I owe my career in broadcasting to an event that took place on June 30, 1948. That was the day Bell Laboratories demonstrated the first transistor radio prototype.
Until that moment, radios were big and bulky, with vacuum tubes and transformers. But now, the door was about to open, thanks to the subsequent invention of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the 9-volt battery, to a world in which a generation of Baby Booming youngsters could carry their inspiration, motivation and proclamations of emancipation around in their pockets!
By the time I happened along, nine years later, hundreds of thousands of transistor radios were blasting Rock ‘n’ Roll everywhere. I took mine to school, out to play and later, to bed.
My allowance was spent on the 45s I heard on it the day before and on an ample supply of those 9-volt batteries. Remember how you would test their potency by touching your tongue to its silver terminals? Tingle = good.
I can’t begin to calculate the sheer number of transistor radios, batteries and earpieces I’ve owned over the years. I did, however, wonder why they never invented a kid-proof antenna. That was inevitably the first part to go.
Sure, my transistor radio would let me listen-in on the local New York City stations, but from under my pillow at night it would reach out in the darkness for signals from faraway lands like Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago and others. The music was mostly the same, but there was also an element of strange magic to it; just knowing it was bridging a great distance to find me. I later found out, that was called “static.”
Me and my transistor radio, we were inseparable.
Then came another cataclysm of technology and the once-mighty transistor radio became extinct. My empty pocket lamented the passing of the noble beast. But what always lay underneath, my heart, carries its legacy with each broadcast day of a career inspired by its miniaturized, monaural messages.
And now we’ve come full circle. It may not be a transistor radio I’m sporting, but I am once again carrying around its spirit in my pocket, thanks to the radio streaming APPs on my smart phone. In all honesty, I think of it more as a “smart radio” with phone APPs.
And every once in a while, I can still taste that tingle.