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September 19, 2021

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Ever hear of CKLW AM?

We couldn’t wait for a new song to be played on the radio for the first time and then waited patiently for it to show up on a jukebox three weeks later at the Pine Restaurant or Luginbuhl’s.

This is a portion of an essay by Rudi Steiner published in Bluffton Anthology. For more information about the book click here.

By the late 1950s CKLW-AM 800 (Detroit/Windsor) began developing the Top 40’s programming format that it became famous for in the 1960s. CKLW AM, a Mutual Broadcasting System affiliate, was loud and slick.

Its catchy jingles, 30-second spots and witty commercials were exactly what Bluffton and Midwestern teens wanted to hear. On summer afternoons at the Bluffton swimming pool most transistors radios were tuned to CKLW’s Ron Knowles or Robin Seymour. Night-time radio was a different world.

The AM air waves came alive with radio skips bombarding the Midwest and Bluffton like falling stars.

Our world was opened up to places few of us had ever been. That doorway to the other world was KDKA Pittsburgh, WLS Chicago, WBZ Boston, WABC New York City, and KYW South Philadelphia home of Chubby Checkers, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Dick Clark and American Bandstand.

Listening to night-time radio required an understanding of the law of physics and meteorology.The FCC required most AM stations to reduce their power at sunset so the radio signals didn’t interfere with one another.

At sunset when the “generator was kicked” and if the weather conditions were just right the AM radio signals were so clear we could almost see the lights on Broadway.

From the street corners of New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia we listened to the Italian-American doo wop groups. New to us in 1956 were the integrated groups, Johnny Mastrangelo and the Crests, Norman Fox and the Rob-Roys and the Del-Vikings.

Also emerging from the east coast were the girl groups, the Chantells, the Poni-tails and the Bobbettes.

We couldn’t wait for a new song to be played on the radio for the first time and then waited patiently for it to show up on a jukebox three weeks later at the Pine Restaurant or Luginbuhl’s.

This is a sample of the content of "Bluffton Anthology - A creek runs through it." Copies are now available for $24.95 plus tax in Bluffton at:
• Roots by Strattons
• The Food Store
• The Black Lab
• Bluffton Senior Citizens Center
• The Dough Hook
• Polished
• In Ada at The Inn at ONU

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