|Lee is considered a leading authority on Maine rock groups of the 60s and an avid collector of Beatles music and memorabilia.
|APRIL 2013 - This spring Lee sat down with freelance writer Rick Mullen to talk about his days at WLKN radio in Lincoln, Maine. The results of that interview were published in the Lincoln (ME) News in the May 2 issue. It's re-published here by permission of The Lincoln News.
Lincoln Radio WLKN had golden era
By Rick Mullen
The Beatles came to Lincoln. So did the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Chubby Checker, the Hollies, the Who, Connie Francis, Bill Haley and the Comets, and other pop icons of the 1960s era.
They came not in person, but by way of a radio station called WLKN.
Brought to you by Mr. Solid Gold.
From 1979 to 1987, Lee Rand owned a piece of air time in Lincoln – playing oldies that he knew the public loved, as he loved them himself. As Sunday afternoon disk jockey for the Lincoln radio station, he came up with a radio show that clicked so well with listeners so that “even now,” he said, people still recognize him by the sound of his voice.
Rand, who grew up in Old Town, got hooked on “oldies,” as they became, at an early age. He performed his first DJ role at a sock hop when he was thirteen – by that age already known as a big record buff. He would go on to play the drums in rock bands and work as a DJ at Bangor radio stations and at weddings and other special events.
A DJ from Old Town, who heard Rand’s show of ‘50s and ‘60s oldies, “wanted to know if I’d be interested in working in Lincoln.” Rand took the job.
The name of his radio show was Solid Gold – and when Brenda Lee addressed him as Mr. Solid Gold a few years later, the name stuck.
The show wasn’t originally supposed to happen. WLKN had hired Rand to be the local radio voice covering Boston Red Sox baseball games on Sunday afternoons. The station also played “album-oriented rock,” or selections from record albums (music came on records in those days) that weren’t necessarily hits.
Rand pointed out to the station manager that there was some free air time before the Sox started; and if there was a delay of game, there could be hours to fill. He proposed to fill that time with oldies: rock and pop classic numbers.
Rand had reason to think he’d get a good reception. “I knew that the music the people liked in greater Lincoln was oldies and country & western,” he said. “I knew that from doing wedding receptions.” Rand had performed his DJ role live, and he had seen what excited audiences.
It was the same kind of music that excited him.
Solid Gold was born.
Lee in the spring of 2013 in his back yard in Lincoln, Maine, USA.
On that first Sunday, Rand chose first to spin a song called “Bye Bye Love,” performed by the Everly Brothers. A highly popular 1960’s era rock-country duo, they had made their debut in 1957 with this song, which reached #2 on the US Billboard Pop charts.
Before the song was over, Rand says, “We started getting phone calls” from listeners who liked what they’d heard. The first Solid Gold show lasted just 45 minutes, and “That 45-minute time slot got eaten up quick,” he said.
“Then the Red Sox came on, and I kept getting calls during the game.”
Solid Gold was off and running.
“We had listeners all the way from Houlton to Bangor,” Rand said.
The show became so popular that it propelled WLKN into Bangor’s list of top-rated stations, Rand said. A survey of radio listeners, he said, showed that “WLKN Solid Gold was listened to by 46.8 percent of the people in the greater area who were listening to the radio on a Sunday afternoon.” Of all the stations from which to choose, his show was capturing about half of the total audience.
Solid Gold was about more than the music: it was also about the personalities behind the sound. “It was not just about playing one record after another,” said Rand. “I knew the music, and could talk about it. I would talk to the audiences like they were fans of the music, just like I was. And I knew celebrities in the music business.”
In the course of his career in the music biz, Rand had met big-name artists of the 1960s, such as folk/blues/rock singer-songwriter Johnny Rivers, and the rock legend Chuck Berry. Rand saw a young Wayne Newton arrive in Bangor on a bus, carrying his guitar, to do one of his early gigs.
“I could talk about some of the people who made that music,” Rand said. “Some stars would call the station.” Brenda Lee (a 1960s-era pop and country star who had 37 hits on the US charts) would call from Nashville, he said.
“It was just a fun time.”
Solid Gold was a winner, but the station’s other fare did not fare as well; WLKN went into economic decline. The station’s ownership changed several times, and despite some tinkering with the format, the run came to an end. In 1994 WLKN (now WHMX) filed for bankruptcy protection.
By this point, Lee Rand already had left to form Rand Advertising, which still operates in Lincoln to this day.
Rand thinks the closing of WLKN was a loss for the town.
WLKN gave people a sense of personal connection with each other that is not readily found in radio stations of today, Rand said.
But Mr. Solid Gold did have a chance to revive some memories – and make some.
“It was a fine afternoon,” he said of his Sunday show. “We had a ball.”
WLKN jacket donated to Lincoln Historical Society
June 19, 2012 - Lee Rand, former WLKN radio station manager and popular radio personality, presented the Lincoln Historlcal Society with a station jacket from 1985 today at the LHS museum on West Broadway. Rand was host of the #1 rated Sunday afternoon "Solid Gold" radio show during the late 1970's and early-to-mid 1980's at Lincoln's radio station started by Frank Delle in the 1960's. The station went off the air in 1995.
More about his broadcasting career can be seen on his website www.MrSolidGold.com. Lee and his wife Connie are currently owners of Rand Advertising LLC, which they started in 1988, and maintain the Lincoln community website at www.WelcomeToLincolnMaine.com.
Rand has had a long interest in the LHS and published a photobook about the Society's "LIttle Red School House" a few years ago. Rand hopes to donate more memorabilia to the LHS from Lincoln's former radio station "as I go through more of my stuff" he said today. "It's a shame for these historical items to just be thrown away and I urge people to help save our history by donating historical artifacts to our wonderful local historical society."
- Connie Rand
BOOK MAY BE IN THE WORKS
9/20/13 - BOOK UPDATE: Lee's book about WLKN AM/FM, tentatively titled "A Broken Record", was supposed be published as an e-book in late 2013. Well, it's basically finished, but with Lee's revival of "Solid Gold" on Lincoln's internet radio station, the story now is not finished! So, the publication date has been put on indefinite hold.
May 14, 2012- Today Lee made the following announcement: "Yes, I have been putting together ideas for a book partly about Lincoln's radio station WLKN and my experiences as musician, DJ, live entertainer and radio personality, as well as radio station manager. Tentatively titled "A Broken Record", it would be published as an e-book, probably in late 2013. That timetable depends on several things I can't divulge at this time. Lot of work to be done.
"This is something I've been asked to do many times, and actually something I, too, have felt should be done. There ARE stories to be told before they're lost to time and memory.
This project will dwell mainly with the years from 1963 through 1995. Although my experiences at WLKN AM/FM in Lincoln will be at the center of "my story", there will be a lot more included that has nothing to do with my involvement for several years in broadcasting.
"Anyone interested in the world of rock 'n roll in eastern and northern Maine from the point of view of someone who was in the middle of it may find this publication at the least mildly entertaining, and at the most quite insightful. I'll keep you all informed of any future developments."
Lee Rand Sunday show to return via internet
August 29 - LINCOLN – For close to a decade ending in 1987, and for a brief return in the spring of 1995, Lee Rand's "Solid Gold" radio show ruled the Sunday afternoon airwaves, bringing in listeners from beyond the Lincoln home of WLKN.
Eventually, the show ended and WLKN could not be saved from bankruptcy protection, with both moving on to other things.
Now, through the marvel of modern technology, listeners who enjoyed hearing classic 50s and 60s music, along with some 70s, can take a metaphoric trip back in time again as the Solid Gold Show will start broadcasting over the internet on Sundays, starting Sept. 1 at noon.
A link to the show can be found at www.mrsolidgold.com, a website designed by Lee and Connie Rand to document the original radio show.
The last of a series of test shows was aired on Aug. 25 over the internet, drawing comments from listeners in the greater Lincoln area and to Cincinnati, the Hamptons, Montana, Connecticut and southern California, according to Rand.
"I thought it was great," Rand said in a recent interview. "We had a blast."
The show will run from noon-6 p.m. on Sundays and follow much the same format as the "Solid Gold" radio show did, Rand explained, concentrating on 50s and 60s with a few 70s songs added to the mix as well.
"It will depend on what the listeners want to hear," Rand said.
Since the Solid Gold show signed off the air for good in 1995, people have asked if the show would return, Rand said.
"The thing that held it back were licensing fees, copyrights," Rand said.
Instead of a traditional radio station, Rand turned to an internet-based solution, managing to work out a fee schedule that would allow Rand to bring back the show, top-ranked among Sunday afternoon shows in its day.
"Once that hurdle was out of the way, I decided, hey, let's do it," Rand said.
While the music Rand plays will remain much the same, its delivery has changed drastically, Rand explained, with computer technology replacing record turntables and cassettes.
"The only thing that's the same is the microphone," Rand said.
One other thing also remains the same, according to Rand – the show is an attempt to return to yesteryear and escape life for a little bit.
"The Solid Gold show is a nostalgia trip for me," he said. "It brings me back to my youth.
"I have as much fun as the listeners," Rand added.
One might also hear Lee's wife, Connie, who has recorded a jingle or two for the new show.
"She likes it," Lee Rand said.
The show is designed with area listeners in mind, though reaction has come from across the country, Lee Rand added.
"I want people in our area to know that this is their oldies show," Rand said.
Lee Rand said he may also broadcast a special edition of the show on other nights of the week.
Based on some early test shows, radio stations in Miami and Cincinnati have expressed interest in perhaps rebroadcasting the show on local radio, he added.
More information on the current or former "Solid Gold" show can be found at www.mrsolidgold.com, including an email link to sent Lee Rand a request or comment.
- Chris DeBeck, Lincoln (ME) News. Republished by Permission.
LEE BACK ON THE "RADIO"?
August 8, 2013 - Lee will begin a series of test broadcasts on the 11th to see if it will be feasible to reprise his "Solid Gold Show" as a weekly Internet radio show. After 18 years off the air, Lee is "excited about the possibilities now that several hurdles have been overcome". If all goes well, his show will be broadcasting regularly starting in early September. Watch this page or the Lee's Solid Gold Show Facebook page for the latest updates from Lee about the future of "Solid Gold".
MEDIA RELEASE: 1/24/11- "After giving the offer to revive my "Solid Gold Show" on radio station WSYY careful consideration, I have decided not to accept their offer to return to the airwaves. I have also decided to close the door, as it were, on any future endeavors to bring me and my show back. I will not entertain any future offers to broadcast again. I have enough great memories to last a lifetime - why would I want more?
I have had the pleasure of having a number one rated radio show, and I have been lucky enough to be able to share the music I love so much with thousands of listeners in eastern and northern Maine on the radio and at my live shows. And, I got paid for all this!! But the radio business, and live DJ business, have changed as have the demographics. I've done it, and I've been there, so I've decided I have no need to 'do it again' over the radio waves.
But let me tell you, it was great, and I want to thank each and every one of you who listened in, went to my sock hops, and still write or e-mail me - you, along with the music, will always be a part of my life. I enjoyed every minute of it!"
In a letter to WSYY owner James Talbott, Rand also cited potential conflicts with his company, Rand Advertising LLC, and lower than expected compensation from the station as a couple of the reasons he declined the offer.