Joe Troiano is in charge of 26 DJs who play music 24/7 on his Oldies N More internet music station. His own show, “Joe T’s Soda Shop,” airs from his basement Monday through Thursday. At least 4,000 listeners around the world tune in
By Carol Radin
The first record Joe Troiano ever bought was “Love Letters in the Sand” by Pat Boone.
That was a 45 rpm vinyl, the one where you stuck the adaptor disk in the middle, positioned it on the turntable and lowered the tone arm.
Troiano was pre-teen and every week when he came by money from his allowance or such odd jobs as a 12-year old could get, he would go to the record store, where Perry Como, Paul Anka, Bobby Rydell, the Chimes and the Mystics called out to him.
Now 78, Troiano has made his childhood preoccupation a life-long playlist which he broadcasts from Syracuse’s Eastwood neighborhood to the world on his internet radio station, “Oldies N More.”
He anchors the station with his own show “Joe T’s Soda Shop,” a four-hour marathon of hits and memories from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
When he started the “Oldies N More” station in 2020, he had 10 other disc jockeys. Now three years later, the station pops 24-7 with 26 DJs and listeners all over the globe.
“I know my listening audience,” Troiano said. “People in the 55-plus age market. And I want them to know they have a choice. They are not forgotten. My listeners know I’m going to give them the best!”
“Oldies N More” is the natural outcome for a guy with Troiano’s life-long experience in disc jockeying, radio stations and local connections on the music scene.
Even with full-time employment, first at Naum Brothers household goods store on Erie Boulevard and then 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service, Troiano has maintained his part-time be-bopper-ship.
After moving to Syracuse in 1972 from his native Rochester, he did not waste any time. Next to Naum Brothers, a little place called the “Jelly Bean” was “looking for a stereo and a live DJ and they hired me to spin the music.” People noticed. Pretty soon, the kid who used to play music in his room and pretend a hairbrush was a microphone was spinning up to 400 weddings and clambakes a year.
Once after a Crunch hockey game at the War Memorial, he played the discs for the open skating time.
Those were the days. Troiano ran radio commercials for Naum Brothers and got to hang out with local radio people, Jim Cate, Ron B., and Walter Cooper, a.k.a. Charlie Brown.
One day, Charlie Brown called him and said he had set up an interview with the band Boston but he couldn’t make it, so would Troiano do it instead. Would he!
“I did it on a reel-to-reel tape recorder,” Troiano reminisced. “Then I did the Elvis Presley Hour. It got me into the radio end.”
As much as he loved it, Troiano never pursued radio full time, since he had a stable day job to support his family with three children. A variety of part-time music-related projects kept him busy enough. One of those was co-inventing a board game called “Trivia Country Style” in 1995.
Charlie Daniels, the outstanding Country Hall of Fame singer, was the spokesperson for the game and appeared with Troiano at the World Toy Fair in New York’s Jacob Javits Center for the debut. The game sold 50,000 copies at the time and is still available for sale online, complete with game board, dice, question cards and five cowboy-boot game pieces.
In the early 2000s, Troiano worked for WSEN Radio, where he had an oldies show and was also the program director.
In 2019, he struck out on his own. Astutely, he realized that the internet had become the accessible source for a wide listening audience.
Of course the internet added a whole new dimension to radio broadcast. Troiano knew programming, marketing, hiring — no problem. However, he said, “When you own something of your own and you’re in a world that’s constantly changing, you become humbled. You need people with you.”
That would be Chris Anderson, his go-to technician and trouble-shooter. “He’s the person I rely on for the technical end,” Troiano said.
Troiano watched and learned as Anderson hooked him up to a server, set up the hardware, showed him how to put shows into automation and introduced him to the many other possibilities of the software applications.
And what great possibilities there are. Sitting in his basement studio recently, Troiano swiveled to the side in his chair, gesturing with his hands. “Before, you had two turntables, one on each side. A mic overhead. And,” — here he raises one hand sky-high — “a PILE of records in the middle. You had to cue the records.”
He swivels back to front and center and, with a flourish, motions to the here and now: large computer monitors. One screen is covered top to bottom with dense print, a playlist in near-constant motion. The other screen shifts from chat room messages, to photos sent in by fans, to a large world map.
On the map, a dot lights up in Brussels, so — Belgium is listening.
According to Troiano, younger-generation audiences in Europe have a renewed interest in American oldies.
“At any given time, over 4000 people are listening to my show,” Troiano said.
Rock on, “Joe T’s Soda Shop!”
Whereas regular radio stations would do listening surveys, the internet station can track numbers and locations in real time, minute to minute. And the reach is everywhere.
“I can check at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and see sometimes 1,500-1,700 cities,” Troiano said.
“Joe T’s Soda Shop” broadcasts live four hours per show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Troiano’s particular cut-off for a music decade is the ‘70s. Most of his other 26 DJs, who have their own transmitters and music libraries, also do the ‘50s to ‘70s, although “Cosmo” on Thursday and Friday covers the ‘80s from 9 to 11 p.m. and on Sunday there is now a classic country show, “Crazy Cowboy,” with Cowboy Ken from 4 to 6 p.m.
Check out the weekly schedule on the station’s homepage, oldiesnmoreradio.com and the show titles themselves will drive your listening calendar: “Vinyl Treasures,” “Judy’s Diner,” “UK_USA_Rock Soul Connection,” “Story Untold,” “Time Tunnel,” “Rockin’ Richard,” “The Doo Wop Corner,” to name only some. For those who need their music fix earlier than most, there is also “Rise N’ Shine” at 4 a.m.
Though Troiano is clearly an oldies guy kicking it new style, his basement studio absolutely defies technology.
It is four solid walls of very human history, nostalgia and fond memories, where the reverential among us can swoon for hours among the shelves of old photos, baseball caps, book bindings and record sleeves. It is a museum to the guys who wore suits and ties and the women with big hair, a time when songs were women’s names like “Peggy Sue,” “Gloria,” and “Katy Too;” being in love was to “Cherish” or be “Crazy;” the boldest enticement ever was “Be My Baby” and “Return to Sender” was the way people broke up.
Troiano has access to an internet library of 30,000 songs, but his loyalty remains with the vinyl he owns — 10,000 single 45s and 1,000 record albums. Among his prize possessions are autographed photos signed personally to him: Mel Carter, Larry Chance and the Earls, Randy and the Rainbows all live in Troiano’s basement and smile at him every day.
And playlists on a computer application do not supersede what makes his show most special: his mellow DJ voice, his on-the-air specials like “Street Corner Acapella” on Tuesdays and the “Elvis Presley Song of Inspiration” every day and tributes on a singer’s birthday, which his wife, Linda, will remind him of.
Every DJ is a performer, and Troiano has some particular characters and voices he’s made up — Aunt Maude pops up or Chief Metro the weather reporter or Uncle Rocco. Over the years, fans have also enjoyed his on-the-air interviews with singers like Willie Winfield and the Harptones, Paul Evans, Jimmy Clanton, Bobby Rydell, the Flamingos, the Duprees, the Chimes. Troiano can go on and on. Then there’s Joe T’s guarantee — “I’ve never had a song I couldn’t find. If I don’t have it, I tell the caller I will have it tomorrow.”
Five decades into spinning discs, Troiano will never run out of material. “I love the music business!” he proclaimed with childish delight.
Maybe he’s having too much fun? Nah, never!
For your own journey into “Oldies N More” check out www.Oldiesnmoreradio.com.