Norm N. Nite is a rock ‘n’ roll radio pioneer. He is a musicologist who authored the "Rock On" series of books considered by many as the original encyclopedia of rock and roll music.
He is largely credited with helping bring the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame to his hometown of Cleveland, and currently, still broadcasts a radio show from the Hall concentrating on the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. And now, Nite is getting ready to part with an enormous collection of vinyl records and rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia that he’s amassed over the years in the "Legends of Radio" auction being put on Backstage Auctions. Nite took time out recently to talk about his collection and his years in the music industry.
How did you get your start in radio?
Norm Nite: I just pursued my hobby of loving music [and turned it] into my career. At college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I started hanging out at the college radio station, and I got the bug. And before you know it, I decided to change my major from business to broadcasting. And that was many, many years ago.
What was the initial thrill of being involved in radio?
NN: Well, I guess, primarily being able to, [in] whatever you have a chance to do, it makes people feel good — to entertain, to inform, to make people feel good. When someone listens to something that you do, it’s just like a person onstage, or a person who writes a book or a person who makes a painting, when someone looks at it, listens to it, sees it, they come away with a special feeling — it makes them, hopefully, feel good. And that’s what the whole thing about radio is. You go in there, you do a job, you do a show, and you’re reaching people out there, and, all of a sudden, you’re making a difference in their lives, and you make them feel good, and that’s what’s so great about it.
What are some of your favorite moments in radio?
NN: I guess being able to meet performers, because I grew up as a fan of radio, having a chance to be able to listen to all these performers with their music back in the 1950s, and then, because of being on the air, you had a chance to meet these people and interview these people and become friends with these people, and that’s kind of like the biggest thrill for me. When you look back over the years and you take a look at how many different entertainers you’ve met in all different forms of the music — whether it’s rock, whether it’s pop … you know, whatever, or entertainers or comedians or emcees, or whatever — that’s been the biggest thrill for me through radio, to meet so many individuals in entertainment and fans around the United States that, in many cases, I’ve made some pretty good friendships.
What is going to excite people about the items you have in this sale?
NN: The biggest thing with me with this collection … see, Norman Nite is the hub. The spokes that go out from the hub are many things. It’s not just vinyl. Yes, there’s a lot of interesting vinyl and all that, but that’s one spoke in the wheel. The collection is something I’ve been able to have in my possession for… my goodness, since the early 1960s. So, we’re looking at photographs; we’re looking at the recorded interviews; we’re looking at concert posters; we’re looking at jackets that I wore at various events; we’re looking at signed letters from different individuals; [and] we’re looking at books that I’ve written. We’re looking at bound gallies of books of my first thing that I came out with that I signed that I’ve had in my possession since 1974-75; we’re looking at albums that I recorded for Lorry Records and Columbia Records, we’re looking at the acetates from recordings that I … I made a 45 of the acetate from it, and the original 45, the album I narrated on Lorry Records of the