Although I was born just 2 months before Elvis Presley's first hit record Heartbreak Hotel made the national charts, he was, is and always will be my favorite recording artist. His music moves me a way I really cannot describe. However, my musical tastes also run the gamut from Oldies, Rock N Roll, Progressive Rock, Standards, some Country & Blues and even to 'some' of today’s contemporary sounds.

But without a doubt my favorite music was made from the mid 60's through the early 70's. Those wonderful sounds that so many of us heard on Top 40 radio. Rock, Sunshine and Power Pop, R & B and Soul, classic 60's instrumentals, Rockabilly, wonderful group harmonies and those melodic ballads.

By the mid to late 60's I was totally hooked on this music. Like most music fans, I started purchasing LP's and 45's, most of which I still have today. However, to me and speaking only for myself, these pieces of vinyl are only a means to an end. Because it has always been about "The Music' itself. The Music and nothing but The Music.

Today we can listen to our music in new ways. Thousands of songs can be put on small portable players. Music can be delivered in new ways as well. Music can be bought online and even heard on HD Radio, Satellite radio and of course the internet. But it is still and always about The Music. It's this passion for The Music I bring to my Wednesday night program.

In addition, the freedom the TopShelf Oldies DJ's have to play tunes they and their listening audience really love, coupled with our chatroom, makes a near perfect forum for the good natured contests we have so much fun with on Ramtown Live. Your pc's audio player provides the sounds for our contests and the chatroom is our playing field. Of course, in between these contests there is always The Music.     


Some background:


I grew up and lived in the NJ’s Jersey Shore area until the age of 54. I currently reside in TN’s Tri-cities area. I have always been a radio buff. I grew up listening to the great AM sounds of New York City radio stations like WABC, WMCA, WWDB with wonderful DJ's like Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy, Jack Spector, Chuck Leonard, Cousin Brucie, B. Mitchell Reed, Wolfman Jack, Big Wilson and so many others. Then later in the 70's the FM stations like WNEW, WPIX, WKRK and others, featuring on air personalities like Scott Muni, Pete Fornatale, Dennis Elsas, Pete Herman, Richard & Dan Neer, Meg Griffin, Carol Miller to name but a few. Over the years, I was a somewhat frequent caller to several of these stations and spoke with a number of the DJ's, most of whom I was happy to find out, had the same love and passion for The Music as I did.

Starting in late 70's and much more so in the 1980's and on into the 90's, the music and programming on Top 40 and Progressive Rock radio changed so much and quite frankly for the worse. As a result, I lost my interest in listening to these two formats. With a few notable exceptions, like New Wave music, most of the music made in these periods lacked creativity, were very often over produced, lacked passion and sadly many records in that era utilized the dreaded and dehumanizing drum machine. I remember complaining to friends back then that there were almost no good rock-pop records made after 1980'.    

I did listen to some Classic Rock and Oldies stations during this period, but since both formats played (and still play) the same few hundred records over and over again, this got old very quickly. Don't get me wrong, 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling', 'Happy Together' and 'Give Me Shelter' are all great records. But, hearing these and so many other quality tunes, literally dozens if not hundreds of times, sent me and other music fans I know into burn out mode wit that music.

Yet these same stations choose to ignore so many other quality tunes that had been hits, but 'only' charted typically in the top 10 to top 40 range and were rarely, if ever heard on broadcast radio.  

I did make many cassettes of my favorite 45's and LP's for the car and that certainly helped. Also during this period, I as pointed out above, I started to develop more interest in other types of music. So in some respects this lack of quality Top 40 and Progressive Rock radio, was a good thing for me. But I was still disappointed that there was very little quality new Top 40 or Rock-Pop music being made. You could say I felt like The Music was gone.

In 1997, I started listening to a local guy who is now our Sunday night DJ, Dave the Rave, when he was on the now defunct Oldies FM station WPDQ located in Freehold NJ. He played so many good, solid oldies records I did not even know existed. Tunes that for various reasons were not hits, but sure should have been. Others that may have been regional hits, but not in my region and some minor hits that got so little air play and some great B sides. I was now hearing so many truly quality tunes that were fresh to me. It was almost like discovering top 40 radio in the mid 60's, all over again.  

I was quite fortunate in that I lived near the station, as the signal only went a town or two in any direction. But in 2001, Dave started simulcasting his show on a brand new internet radio station called TopShelf Oldies. Dave's show could now be heard literally around the world. Plus, I discovered many of the other quality programs on TopShelf. Shows that also featured so many wonderful 'new oldies' and some others I had even forgotten about. I am proud to say this is a tradition that very much continues on TopShelf Oldies to this very day.

In addition, I discovered our friendly chatroom. Now, years later, I have so many friends from all parts of the country that I would never have even known without the internet and TopShelf. This extended TopShelf family of buddies are some of the nicest people I know and I cannot imagine on some kind of steady basis being without their company. The best part is, we all share a mutual love for The Music.

While I had what I felt was a workable show idea, I had no prior DJ'ing experience what so ever. But Tim, Dlanna and Al showed enough confidence in me to let me start as DJ on TopShelf Oldies on February 24, 2004. This was a pre-recorded 2 hour program called Rock N Pop Connections. This show featured mainly Connections Sets and few other contests. I did more than 140 of these shows, before deciding to go live in January 2007.

The Other Side of Ramtown is 3 hours long, a more diversified program, with interactive contests that are simply not possible in a pre-recorded format. Plus unlike Rock N' Pop Connections, where all the music was 'contest driven'. Ramtown Live is not limited in that way, much of the focus is on those quality and rarely heard oldies that do not involve contests.

I do want to express my gratitude to Dlanna, Al and Tim for allowing me to be a part of the TopShelf Oldies family.

If you have any ideas you'd like to forward to me or if you just want to provide some feedback, feel free to email me at ramtownmike@charter.net


Ramtown Mike









 


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