It's always nice when a group of friends can get together for dinner, no matter what the occasion is. Heck, there doesn't even have to be an occasion! Let's just do it for the sake of doing it.
That's what happened this past Wednesday night. My friend Al "On the Scene" Levine invited me to what he refers to as the Radio Dinner, organized by his nighttime air personality at WBLI-FM, Astra.
I had met Astra several times over the years, and expressed an interest in attending, especially since I knew pretty much everyone that went. This time, it was my lucky night. Al told me about it last week, and it worked with my schedule, so dinner was on!
I've known Al for about 9 years now, and we've traded air checks over the years, met for lunch and hung out at WBLI-FM quite a few times. I still like to hang out at radio stations, even if there isn't a whole lot going on any more. You don't hear the whoosh of a turntable starting, or the clunk of a cart machine. Now it's just the low hum of the air conditioning, and the blinking lights of the computers that run everything.
I was excited to see some friends I hadn't seen in months. There were about 12 people invited, and nine showed up. I knew them all except for one, but he works at WBLI-FM, too. I'm sure the majority of talk would be about music and radio. I wasn't disappointed.
Our host, Astra, drives up in her white Lexus two-door coupe. It's exactly what I would have expected, knowing her style for bling. It was the perfect entrance! Al and I had arrived a moment before her and went inside to see if anyone else had arrived.
There's my friend, Bill Plax, Production Director of WWFS-FM Fresh 102.7. I met him through air check collector, Dave Plotkin, the Production Director of WINS-AM. These friends now work in the same building together. I can only imagine the trouble they must get into trying to out-prank each other.
Dave brought another mutual friend, Chris Simmons, a weekend DJ from WBZ-FM B103 who I hadn't seen in two years, since we all went to dinner at "Smokin' Al's BBQ," in Bayshore, New York. This restaurant has great food and there's always much fun, too! Chris has a photographic memory, so don't try to play any sort of trivia game with him. You'll lose. I often wonder why he didn't go on any game shows.
My air check friend and fellow Top 40 aficionado, Ted Lindner, was there as well. Ted and I met a few years ago, through a message board, because of our interest in all things radio. Ted was an intern at WBLI at the time, and through him I came to know Al. Radio is a big business, but a small circle when it comes to knowing everyone. Ted loves Top 40 radio, along with the music, jingles and jocks that go along with it. We used to leave each other voice mails talking up songs to the post, without actually using the music. Yeah, kind of dumb, but it was fun, at the same time, to see who could sound more like the DJ from a particular station. Ted now works for the WBLI-FM sister station in Babylon, WBAB-FM, as part of the Roger and JP Morning Show. Ted not only does the news, weather and traffic, but provides the comic relief as well.
Then there is the crazy cat girl, Lisa "Chloe" Gold, who does mid-days on WBLI. When she first got to WBLI, she used the name Lisa G, but the "other" Lisa G objected. Lisa became Chloe. My wife, Marcy had a roommate years ago who had a crazy cat named Chloe.
When I first met Lisa at WBLI-FM, I had my kids with me, and they saw a picture of a cat on a computer screen. It turned out to be Lisa's cat, which is now 17 years old. They immediately liked Lisa because she is a cat person. The crazy part to me is this. She and Al Levine made cat noise to each throughout dinner. As much as I would have liked to join their conversation, it didn't work. Al also has a cat; it's their thing.
Lisa told me that she grew up in Hartford, CT listening to WTIC-FM and Al Levine. I asked her how it felt to work with Al, now. She said it was cool. I asked Al how it felt to be old, officially, now that a former listener worked for you. He ignored me.
Al was sitting between Lisa and Josh "Crash" Emert. Crash you ask, well, he's the traffic reporter at WBLI-FM. I just hope he didn't get that nickname from bad driving. I'll say this; he certainly kept Al entertained during the night when Lisa was making cat noises.
Ted and Chris are playing music trivia all night. One of them would name a group and song, and the other had to name the follow up song. Talk about some obscure stuff. Listening to them go back and forth as blazing speeds was making my head spin. I turned my attention to Astra who was talking to Bill.
I often wish I were 25-years old again, only to re-live, to the fullest, what fun I once had. Being 25 and having fun is far different that being 52 and having fun. Time, hair, pounds and kids make life much different; believe me. Heck, I'm lucky I got out of work and the house to attend this dinner!
You've heard the term, "You have the face for radio." That is not a compliment. Well my friends, Astra has everything for radio and television as well as anything else she cares to do. This girl, in one form or another is going to be a star. See, even her name as star in it.
With her night show on WBLI-FM, she rocks the airwaves with her brand of humor and sense of style, and interacts with her listeners, and they love it. I just wish I could stay up late enough to enjoy more of it. Sorry to say, I am not a night person anymore.
Luckily, we stayed below the radar of other diners, at the restaurant. WBLI-FM is the Long Island Hit Music Station. Its DJs are well-know. Fans, especially the kids, might have swamped our table. Would I hang out with them if they weren't cool?
So thank you Astra and Al for a great evening! I was almost asleep on my feet the next day, at work, but it was worth it. Besides, I was able to write this column and hang out with some great friends!
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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