The autumn of 1974 found me behind the wheel of a Black 1965 Chevelle Sport Coupe that once belonged to Ethel Savage, a retired bookkeeper at Boynton Chevrolet in Camden. Barely 37,000 miles showed on the odometer of my 9-year-old Chevy.

Stowed away in the generous trunk was a vintage footlocker, filled with all my clothes. In the back seat, a Pioneer Stereo receiver brought back stateside from Vietnam by an American soldier. I saved up to buy it, working in the Samco Can Factory on Tillson Avenue, making Sardine cans and lids.

I was on my way Down East to start my second year at the University of Maine at Machias. Everything I owned was in that car. I remember marveling at that fact way back then. I also thought it would not be the case very long.

Machias is about an hour and a half from the nearest anywhere. I missed some of my connections to the outside world. One of those connections was the amazing, new FM station in Lewiston, WBLM. A freeform, album-oriented rock station, with a stereo signal. It signed on for the first time the prior year. Each DJ had a following and lots of leeway to play obscure album cuts.

Regionally syndicated astrologist Darrel Martini, who billed himself as the “Cosmic Muffin,” gave daily astrological reports every morning. His sign off, I can still remember: “It’s a wise person who rules the stars. It’s a fool who’s ruled by them. Over and out.”

Leaving ‘BLM behind was not in my plans. My dorm room on the first floor middle wing had a south western exposure. I planted an old, rabbit ear antenna on the ground outside my room. On good days — and there seemed to be more of them in the fall — the red light on the trusty old Pioneer would light up, indicating the stereo signal from WBLM. I was one of only a handful of people getting the signal in any form. WBLM was the sound track for many of our get togethers in the middle wing of Sennett Hall.

The kid from Rockland gets ‘BLM!

Not too shabby…

There was another radio signal I was chasing. This one was even more elusive and hard to come by: Rockland’s AM station, WRKD.

It had an antenna located on Lermond’s cove in downtown Rockland. WRKD’s AM signal on a good day might have traveled North as far as Northport. Miles short of Machias. One day, I was thinking how nice it would be to hear some Rockland news at noon. Remembering overhearing radio wave discussions as a boy, I came up with a long shot.

I drove my old Chevy to a beach about five miles away called Roque Bluffs. My hunch was it would be a straight shot over water with no land in between, to Lermond’s Cove and the WRKD Tower.

It worked!

Tuning my dial to 14:50 I could get the daily news and Paul Harvey every day at noon. Clear as a bell.

What a treat! From that point on, I would drive out there and park on the beach and listen.

Unlike old newspapers, you cannot go back and listen again to old radio signals from the past.

However, I discovered the next best thing. Anywhere I go now, I can get a signal from Cape Cod, featuring one Earle Bailey – Bar None, the best radio voice ever. His shows are broadcast on satellite radio, on classic vinyl and deep tracks channels. His shows remind me of Old WBLM.

It makes my red light come on…

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

Glenn Billington’s old pioneer receiver.