BIG BAND BROADCAST
SHOW SYNOPSIS BY THE PRES. OF THE FAN CLUB
"One of the main reasons why I started The Chris Valenti Fan Club is that I feel we must recognize the man for his monumental efforts to keep this music alive, and to thank him for introducing it to a whole new generation."
In this age of Shock Jocks, Radio Chicks and basically whoever can say the most outrageous and awful things on the air, let alone play what we are told is music, one man stands apart and away from this fad. His name is Chris Valenti and he plays as he phrases it, "The greatest music of all time, hailing from the greatest era of all time. The era of the Big Bands."
As we realize so many of our beloved fathers and grandfathers of that era are going to their eternal reward, Valenti has not only captured the era, he’s brought it back. And you realize that as you tune in to his "Nostalgic Ride Through Yesteryear" each Saturday night at 10pm on WHPC 90.3 FM or at 4pm on Sundays on WGBB 1240AM.
Chris Valenti’s Big Band Broadcast's uniqueness goes beyond those great 78 rpm records "That are back on the airwaves where they belong," as he puts it. During his show he invites his listening audience to call in for live on air requests. That’s right! He doesn’t tell his audience to write in and he’ll put it on for you next week. He digs into his extensive archives, finds the recording, while reminiscing with the listener over the air. To my knowledge, and as I have been told on good authority, this is the only Big Band radio program in the Nation that takes live on air requests for Big Band records of the 1930’s and 40’s. Simply amazing!
What types of people call in for requests? "The loyalist listeners on the face of the earth," Valenti proclaims. These are people who love the Big Bands, who have a passion for the music that has the ability to send chills up and down your spine. Music like Glenn Millers ‘Moonlight Serenade,’ perhaps the most beautiful and most recognized tune of all.
Chris has got them all. Tommy Dorsey with a young Sinatra, Kay Kaiser and His College Of Musical Knowledge, Chick Webb with Ella Fitzgerald vocalizing. Vocalists? How about the sweet, sweet voice of Miss Helen Forrest with the Harry James Orchestra. What about that American classic Louis Armstrong, singing ‘Red Sails In The Sunset.’ Wanna Swing? Try Jan Savitt and His Top Hatters with ‘720 In The Book,’ or Benny Goodman's ‘Sing Sing Sing.’ Even if you’re just remotely interested in that period of time and its music, you owe it to yourself to listen.
As you step on board Valenti’s time machine, be careful. Because once on board, you may not want to get off. As you take that Sentimental Journey on the railroad track that takes you back, it may drop you off at Glenn Millers Tuxedo Junction where the sweetheart you left behind may remind you… ‘Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me.’ As you walk hand in hand with that sweetheart, you find you are walking next to Harry James by his ‘Sleepy Lagoon.’ You then gaze into her eyes and she proclaims, "Kiss me once and kiss me twice and kiss me once again," ‘Its Been A Long, Long Time.’
You see, this is not just music, it’s so much more. Its History, the history of a struggle. If ever there was a time when the United States almost lost it all, it was Dec. 7, 1941. It’s no wonder that at the opening of every show you hear that famous line from the FDR speech, "A day which will live in infamy." On one of his shows in December of 1999, Valenti had interviewed a Pearl Harbor survivor. So moving was this mans experience, the listening audience once again peered into this portal of time and heard the song that told us to ‘Remember Pearl Harbor.’
If you were in the Army Air Corps stationed in England, you were perfectly willing to swear a ‘Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,’ as Ray Eberle sang his heart out with The Glenn Miller Orchestra. After a bombing mission somewhere deep inside Europe, knowing ‘There’ll Be Blue Birds Over The White Cliffs of Dover,’ meant hope. And those cliffs were a welcome sight indeed.
Far from being exclusive to those who lived through those times, Valenti’s time machine is an open invitation to those who appreciate the finest music ever recorded. You will hear listeners of all ages calling in and sharing their experiences with this music. Listen in and you’ll hear a daughter who will remember her Mom and Dad gliding across the dance floor to one of the many beautiful ballads Glenn Miller played. Then there’s the grandson who will call in for ‘Polka Dots And Moonbeams’ by Dorsey with Sinatra, and dedicate it to his grandparents. A carload of teenage girls calling in and asking for Benny Goodman's ‘Sing Sing Sing.’ Then there was the lady raised in Italy during World War II, calling up with recollections of the GI’s rolling through Salerno playing Harry James records and handing out M&M candies to the Children. She was one of those children.
Then of course there’s my particular case. About two years ago I was scanning the FM dial searching for some of this great music when I stumbled upon 90.3FM. What caught my attention was the shows opening theme. The first thing I said was, "Here we go, another advertisement using big band music," but no it wasn’t, the door of Valenti’s time machine beckoned me to come in and I did. I listened, and my thoughts went back to a time where my Dad played these great 78’s out in the yard during a barbecue. My Uncle Harold had bought me a snare drum and there I was trying my best to imitate Gene Krupa while my brother was begging dad to handle those ever so breakable 78 rpm platters. Dad and Mom are both gone now, but perhaps through this great music and the nostalgic look back, I get the chance to reflect on those ever so precious memories of them both.
Then came the week I got up the nerve to call in myself. It took a number of tries, but finally I heard "Chris Valenti, how are you?" I asked for a Miller tune ‘At Last,’ then he asked me if I’d like to go over the air. I swallowed hard and said yes. Thinking I was talking to a man of senior years, but not being sure, I asked, "How old a fellow are you, if you don’t mind me asking?" He said 35. "And you are into this music?," I asked. "Yes", he said. I asked him, "What made you realize this was the music you liked best?" and he replied, "I had seen The Glenn Miller Story on TV many years ago and that was it." His listeners are very glad he did.
Valenti, a modest guy, turns out a show that stirs the emotions so much, you literally wait all week until he’s on. You get to know all the folks who call in and it becomes one big family. A famous Cantor from a hotel in Atlantic Beach calls in each week and reminisces of the days of the old Paramount Theatre, and the bands he had seen there. A man in Merrick who calls himself a Harry James buff, calls in each week for a great James request, and always says to Chris "WE NEED YOU!" Indeed we do. A lady from New Hyde Park calls in and begins to belt out a number, and the next thing you know it’s a duet, Valenti has joined the caller. Then a caller from East Meadow proclaims that he invented a new musical instrument. Valenti encourages him to play a few notes over the air and he does. It sounded like a duck with a sinus condition. I was laughing to tears.
If old time radio was ever going to make a comeback, this is it. Not limited to just music and callers, Chris has had just about every personality who has hailed from the great Big Band Era as a guest on his show. These amazing guests have ranged from Les Brown and Doris Day to Harry James and Helen Forrest. And even Artie Shaw stopped bye! The list goes on.
This show will touch your heart. And when it starts, you know you are taking a special trip. Then before you know it, the trip is over, always concluding with Millers ‘Moonlight Serenade’ and Chris saying, "Good night, good luck and God Bless."
This is the Real McCoy. Peter Goodman, columnist for L.I.’s Newsday realized this when he wrote an article in Newsday in May of 1999 entitled, This ‘Kid’ Keeps The Big Bands Playing. You’ll realize this too. It comes from playing those immortal 78’s. It comes from the listeners, the callers, and the fan club. More importantly, it comes from an immeasurable place, the heart of a man who loves the music, the era, and his listeners. That man is Chris Valenti, the unsung hero of the AM and FM dial.
Chris says it best, "Putting them back on the airwaves where they belong." And that is exactly what we all want him to keep doing, and for a very long time.
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