Pandora And Satellite Radio Can’t Do This…Siriusly
Interaction. It is perhaps the glue that holds most of the magic this medium called radio has...even in a day when Pandora, Sirius/XM and even your iPod clamor for your listening attention. Heck, millions even go to video site YouTube to "listen" to some of their favorite music. But none of those services or music apps can provide interaction for you the listener, or me the host.
For fans of radio, nothing established a one-on-one connection between listeners and hosts like the request line. Then came the fax. Then the email. Then the social networking. And while this technology helps connect us neighbors, the same technology opens doors that are just as special. Such was the case when I opened an email on June 21st from Kimberly Gretton. Kim lives in Boston. Her folks, Bob and Teresa Gretton of the Washington D.C. area, had just celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary. As a gift, Kimberly wanted to send her folks to see the Beach Boys, their favorite band, and staple of their courtship and happy lives together. Kim tried to get tickets for the nearest venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion, but it sold out quickly. So, the next-closest show was at Farm Bureau Live in Virginia Beach on July 3rd. Roadtrip! Kimberly meanwhile, randomly sent out a mass email to every jock at every station in town, looking for a proverbial "cherry on top." Perhaps one of the DJs could somehow arrange a backstage meeting or a shoutout from the stage...something to cap off a month of anniversary celebrations for the Grettons. One jock responded...that would be me.
To date, Kimberly and I have exchanged 29 emails outlining everything from the giddyness these two had about the trip to the fact that her folks are professional clowns. No, really. They have made children and families smile for a lifetime. In addition, when out of costume, Bob actually looks a lot like Mike Love of the Beach Boys (see photo below). I contacted Dee Larion of Live Nation at Farm Bureau Live, and she was awesome in getting the word to Beach Boys management. After about the 14th email, I was really starting to get into the whole spirit of the thing. The gesture from a daughter was so sweet, and the added attention she gave to make the beach trip in their 'Little Duece Coup" as special as possible reminded me how important it is to do so while they are still here. Having lost both of my parents in the last five years, I silently wished I still had the opportunity to do sweet things for my mom and dad.
Well, in the end, sadly, despite the efforts and tons of correspondence, the shout-out never came from Dennis, or Al, or Mike. But did that diminish the magic? Hardly. As it happened, the story came full circle when I opened my email this morning, only to find a nice note from Kimberly's mom, Teresa. I'd love to share her perspective with you.
I am Kimberly Gretton's mother, Teresa. I have been following your emails that Kim has sent me regarding the planning she did for our anniversary. As if the concert were not enough, she tried to get more. God bless her. But then I understand that you did more too! Thank you so much. That was sweet of you to try so hard to make our evening even more special than it already was. The concert: It was spectacular! They may have aged (as we all do) but their voices have not changed. I kept a very close eye on all of them as they sang. The music, the arrangements, the total package was fabulous. It truly did bring us back to our teens (if that is possible to imagine!). I'd like to share with you three things, one involving your radio crew:
1. Prior to the concert, we found a nearby shopping center (Landstowne Commons?) where an Irish pub caught our eyes (Finn McCool Fishhouse). We noticed one of your vans parked in front and it brought notice to us because of the name BOB on it (since my husband's name is Bob). We went inside and sat down, ordered, and while waiting for our food, a DJ's voice came over the microphone that 2 tickets would be given away within an hour so two lucky people could go to the concert. We didn't think much of it other than the realization that we already had tickets and we would be going. We left and upon arriving again we see another identical van setting up a tent outside the gate. We remarked that the van was the same at the restaurant. The incidence, however, is still ironic to me that you are the one station/one radio personality that responded to my daughter's request. Thank you so much for that.
2. The second amazing thing was finding a parking place (handicapped accessible) next to the fence which separated the parking lot from the arena / stage. We had a pre-concert pleasure of hearing them do sound checks and practice some of the songs. It was like an insider/VIP opportunity. Couldn't see a thing but heard everything.
3. The third super thing was the concert itself, of course! BUT it was the time when the audience began to join in on the songs. It was like Woodstock all over again (and no, we never participated in that experience!) as when I turned and looked all over the arena to the huge number of people, like us, standing, singing wildly, and clapping to all the favorites "Help Me Rhonda," "Little Surfer Girl," "California Girls," etc. The avg age of the audience was probably 55 to 65. (Who says we "older folks" can't be young again?) We truly did relive our teens again thanks to the Beach Boys... We actually left sweating to death as the temp was already near 100 degrees, but it was worth every second.
You mentioned so much in a little bit of time through your emails. Enough for me to realize your beautiful love for your parents even though they are no longer here. Your sensitive understanding of us "older folks." While we heard nothing from the "Boys" about our anniversary, I certainly understand the importance as a performer to deter such announcements as others feel left out. But the extra attention you paid to our daughter's request was very special and meant just as much to us as if they had said something. The concert was so special and we are still playing our Ipad with all the oldies but goodies. I go back and see them again and again. Do me a favor, please! Play one for us if you so desire..."Help Me Rhonda" is a song we played for many many years as we entered our favorite summer beach resort, Wildwood By the Sea in Wildwood, NJ, with the whole family in the car singing as loud as we could with music blasting away. If there is any way to hear this at any given time, please let me know.
Take care, Eric, and the very best to you in all you do.
A proud and happy mother singing and dancing to rock and roll,
Music. The ultimate connection. It links us all. It keeps us young. And while a large volume of tunes you hear on the radio are nostalgic, I hope that we all can maintain the spirit the Grettons carry with them. They obviously shared it with their children and continue to with thousands of others. And though we never met, we made a connection as it was supposed to be. Even down to hearing Holly Williams and seeing the Bob crew at one of our best advertisers, Finn McCool's. Just really cool...right on down to the soundcheck. And radio made it all possible. And we are still playing "Help Me Rhonda."
Lemme go find that tune...
|Thursday||12/12/13||5:30PM||Winter Meltdown Show||The Ted Constant Center|
|Tuesday||12/31/13||10:30PM||Gin Blossoms||Virginia Beach Town Center|
|Friday||02/28/14||7:00PM||Imagine Dragons w/ Naked and Famous||The Ted Constant Center|
|Saturday||03/08/14||8:00PM||Natalie Merchant||Ferguson Center for the Arts|
|Saturday||06/21/13||6:45PM||Journey, Steve Miller Band, & Tower of Power||Farm Bureau LIve in VB|