WESB Sign-Off Song (2014)
Posted to YouTube on February 11, 2014
We've been racking our brains over at the I Grew Up in Bradford, PA Facebook group to remember the old sign-off song for WESB.
For the non-Bradfordians among you, Bradford is a small city (really a town, but we insist that we are a city) deep in the Allegheny mountains (really hills, but we insist that they are mountains) of northern Pennsylvania — an absolutely beautiful place, but also very much removed from the wider world. All in all, a great place to grow up, and to live.
Back in the day (i.e., before such things as the interwebs...) Bradford had a single radio station — WESB 1490 AM. I remember going to bed as a young kid, but instead of going to sleep as I was supposed to, my brother and I would stay up and listen to the radio, quiet enough not to get caught.
Sometimes we would listen to Pirates games (back before their 20-year losing streak). Sometimes we would try to pick up faraway stations, which you can do with AM at night. Sometimes, we would listen to whatever music was on WESB.
Bradfordians, some of you might recall Dream Dust. It was a program that WESB DJ-ed themselves each night, beginning at 11:15. It featured sleepy-time music from generations past, befitting the program's name. Different music each night, but they always ended with the same song — WESB's sign-off song. Do you remember the song?
This was followed by a five-minute national-service newscast at 11:55, and then the Star-Spangled Banner before signing off for the night.
Dream Dust ended, probably in the 1990s. I called WESB General Manager Don Fredeen yesterday. He remembered me and I remembered him, which was nice. Alas, he told me that the Dream Dust collection, including the sign-off song, was never digitized — lost to the ages, except for our collective memories.
Fortunately, these collective memories go a ways back. Dream Dust began in the 1950s, if not earlier, and apparently with the same sign-off song for about four decades.
Don recommended that I track down Bill Winn, a program manager at WESB in the 1980s, now 94 years old and living outside of Rochester, NY. I couldn't get through to him by phone, so I was preparing to write him (snail mail, not email) when Marcian Bouchard, now a North Carolinian like myself, entered the conversation. We had already figured out that the song was "I'll See You In My Dreams", but none of the versions that we found on YouTube sounded right.
Marcian informed us that we were looking for a version performed by Hugo Winterhalter's Orchestra and Chorus and distributed by RCA Victor Records in 1951. I actually found a static-y copy in the recesses of YouTube, and ran it through Adobe Audition CS6 to improve the audio quality.
Bradfordians, give it a listen and see if you remember. If so, you almost certainly heard it late at night, when you probably should have been asleep — the same as generations of Bradfordians before you.
Almost lost to the passing of time, but now preserved, a shared, multi-generational experience — that most of us weren't even aware of — unique to our little city in the mountains. Enjoy!