Summer in the (Motor) City
Here’s a trivia question. When Bob Green came back on the former WKNR airwaves for the 2009 Woodward Dream Cruise, what was the first song he played? You guessed it. “Summer in the City” by the Lovin Spoonful.
During the Keener era, you didn’t need to drive to Cedar Point. Edgewater Park was in the neighborhood. So were Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum (now called simply “The Henry Ford“). And, if you wanted to feel the wind in your hair, watching Detroit dance on your left and Windsor on your right, you could hop on the Bob Lo Boats and cruise to Bob Lo Island.
We were amazed at how the waiters at Lafayette Coney could remember a table full of orders, without writing any of them down, and get each of our dogs prepared exactly to our specifications. We didn’t need casinos to enjoy the magic of Greek Town and the three great concert venues were Cobo Arena, Olympia Stadium and the Masonic Auditorium.
We can still remember the sounds and smells at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull when the Tigers were playing. Strohs Beer and Hygrade Ballpark Franks wafted across the outfield as we plugged transistor radio ear phones in our ears to hear Ernie Harwell, the true voice of summer in our city.
Summer nights, we might even have had Scott Regen whispering in the background as we watched a movie at one of metro Detroit’s many drive-in theaters. And what true Detroiter hadn’t notched his or her belt with a visit to the Detroit Zoo before we reached ten years of age?
Bob Lo Island and Tiger Stadium are only memories. Stroh’s beer is a micro brew (and tastes a LOT better than the original). Drive-in’s are few and far between in an age of high definition plasma TV screens. And WKNR’s transmitter site south of I-94 near Metro Airport is now an empty field.
But the Motor City.. and our entire Great Lake State still seduce us. Comerica Park is just as iconic, perhaps more so than Tiger Stadium. You can still enjoy coney dogs and the timeless magic of The Henry Ford. And even with our pot holes, Michigan’s highways make getting away to Traverse City, Houghton Lake or Mackinac Island a breeze. (remember waiting for that darn Zilwaukee Bridge to come back down?)
The fireworks at the Detrroit / Windsor Freedom Festival are still just as breathtaking. And many of us have continued the Detroit Zoo tradition, with our grandchildren.
Want to go back in time to summer in the city, Keener style? Listen to this air-check from July of 1964, featuring the frenetic Gary Stevens, complete with commercials and a countdown of the top songs of the week.
WKNR was more than just a radio station. It was an attitude; an outlook on life that told the world we were dedicated to exploration, innovation and fun. That attitude is something us Keener fans still have. And if we’re lucky, we’ve been able to pass it on.