I’m no longer in the Boston area anymore. I don’t miss a lot about it, but there is this one thing. A bunch of years back, we stumbled across WJIB (740 AM, Boston; “The Memories Station”) entirely by accident, and we were hooked. It’s like a portal through time to a simpler era. It’s too saccharine even for my mother, who described it as “like drowning in an ocean of syrup.”
But it’s great; the music is classic and timeless (up to a certain very specific point; probably cuts off right at New Year’s Eve, 1980), but the other thing that stood out was the canned interjections from the man who it quickly became clear was the station’s owner and sole DJ, Bob Bittner. The one that stands out in my mind is, “You’re listening to WJIB, the Memories Station. And you know those credit cards in your wallet? They’re snakes, out to swallow you whole.” Or something very much like that. He also solicits listener feedback by e-mail; care to guess? Correct: It’s an AOL address. Early adopt + set-and-forget.
I got the feeling, tuning in to WJIB over the years—always during daylight hours, since the signal disintegrates after dark, due to obscure vagaries of AM broadcast technology and regulations—that Mr. Bittner was a pretty interesting guy; maybe not someone I’d want to spend a long bus trip with, but certainly someone worth interviewing.
And the Boston Globe has just done that. I’d have liked to read more about him and the staion, but to be honest, knowing less about this guy and his life and world is fine. It’s nice to have mysteries and unknowns. In fact, it’s perfectly consistent with The Memories Station’s warm, soporific time-tunnel into a bygone age, when everyone didn’t immediately always know and share everything about everyone and everything all the time.
Here’s the WJIB website. Sadly, there’s no online audio component. (“‘Streaming’? Sure, hippie. It’s around back by the dumpster with the rest of your generation’s contributions.”) Also, color is clearly for crayons and tie-dye. If this guy could, he’d type up a damn website on his old Smith-Corona.
My favorite part, though, is the last paragraph; almost makes me wish I was back in Boston:
Perhaps WJIB’s most interesting show, the unique “Let’s Talk About Radio”, is broadcast every Sunday morning at 11:00. On the show, which began in 1995, Bittner and his guests chat about radio, television, license plates, phone books, and other common interests for half an hour.