When the voices of our youth pass away, the silence is resounding. Today we have news that Scott Muni, one of the bedrock personalities of progressive rock radio, died last night. He had been ill following a stroke last month.
The Professor was central to my high school musical awakening in his role as Master and Commander and Head Booster at WNEW-FM, one of the greatest stations of a modern radio era long past. The current airwaves are so irrelevant, so noisy, and so cravenly subservient to the corporate dollar, that it’s hard to remember how vital the radio once was: a machine so vibrant you could scarcely believe you could buy one in a store. It was youth in a box.
Scott’s final station, Q104.3 FM (“New York’s Only Classic Rock Station”), has a sweet tribute to him posted on their site. There are audio clips of him on the air, which is how most of us knew him. For today at least, on the main page of the Q104.3 site there is a picture of Scott with the quote “And in the end, the love you take. Is equal to the love you make.”
Scottso was a non-stop Beatles fan who never relented for a moment; his voice and his grief were as much a part of the terrible day John Lennon was killed as was the Dakota itself. As radio waned and music moved on he never lost his deep love of the art, as apart from the commerce. When WNEW was dismantled there was nothing to take its place; if you grew up in New York and listened in the 70′s, you’ll know what I mean.
I share a birthday with Scottso, and once a few years ago I faxed in a birthday list of song requests that hovered well outside the strict, shallow playlists that Muni would never have allowed on his beat in the Old Days. He couldn’t play much of anything from the list, and instead took a few minutes of airtime to speak to me by name through the radio, and to address my memories of WNEW as a touchstone, the fulcrum of a personal era. I was thrilled, a teenager all over again, hearing my name in Scottso’s voice. It was a wonderful gift. He told me to keep listening to what I loved. He told me to remember the music, and the love of the music.
And I do.