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From The Lone Ranger, Challenge of the Yukon and The Green Hornet to Mike Wallace, Specs Howard and Ernie Harwell, from Soupy Sales to the “Paul Is Dead” controversy, Detroit Radio has had a long and illustrious history. When I was a kid, radio meant the Top-40 slickness of WKNR and Windsor’s CKLW. CK featured the dulcet tones and intelligent repartee of Tom Shannon - the first voice that grabbed my attention.

There was more than pop music for a curious kid in Detroit - WQRS was a listener-supported classical music station that played folk music on Saturdays, and in the fall of 1967, Big John Small started a program called “Troubadour” - what would today be called a “Roots” program - that contrasted sharply with an otherwise Middle of the Road format on WABX, the station Small managed. In fact, WABX was on the verge of making history, becoming the legendary ABX in early 1968 by switching to a free-form progressive format that changed my life.

The Air Aces - as ABX DJs came to be called - played the latest rock albums in their entirety; they played Ravi Shankar, folk, jazz, straight blues - whatever interested them. The station made sure we heard a lot of local progressive talent, too, not only on-air, but at the free concerts the station sponsored to go with the movie nights, the bike-ins - ABX spawned a vibrant scene. Dan Carlyle, Larry Miller, and my personal favorite Dave Dixon (who wrote “I Dig Rock-n- Roll Music”) were refreshing to say the least - none of the DJ constant smiling or spit and polish. Instead, they simply talked to listeners with a touch of irony and an understated professionalism. I was enthralled.

The Air Aces also introduced me to radio drama - I’m too young to have heard The Lone Ranger or any of Orson Welles’ work, but thanks to the ABX free format, radio drama entered my mythology through The Firesign Theatre.

Music Without Prejudice Radio has a similar approach to ABX , and I’m really proud to be part of the team. Thanks for listening.

Doc Rossi

Doc Rossi

Musician, academic, free-form radio fan

*Any links are provided for convenience and informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by MWPR.

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