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Kids Today Will Never Experience It
by Chris Malone,posted Jul 2 2013 4:26AM
The class of 2014 doesn't wear watches (well, except maybe an iWatch), doesn't write in cursive and has no idea why Nirvana is awesome. That's according to Beloit College's annual Mindset List, aimed at helping teachers understand today's cultural references. However, Time took a look at other bygone experiences today's kids will miss.
In old photo cameras -- you know, the ones with film -- you have to concentrate on every shot, every frame, because you paid for some 24 exposures, and there are no do-overs. But today's digital cameras are an endless blank slate, where the number of shots you can take seem limitless and mistakes are erased with a click. Gone are the days of hearing the film rewind into its casing, transporting it to a photo lab and patiently waiting to find out how amateurish your snapshots look. In this instance, the present definitely trumps the past.
Before there were cell phones, text messages and instant messengers, there were landline phones -- some were even the rotary kind. But cellular phones changed all that. A February study by the Pew Research Center found that 41% of Millenials don't have landline phones as opposed to the 13% of baby boomers who are cell-phone only. The study also found that 83% of Millennials have slept with their cell phone either on or right next to their bed. Dependent much? Another side effect of the cell-phone age is that pay phones have all but disappeared, answering machines are a thing of the past, and "waiting by the phone" is just not done anymore. For most young folks, the only way they will own a landline phone is if cell reception is bad at home or if a cable triple-play package is more cost effective.
Remember door-to-door encyclopedia sales? The transformation of books and the way we read has been swift and remarkable thanks to the Internet, and the idea of buying 26 World Books in monthly installments seems absurd in an age of free Wikipedia. (Not to mention the obsolescence of the venerable dictionary, which began collecting dust with the advent of spellcheck.) And it's not just reference texts that are left ignored on shelves or propping up iffy furniture the world over. More and more people are reading ebooks, with sales of electronic editions besting hardcovers for the first time this summer. The iPad is set to further challenge the physical book's 600-year reign.
The days of asking for directions are done. Smart phones make life so easy. Now countless apps can utilize GPS technology to pinpoint your location and direct you to your desired locale with ease and precision. While it makes getting from A to B a breeze, it means the days of stumbling upon something new and great while lost are probably done. Gone are the times when you might happen across a tasty looking restaurant and pop in for a bite. (Smart phones with restaurant review apps ruin the surprise of trying new eateries, anyway.) Brainy mobiles are great, but they can also make us lazy friends. Running late to meet a pal? No need to worry. Simply text that you'll be there in 10 minutes. Then they can't get mad, right? Take a wrong turn on the way? Pull out your phone to map new walking directions. Whoops, better text again, now you're 15 minutes late. Geez, what did people do when they had to pick an exact time and place to meet? Oh yeah, they showed up on time.
Music Videos on MTV
Remember when MTV played music videos? Remember when the M in MTV stood for "Music" (a word which the company officially removed from its name last year)? Remember when no one had ever heard of Snooki? The television station once famous for forward-thinking music video shows like 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation -- even the early years of Total Request Live -- now can largely be summed up in three words: gym, tan, laundry. What happened?
Back when the world was analog, we listened to cassettes, and carried portable audio cassette players with pride. Yesteryear's Walkmans were indispensable, allowing us to take our beloved mix tapes everywhere. But the equipment was overthrown. First came the Discman, then the iPod. A new vocabulary developed -- "MP3s," "iTunes playlists" -- and before you could hit pause, words like "rewind" had lost all meaning.
The Glory Days of Nick at Nite
Each night the normally children-focused Nickelodeon television network shifts gears to feature content for adults after the kiddies are in bed. Traditionally, Nick at Nite was the place for the classics: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Munsters and later The Brady Bunch, Happy Days and The Wonder Years and more. That was then. Since, the network has made a switch to contemporary shows like George Lopez, Malcolm in the Middle and Everybody Hates Chris. Classics? I think not. What will kids beg for today? A rerun of a show that was new last week?
If you were born in or before the 1980s and your parents allowed you to eat candy, chances are good that you encountered tan M&Ms. But for those of you who had your first chocolate experience in the mid-90s, you will probably know the current M&M color line up, which includes the color blue. In 1995, the Mars candy company decided that having two shades of brown M&Ms were unnecessary, so they did away with the light brown ones, leaving only the colors red, yellow, green, dark brown and orange. Mars held a replacement contest, inviting candy lovers to call a 1-800 number and vote for their favorite proposed color: blue, pink, or purple. Blue won, and M&Ms never looked the same since.
Oh Czechoslovakia, we hardly knew you. You seem now a faraway land, your name tripping off the tongue. What kid these days will think of your triumphant soccer teams, your famous dissidents? Will they remember a time when an Iron Curtain fell across the West? Will they know what it was like when the battle for democracy was finally won? And will they lament the ethnic nationalism that, in 1993, ultimately cut you in half? No, they won't. They'll just visit Prague, pretend to read Milan Kundera, and drink all your cheap beer.