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Searching for that Summer Sound in the Sand

Dave Randall

Posted on June 4, 2018 21:42

2 users

Music and sports have always accompanied a day at the beach. Today, the roar of the surf is the loudest sound once more. Here's why...

Once grads have spun their motor boards in the air, and Dad has had his day, the penultimate special moments for Americans from coast to coast happen in one kind of place. Aside from pools, water parks and fire hydrants, mercifully opened for city kids of little means or recourse, fun's found at the water's edge.

In the East, it's called the shore. West coasters go to the beach. In the middle, it's lakes and river banks where relaxation, relief from the heat and the spirit of summer is sought.

The laughter of people at play and the crashing of waves was the sound of a summer at the beach until the transistor radio made music and sports, specifically Top-40 and baseball, ubiquitous. It sounds hyperbolic, but the same story is told by too many unrelated sources for it not to be true.

On the beaches of L.A. in the mid to late 1960s, you could walk the sand from pier to pier and hear Boss Radio, 93 KHJ, pumping out Beatles, Motown, The Stones, Mamas and Papas. On Sundays, Vin Scully's fine tenor could be heard on KFI, describing Sandy Koufax's curve ball, mystifying the National League.

It wasn't just a So Cal phenomenon. Three thousand miles east, on Long Island, the Jersey Shore and everywhere off the Hudson or East Rivers, miles could be walked without missing a single song on 77 WABC, and hearing the great Dan Ingram cup his microphone and rumble, "Roll … your … bod," a humorous warning to anyone getting too crispy in the tri-state sun. On Sundays, like L.A., baseball would also fill the air. Mets and Yankees games would break up the music.

The single station beach dominance waned in the '70s and '80s when formats broke off, and there were varying musical niches to choose from. But music and the beach remained intertwined in our most desired summer fantasies. That's more or less true today. But as you walk the sand, the roar of the surf is louder than it's been since before the transistor. 

This is the reason: when the iPod was introduced, with its ear buds and ability to store all the music you ever loved or were moved by, the "music at the beach" experience became interior. Through the Nano, the iPhone, the Android, it's remained that way, unless a family sees fit to plug in speakers. No radio stations, no jingles or jocks, and the baseball's accessed, video and audio, on the smartphone.

Before Vin Scully retired, I spent a few summer Sundays at a beach in Ventura, California, cranking a Dodger game out of a transistor replica, re-imagining a time gone by. Other than the surf, it was the only sound on the beach besides the laughter of children. I listened and let the memory burn in. We've seen summer days and nights become a less communal experience, and our pastimes evolve, once more — save the crash of those waves.

Dave Randall

Posted on June 4, 2018 21:42

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Source: WESH
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