Tonawanda News

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March 11, 2013

BOOK NOOK: Back when the radio was always on

Buffalo’s remarkable history — don’t let the economic malaise mislead you — includes its involvement with the rise of rock and roll. The city had breakthrough disc jockeys and radio stations, was an important site for concerts and appearances and generally was present, if not at the creation, then in the growth of the popular art form that overtook the globe. 

It is a story begging to be told in a carefully researched book. Bon and Terri Skurzewski’s “No Stoppin’ This Boppin’: Let the Good Times Roll” is not it, but it is a fine attempt at filling in a few of the details of Buffalo’s rock and roll lifestyle with interviews of some of the surviving major players.

If you grew up here in the 1950s and 1960s, a radio was likely within earshot. AM radio, most notably WKBW-AM, was a unifying force among the young and the most notable outlet for those seeking to retail things to a young and growingly affluent demographic. If the names Tom Shannon, Fred Klestine, Lucky Pierre and George “Hound Dog” Lorenz are a part of your adolescence, the book will be of interest.

To repeat, what the book is not is a balanced and researched history book; the subject, and the era, deserve such a book. What it is, is a series of interviews with the characters in the local music scene and broadcasting business, and commentaries on Buffalo bands and radio stations.

When facts and figures spill out, it offers no footnotes and only limited references (okay, it does not claim to be a scholarly book). Entire transcripts of interviews are printed in some places, without comment. Other chapters are all comment with no attribution.

As a privately-printed book by two fans of the genre, it is a laudable project, but it reads like a pile of notes waiting to be turned into a definitive history. 

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