The Radio Station That Plays Nothing But 78 RPM Records. Listen!

I’m just old enough to have played a 78 RPM record as part of a radio show.  It was 1983 and I was working at my first full-time job at CJRL, a 1,000 watt full-service radio station in Kenora, Ontario. Part of my evening shift was to operate for a guy who hosted a Ukrainian music show at 6:30 on Tuesdays. Every week he’d show up with a stack of 78s from the old country–no sleeves, no jackets–and then using pantomime gestures (he spoke no English) directed me which records to play.

The fragility of these records terrified me. Most were made the old-fashioned way. The primary ingredient was shellac, bound together by a mixture of cotton fibres and powdered limestone. They were as brittle as thin bone china.  I remember the night I broke one. I thought my host was going to strangle me.

I bring this up because I’ve discovered an online radio station that plays nothing but 78s. Radio Nostalgia, based in the Netherlands, has a playlist that only features material recorded between 1900 and 1958. The program material is genuine 78 RPM records, complete with their original surface noise and scratches.

This is the way radio used to sound way, way back in the day. It makes for some fascinating listening. If fact, I’m enjoying some Tommy Dorsey right now.

(Via RAIN)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

10 thoughts on “The Radio Station That Plays Nothing But 78 RPM Records. Listen!

  • February 2, 2015 at 7:27 pm
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    Amazing. Got some 78RPMs that I’m trying to convert digitally for my father.

    Reply
  • August 1, 2016 at 8:11 am
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    Dear Alan, how could I have missed your flattering blog on my radio stream. Thanks a million!
    Best wishes from Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
    Jan

    Reply
    • August 1, 2016 at 9:41 am
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      You’re most welcome! LOVE the concept. Best wishes in the whole endeavour.

      Reply
  • August 1, 2016 at 7:07 pm
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    Are you actually playing the 78 RPM or are you playing CDs with the record cleaned up and transferred to CDs? The audio just sounds too clean! There is no surface noise and scratches!

    Reply
    • August 2, 2016 at 2:11 am
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      The majority are from my own authentic 78’s. They are digitally ‘cleaned’, restored with Adobe Audition. And some are indeed from cd’s simply because they belong on my stream

      Reply
    • August 2, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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      Edwin, I forgot to mention I once wrote a little article about how to transfer and clean the records. Since then I use a newer turntable and a newer edition of Adobe Audition but the approach remains the same.
      The article can be found here http://www.radionostalgia.nl/78digiE.html

      Reply
      • August 2, 2016 at 8:11 pm
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        It says “The program material is genuine 78 RPM records, complete with their original surface noise and scratches”. That is deceiving! It is false!

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        • August 3, 2016 at 3:17 am
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          1) some records are too scratched in a way that the noise is taking over from the music
          2) on my radiostream it is first of all the music that counts
          3) in that respect the jingles are also false; I made the new voices deliberately sounding old
          4) I was thinking doing you a favour by posting the process
          5) I think that you understand the spirit behind the words of the author; it is not a smooth radiostream but using very pure vulnerable records
          6) enjoy

          Reply
  • August 2, 2016 at 7:09 pm
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    JazzFM91 in Toronto replays Jeff Healey’s 2005-8 My Kind Of Jazz show Wed nights. Jeff played early jazz mostly from his vast collection of 78’s. He was a real stickler about the jazz classification, and he gave encyclopedic info for many of the records, (label, session players etc).

    Reply

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