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New Internet Radio Station Helps Seniors Share Their Favorite Music

Jun 30, 2020
Originally published on June 30, 2020 3:39 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The coronavirus pandemic has been especially difficult for older Americans.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Like Ted Reissing, who lives in the Somerby Senior Living facility in Peachtree City, Ga. He's 84 years old, an avid birdwatcher.

SHAPIRO: This summer, Reissing had two vacations planned and was on his way to a milestone worth tweeting about.

TED REISSING: I'm 56 birds short of seeing 6,000. And I'm trying to get to 6,000 before I kicked the bucket.

KELLY: But those trips are canceled now. And making matters worse, Reissing doesn't have much to do in lockdown.

SHAPIRO: One thing managed to insert a little jolt of excitement into his routine, though.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "RADIO RECLINER")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) "Radio Recliner."

REISSING: Reissing took part in a resident DJ series called "Radio Recliner."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOCKINGBIRD HILL")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) Tweet tweedlee dee dee.

REISSING: Good day. This is your radio recliner DJ, Birdman Ted.

KELLY: It's an Internet radio program giving seniors in residential facilities all over the country a platform to share some of their favorite music. Many of DJ Birdman's song choices were fitting.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACKBIRD")

PAUL MCCARTNEY: (Singing) Blackbird singing in the dead of night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE IS LIKE A BUTTERFLY")

DOLLY PARTON: (Singing) Love makes your heart feel strange inside. It flutters like soft wings in flight.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EAGLE WHEN SHE FLIES")

PARTON: (Singing) But she's an eagle...

KELLY: Mitch Bennett is with Luckie, the marketing company behind "Radio Recliner." He says he wanted to help bring seniors a much-needed sense of community.

MITCH BENNETT: They're very isolated in their rooms. They're not seeing each other. And they can't see their families, haven't seen them for months.

SHAPIRO: Reissing knows that feeling well. He moved here with his wife four years ago. But then she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

REISSING: She's in another building. I have not seen her for three months. And she's about 200 feet away from where I live.

KELLY: No surprise, then, who DJ Birdman's hour-long broadcast was dedicated to.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "RADIO RECLINER")

REISSING: This show is dedicated to my wife Kay. Anybody that lives here will tell you if there's anything good about me, it's directly due to her being in my life for 57 years.

SHAPIRO: DJ Birdman and Kay, we hope you two lovebirds are reunited soon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOCKINGBIRD HILL")

BURL IVES: (Singing) Tweedlee dee dee, it gives me a thrill to wake up in the morning to the mockingbird's trill. Tra-la-la, tweedlee dee dee, there's peace and goodwill. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.