Alaska Notebook: Music stops

An institution slipped quietly away on the first of May. KHAR, "Heart" radio, went from decades of easy listening to sports talk, Nat King Cole to Rome and his clones.

Must have my old fogy on, for it's a sad passage, and I think I understand the letter writers who have lamented the music's end. We're in that chilling demographic of newspaper readers, politely described as of a certain age.

I didn't tune in often, but I was glad KHAR was part of the radio dial array. Listening wasn't always easy -- Barry Manilow. For as time went by the station's Greatest Gen format slid into the 60s and 70s but only as far as pop light. You'd hear McCartney singing "Yesterday;" you'd never hear Lennon doing "Revolution."

Easy says bland, but then one person's elevator music is another's stop-in-your-tracks memory. No sports talk rant will ever have the staying power of an old song, whether by Anne Murray or the Grateful Dead.

KHAR was at its best when it tracked further back -- 30s, 40s, 50s -- music mostly made before the boomers were born, and the rest when they were in grade school. The station carried vintage radio shows and once or twice I caught "Twilight Zone' on Sunday nights.

But who says you can't cross generations? I remember my dad's uncharacteristic forbearance when I treated him to Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball" as interpreted by Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. He only winced a little.

For Alaskans of that certain age, listening to KHAR was like calling your folks in the Lower 48. It might not be your music, but it was in your blood.

-- Frank Gerjevic