Over the years, I've blogged about my love for the old days of NYC radio. Heck, I realize I've blogged enough about it that I could create a whole separate blog about it all on its own! (Don't worry, I won't).
So talking about old NYC radio, I should note that this past January of 2023, one of the longest running show in NYC radio history came to an end: "Woody's Children" hosted by Bob Sherman.
Bob Sherman is an NYC radio legend, having worked at classical music station WQXR for more than 50 years. He's hosted shows like "The Listening Room" and "Young Artists Showcase" and others. At the age of 90, he's still working. His longevity is amazing.
"Woody's Children" was something different -- an American folk music show who's name was inspired by Woody Guthrie. "Woody's Children" debuted in 1969 on WQXR and ran there until 1999 when Bob Sherman moved it to WFUV. Sherman played every kind of folk music during those decades and interviewed everyone, including Pete Seeger (his first guest ever). Due to his age and other commitments, Bob has ended the show but what an incredible run!
I remember I used to listen to "Woody's Children" every so often when I was a kid. It used to be on Saturday nights at 7 PM. It was the first place where I ever heard "Alice's Restaurant". I can't say that I'm a huge folk music fan but I clearly remember this moment as being transformative for me -- where music could be funny and thoughtful, where a song could be a story unto itself. So thanks Bob Sherman, congrats on an historic achievement with "Woody's Children."
For some reason, at the same time I saw that "Woody's Children" was ending, I was remembering the weeknight radio show from my youth that used to air on Z100: "Love Phones" with Dr Judy.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, before the Internet and social media, call-in radio shows like this were very popular. They were, in a way, the original social media. And call-in shows about sex and relationships, airing after 10 PM in "safe harbor", where the hosts and callers would have explicit conversations, were especially popular, really being a kind of audio porn. The most popular, and longest running, was called "Lovelines" but, for whatever reason, it didn't air in NYC in the 1990s (it did, briefly, circa 2001-2003 on the ill-fated WNEW talk format).
"Love Phones" was the NYC-centric version of this show. Horny young people would call in with their weird sex experiences and questions, and Dr Judy would give wacky advice like suggesting that men write letters to their penises. They would have guests in the studio sometimes, many of whom didn't seem understand what kind of show they were on. I clearly remember one time a British guest was on and he was asked if he liked women making a lot of noise during lovemaking. His answer was rather odd: "Naw, I like 'em ratha' quiet." Eww. Anyway, this was, for that time, outrageous stuff although, by today's standards, quite tame and lame. But it was a moment in time where the exhibitionism that we see so much of in today's society was beginning to take off.
So, in remembering this show, it's easy to see today that "Love Phones" is both an artifact of its time, the kind of show that no longer exists, but also prelude of what was to ... come.