reel tapes on Astrostereo. Of course, I had no viewers at all, as nobody knows about it, but it gave me time to learn how everything still works. I am still figuring stuff out…There isn’t a lot of content yet and I have much left to upload in the coming weeks and months.

Last night, I placed WJST Jet Set TV 65 on the WJST Jet Set Website! Everyone is familiar with that, so it should be easy to find and view! You can head over to, scroll down some, and you will see the large video player; TV Guide included! Eventually I will get it set up for Ad’s, and even for Roku! I will produce promos for the TV station, too. Otherwise, nobody would know where to find my TV station on the Stremm site, even with a link, few people would know of.

The Strimm website came around in 2012, so they aren’t going anywhere that I know of. They claim to have multiple Internet TV stations around the world. It’s if you want to take a look, pronounced Stream. This is what I have been working on the past few days.

Jonah Tojo, singer for Twingowind and former member of Metamuse. Photo from WJST’s Facebook page.

Peter: This might be an odd question, but I have to ask…Who is the young boy wearing a WJST T-Shirt on WJST’s Facebook page?

Chris: LOL! It’s easy to think it’s a boy with such short hair and cute face! But that’s actually a 23 year old woman named Jonah Tojo. She lives in Chiba Prefecture Japan, not too far away from Tokyo. Jonah is a popular former JPop Star singer! Her short blue hair is her trademark look. I aired a few of her songs sung in English and Japanese on WJST! I also sent her some WJST T-Shirts to wear. One large WJST shirt I gave her is worn as a nightie! So that is who you see on the FB Page. 

Peter: Why did you become an Elite Supporter of Recommended Stations via Patreon?

Chris: After such a glowing article was written for WJST, I soon had a large increase of new listeners! More people are listening longer than ever! Even more so after winning Runner Up to Station Of The Year! Everyone wants to find out why! So, it’s the least I could do to return the favor, to become an Elite Supporter of Recommended Stations. To say Thank You so very much for listening and for your support!

Peter: What do you enjoy most about the monthly Recommended and Hitchhiker Station articles?

Chris: As I began early in this article, I was amazed to hear new music and stations on dial up internet! So, what I enjoy most is reading about those new or obscure stations anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t have known about earlier. Kind of like stumbling into an unknown dialup BBS site no one else knows of.

Peter: Anything else you’d like to add, Chris?

Chris: Since October 30th, 2022, I have been at home on medical leave; currently not working. I probably won’t return to truck driving, not knowing what other job I can do with my physical limitations.

I constantly worry about keeping WJST Jet Set Radio on the air. The high monthly costs are always due, and my short-term disability pay may not always be there.

I’m asking everyone to please donate to WJST, especially if it really does provide a beneficial service to you.

Otherwise, I might have to ground the Jet Set Plane for an indefinite period of time. People tell me WJST is a station like no other. I would have to say I agree! Let’s keep it flying with your support. Tomorrow is always another day.

Update: A few days after my interview with Chris he sent an email to the folks on his list which read in part: “I’m reaching out to all of you today, our most loyal Jet Set Fliers and listeners. We deeply appreciate every one of you most very much and we definitely love bringing a unique music format not found anywhere else. But we could really use your support at this time. As with the new increased costs from Live365, it may become necessary to ground the Jet Set Plane at Midnight March 1st! WJST will go dark, indefinitely! Please donate today securely to the PayPal Widgets located on the website.”

My thanks to Chris Cromwell for his time and support and I’m sure you join me in wishing him a speedy recovery and all good things for WJST.

If you’d like to make a contribution to WJST or enjoy a musical round trip flight or two, head on over to the station’s website…no need to pack a bag and no long security lines to navigate.

If you’re a Recommended Stations Elite Supporter or upgrade to that level and would like to be the subject of a future Patreon Profile, please get in touch with me directly at:

Trivia (from “Boeing bid farewell to an icon on Tuesday [1/31/23], delivering its final 747 jumbo jet as thousands of workers who helped build the planes over the past 55 years looked on.

“Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight.”

Holiday Station Round-Up

It’s that time of year again when I hand-pick several Internet radio stations ideal for your holiday entertaining or just to enjoy all to yourself. Christmas is nigh, so let’s get after it!

  1. WALM Radio – Christmas (USA; 320 kbps/MP3)

Direct URL:

Much like Santa Claus, WALM Radio – Christmas is shrouded in mystery. There’s no information about WALM on its website and no method of contacting them. WALM Radio has other Internet stations under its belt like jazz and old time radio (OTR), and what I take to be their anchor station, a Christian music station. The “Christmas vinyl” playlist is definitely laid back, but it’s just shy of full blown “easy listening”. You’ll hear music from artists like Anne Murray, the Boston Pops, Robert Goulet, Mitch Miller & The Gang, Peggy Lee, Mahalia Jackson, Montovani, Johnny Cash, Lawrence Welk, Celtic holiday music, and, gulp, Jim Nabors. If you can get past the insipid spoken promos (“We’re the home industrial strength, elf-powered turntables…”), you’ll thoroughly enjoy the music. You can even make a song request through their website and the meta data will show “Requested” when the song plays!

Streaming at 320 kbps, this is one of the best-quality, all-holiday streams available on the net, plus there are no commercials. Because it’s streaming at such high quality (“ultra-high fidelity” as WALM Radio calls it), there can be annoying stability issues with their Internet radio stream such as not connecting or connecting but not having any sound. Still, I included WALM Radio in my list since the stream on their website is very stable. That said, I much prefer listening to my Internet radio, not a computer, so I ended up cutting and pasting the Direct URL (shown at the beginning of this segment) into my Internet radio. It’s not perfect but it has better reliability than their Internet radio stream.

The WALM Radio – Christmas mix is mostly calming and peaceful…something we could all use a little of during the holiday rush. And no, WALM Radio is not short for Walmart Radio.

Update: Unfortunately, WALM’s website stream has also become unreliable as well as the direct URL and I can find no way to contact WALM about this. However, my other holiday station suggestions more than make up for this.

2. Crooner Radio – Christmas Vintage (Paris; 128 kbps/MP3)

Direct URL:

I have a soft spot for crooners, especially the legends of the past, and Crooner Radio – Christmas Vintage delivers Christmas crooners and then some. All of our old holiday friends are here…Andy Williams, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Della Reese, Wayne Newton, Lena Horne, and even dashes of Elvis and Bobby Darin. Crooner Radio pushes the boundary with artists like The Pointer Sisters, but what the heck, it’s Christmas. Strangely, the stream’s meta data sometimes lags, meaning it continues to show the artist and song title for the previously played song. But with these big-name crooners, it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s singing what.

If you’re not in the mood for sugary holiday pop hits and you have no use for commercials, give Crooner Radio – Christmas Vintage a listen this holiday. You’ll feel so warm and fuzzy inside you just might start crooning some Christmas classics yourself.

3. A Classical California Christmas (Los Angeles; 95 kbps/AAC)

Direct URL:

I’ve freely admitted it before…I don’t know much about classical music and rarely listen to it, but I often turn to it during this time of year to get a refreshing break from the same old holiday fare. This station reaches deep into Santa’s classical bag and plays harp, brass, voices, and carols, and without a single commercial jingle. Artists include the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the Berlin Philharmonic Brass, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cambridge Singers and Orchestra, the Choir of Kings College, and many more. The music is uplifting and creates a wonderful atmosphere day or night. As ACCC states on its website, “Classical Holiday favorites; comfort, joy and peace whenever your spirit needs a lift.” This isn’t a pop-up station or temporary format just for the holiday. They stream this music all year-round. I think I know which station Santa listens to in the off-season.

If you need a little classical Christmas right this very minute, whether you’re in California or wherever, tune in A Classical California Christmas courtesy of Los Angeles’ KUSC.

4. JIB On The Web (Boston, MA; 128 kbp/MP3)

Direct URL:

JIB On The Web was on my holiday station list last year, and it was also one of my Recommended Stations a few years back. Ordinarily, I never repeat a station, but JIB On The Web is such an exceptional station it deserves inclusion again. It’s a beautiful music station, not a dedicated Christmas music station, but starting at noon eastern time on the day before Christmas, the station airs 15 hours of holiday music. For many, “The Beautiful Music of Christmas”, now in its 5th year on JIB On The Web, is an annual tradition that’s not to be missed.

Unlike some other beautiful music Internet radio stations, a great amount of love and care goes into programming this station, and no less effort goes into its musical holiday extravaganza. JIB On The Web is operated by a very talented radio announcer who worked for the original FM station in Massachusetts, so expect nothing but an authentic WJIB beautiful music experience each time you tune in.

There certainly are a lot of radio stations you could listen to on the night before Christmas and the day of, but none are like this one. In fact, you’ll enjoy it so much, I’m willing to bet you’ll still be listening to JIB On The Web long after the holiday is over.

5. RadioSpinner Fireplace Sounds (Russia; 97 kbps/AAC)

Direct URL:

RadioSpinner Fireplace Sounds isn’t a Christmas station or even a music station, but I’m including it anyway because a fireplace always makes for a better Christmas. It’s just as the name says- the station plays fire sounds 24/7. All fire, all the time. You can practically smell the smoke. It creates the perfect ambience for the holiday or for pyromaniacs. Personally, I like to play this station while I have my electric fireplace on. Why electric fireplaces don’t have a digital recording of fire crackling or just a USB jack to connect a thumb drive with a fireplace recording, I don’t understand. But I digress. By the way, I say “fire sounds” because you’ll mostly hear outdoor fires with an abundance of wind, but I guess Radio Spinner Outdoor Fires With Wind didn’t quite have the same appeal.

The station does a much better sell job on its website: “Fireplace Sounds is designed to soothe, relax. Listening to the radio station is as pleasant as wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, hugging a cup of hot mint tea with both hands and quietly watching the ferocious weather through the window. Only a pleasant crackle of firewood, smoldering coals and barely audible sounds of the wind.”

Fireplace Sounds streams out of Russia where they know a thing or two about cold weather. At 97 kbps in the AAC codec, the sound quality is okay, but the wind noise overwhelms the fire sounds. I also didn’t hear any chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but I’ll take what I can get, especially when it’s free.

Maintaining a fire in fireplace, or anywhere, is a lot of work…tending to the fire, hauling and stacking the wood, clearing the ashes, and so on. In this case, just sit back and enjoy, because RadioSpinner Fireplace Sounds is the lazy man’s fireplace. Now, where did I leave my slippers?

Update: As my luck would have it, this station’s stream stopped working about a week after I posted this article.

You now have five free Internet radio stations to enjoy this holiday season! When someone asks you about the station you’re listening to, be sure to tell them you discovered it through

Trivia: What was the first radio station in the US to play Christmas music this year? Cincinnati’s Star 93.3FM was the first out of the gate. On November 1st, the day after Halloween, Star FM switched over to all Christmas music.

‘Tis the season for giving, so if you enjoy any of these radio stations, please help support my website by becoming a Patreon supporter today for $1. In return, you’ll get my Recommended and Hitchhiker Station every month in your in box as my thank you. This month’s Recommended Station recalls the early days of radio while the upcoming Hitchhiker Station might cause temporary holiday insanity.

Radio Replay: JingleMad

Radio Replay is a random pop-up series that takes look back at a Recommended or Hitchhiker Station from the past.

JingleMad Radio

Three years ago, I brought JingleMad Radio based in the UK to light. Within seconds of my first listen I knew this was a Hitchhiker Station. JingleMad plays nothing but radio station jingles. You know, the upbeat music that promotes a radio station’s all-important call letters. JingleMad doesn’t play songs or commercials, just jingles…sixty-six jingles per hour to be precise. Even JingleMad Radio has its own jingle. There’s also jingle montages where multiple variations of the same station jingle play back-to-back. The stream also includes each station’s name in the metadata in case you cannot figure it out from the jingle (unlikely). Some of the jingles are quite creative and funny like, “Get your feet on the floor, get your butt out the door.” Having worked in radio broadcasting, I developed a perverse fascination with this station.

Some of the radio jingles on JingleMad Radio are very short while others run surprisingly long. Some are very upbeat and others are more subdued depending on the station’s format. Regardless, most of the jingles you hear on JingleMad were professionally produced by a jingle company like JAM, Pams, ReelWorld, Zone Radio Imaging, Ignite Jingles, S2Blue, David Arnold, Brandy, Bespoke Music, Sharpsell London, or Murfin Media.

Here’s one of JingleMad Radio’s “clock” (a radio term):

:00 Single Jingle News with Stuart Clarkson

:01 Top of hour jingle

:02 JingleMad JingleMix – 66 jingles in a row!

:17 Demonstration time – jingle demo

:30 Another 66 jingles in a row!

:45 JingleMad jingle montages – user created montages

:59 News intro

In addition to the jingles, you’ll also hear “shouts”, but “ShoutMad Radio” doesn’t have quite the same appeal. A “shout” is radio parlance for a recording by a group of singers who “shout” the DJs name usually followed by the station jingle. Shouts are played by stations in between songs or at the end of a commercial break before going back to the music. When I was a DJ at adult contemporary station WLNH-FM in New Hampshire, I had my own shout. It made me feel important even though I wasn’t. I was a little fish in a little pond. I have my shout recorded on my WLNH air check cassette somewhere in a box in my basement. It’s a bit sad that my nearly 7 years in radio are represented on the single side of a cassette tape stored in a box in my basement.

Be that as it may, I reached out to Roy Martin, founder and President of JingleMad Radio, to get the story behind this Hitchhiker Station:

Peter: When did JingleMad Radio first begin streaming?

Roy: The service was conceived at the end of 2011 and went into testing mode in January 2012. 10 years on and we are still officially in Beta mode!

Peter: What was the idea behind JingleMad?

Roy: On the basis that there is a radio station for pretty much any interest or theme these days, I figured it would be fun to see if I could operate a radio station playing nothing but jingles from radio stations. We sought full permission from the main jingle companies, with almost all of them coming on board, giving us the OK to use their musical works.

Peter: How is JMR funded?

Roy: It’s a personal project funded by myself. It has zero running costs and only takes up a small amount of time to keep the jingles up-to-date and scheduled. Technology helps save much time, and we’ve called on favours from playout companies and streaming providers to make it more worthwhile!

Peter: How many station jingles do you have in your library?

Roy: As of today, we have almost 12,000 individual pieces of audio on rotation. We start each hour with 66 jingles in a row, then into a few demos and montages before returning to non-stop jingles taking us through the rest of the hour.

Peter: Where do you source the jingles from?

Roy: The majority have come from the owners of the jingles, either the companies that made them or the radio stations that bought them. We’ve also been sent many by enthusiasts and collectors, along with ‘jingle montages’ from collectors.

Peter: Do you only play jingles from UK and European radio stations?

Roy: 95% of our jingles are in English, so include all English-speaking nations. The majority come from North America and the UK.

Peter: What is the most bizarre station jingle you’ve ever played?

Roy: We’ve got a few jingles with swear words in, which we schedule ‘after the watershed’ at night. We did have one complaint made to Ofcom [UK communications regulatory agency] about one particular jingle sung many years ago which we have since dropped as it doesn’t seem appropriate these days, as with many songs sung during a different era.

Peter: What’s the most obscure jingle you’ve ever played?

Roy: We play all jingles we’re allowed to, so nothing stands out as being obscure.

Peter: Do you also run a music radio station or you just do jingles only?

Roy: JingleMad Radio is totally about the jingles. No music involved. I personally operate a couple of other radio services but these aren’t connected to JingleMad.

Peter: Are the majority of your listeners in the UK?

Roy: It’s split mostly between the UK and North America, although we are popular in Japan.

Peter: Are you working on anything new for JingleMad?

Roy: Being 10 years old we should probably look at officially launching the station! Maybe we’ll do that. But on-air, we’ll just carry on adding jingles and playing them out non-stop.

To slip in a little shameless self-promotion, earlier this year I added a custom jingle to my own Internet radio station, Wind Chime Radio. It was composed, arranged, and sung by several members of the New Randy Van Horne Singers and plays randomly.

I’ve brought you some pretty off-the-wall Hitchhiker Stations over the years, but JingleMad is one of the maddest. If you’ve got a thing for jingles, check out JingleMad Radio and jingle all the way.

Trivia: Wheaties cereal by General Mills was the first consumer product to use a commercial jingle on the radio, broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1926. In 1947, Dallas radio station KLIF-AM was one if the first stations to use a jingle to identify the station’s call letters.

If you enjoyed this article, please help spread the word and support my blog by becoming a Patreon supporter today for just $1 and get my Recommended and Hitchhiker Stations in your in box every month.

The Chimes They Are A Changin’

Due to financial constraints, I was forced to change the host company for my Internet radio station, Wind Chime Radio. At the end of this article I’ve provided a link to the website to listen as well as the station’s new URL to input directly into your Internet radio if it offers that feature or to provide your station aggregator to get WCR added to their directory (it is already listed in Airable’s directory for those with Frontier Silicon-based Internet radios).

I took this opportunity to make a few other changes. One big change is the upgraded sound quality. My station is now streaming at the maximum bit rate of 320 kbps in the superior AAC audio codec (vs. 80 kbps in MP3 with the previous host). The chimes sound more realistic than ever!

I also made all new AAC stereo recordings of my chimes and more recordings of them to keep the sound as fresh as a spring breeze. As before, the chimes were recorded outside as the brisk Massachusetts coastal winds moved them about naturally.

The New Randy Van Horne Singers. Photo from their Facebook page.

Another change exciting is a new jingle. The New Randy Van Horne Singers vocal group composed and recorded a custom “jingle” exclusively for Wind Chime Radio.  They put a lot of work into it and I’m truly honored to have their wonderful voices blending so beautifully on my station. The WCR jingle will air randomly throughout the broadcast. I’ve included a link to TNRVHS’ Facebook page at the end of this article so you can check them out.

Finally, ‘ll be changing the background color of WCR’s logo from black to white so it will stand out more.

At the start of this article I mentioned a financial crunch. It’s never too late to show your support. If you enjoy reading my blog and/or listening to WCR, please become a Patreon supporter today for just $1. If you’re already a supporter, please consider upping your support. All funds will help support my website blog and radio station. In appreciation, you’ll get my Recommended Stations and Hitchhiker Station in your inbox every month. This month’s Recommended Station has a very unique tie in with an airline, while April’s Hitchhiker Station celebrates music you rarely hear nowadays (and perhaps for good reason). My Recommended Stations are a fun accessory for your Internet radio or Internet radio app!

Thank you in advance for your support and I sincerely hope you enjoy the new Wind Chime Radio wherever you listen from!


Listen to Wind Chime Radio

WCR URL to give to station aggregators:

The New Randy Van Horne Singers

Radio Replay: Payphone Radio

By Peter Skiera

Radio Replay is a random “pop-up” series that looks back at a Recommended or Hitchhiker Station from the past. For my first Radio Replay, I re-established a connection with one of my early favorite Hitchhiker Stations, The Payphone Radio Network.

That stealthy supermarket payphone. Photo by Peter Skiera.

A local supermarket I frequent opened up their second entrance after having closed it for over a year due to the pandemic. As I headed toward the newly re-opened ingress, I noticed something I had never noticed before. I was upset with myself for being oblivious to it. It was an actual, in-tact, public payphone! I had not seen such a rare sight in I do not know how long. My heart started beating faster as quickened my pace toward this unexpected relic. As I approached, desperately fumbling in my pocket for some spare change and racking my brain over whom I would call, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment as I realized the phone was out of service. The sign at the top had been hastily covered up with black paint and there was an abundance of rust on the coin box. I felt like a total idiot for assuming this dinosaur was still alive. Evidently, some payphones are not even worth the effort of removal. This one had obviously been abandoned on the brick wall to dry up and fall off like an ugly old scab.

Say what?

It occurred to me that with the advent of the personal cell phone, we have lost an entire telephone vocabulary…busy signal, reverse the charges, collect call, out of order, party line, operator, long distance, person-to-person, phone book, yellow pages, off the hook, cut off, directory assistance, switchboard, unlisted, and dial tone. Although we have retained the terms “dial” and “hang up” when we use our smartphones, we do not physically “dial” or “hang up” anything.

God Save The Call Box

Here is a bit of good news from our friends across the pond. Ofcom is proposing to preserve 5,000 of the iconic, red call boxes, but not because the UK’s telecommunications regulator has a soft spot for payphones. There are still areas in Britain with poor cell phone coverage, and for many, payphones are the only alternative. Areas with high accident or suicide rates will also retain their payphones. The new rules would prevent these call boxes from being repurposed into mini-libraries or storage facilities like thousands already have.

Do You Remember?

Like your first girl, they say you never forget the last time you used a payphone, or something like that. There was a payphone on the wall in the hallway opposite the door to my college dorm room. It accepted incoming calls and I’d occasionally get calls from relatives, mostly my father. Someone on my floor would answer the phone and knock on the door if it was for me or my roommate, Dan. There was no privacy, but people weren’t usually lingering in the hall unless they were waiting for the antique elevator which was out of service more than not. I don’t specifically remember making calls from that phone but I must have since this was before cell phones existed and we didn’t have a phone in the room (it cost too much to have a line installed). Besides, I really enjoyed the communal experience of using that payphone.

When phones were phones: My classic Western Electric Model 302 from the 1950s. Photo by Peter Skiera.

“This one had obviously been abandoned on the brick wall to dry up and fall off like an ugly old scab. “

Drop A Dime

One good thing that came out of my disheartening supermarket payphone experience was it reminded me of one of my early favorite Hitchhiker Stations, The Payphone Radio Network out of New York. I brought that Internet radio station to light two years ago this month, calling it a “one-man telephone reality show”. As a brief refresher, speaking in a Bill Belichick-like monotone, dropping an occasional, unexpected F bomb, Mark Thomas called into a recording apparatus and left personal reflections on all manner of topics which he later streamed over this Internet station. He called in using public payphones exclusively, thus the name of his station. He estimated he made over 1,600 payphone calls since he started streaming his station 11 years ago. Thomas must have been Ma Bell’s best customer. Ah, Ma Bell. I remember her well. The Payphone Radio Network is still on the air, but Thomas stopped calling it in just about a year ago due to – what else – the pandemic.

A payphone in San Diego, CA. Photo licensed from

In addition to broadcasting his personal thoughts pertaining to whatever was weighing on his mind at the time, Thomas occasionally used a payphone’s handset as a hand-held microphone to record subway buskers. The sound quality was archival at best, but it was fascinating to hear those New York subway performances captured as they happened. Whenever I heard those primitive recordings on Payphone Radio, I was tempted to look around for an open guitar case to toss some spare change into. As it has been 2 years since I wrote about Payphone Radio, I decided to make it the subject of my first Station Replay to see what Thomas and his station have been up to. Normally I rely on email to conduct my interviews, but in this case, I very much wanted to ask Thomas my questions over a payphone. Unfortunately, for several reasons, that wasn’t possible, so, I present my written Q&A with Thomas:

Peter: Will you resume your payphone activity after COVID or are there just too few payphones to carry on?

Mark: I don’t think so. Ten years is a long run for something like this and I have nothing to prove by doing it for the rest of my life. I don’t know if the paucity of phones is necessarily a show-stopper, though. I’ve felt good about redirecting my energies to YouTube, where a loyal cadre of viewers seemingly cannot wait for me to do another emotional overshare or a payphone tour of another New Jersey city.

Peter: Do you miss making your payphone calls?

Mark: I do, but time marches on. Quarantine and lock down do not seem to have slowed the pace of the payphone apocalypse, which presently leaves just a couple dozen working public and semi-public phones in the 5 boroughs. I’ve also canvassed several New Jersey towns and found pitifully few working phones. It’s never been lost on me that the end is nigh for access to reliable public communications structures. If you are in a bind you had better hope your cell phone works.

Peter: When was the last time you used a payphone and where?

Mark: I check in on what has come to be known as the “Doomsday Payphone,” so-called because I cannot believe the thing actually still works but also because I like to imagine a future where some kind of neutron bomb destroys all the cell phones, leaving this stubbornly surviving telephone as the last possible link connecting humanity to itself. I frequently dial up my Payphone Radio number from that phone, or else try a random toll-free number.
I also dial *10 whenever I find a PTS payphone. *10 connects to a free daily prayer. I’m not religious but I find it enchanting, and sometimes funny. It also makes the owner of the payphone about 50¢ per call at no cost to me, this on account of FCC-mandated dial around compensation fees for calls to toll-free numbers made from payphones. That *10 shortcut only works from PTS-owned phones.

Peter: Do you recall the first time you used a payphone?

Mark: I don’t think so but I will never forget the payphone at my high school. That thing was legend in my youth. Having regular access to that phone felt empowering, like I’d made a huge step toward adulthood. I guess it’s not unlike the sense of achievement young people have today when they get
their first cell phones. I practically lived by that phone.
That may well have been the first payphone in my life. There was also a phone booth outside the University of Tampa, where I took piano lessons. The area was known to be a hot spot of hookers and prostitutes. Even though I probably didn’t even know what [a] hooker was I was intrigued, and would call in to that phone booth and play back cassette recordings of myself at the piano for whoever answered. I guess I thought I was bringing some class and elegance to skid row.

Peter: What’s the strangest thing that happened while you were on a payphone?

Mark: There used to be a spot on Northern Boulevard where you’d see a bunch of people strung out on K2 (synthetic marijuana) lying flat on their faces on the sidewalk and even on the roadway. I was making a call once from a phone across the street from that scene, just idly looking in their direction, when suddenly two of them sprang to life and started pounding the snot out of each other. They looked absolutely possessed. It was scary, even from the safety of being across the street, but [especially] when the brawl spilled into the street. Northern Boulevard is practically Interstate type traffic at that spot so those guys were at great risk of getting plowed down by a 70mph truck. One of the less drug-addled people nearby was able to corral them off the roadway but that could have ended very badly. Just as suddenly as the fistfight started those two K2 dudes laid back down on the sidewalk and passed out again.
I also can never forget the moment, in the middle of a call, when a stroke of sunlight hit the inside of a Madison Avenue payphone enclosure so the words “GO TO CHURCH READ BIBLE”, scratched into the metal surface, became clear to me. It was like a small miracle because I had been on the hunt for PRAY for months, years even, coming up almost entirely empty handed. “GO TO CHURCH READ BIBLE” is one of the messages of PRAY, the legendary scratchiti (markings etched into hard surfaces) artist of the 1970s and ’80s who scratched messages like “PRAY” “LOVE GOD” “GO TO CHURCH” etc., onto, as the legend goes, every single payphone in New York. Statistics on how many payphones there used to be in NYC vary considerably, I suspect because indoor and outdoor phones were treated differently. But in her day PRAY would have scratched her messages onto well over 35,000 payphones, as well as other surfaces like fences, park benches, mailboxes, etc. That’s a lot of scratching. She was described as elderly, vagrant, and probably disturbed. Still, it was amazing to me that these messages she sent out all those years ago were still being received. Ever since that subtle, even subliminal message became clear to me I suddenly started seeing her everywhere. I simply did not have the eyes to see until then.

Peter: Did you ever have an extended conversation with an operator while on a payphone?

Mark: I remember pleasant back-and-forth chitchat with operators when I was in college but can’t recall any substantive conversation. Except for trying to make operator-assisted collect calls to payphones I seem to have [steered] clear of bothering the operators, though. I haven’t dialed 0 from a payphone in a long time but I seem to remember it leading to a pretty murky world these days.

Peter: Did you ever record a famous/semi-famous busker using a payphone handset?

Mark: Probably the best-known and most enduring subway performer I’ve captured is Natalia Paruz, better known as The Saw Lady. I’ve captured her sounds a number of times. She’s quite a versatile musician not just with the saw but hand bells and carillon, though I’ve never seen her do hand bells in the subways, only the saw.

Peter: Do you use a landline and an answering machine at home?

Mark: It’s interesting how the definition of “landline” has changed. Fios phone, which I have, is considered landline, and unless you request otherwise, the number they give you is listed in the phone directories, along with your home address. Just like the old days of the phone book. I do not have a copper landline. I don’t remember when I finally cancelled that but I remember making the cancellation call to Verizon from one of the phone booths at the NYPL. I do have an old Panasonic telephone/answering machine I think I bought in the early 1990s. I also have a payphone given to me by the guy who owns the Doomsday Payphone. I plugged it in to Fios phone briefly but just use it as a conversation piece.

Peter: Why have you started posting select payphone calls on your station’s Facebook page?

Mark: I’d been meaning to do this for a while. The Shoutcast stream is, with over 1600 calls and over 63 hours of content, an awful lot to unpack. Breaking them down into single or short series of calls is intended to give people an idea of what the whole project is about without demanding too much of their time. With Shoutcast, as you know, most people would not be able to back up and replay something that was interesting to them. That is both its blessing and its curse, as I feel strongly that radio should be ephemeral but I also know that all these hours of content can feel like an ocean.
I also have enjoyed messing with Adobe After Effects in making visualizations and audio wave forms. I also intend to transcribe some of them.

Peter: Did you learn anything profound from doing payphone radio or did it alter any views you had of something?

Mark: I don’t think I’m getting to the bottom of life’s mysteries with any of this stuff, but I guess I’ve learned a few things about myself. There is so much I do not say, so much I leave out. Almost none the women I’ve been involved with since I started doing this get even a mention, at least not specifically and never while we were together.

Peter: For the benefit of those reading this who’ve never had the pleasure, what was the appeal of using payphones?

Mark: One of my original intents was to capture the rugged, monochrome, earthy sound texture of the copper landline before it disappears altogether. Most of NYC’s payphones were retrofitted with cellular routers in the years after I started doing this but almost all the payphones that remain today are landline and calls from those suckers sound awesome.
It’s also aesthetic at work about having both feet flat on the ground and being in a singular place. You can keep shoveling coins in to keep calls going indefinitely, of course, but at a public pay telephone your time is essentially limited. You have to think about what you’re going to say before dropping a coin and saying your piece. That’s how we used to connect before cell phones and mobile telephony caused the pace of communication to hyperventilate. I’ve never warmed to walking-and-talking on a cell phone. To me a phone call remains something important enough that you stop, plan, schedule, and take the experience seriously.

Peter: Did you ever hear Lou Reed’s song, “New York Telephone Conversation”?

Mark: Amazingly, no. I thought I knew all the payphone-related songs in the canon, having researched the matter quite a bit. Thanks for linking to that one, it’s good fun.
The greatest payphones song ever, IMO, is “Sylvia’s Mother.” It’s nowhere near as great a song as Jim Croce’s “Operator” but *as a payphone song* it sets the pace, making you feel like you are in the phone booth shoveling coins in the slot to keep the connection alive. The song was actually a parody, meant as a joke, but on the basis of depicting the experience of making that kind of call I think it hits a bullseye.

Peter: Which Internet radio station(s) do you personally listen to (besides your own)?

Mark: Isn’t all radio Internet radio these days? 🙂 BBC Radio 4 Extra, their radio dramas slay me. Freakonomics. I also binge on older stuff I have recorded: Danny Stiles, Joe Frank, Gene Scott, Paul Harvey, Joey Reynolds, other radio heroes. I find Joe Piscopo to be strangely engaging and I can’t explain why. Joe Walsh (not of the Eagles) was also a lot of fun until he screwed things up by running for President. I used to tune in to Hacker Radio on WBAI, and until I started getting to bed earlier, I’d make a point of hearing out Joe Frank’s 11pm spots on WNYC. I think they finally quit airing that. One obscurity is the Reverend Gary Beeler, who I heard when driving through central Tennessee in (I think) 2002. He delivered a sermon that made me pull the car over to the side of the road, it was so powerful. When I got back home, I wrote him a letter asking if he could send a cassette of the sermon from that day’s broadcast. He did. I play it back often.
I wish I could find copies of the Matt Drudge Radio Show. That was a favorite but I somehow never thought to record it, and evidently neither did anybody else. One abbreviated show on YT and that’s it.

PS: What are you up to these days, Mark?

Mark: I continue doing phone projects, relying on an Asterisk PBX that I finally got around to setting up and configuring. You can reach my IVR, for instance, at this number: 917-259-1163. I am also going to be connecting my piano practice room radio to a dedicated inbound phone number in the 917 area code.
I acquired 212-255-2748, a coveted phone number which used to be the primary number for the old Apology Line, and connected it to Payphone Radio.

Call To Hear The Calls

As Thomas mentioned, besides an Internet radio and his website, you can also listen to his payphone calls by using…wait for it…a telephone! Call 1-212-255-2748 and you’ll immediately be connected to the stream. Listening to phone calls from a phone…brilliant!

A vision in white. Photo from Ceci’s Instagram page.

Two Person Party Line

An interesting Payphone Radio phone number “bug” was revealed last month. If someone calls the number while another person is already connected and listening, the Payphone Radio stream ceases at once and the two people can talk to each other for up to an hour (if anyone else calls in during this time they will hear a busy signal)! This would make for a fascinating Internet radio station in itself…recorded conversations of random strangers talking on the phone. Thomas himself called in and ended up speaking with numerous Payphone Radio fans (mostly). He also had several prolonged conversations with a local gal named “Ceci” that led to a date and a potential lasting friendship. But wait, it gets better. It turned out Ceci was a burlesque stripper! Where did Thomas take her on their date? “I gave her the grand tour of midtown’s payphones”, he wrote on his YouTube posting, “handing her a stack of Payphone Radio cards [printed cards advertising the Payphone Radio phone number] for her to stuff into payphones on 5th Ave., at Grand Central, Macy’s, and the Port Authority/Times Square subway station. We also stuck cards into a number of LinkNYC kiosks.” And they say romance is dead. This all reminds me of the Bandits On The Run’s (a NY band, by the way) beautiful song, Love In The Underground.

Anticipating an adventure of my own, I gave the number repeated tries over the course of several days and hung on for about 10 minutes each time, but I didn’t get lucky. Perhaps if I had pulled the handle enough times on the payphone slot machine, I eventually would’ve gotten 3 cherries in a row.

Calling Andy Warhol

Thomas’ website is worth a browse for interesting payphone-related information. On it I found a phone number to a working payphone inside the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh that accepts incoming calls, a rarity for payphones. I tried calling the number numerous times on different days and times hoping someone, anyone, would pick up, but no one ever answered. I also sent them a few emails but never received any response. Obviously, they must be very busy over there at the museum.

Disappointed with my experiences, but not yet ready to hoist the white flag, I decided to try something else…calling the phone number to the Pawtucket, R.I. apartment I grew up in when I was a child. I remember we had an ugly, army green-colored rotary dial telephone in the living room, and a black one in my parent’s bedroom (I didn’t have my own phone until I was 22!). When I called the number, I got no answer. The phone just rang and rang. That made me think it must have been a land line because there was no voicemail greeting or a message that said the voicemail had not been setup. A Google search indicated the number was associated with a different Pawtucket address than the one I grew up at. They say you can never go home again. I guess the same is true when phoning home again. The white flag is now flying.

COVID has driven the last nail into the payphone’s coffin. You won’t find free, disposable antiseptic wipes at payphones, assuming you can even find a working payphone. It makes me all feel warm and fuzzy knowing payphones still flourish on The Payphone Radio Network, no antiseptic wipes or coins necessary. I suppose it’s about time I stop carrying around spare change in hopes of discovering a working payphone.

Trivia: The first public coin telephone was installed by inventor William Gray at a bank in Hartford, Conn in 1889.

PS: Check out my payphone pictures on the Recommended Stations/stationsguy Instagram page, and if you happen to know of any working payphones on MA’s south shore, please let me know where. I’ve got some spare change I’m dying to use.

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Thomas & Ceci on YouTube

Payphone-Project website

Payphone Radio Network’s Facebook page

Bandits On The Run

Lou Reed’s New York Telephone Conversation

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