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Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: iPhone and apps make me go gaga over radio

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions

Note: I have PLENTY of thoughts about the Jackie Robinson West story and shared some with you weeks ago in a front page column on Evergreeen Park coach Chris Janes that I did. Since Bob Rakow and Ray Hanania are writing about the issue on Page 6, I will run this column, which I had in the hopper for a few weeks, that is not close to being as relevant as the Robinson columns, but hopefully a nice diversion:

Thanks to my iPhone, I have become a radio geek.

I’ve always kind of liked radio anyway and always got a kick out of hearing different radio stations whenever I would travel to other areas.

But now it’s getting out of hand.

Thanks to my iPhone and several free apps, including TuneIn Radio, RadiOn various specialty stations from Mad Calf Apps and about four or five others, I can get stations from all over the world.

Over the past year or so, I’ve listened to Venice Classic Radio Italia, GrrrRadio1, Gabba Gabba Radio (All Ramones All the Time), KROQ out of California and even a channel that has Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park police calls.

On Thanksgiving morning, I peeled potatoes to the programming of a station in Dublin and when I was tired of that, I switched to a station in Switzerland that played a bunch of cool new wave 80s songs.

Before football season started, I loaded up on stations in Illinois that covered high school football. There are not a lot of stations in the Chicago area that cover high school sports but once you get to the other side of I-80, look out. Many of them have announcers who are abysmal or boring. But there are times when I landed on a game featuring two teams I never gave any thought to and stayed on it for a while because the announcers were interesting, told a few stories and had a nice pace to the call of the game.

TuneIn Radio also breaks down sporting events such as college basketball, so that you just hit a button and you could listen to a University of Kentucky game or a Kent State-Central Michigan battle. While listening to mid-Division I basketball may not sound like a ton of fun, every once in a while I’ll hear the name of a plyer or two whom I covered when they played high school ball here.

A few weeks ago, I listened to WCBS in New York – the Big Apple’s version of WBBM-AM in Chicago. On a Monday night, I drove home from work and worried announcers were warning that streets and subway stations were closing throughout NYC in anticipation of the worst snowstorm in the city’s history.

The next morning, I drove to work listening to relieved announcers talking about how the storm missed Gotham and played sound bites of people griping about how the city shouldn’t have been shut down and from city and state bosses saying they did the right thing with the information they had at the time.

Good stuff.

There is also a station from France – Jolio’s Party Radio.

One of the things I dislike about oldies radio stations is they play the most popular tunes of the decade and it gets a bit boring.

This Jolio station plays not only obscure songs from the 50s but obscure artists tearing through rockabilly, jump-, western swing, doo wop and surf music.

 I thought I knew a bunch of seldom-heard artists but just last week, the DJ on this station strung together  Jackie Lee, Benny Joy, the Maddox, the Chimes, Hardrock Gunter, Jimmy Crain, Katmen,  Tibby Edwards and Ray Melton before they got to someone I heard of – Warren Smith. I know Smith for “Ubangi Stomp” but Jolio played “So Long, I’m Gone,” which I wasn’t really familiar with.

That’s a lot of “who’s that?” right there. A few songs later, the station returned to Hardrock Gunter and this song was called “The Right Key But the Wrong Key Hole” which I’m sure was pretty provocative back in the day.

So thanks to those geeks who are making technology what it is today, it’s helped turn me into a real radio geek.