Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Goodbye, Old Friends
Matt Seinberg

In July, I said goodbye to three old friends, who all left us at relatively young ages. Now, these are not real, personal friends, but in the world of broadcasting, they are friends, of a sort.

The first to go was “Friday Night Lights,” on NBC. It started on 3 October 2006 and ended the last week of June 2011. I watched all five seasons of the show. I followed the ebb and tide of the characters, watching them grow from irresponsible children to responsible adults.

To me, “Friday Night Lights” was appointment television, with high standards of writing and acting. Although I might not agree with all the views the writers expressed, I enjoyed the way the actors ultimately portrayed them. If I had to pick a favourite character, it would have to be the quarterback, Matt Saracen, portrayed by Zach Gilford.

I always felt his pain, as when the defence slammed on him a play gone bad or when he fumbled and stumbled around girls. He finally found love, with, Julie Taylor, daughter of the coach, portrayed by Aimee Teegarden. Now, Matt became the person everyone else knew he could become. 

This is not a spoiler column. If you haven’t seen the last episode, make it a point to see it. It brings together all the loose story ends, and gives a feeling of closure.

The second friend to pass was WRXP-FM 101.9, known as the New York Rock Experience. Its format was alternative rock, playing music that no other station in New York City played. It became WRXP-FM, on 5 February 2008, when Emmis Communications pulled the plug on Smooth Jazz Station WQCD-FM. A couple of my good radio friends, Robin Marshall and Batt Johnson, lost their jobs that day. Another friend, long time New York radio host Paul Cavalconte, managed to stay on air.

Cavalconte hosted a Sunday morning show, “They Vinyl Experience.” If you’re into old records, you can guess the content of the show. Paul was kind enough to send me a copy of his last show. WRXP-FM went silent on 15 July. Its final song was by The Who, “Long Live Rock.” At least Emmis and Merlin Media let the entire staff do good-bye shows, which many stations never let happen. The entire air staff went out with dignity and class, the way the deserved too.

Although I didn’t listen to WRXP-FM all the time, like any friend, I knew they were there. I didn’t like all the music they played, but did get to experience music I wouldn’t really hear anywhere else. It’s not like a friend moving away to another town, city or state, where you can still talk to him or her and possibly see him or her. No my friends, WRXP-FM is gone: long live rock.

The last friend to finally end, in a way, is Harry Potter, the movie. Are you scratching your head, wondering what a 50-something man is doing watching Harry Potter movies? I enjoy fantasy and science fiction, so when a friend at work offered to lend me his entire collection of Harry Potter movies on Blu-ray disc, I took them.

I knew my daughter Melissa would enjoy them, so we made it a point to watch at least one movie a week, in chronological order. I timed it just right, so we finished them just as the last movie came out, “Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

We went to see the movie the other day, and sat spellbound in the theatre, watching Harry and his friends battle Lord Voldemort. Again, I’m not going to recap or spoil the movies. This is just to talk about the end of this movie series.

Sure, we can watch the movies repeatedly, but it’s never like seeing them for the first time. It’s sort of like your first kiss, there’s never anything quite like it again. I’m debating if I actually want to buy the movies for future watching or just resist the urge and not bother.

With WRXP-FM, I can always listen to air checks; “Friday Night Lights” is in repeats on ESPN or on DVD. As that first kiss, they are fleeting and the memories fade faster than we care to admit.

Please join me in a moment of silence for my three friends, knowing they are resting in peace, and continue their waves bounce around the universe for eons to come. Bow your heads here, please.

Rest in peace, my friends. Know I miss you. May the force be with you. Live Long and Prosper.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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