If you were a ‘Young Turk’ in the 80s, chances are you had a favorite, go-to pop station that played all the best hits, requests, and/or dedications, held exciting contests & ticket giveaways, danced you through homework, chores, getting dolled-up for school/work/night out, rang you into the new year, serenaded you through unrequited crushes, and crooned you to sleep from a nightstand clock radio. For me, that was B94 FM. And during those years, those chuckling DJs’ kind, enthusiastic voices had become as familiar to me as family.
Yet somehow, we’d drifted apart.
As time went on, it became ‘blaringly’ obvious that the American Top 40 booming from my son’s room was…was…(what is this?) a far cry from the childhood soundtrack that had introduced me to unforgettable music and had me walking like an Egyptian, ‘Walking on Sunshine’, and walking the dinosaur. Boom-boom-acka-lacka-lacka-boom…
Although it was far from ‘The Bee’ that had once supplied half the city with a choice of pop or beer, had won me, the 8th caller, (and three pals) Winger tickets, and had kindly played my ‘Crazy for You’ requests (dedicated to, what was his name?)…when ‘The Bee’ went off the air, it stung.
Sure, there were places I could get my 80s fix; after all, my car was crammed with 80s CDs, but where were all the other die-hard, 80s-obsessed, robot-dancing, pop-glamming, hair band-loving, kool-katz hiding? Was I doomed to ‘Safety Dance’ alone? And when had I last put in a good old-fashioned request, let alone an 80s ballad? Hard times, fer sure.
Until…I stumbled across a little slice of 80s heaven. Ooh, Heaven is a place on Earth…
How to describe Wave 80 Radio? A-W-E-S-O-M-E. The songs? ‘Simply the Best’. And it didn’t take long for me to realize that Wave 80 fans tuned in for much more than just tunes. Like me, listeners from around the globe love the vibe; DJ, Gary Teel’s variety of shows, (planned and impromptu), Friday Night New Wave and Sunday Night Request parties, the friendly folks in the request/chat-box, and simply the joy of listening to the best music, with the coolest listeners. (And I’m still learning ‘new’ 80s songs.)
I had found my tribe.
So, without further ado, let’s meet the guy whose station serenades our senses with iconic music, fun happenings, and brings together friends who have become as familiar as family. A place where…we can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind…cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance…anyway…
Let’s hang out with Wave 80!
Kristy: Garrryyy! Please tell everyone a little about yourself and how Wave 80 Radio came to be.
Gary: The 80s were my ‘Glory Days,’ thank you, Mr. Springsteen. I think the 80s were a special time in music, when technology allowed for amazing recordings, but the human element was still there, as people were still writing real songs with real music. There are the great songs that everyone remembers, but there were some incredible tunes that maybe spent a few weeks on the Top 40 and then disappeared that I wanted to bring back and spotlight. Wave 80 is my attempt to present a good balance to all of these songs. I also wanted to play all of the popular styles of the day, just like the Top 40 stations of the 80s did. There was no distinction between pop, rock, new wave, R&B… It was all just Hit Radio, which is why we call ourselves 80s Hit Radio.
K: Do you still run into songs here and there that you’ve never heard before?
Gary: Oh, absolutely! Especially now, with the new shows, I’m doing more chart research than ever, and I’m always finding songs that I either forgot about or never knew in the first place! I have a soft spot for the failed follow-up singles to big hits, especially the one-hit-wonder types. Check out ‘Don’t Let Me In’ by Sneaker, the band that had a big hit with ‘More Than Just The Two Of Us.’ Great song, failed follow-up single!
K: So, what’s the latest buzz with Wave 80?
Gary: I have so much going on right now, and I’m loving it! The biggest project is a weekly time-capsule program called ‘The Excellent 80s Rewind.’ I pick a year from the 80s, and then I go up the Top 100 chart for that week, spotlighting hits, misses, and great forgotten songs and the stories behind them. I also touch on big news stories for that week, popular movies and TV shows, and that sort of thing. The show is already being heard on 11 stations around the world, including the US, Canada, Chile, and the Philippines. I grew up listening to Casey Kasem and Dick Bartley, and no one is really doing that kind of a show anymore. So now, someone is!
Friday Night New Wave continues as the centerpiece show for the station. It’s now being syndicated around the world, as well. The Sunday Night All-80s Request Show has seen a surge in listenership lately, and is now expanding to Saturday nights, as well.
Speaking of New Wave, we now have a second station, ALT/80, that plays great 80s New Wave music 24/7. It can be heard at alt80.wave80hits.com. And a third station may be on the way soon… My new broadcast and production studio is nearly finished and has gone a long way toward making all of this success a reality. I’m beginning to get busy with several voiceover projects, which is another dream of mine.
And finally, we just unleashed our new toll-free phone number for requests: 888-5-WAVE80.
K: That’s awesome! Lots of cool stuff going on. And being so passionate about what you do makes none of this feel like work, I’m sure. What’s your favorite part about being a DJ?
Gary: The music is great, but it is beginning to be overshadowed by all of these great people that I’m meeting from all around the world. We come from so many different backgrounds, but we’re all united by this amazing music from this wonderful decade. We get together every week and we celebrate it, revel in it, get healed by it, even make fun of it. It’s these personal connections that give me more satisfaction than I ever expected when I started this station.
K: How can readers tune into Wave 80 Radio, the raddest, 80s-blastin’ station on the planet?
Gary: Thank you so much! First, there’s our own website, http://www.wave80hits.com/
We can also be heard on MyTuner, Online Radio Box, and the Simple Radio app. http://alt80.wave80hits.com/
Favorite sports teams: St. Louis Cardinals! I used to like the Rams until they moved back to L.A.
Dream vacation destination: Australia
Ultimate fav flicks: O Brother Where Art Thou, The Truman Show, The Gods Must Be Crazy, The Princess Bride, The Wedding Singer.
Top five greatest artists/band: Billy Joel, Yes, Squeeze, Police, Pink Floyd.
One food you could eat every day for the rest of your life: Cheeseburgers!
Two movie quotes that best describe your taste in film? “Do these balloons blow up into funny shapes?” “No, unless round is funny.” Raising Arizona “See? Billy Idol gets it, I don’t know why she doesn’t get it…” The Wedding Singer
Your three must-have albums of ALL TIME? Yes – Close To The Edge Squeeze – East Side Story & Billy Joel – 52nd Street
Michael Myers, Freddy, or Jason? Not a horror fan. Which one has the hockey mask? I do like hockey.
A Christmas Story or National Lampoons Xmas Vac? A Christmas Story, by a longshot! “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie…”
Would you rather be a lifelong ticket-holder for the Steelers, Pens, or Pirates? (You have to choose! Haha) I see what you did there…I would have to say Pirates, if only because I’d get to see my Cardinals a few times a year!
Thank you so much, Gary Teel, for the Q&A and most of all, for your friendship! #KeepOnRockinMyFriend
(Lets go BUCS!)
KRISTY JO VOLCHKO is an award-winning, multi-genre author, poet, blogger, book reviewer, and human rights activist. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to share her love of storytelling, all things 80s, and tries to stay out of trouble.
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