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Another Spin
A blog by Scott E. Shepherd · A continuing look at popular music, past, present and future.
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Celebrating the LP
Chicago station keeps vinyl dreams alive

Filed under: Opinion, Technology

Not everyone has the advantage of living in a city like Chicago, which means not everyone has the advantage of multiple radio stations. Here in Chicago, we have WDRV, or "the Drive." With a name like "the Drive" you might expect Top 40, but WDRV actually plays a strange blend of "oldies" and "classic rock." Some people may ask what the differece is - Herman's Hermits is oldies, Steppenwolf is classic rock.

But it's not the format that makes WDRV unique - there are several Chicago stations that play classic rock and oldies. What does make the Drive special is its DJs have an unrepentant love of the LP.

For those of you too young to remember, before CDs (yes, there was a time when CDs didn't exist!) the best way to enjoy music was the 12" vinyl LP. As I, like many my age continue to hold on to our outdated LPs, I realize how antiquated they've become in just twenty years. A colleague of mine once told me a story how he was listening to some LPs with his 10 year-old nephew. When the nephew heard a song he really liked he asked my friend, "How do you rewind it?"

The Drive and its staff know the LP is now obsolete, and of course they use modern CDs and mp3s for their format. But every once in a while, like today, the DJs are allowed to bring in LPs from their own personal stash and play full album sides. In some sense it makes a DJ's job easier - just plop down a record and relax for the next twenty minutes. On the other hand, it gives air play to a lot of songs that usually don't get it, and listeners a chance to hear more than the same old hits.

Yes you can still hear the occasional pop and hiss, but today, that's some of the lure of the old LPs, especially in the digitalized and sanitized world of modern music. Many audiophiles contest that music is still best heard on its original format, that the Beatles' and Rolling Stones old music loses something on CD. My ear is not trained well enough to notice the differences, but I still enjoy pulling out my old wax records every now and then. There's something more intimate about the old LP. Perhaps it's a bit of nostalgia too.

If you too have a soft spot for the LP and you are lucky enough to have a station like the Drive where you live, support it, and keep the vinyl dreams alive. Long live the LP.

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