That ’70s song, Vol. 1

The world opened up to me at Christmas 1969, when I received this:

It is an AM-FM radio. A Panasonic RF-930, to be precise. I still have it. It doesn’t get used much anymore — just the occasional Packers game with the TV sound off — but it still works just fine.

I took that radio home — we’d had Christmas at my grandparents’ house — and put it on top of my filing cabinet. (Why does a 12-year-old kid have a four-drawer filing cabinet? For baseball cards and sports magazines, of course.) There it stayed for the entire decade of the ’70s.

When I got that radio, I listened to WOKY, the Mighty 92. It was a Top 40 AM powerhouse out of Milwaukee.

So begins a series on songs I heard on that radio, first on AM, then on FM. during a decade that began with me in seventh grade and ended with me graduating from college. This may take a while.

“Heaven Knows,” the Grass Roots, 1969, from “Their 16 Greatest Hits,” 1971. It’s out of print. It’s one of the cuts on “The Best of the Grass Roots: The Millenium Collection,” a compilation CD.

“Heaven Knows” was on its way out of the Top 40 this week in January 1970, just as I started using that new radio. It was the last of four Grass Roots singles to chart in 1969, following “Lovin’ Things,” “The River Is Wide” and the great “I’d Wait a Million Years.”

I saw the Grass Roots at a county fair last summer. It was the best show I saw all year. They have a few gigs scheduled this year. If they’re near you, go see ’em. It’s a real blast from the past.

4 Comments

Filed under January 2010, Sounds

4 responses to “That ’70s song, Vol. 1

  1. Ron Pfeifer

    Loved the Grass Roots! Great group! I had a transistor when I was 14 — a big deal then. I know what you feel when you look at that great radio…

  2. This promises to be an amazing series of posts, Jeff. I’m looking forward to see where this musical trip leads.

  3. Yah Shure

    Great post! I still have my dust-covered RF-930, too (and can’t believe how heavy it is.) When I unearthed it a few years back, it was still tuned to 930. I hadn’t used it since 1985, while working at WKY/Oklahoma City.

    The “MPX out” multiplex stereo jack on the left side of the radio really intrigued me. Just plugging in ordinary stereo headphones or a patch cord did nothing, so I ordered Panasonic’s optional black and silver stereo headphones, made for this radio. They’re long gone now, but had individual volume knobs on each earpiece and operated with (I think) four AA batteries in the headband. The headphones were neither fashionable nor great performers, but the end result was portable multiplex FM stereo, which seemed unbelievably cool and a big deal to me back in 1970.

    You can’t go wrong with the ‘Roots. The customized KDWB and WDGY call-letter intros to “Sooner Or Later” that I’d once heard over that wonderful RF-930 remain stenciled in my memory.

  4. Dane

    My dad had a similar radio. The sight of yours reminds me of webbed lawn chairs, the sound of crickets accompanying the radio’s playing the games of the Big Red Machine (Dad was a huge Reds fan) or during the daytime, Dad washing the car and my cleaning the garage to the sounds of ’60s and ’70s pop coming from it.

    I saw the Grass Roots in the late ’80s, when they opened for the Monkees. They were great.

    I like this series already.

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