AP

Retirees, isolated by virus, become DJs for new radio hour

May 12, 2020, 5:55 AM
Retiree Bob Coleman poses on Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Franklin, Tenn., with a picture of his late ...
Retiree Bob Coleman poses on Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Franklin, Tenn., with a picture of his late wife, Emily, whom he dedicated a song to on his radio show. Coleman is one of several retirees who have turned into DJs for a new online radio hour known as “Radio Recliner.” The 60-minute show began airing last month, starting with retirees in middle Tennessee, recording from their recliners quarantined due to concerns over COVID-19. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi)
(AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tucked away inside his room at a senior care facility, Bob Coleman knew he couldn’t go out into the world with the coronavirus raging. But he could share with the world his first love — country music.

“Hello everybody, it’s a bright day in Franklin, Tennessee,” the 88-year-old Air Force veteran crooned into his microphone. “This is Bob Coleman, better known as the ‘Karaoke Cowboy,’ coming to you from Room 3325. … Let’s just jump right into it.”

The hits of Hank Williams, Dwight Yoakam and Brad Paisley began to play, all carefully selected by Coleman, who lives in Somerby Franklin, an assisted living facility about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Nashville.

Coleman is one of several retirees who have turned into DJs for a new online radio hour known as “Radio Recliner.”

The 60-minute show began airing last month, starting with quarantined retirees in middle Tennessee. It has since taken off, as much the production side as among listeners, with seniors in assisted-living facilities in Georgia, Alabama and others jumping at the chance to be a DJ after being secluded because of strict social distancing rules.

Older adults are the age group most at risk from the new coronavirus. This has left many senior citizens in assisted-living facilities not only prohibited from seeing outside visitors, but also banned from socializing with neighbors across the hall.

The idea of Radio Recliner was kickstarted by Atlanta and Birmingham-based marketing firm Luckie, whose clientele includes Bridge Senior Living, which operates more than 20 senior living properties in 14 states.

After the DJs were recruited, the seniors recorded their introductions and transitions on their phones — many while relaxing on a recliner or kitchen table. The audio was then sent off to productions staffers, who handled the technical side of Radio Recliner.

Listeners can send song requests dedicated to family or friends, which are included in the daily show. Fresh content airs weekdays at noon, with previous segments playing in rotation.

A typical dedication went like this: “Hey Granny, this is your favorite granddaughter Amy … we just wanted to call in and say we love you very much.”

Mitch Bennett, Luckie’s chief creative officer, said the idea was to provide a sense of community to isolated seniors .

“For this generation, radio was the original social media,” Bennett said. “Dedicating a song to someone you love, and having them hear it along with everyone else, is a special way of connecting. It’s a great time to bring that feeling back.”

In Georgia, 80-year-old Ed Rosenblatt said an hour he spent spinning tunes on Radio Recliner prompted a flood of text messages, emails and calls from friends and family across the country — many of whom he hadn’t heard from in years.

“For the past year I’ve been teaching myself how to play the ukulele,” said Rosenblatt, who lives at Somerby Sandy Springs just outside of Atlanta. “So at the close of the show, I actually played a song on my ukulele. I sang and played the ”Sloop John B,'” the Beach Boys classic.

“Everybody knows that song,” Rosenblatt said.

___

Listen to Radio Recliner at https://radiorecliner.com/

___

Kimberlee Kruesi can be reached at https://twitter.com/kkruesi

___

While nonstop global news about the effects of the coronavirus have become commonplace, so, too, are the stories about the kindness of strangers and individuals who have sacrificed for others. “One Good Thing” is an AP continuing series reflecting these acts of kindness.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
1 day ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
8 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
10 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
11 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
12 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Retirees, isolated by virus, become DJs for new radio hour