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The Best of Dayton Youth Radio: Waxing Poetic

Zoe Williams
Basim Blunt
Zoe Williams

Area high school students are at home now - since classes have been suspended.   Today on our series, the Best of Dayton Youth Radio, we hear from a student who learned to appreciate old vinyl records from her younger brother and her dad. 

I'm Zoe. I'm a senior at Stivers School for the Arts, and I'm also slightly obsessed with JD Salinger.

Ever notice how kids these days are into old stuff? We post pictures of polaroids on social media; we pride ourselves for listening to the Beatles. Even our sense of style takes all the best trends from the past 50 years. Kids these days, in a unique way, are obsessed with history.

I love the sound of a typewriter every time I strike a key. It just makes me feel like a real writer.

My brother, Kellen, has always been a bit of an old soul. His band covers BB King and Muddy Waters. We used to listen to Breakfast with the Beatles, every Sunday morning.

Just for fun, Kellen would browse the LPs at the local music store. He always strolled past vinyl of modern artists like Lana Del Rey or Adele. He even rolled his eyes at them. Kellen’s main interest was always in the oldies, Tom Petty or the Rolling Stones. He knew he could never get them though. He didn’t have anything to play them on.

Kellen’s birthday was coming up. Not only was it his sixteenth birthday, but it was the last birthday he’d have before I would move out for college, so I wanted to get him something special.

I found a bright orange Victrola record player; it was the perfect gift for a teen stuck in the past.

Kellen's eyes lit up as he tore open the black and gold “Happy Birthday” paper. I remember he just looked at me as if to say “Really?” His head kept swinging back and forth from me to the record player.

My dad disappeared into the basement. He has always been a music lover; for every CD on his shelf, he has a zany story about his days in LA or when he was in high school. 

I could tell my dad was excited because he ran up the stairs, something he never does.

My dad had about four Prince albums in his hands and one Jimi Hendrix. The record had to be at least fifty years old. The sleeve had tears at every corner, and the gold background was faded. It even had that old musky smell.

In the living room, my dad instructed Kellen on how to handle the record.  My dad can barely work his phone. He only just started sending texts by himself a few months ago, yet he was showing us how to use a record player. Kellen stared at the record like it would disappear if he looked away.

We spent the rest of the night eating yellow birthday cake and spoonfuls of ice cream listening to Prince. Kellen had that amazed look on his face the entire time. He didn't have to say thank you.

This story originally aired in 2018. After her high school graduation, Zoe Williams’ youth radio story was selected by the Scholastic Books Listen and Learn Program and is used by English teachers in schools all over the United States.

Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the Vectren Foundation.  This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Basim has worked in the media for over twenty years, as an A&R rep with Capitol Records and as a morning drive show producer. He is a filmmaker, media arts adjunct, and also a digital editing teacher in the Dayton Metro area. In 2012 he joined WYSO as a Community Voices Producer, and his work has earned him a “New Voices” Scholar award by (AIR) Association of Independents in Radio. Basim has produced the award-winning documentary Boogie Nights: A History of Funk Music in Dayton. He also served as Project Manager for ReInvention Stories, a multimedia docu-series produced by Oscar-winning filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2020, Blunt received a PMJA (Public Media Journalists Association) award for his WYSO series Dayton Youth Radio, for which he is the founding producer and instructor. Basim spins an eclectic mix of funk, soul, and classic R&B every Thursday night from 8 p.m to 10 p.m., as host of the 91.3 FM music show Behind the Groove.