Cozy and Comfy

Six Christmases away from Quarropas and I’ve just learned what had been the area’s “local radio station” has now become an on-dial sports talk destination. As if WFAN and the New York Metropolitan ESPN radio conduit insufficiently failed capturing bar stool jocks.

The transformed station retains the call letters I grew up with.

I wonder if the station’s new format offers mixtures of local sports blag with canned national content stirred in. Or has ownership laid out for 24-hour local yakkers interspersed with live pro sports and major college events?

Forget the pro franchises and Notre Dame. Smart local collegiate programs whose alums populate the region would love inroads into that part of suburbia. Talk about natural audiences. These days, they’d be possible “commuter contributors.” Their schools’ games too insignificant for cable channels, radio would be just right for otherwise neglected alums north of the Bronx, west of the Palisades, and Southwestern Connecticut.

Fans of teams who won’t appear on TV until winning their conference championships, earning that sole low-seed invite to March Madness are just the sort who’d lend ears when they couldn’t attend games in the area’s snug home court gyms.

Growing up in Quarropas, before it morphed into an adjunct of Gotham, that station faithfully broadcast our high school football games. I can’t believe those audiences were huge, but I know listeners must’ve been attentive because not every player’s parents, relatives, friends had Saturday afternoons free.

Alive then, our parents were working people. Outside of Sundays they made a dollar when offered. And if their son played, if their child performed in the school band, or she cheered, they tuned in and distance aside connected.

Although no star among our high school sports hero firmament, one notable athletic achievement actually earned me interview subject airtime. My interviewer such a familiar voice I didn’t suffer any jitters or brain cramps while speaking into the microphone. Perhaps at that age, knowing my answers being beamed to possible multitudes, it all might’ve been intimidating had a stranger queried me instead.

Trifling as that interview ultimately might’ve been, my folks as well as peers listened. That mother and father could each honestly state “I heard you on the radio. You sounded good.” gratified this interviewee to no end.

Perhaps America needs more local radio stations broadcasting its children’s events and subsequent comments to let them know they’re being heard. Being listened to does wonders towards establishing character.

Anyway, when the local spot in the dial wasn’t relating our exploits, it kept us abreast of the quotidian. Lousy traffic snarls certainly, but also school delays or closures during wintertime. I suppose being informed through human voice – as well as the suspense – has gone by the boards since the predominance of texting and social media.

Yet wasn’t it grand hearing weather had delayed or postponed that morning’s classes or whole day’s session? Some of us must’ve resembled anxious French resistance fighters huddled around wirelesses waiting for coded messages from London while waiting and anticipating school closures.

For the most part radio sponsors comprised businesses we patronized, staffed by people we knew. Back then when Quarropas only served as a New York City bedroom community shoppers found a kind of assurance in Genug’s or Winnick’s that area national retailers couldn’t extend.

Until its last day of operation, mother preferred searching Genug’s aisles than those of the bigger stores. And didn’t I attend school with a Winnick boy, one who spent his summers clerking behind the family store’s counter?

There’s much to be said about the familiar. It reassures.

Initially the radio station broadcast from the one-time Behriont Hotel, then Quarropas’ largest. It was a dowager as far as hostelries went. A couple of guys I attended high school hopped as bellboys there. Converted into residences now, the blocky structure loomed above our compact city skyline. Somewhere inside that pile, past the doormen, lobby, and front desk, radio studios.

While there isn’t much I regret about what relocation to Las Vegas left behind in Quarropas, this distinction still stirs me: on Christmas Days our former local voice dedicated its playlist entirely to carols and these presented commercial free. Such programming served as ambient background to plenty of visiting and being visited on Christmas Day.

Not just the traditional sacred songs but contemporary tunes as well. Even now while The First Nöel does wonders for setting the season’s underlying spiritual mood, doesn’t the hopping and bopping of Sleigh Ride, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and Jingle Bell Rock among many other less reverent holiday melodies give Yuletide a bounce?

For the uninformed the Ronettes, Brenda Lee, and Bobby Helms, respectively, sang the above titles.

Only the first Andy Williams Christmas Album – a platter which without a doubt spun ceaselessly on home stereos throughout Quarropas – played on a loop could’ve provided more aural comfort and pleasure on the conveyor of good tidings issued across the ether. On Christmas Day, whose homes didn’t burst with melodic warmth and joy?

Most of those celebrants are long gone. The structures we once occupied razed or renovated into indistinguishable addresses. Only memories remain. Summoned again through carols the past’s vibrancy is briefly restored.


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