Welcome to the Nostalgic Ramber

Hans Jeff Borger is heard on WRGE 97.9 FM in Ocala, FL featuring Christian programming.

"The Nostalgic Rambler" radio show previously heard on Gene Martin & Friends has been suspended due to my commitments at WRGE.

Why a blog? I wrote a book "The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood" which should appeal to most baby boomers. A mass market book? Well, not yet...but the potential is there! (Be sure to buy it at "finer on line bookstores" everywhere!)

The comments presented in "The Nostalgic Rambler" probably won't be of interest to the masses...anymore. If grandma and grandpa and their friends were still alive, then it would be a different story.

I live in the past. My time warp is a comfortable cocoon even if it sometimes drives my wife crazy. The music of the 1940s and 50s, the stars of those days were big stuff in their day, but are now almost forgotten. Oddly enough, I was born in '64 so those iconic years were for the most part over by that time.

Through "The Nostalgic Rambler" I maybe can help share my love and knowledge for those times and things...all at one time important pieces of Americana but now a bit faded in memory.

The woman who did the blog about cooking all of Julia Childs' French Cuisine Cookbook in a year got a sweet movie deal out of her blog experience. I wouldn't mind that but would be happy to know that you are reading this....and maybe enjoying my time warp, too.

Hans Jeff Borger

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Where have the booming voices gone?

When I was growing up I recall powerful voices on the radio and television. They were called "announcers" and I found it fascinating that these guys could get a job basically for just talking! Back in the 1940s and 50s Don Wilson was the role model on Jack Benny's shows.

Back in the 1970s Ma would turn on her am radio to WXYZ in Detroit and we would listen to Paul Harvey. His distinctive powerful voice really had a commanding presence. I guess the nation agreed as his syndicated radio news and commentary lasted until his death not too long ago.

TV shows seemed to all have powerful voices introducing them. I'll bet if you grew up in the 60s or 70s you can still hear in your mind "This is the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" or envision the collage of Disney classics followed by the announcer at the highpoint proclaiming "The Wonderful World of Disney!" Of course watching TV game shows like "Family Feud" we heard the booming voice of Gene Wood who was a integral part of the show as much as the host.

Although there are still a few powerful voices out there, they seem to be being replaced by wimpy sounding guys. Listening to the opening of ABC's World News with David Muir I thought a left over hippy on drugs had taken over. I'm was surprised he didn't say "hey man, it's time for the news now..." as that is how the voice comes over the air.

There isn't much need anymore for a deep toned announcer. One of my favorites was John Doremus who hosted a syndicated radio show I listened to back in my college days. You also may have heard him in airplanes as he pioneered in flight programming. Soldiers also recall hearing him on the Armed Forces Radio Network. You can listen to one of his shows here.

Those commanding voices could really etch themselves into your memory banks...I don't think the average sounding ones of today get anywhere close to that. And as John Doremus would say "put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!"

pics of John Doremus, Don Wilson, Gene Wood, and Paul Harvey.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Remembering Beautiful Music on the radio with WGER Beautiful 102

When I was a kid in Michigan we always had "beautiful music" available to us on the radio. Up until my post college years this music was a welcome friend. After that, the sounds of instrumental music slowly faded from the airwaves.

My favorite radio station back then was WGER FM 102.5 in Bay City, Michigan. I recently started a Facebook page about this station and here is a news release I sent to the paper there. It prompted a newspaper article which allowed folks to recall those great days of radio.

Remembering WGER, “Beautiful 102”
Radio is a here and now medium. Stations change owners and formats come and go. Until 1986, mid-Michigan station WGER then at 102.5 FM, was known as “Beautiful 102.” For decades they played an instrumental dominated format that was known as “Beautiful Music.”
Hans “Jeff” Borger, who was studying broadcasting at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant in the mid 1980s remembers the station’s heyday. “Wherever you went – Bay City, Saginaw, Frankenmuth, Mt Pleasant – the sounds of WGER were on. Businesses loved to play the relaxing music. The prestige factor made it a favorite for advertisers such as car dealers, jewelers, and restaurants.”
Today’s local radio scene has no format like WGER’s “Beautiful Music.” Instrumental versions of familiar songs with a few familiar vocals from the likes of Anne Murray or Roger Whittaker were blended together by a syndicated service called TM. Huge reel to reel tape players broadcast the music. “Today Sirius/XM has a station called “Escape” which comes pretty close to the old WGER sound,” Borger says, “but of course there is no local presence on satellite radio and that made “Beautiful 102” the favorite that it was.”
Hourly newscasts by local announcers such as Carolyn Holmes, Bill Robbins or Pete Ceglarek gave listeners a sense of community. Deep voiced John Doremus hosted a syndicated Beautiful Music show full of anecdotes and pearls of wisdom he called “smokers.”
Borger says “as a student and broadcasting wannabe, “Beautiful 102” became my gold standard station. I recorded cassette tapes off the air. I studied the music, the advertisers and the format. I visited the station for various college projects.”
Borger recently took his 1980s WGER memories to Facebook, creating the “WGER 102.5 FM Historical Society” The group has over thirty members already, including a few ex staffers. “It’s been fun to share the old station ads, newscasts and music. I never got to work at “Beautiful 102” but I’m keeping its memory alive,” he says.
Those huge reel to reel tapes of the 1980s are ancient history but the music lives on, at least on Borger’s ipod. He eventually did work at several radio stations that played the Beautiful Music format. “I have a huge library on my ipod and even have a few old “WGER FM 102” station IDs on there for fun,” he says.
Why did Beautiful Music vanish from WGER? In 1986 the station owner traded away the powerful 102.5 with 106.3 FM. The new signal was not strong enough to reach former listeners. Radio programmers were by then also looking to add a younger demographic to their stations and “Beautiful Music” listeners were deemed too old for advertisers. The WGER call letters still belong to “Mix 106.3” and 102.5 FM is now Top 40 station WIOG. But “Beautiful Music” fans in the Bay City area still fondly remember powerhouse WGER at 102.5, known then as “Beautiful 102.”

Here's the article as it appeared this past week. Click here.

Click here to visit the WGER 102.5 Historical Society on Facebook.