In Music

The author has a special memory of the first time he was introduced to Patti Smith's music. (PHOTO: David Gahr)

The night Reitman introduced me to a music legend

It was spring of 1975. I was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In most aspects of life I was a true freshman – still feeling my way in the world and not sure about much. Except for radio. I was passionate about radio, and as such (one of life's lessons is that passion can take you pretty far), within weeks of being at school, I was involved with the campus radio station.

While Whitewater was very much a commuter school and sometimes desolate on weekends, its ease of travel to and from Milwaukee provided numerous opportunities. While the 40 years that have passed (and the wild nights) have erased many memories, hearing that Patti Smith is coming to Milwaukee jarred a special one that I will always carry with me.

Again, the years erode my ability to recall what concert the four of us from WSUW, the college station, drove to Milwaukee to see. I don't know who or where it was or how I even paid for a ticket. But what I do remember about that night was amazing.

We arrived a couple of hours early and set about finding a place to eat in downtown Milwaukee. There was a place around 6th and Wisconsin that we lucked into. I say that because, to our amazement Bob Reitman, was sitting by himself and eating dinner. Those were his WQFM days, and we all certainly knew who he was.

Since three of us were semi-insecure young radio geeks and the fourth of our party was a female, we recruited her to go over and say hello. He motioned for the rest of us to join in the conversation.

Years later I would come to know him as a competitor, peer, great guy and an icon. That evening he was surreal. However, his passion was (and always is) music. So he was more than willing to talk about whatever concert it was that we were going to, as well as "the state of music circa 1975" in general.

He brought up Dylan. And more about Dylan. And Bruce Springsteen. And then some more about Dylan. But what I will never forget was that he almost jumped out of his chair when he told us about a poet from the New York underground scene named Patti Smith. I was intrigued, so he said he would send me a cassette tape if I gave him my address. Yeah, right, I thought, Bob Reitman was going to send a cassette tape to my dorm!

A week later there it was.

When Patti Smith's amazing debut album "Horses" came out on Dec. 13, 1975, I already knew how special it was.

In the 40-plus years since, I've always remembered how special Bob Reitman was to share a tape with a stranger who shared the passion for music.

And I can pretty much guess where we will both be March 9, 2017.


eheinzelman | Jan. 3, 2017 at 12:32 p.m. (report)

Great Memory Steve!!

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