Friday, April 12, 2013

Everybody Comes to Rick's...
Remember that catch-phrase from Casablanca? Well, it rings true with a newsgroup that premieres later this month. For anyone who isn't aware, the definition of a newsgroup is a group of internet users who exchange e-mail messages on a topic of mutual interest. If you have ever been part of a Yahoo newsgroup, you know what I am referring to. I used to be a member of a dozen newsgroups. One focusing on The Twilight Zone, another about pulp magazines. But sadly, some of the moderators of those groups failed to maintain their positions and spam postings crept into place... forcing me to unsubscribe because there was nothing overlooking the general practice and intent of the newsgroup. Worse, a few moderators allow close friends to make attacks against others, masqueraded as "friendly postings" and that kind of nonsense isn't favorable.

As of last month I remain a subscriber to two newsgroups. The Old-Time Radio Digest and a Yahoo group about the television series, The Time Tunnel. Both are fairly active and provide information about what is happening in the hobby. Convention updates, new products being released on the market, advanced notice of restoration efforts and donations being sought after... you get the idea. If you are not a part of these type of newsgroups and wished there was a way to stay informed with what all is going on in the hobby... relax. There is a solution.

After all, it's nice to chat with a friend at a film festival and discover a "lost" film was recently discovered or a company planning a commercial release for a television series I've been waiting for an official DVD release. But the question comes to mind. If they knew about it, why didn't I? What newsletter or e-mail subscription service are they part of that I should be a member? That's where Rick's Place comes into being.

Anyone with e-mail can subscribe for FREE and if you don't like what you read after a couple weeks, you can unsubscribe for free. But give it a few days so you get a feel of what you are receiving daily (or every other day) in your inbox. It's like a mini newsletter with updates and discussions of what is going on in... well, all hobbies in general provided they have a nostalgic appeal.

Rather than focus on a single subject (such as old-time radio or vintage movie posters), Rick's Place was designed (as it was explained to me) to allow all facets of nostalgia pop culture. The potential is huge. I was told over 400 people signed up for Rick's Place in the first two weeks the site went up on the internet and the official launch date is later this month.

I met Rick a few years ago and he's a nice guy. He has common sense and any whackos that creep into the newsgroup will be given warnings before they get suspended or removed from the list.

You do not have to participate by submitting postings to the newsgroup. You can remain a "lurker." By definition, a lurker is someone who subscribed to a newsgroup but prefers to read them and not contribute. Nothing wrong with that, by the way. Sometimes it's amusing to read the updates and on-going discussions, rather than participate. But I am sure, like all newsgroups, participation is encouraged.

So yes, I am endorsing Rick's Place. Especially since they include my first love: old-time radio. The way I look at it, the hobby is divided into four groups. The recordings (which will always be around, no matter what format), the fan clubs, publications such as club newsletters and reference books, and conventions. And for every convention that closes doors, for every old-time radio club that folds, a piece of the hobby fades into obscurity. Like Civil War reenactments, there will always be folks doing radio broadcasts on stage complete with scripts and microphones and sound effects. There will always be recordings. There will always be fans who enjoy listening to the recordings. But with new technology there comes a new facet that can keep the hobby alive. Newsgroups. And Rick's Place should fit the bill.

Subscribe for free and give it a few weeks. I think you'll like what you read. Be sure to confirm if you receive an e-mail asking you to confirm your subscription (that's to make sure someone doesn't subscribe you without your permission). And tell them Martin recommended you sign up. You can thank me later.