Play it again, Sam

Image credit: julienslive.com
Image credit: julienslive.com

How many of you remember the “request line” on the radio? How many of you actually called in to make a song request – for your mother, your significant other or for your own listening pleasure?

It’s been 30 years since “We Are The World” debuted to audiences all over the world. Written and produced in 1985 as a vehicle to bring awareness to the plight of the people suffering from the effects of famine on the African continent and to raise money to help alleviate it, the song and the video made an impression on most of us.

Back then, none of our local cable companies existed and only a few people had satellite dishes, so the local television station with its “borrowed” feed was the only source allowing us to see it. We never knew when they would decide to show the video, and since it could happen without any warning, our TV’s were left on in a state of readiness for viewing.

When the first introductory bars with the horns sounded, we would run from wherever we were in the house to grab a seat in front of the television to sing our favourite line – just like the artist delivering it.

Because of the anniversary, I went looking for the USA for Africa video to be reminded, first of all, about the artists who had snagged the solo lines – and the others who nobody even remembers was there, like Dan Akroyd and Johnny Colla (who?). Second of all, I wanted to see how many of those people (or their careers) were still alive.

But the days of sitting around and waiting for your favourite song to come on the radio (or the television) are long gone. While MTV and VH1 still have their countdowns, they don’t quite have the same effect that Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 used to.

I admit to being one of those people who used to call in to the “request line” on the radio asking for my favourite song. I didn’t do it very often, but the first time I did I remember being surprised that the DJ didn’t immediately have my selection to hand – something I discovered when I was asked for my song selection off air, listened to him shuffle around for a bit and was then asked to repeat it on air after which the song would begin to play.

From Casablanca Image credit: nickpicksflicks.com
From Casablanca
Image credit: nickpicksflicks.com

Sometimes, when he couldn’t put his hand on the song quickly enough – since after all he did have other callers waiting – the DJ would substitute another song. Most times that song wasn’t appropriate or even nearly close to my choice, but he still asked me who the song was “going out for”. Well…anybody now.

Do radio stations even have a request line anymore? Because with my ability to listen to or view anything I want on demand these days, who needs a DJ to play a song that’s going out for… my own listening pleasure?

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Play it again, Sam

  1. Our local college station still plays requests, but it isn’t very common on the more corporate run stations. I never have made a request. Very interesting to read that it isn’t quite as instantaneous as it seems.

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