Political Animal


February 06, 2013 8:03 AM Daylight Video

By Ed Kilgore

1964. Late at night, transistor radio under the sheets, tuned in to WLS Chicago. This is what I remember hearing: the Honeycombs (featuring drummer Honey Lantree) performing “Have I the Right?”

UPDATE: A commenter here and someone on Twitter are wondering how a cracker like me was listening to WLS. It’s one of those megawatt “clear-channel” stations (not to be confused with the conglomerate by the same name) whose night-time signal is protected from interference. So where I was living in LaGrange, Georgia in the early 1960s, we could pick up WLS at night a lot more easily than the Atlanta pop stations. And I suspect that was true for a lot of folk living far from Chicago.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Phil Stebbings on February 06, 2013 9:27 AM:

    Ahh....While the song was 'slightly' ahead of my time, I too listened under the blankets to WLS radio in the late sixties. WLS is now a right wing talker...sigh.

  • Gandalf on February 06, 2013 9:59 AM:

    That's amazing. My sister and I used to listen to the same song under the covers on our transistor radios. WLS in Chicago was one of our pipelines to "the music".

  • deanarms on February 06, 2013 10:09 AM:

    Let me join in the "under the blanket' club. I was in Milwaukee but the WLS signal travelled 90 miles north pretty easily. We also had WOKY. Loved the song. Thanks for this, Ed.

  • RMcD on February 06, 2013 10:11 AM:


  • Ken D. on February 06, 2013 10:30 AM:

    I was an Art Roberts guest teen DJ.

  • AMS on February 06, 2013 11:06 AM:

    Me, too! I listened to WLS under the sheets on my six-transistor radio in my remote corner of NW PA---until the signal inevitably faded out because of the surrounding mountains. Great memories, thanks!

  • David on February 06, 2013 12:19 PM:

    Ed, your bio says you are from the "deep south"? Did you summer in Chicago?

  • Joe on February 06, 2013 1:20 PM:

    England's Joe Meek, audio original, produced this pop confection-- the man who brought us "Telstar" by the Tornadoes.
    I wonder if any of the Honeycombs shown played or sang on the single.....

    I too remember WLS from a summer in IA. I'd wait literally hours with my l'il transistor for ""Satisfaction".

  • exlibra on February 06, 2013 1:38 PM:

    Down comforter instead of a blanket, and a different station altogether, it being Warsaw, Poland. But, sure, I remember. Also thinking "like hell I will " (come right back), "just got rid of you, didn't I?", Now, I can't even remember which of the losers got the boot at the time, but the song has stayed with me.

  • Jose Hipants on February 06, 2013 1:52 PM:

    WLS was good in the 60's, but Clyde Clifford's Beaker Street program from KAAY blew my mind.

  • Linkmeister on February 06, 2013 2:27 PM:

    Didn't Oklahoma City have one of those 50000-watt stations too?

  • howie on February 06, 2013 6:22 PM:

    In suburban Maryland, we listened to WKBW Buffalo the same way at night during the 1960s. Now I listen to the same station, now WWKB, for progressive talk from dusk until about 8AM when it fades away.

  • emjayay on February 06, 2013 6:43 PM:

    I believe AM frequencies bounce off the ionosphere after the sun goes down. Yes, Oklahoma City had one of those 50000W stations. We used to listen to it at night in southern Arizona in the 60's.

  • wv2ny on February 06, 2013 10:53 PM:

    Where I lived in WVa in 1964, WABC/NYC was the station that bounced into my transistor. Later on, WCFL/Chicago was the best..twice as good as 'LS.

  • reidmc on February 06, 2013 11:59 PM:

    yup - another Milwaukee 60s transistor-radio WLS and KAAY radio listener here

  • reidmc on February 07, 2013 12:01 AM:

    a few years later, either WLS or WCFL carried a British top 10 or 20 show (I think on Sunday night) that was uber-cool

  • greybeard on February 07, 2013 12:39 AM:

    could sometimes pick up WLS in Los Angeles late at night in the 60s and early 70s

  • chutedem on February 07, 2013 12:40 AM:

    Who remembers WLW in Cincinnati when it was 500,000 watts clear channel?

  • Gingerpye on February 08, 2013 1:44 AM:

    I listened to WLS in Alabama. Loved Art Roberts.