Local radio ignores older listeners

One Sunday afternoon this past fall, I attended a wonderful concert at the Mendelssohn Club here in Rockford. Featured was the city’s oldest dance band, the Bill Engberg Orchestra. For three hours, the audience thoroughly enjoyed big band standards sung by Ken Flodin, Harriet Ford, and a men’s glee club called “The Connection.” The band played one great song after another like “Take the A Train” and “Moonlight Serenade.” Flodin was coaxed into singing his signature tune, “Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long.”

There are other great performers in this city like Dorothy Paige-Turner and accordionist Mike Alongi. They do music that many people would also enjoy hearing.

Yes, these are old songs, but they have stood the test of time. People will still be singing them long after today’s music is finally buried at the bottom of a landfill, where most of it belongs.

My questions to area broadcasters are: Why does every station in this city play music just for young people or yuppies? Why isn’t there one station, or at least one program that features music that an older audience or those tired of all the junk on local radio can enjoy? There are older people living in this city, too. Their listening choices are limited to boring talk shows or syndicated programs off a satellite dish that pretend to be local but are not. In addition, most of NIU’s programming sounds like a 24-hour funeral. Young people in this city are actually robbed of hearing decent music because all they hear is the junk that is broadcast 24 hours a day.

People want to hear good music. There needs to be at least one local station or radio program that features pianists, singers who perform words that the average person can hear and understand, and quality-sounding orchestras. I have spoken with ballroom dance instructors, and they tell me that the average age of their students is 35. School bands consider it an art to play big band music and fine orchestra selections, and kids are eager to learn this musical form. Older people do have money to spend and patronize stores, banks and car lots. So why are they being ignored by Rockford’s broadcasters? Area newspapers are busy promoting every other kind of musical performances in this city, except for what an older person or someone with decent taste would enjoy.

Good music is certainly absent from the Rockford radio dial. It is such a shame, as people are missing out on the type of quality entertainment that I heard that afternoon at the Mendelssohn Club. A handful of broadcast executives control all of the stations and dictate all of the programming. I’m turning off my radio in this city until something worth listening to comes on.

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