By Tom Eastman
SUMMERTIME, AND THE LIVING is finally green and sunny, and perhaps getting easier here in the blooming Valley of Big George W, also known as Agiocochook to Native Americans.
Topping the agenda today is a big Happy 5-0 to our friends at Mt. Washington Radio, as they are celebrating 50 years of the local FM radio station, 93.5 FM, as Skip and Joan Sherman — who had bought WBNC, the AM station in 1959, started the FM station on that frequency in 1967.
In the early days, WBNC used to go off the air at sundown. Eventually, with the FM station, things evolved.
To celebrate today' anniversary, Greg and Ron Frizzell and crew are inviting the community of longtime listeners to stop by the studios above Brandli's at Settlers Green today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to say hello and share memories on air, as they will be broadcasting those stories.
They will also have a few photographic displays for all to enjoy, showing captured scenes and radio personalities from over the years.
"We're hoping people will stop by and say hello," said Vice President Lucia Seavey when we spoke Thursday.
She said as a special treat, some old radio ads from the 1990s will be played, as they have been able to round up some old tape "carts," including a few from longtime listener Russ Lanoie, who was able to store some of those old station tapes when the station moved from the old farmhouse on East Main Street to its present location at Settlers Green in 2002.
I didn't know that Russ had those tapes, but coincidentally when I ran into Russ the other day at my community garden plot at his house, I happened to mention what the station planned to do today for the anniversary. This prompted him to tell me about how his son Peter used to work at the station as a junior engineer to former station engineer Charlie Osgood. In addition, Russ had a long relationship with the Shermans, taking care of the property.
"When the Frizzells bought the station and later moved it to Settlers Green, Charlie needed a place to store a bunch of stuff, so we brought it all here," Russ said.
Some of those gems include a few taped broadcasts made by Skip Sherman, including his radio tribute to late ski school and ski shop pioneer Carroll P. Reed (1912-1995), which related tales of how the Reeds befriended the Shermans when they first bought the station in 1959 and became loyal advertisers of WBNC-AM.
Given the anniversary, I placed a call Thursday to Skip, 90, and he shared some of his memories of the station's beginnings.
As Morning Show host Roy 'the Skiing DJ" Prescott often mentions, it was Skip who always taught aspiring DJs to speak as though they were neighbors "chatting across the kitchen table" and not to shout out at them the way so many cookie-cutter radio stations of today do. That had always been one of the nice hallmarks of listening to the station, whether WBNC or its FM counterpart which has been known by its WMWV call letters since the late 1970s.
Unfortunately, there isn't space in today's column to share all that Skip shared with me, but it was a pleasure to hear his smooth voice again on the phone receiver — that same cool and calm voice that we have all come to know and love over the years.
I always specially enjoyed hearing his "Sunday Morning Breakfast Show," with Skip regaling and educating listeners about jazz and big band classics. I know I am not alone in that regard.
Rather than steal his thunder here in print, I urge one and all to tune in to 93.5-FM at about 10 a.m. Friday to hear Skip, as that's when Lucia says he is expected to be at the station to join program manager Mark Johnson and others at the mic.
Brother Dave "Country Ecology" Eastman may phone in a few comments, and George "Mountain Mouth" Cleveland, Peter "PG" Case, Mike Edwards and who knows who else are also expected to either phone in or drop by.
Thanks to Skip, Joanie, the late Fred Gardella, the Frizzells and all of the great personalities who have made WMWV the unique station it is. It's still "Music Without Boundaries," and that's the way we like it.
IN OTHER HAPPY BIRTHDAYS, we salute all, including: Rachel Damon and Steve Miller (June 24); Janice Brotherton, Lisa Rhinebold and the Snowvillage Inn's Jen Kovach (all June 25); hockey playing chef Doug Gibson (June 26); Dennis Coughlin, sister Susie Eastman Walton and Spruce Hurricane (June 27); Paul Costello, Sun scribe and good guy Lloyd Jones, state Rep. Gene Chandler and Victoria Noel (all June 28); and Charlie Osgood, now of Washington State (June 29).
BLUES WRAP: Many locals (including yours truly) headed over to the annual Maine Blues Fest in Naples last weekend, and it was also a stellar crowd at the Red Parka Pub for the James Montgomery-Bruce Marshall show Sunday afternoon and evening. A highlight was having former valley resident "Milwaukee Mike" Rocheleau back in town from Wassau, Wisc., joining James and Bruce onstage for a harmonica duet with James. Mike is the former former tennis pro at Cranmore and he wowed the crowd with his harp skills.
In other local news, Bob Wentworth and his friendly beachin' Route 302 West staff hosted their seventh annual Summerfest bash June 21 for the solstice, with sand-on-the-dance floor music by the Smokehouse Boys. McGrath's, meanwhile, had its annual Toga Party Thursday night — there's always something happening at McGrath's.
NICE TRIBUTE: Author/history enthusiast Mj Pettengill of North Sandwich reports that more than 75 people attended the paupers' grave ceremony in Ossipee near the old Ossipee Courthouse last Saturday. The new memorial was dedicated with music performed. The cemetery effort was the focus of a recent story we ran in the paper. "The placing of flowers on the graves as a community was very powerful," said Mj.
THAT'S ALL THAT fits this week. Have a great weekend as the best of summer comes into full bloom.