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, September 21, 2013

Renaissance Man Gene Martin brings Big Band Music back to Ocala


I love the music of the 1940s-50s-60s ever since I raided by grandpa's record library as a kid. My mom's Magnovox record player was a fascination. This is what it looked like:
I also got a little radio on Christmas and I always searched out the radio stations that played that kind of music.
Here I am with my grandma and sister one Christmas long ago -- Note that my gift was my first radio!

 Sharing that music has always been fun. The best job I ever had was at a radio station in Gainesville, Florida, WLUS. In the early 1990s the music was stored on huge reel to reel tapes. I put together their entire music library and for years my personal record collection was broadcast over the air.

Later,  for several years I hosted a Saturday night big band radio show on WMFQ in Ocala, Florida. The audience response was very positive as people tuned in week after week to reminsce about the music they knew.

During that time Gene Martin played similar music on WRZN, a station in Hernando. He was the best. I admired Gene for his great music selection and I was very pleased when he came on my show and I visited his show.

Several other stations played "our" kind of music, but soon the broadcast "landscape" changed. WLUS played my music library for years but eventually the owners changed the format to country. At WMFQ where I did my Saturday night show, new owners promised no changes but when they took over most of the staff was let go. No place for a Saturday night show, either.

One by one the stations that played the hits of the 40s to the 60s fell by the wayside -- except for Gene Martin. He held on the longest. Finally the station he was on -- WRZN -- changed formats, too.

Gene didn't fade out like most of us did. I call him the Renaissance Man. First Gene took his show on line 24 hours a day via his own website. It was a labor of love and financial commitment to run. Now anyone anywhere in the world could listen to his music on the internet. He resurrected my radio career as well as the "Nostalgic Rambler Radio Show" was born.  But Gene missed the immediacy of local over the air radio.

Gene never gave up. He was always looking for a way to get his music on local "over the air" radio. He worked the Gene Martin magic and now as of September 2013 once again he is on the air every Saturday -- all day -- on a pretty powerful FM station Daystar 89.5 in Ocala. The Nostalgic Rambler is part of the offerings on his "Gene Martin and Friends" presentation from 2-4pm.

How he did all of this is a mystery to me. The rest of the week this station airs what I would call a Christian Rock/Rap format-- culture shock for big band lovers and I'm sure the feeling is likewise for those folks listening to that and hearing Perry Como instead!

What's next for the Renaissance Man? I'm sure Gene will continue to amaze us all as he continues to help us all promote and share the greatest music ever recorded.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Day I Met Desi Arnaz

I have started another blog for various postings about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, one of my life long obsessions! You can visit the blog at www.LucyArchives.blogspot.com or click here.  I don't intend to re-post everything I post there on The Nostalgic Rambler, but thought you might especially enjoy this blog entry.....

An excerpt from my book "The Little Grownup: A Nostalgic Michigan Boyhood" available at bookstores on line everywhere or order here.  The year was about 1976. I was 12 years old. We were living in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

"The 1950s sitcom "I Love Lucy" was my obligatory viewing every weeknight. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz became my idols. Although the reruns were still quite popular, no one had tapped into the huge marketing of Lucy products so pervasive today. That didn't frustrate me!  I produced my own fan articles. Cutting out a picture of the Arnazes, I sent it to a poster company and had my own poster made for my bedroom. I had a sweatshirt produced with the words "Lucy-Desi Power" emblazoned on it. I was a fan.

Channel 50 was my Lucy station and their studios were just up the road a bit from Grandma and Grandpa's house. I thought it would be a great place to work some day. Broadcasting sounded like the future I had picked for myself. Not only did they show "I Love Lucy" on a regular basis, Desi Arnaz had also made a recent appearance there on the "Lou Gordon Show." Gordon had a sometimes controversial talk show interviewing various local and national celebrities and politicians.  I was in heaven when Arnaz came to Detroit to promote his autobiography entitled "A Book." I tried calling into the show when his interview came on, but found out it had been pre-taped.

These were bookmarks promoting the book that day.
My book "The Little Grownup: A nostalgic Michigan boyhood"

The good news was that he was going to be at Northland Mall to sign his new book. Of course I pestered Ma to no end and she agreed to take me to the book signing. It was a once in a lifetime meeting for me. Mr. Arnaz had accomplished so much during his lifetime, marrying the beautiful Lucy, starring and producing in their landmark series, and owning the famed Desilu Studios.

The man at the mall was still larger than life but a bit saddening. He hadn't aged well and certainly didn't look like Ricky Ricardo anymore. He still did have the same hat Ricky wore. He had a cigar in one hand and a glass of beer close by as he graciously chatted with the fans and signed their books. I asked him if he would ever return to television in a special with Lucy. He said "I would love to, but it's up to her." He signed my copy of his book "To Hans, Gracious! Desi Arnaz." I also brought along a copy of an "I Love Lucy" biography written by someone else. He hesitated signing it at first, saying it was full of mistakes. He then inscribed it "I forgive the author," and signed his name.

This was the only book on the market about "I Love Lucy" when Desi's book came out.

Desi didn't think much of this book but autographed it anyway. Years later the author Bart Andrews himself autographed it for me and added "I accept"...whatever THAT meant!

My prized autograph (using my legal name!)

Unfortunately we didn't bring a camera along. I'm sure the picture of me with white haired Desi Arnaz would have become a full sized poster, too!"

Added comment: Somewhere I must still have the audio cassette tape I recorded off of the tv with Lou Gordon talking to Desi. As I recall Lou kept grilling Desi about his "girlfriends" and Desi was not amused.