A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to Warmland

We first met some 30 years ago. I was a youngster just getting my feet wet in my chosen profession. Every morning while I headed into work we would spend the drive together. I learned a lot. The things I was taught just by listening lasted me a lifetime. I was a country boy in the wilds of Vermont. This was a big city powerhouse that just reeked of professionalism. This was my first job right out of college. If I recall correctly I was paid the princely sum of $85 a week. I know that I worked far more than 40 hours back then so my hourly rate was probably well under $2. But my new friend made me sure that better times could be at hand. I thought to myself as I listened and learned that someday, maybe someday I would be good enough to be on the air at WARM.
Because, you see, WARM was legendary in those days. Hundreds of miles and several states away I heard the booming signal of 590 in my crappy car as I headed to my crappy low paying on air gig. I am going to use a radio term. WARM came into Springfield Vermont like a “Local.” It was one of those huge flamethrower radio signals that blanketed the country. For various reasons we will never see it’s like again. But more than just a huge coverage area WARM was, for a radio guy, the ultimate in professionalism. Listening in the small farm community in Vermont I learned what big time slick radio sounded like. It seemed that WARM did everything right. The news was crisp and authoritative. The music was spot on. The disc jockeys sounded, well, they sounded warm. Friendly and funny and like you had a friend in your car. It was something to aspire to.
A few years later I moved to this place. I would like to say it was to work at the legend. Instead it was my mission to put the legend out to pasture. The station I put on the air in 1980 knocked WARM out of first place in very short order but truth be told the wheels had already started to come off. FM was eating AM’s lunch. I was just in the right place at the right time. Not that it wasn’t heady stuff at the time. WARM was on life support by the end of the 80’s and if it was a horse it would have been shot by the new millennium. And now it’s gone. Not worth fixing say the fat cat owners who pulled the plug. Another radio term. WARM is now “dark.” Kind of says it all.