Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I used to know someone whose last name was Dismuke.  Are you, by chance, that person?
Answer:  No.  I can assure you that I am not.

Question:Mr. Dismuke, what is your first name?
Answer:   First name?  What are you talking about?  I don't have a first name.  I am mononominal - which means I have but one name: Dismuke.  Incidentally, the mononominal just so happen to be America's most under appreciated minority group.  Go try and fill out a loan application or request a drivers' license without being able to fill in both the "first name" and "last name" blanks and you will have a taste of what we mononominals have to put up with on a daily basis.  The only mononominals who get any respect are those who are  in the entertainment industry.  For example, Cher and Madonna have been highly successful despite the persecution that all mononominals must endure.  Still, it is tough even for the rich and famous to be mononominal.   Look  what happened to Prince - the poor man just couldn't take it any longer!  You can be assured, however, that I am made of sterner stuff and that you will not be hearing of "The Record Collector Formerly Known As Dismuke."  Therefore, while the above question may be well-intentioned, it does reveal that the questioner has a namist, monophobic, polynominal bias.

Question: What part of the country do you live in?
Answer:    I live in Texas - specifically in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Question: Are you old enough to be able to remember when the music you feature was still popular?
Answer:     No.  I was born in the '60s.  I know very little about the music that was popular when I was growing up because I disliked it even at an early age.

Question: How long have you been collecting and how did you become so interested in music that was popular before you were even born?
Answer:    When I was perhaps ten years old, I discovered a radio program on KERA-FM hosted by the late Dallas broadcasting veteran Jim Lowe that featured big band music.   I loved it instantly. One of Lowe's frequent guests - and later his sidekick when the show moved to another station - was "Charlie The Collector."    Most of the music on the show came from his collection.  My favorite selections were the ones from the late 1920s and early 1930s that Charlie would always make a point of including.  I acquired my first 78 rpm records in a garage sale not long after I discovered the show.  I was perhaps 14 or 15 years old when I got my first wind-up phonograph. 

Question: Do you have plans to reissue any of the recordings you feature on CD?
Answer:    No, not at this time.  I do, however, plan to put up a "resource page" that will show you where you can purchase such CDs that others have issued.  I can not give any specific time frame as to when the page will appear.  It all depends on how busy I am.  Also, many of the recordings that I feature on Radio Dismuke come from CD reissues and you cam usually see the title of the CD displayed in the Live 365 player window.

Question: Do you take requests?
Answer:    No.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints, as well as other reasons,  I am simply unable to do so. 

Question: I have some old 78 rpm records.  How much are they worth?
Answer:      This is probably the single most asked question I get.  It is also a very difficult one for me to answer.  It all just depends on the specific 78 rpm record.  There are some records that are worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  There are others - and these constitute the vast majority - that are worth but a few cents.  Ultimately, a record's value is determined by how much in demand it is by collectors.  Just because a record is old does not mean that it is worth a lot of money. 

There are several factors that act to keep 78 rpm records a relatively affordable hobby.  First, most people these days do not have the equipment necessary to play 78 rpm records.  Furthermore,  the records themselves take up a lot of room and are heavy. (A standard 78 rpm record weighs roughly a half-pound,  This means that  the music on a 20 selection CD would weigh 5 pounds if issued on standard double-sided 78 rpm records.  Edison Diamond Discs were even heavier:  they weighed a full pound.) Also, there are a lot of vintage music fans out there who prefer to spend their music money on digitally restored CD reissues.  All of these factors act to keep the price of vintage records from reaching the levels of other collectibles with similar historical appeal and significance. 

If you wish to determine whether any of your 78 rpm records are considered desirable by collectors, the single best place I can refer you to is Les Dock's  American Premium Record Guide.  This book lists thousands of jazz, dance band, country, rhythm and blues and early rock and roll records from the turn of the century to 1965 along with their approximate value. Unfortunately,  the Guide does not provide any information for classical or other records that do not fall into the genres listed above. Keep in mind that the Guide's prices assume records that are in excellent condition and should only be considered as estimates. Nevertheless, this book should help you determine to what degree your records are in demand by serious collectors. 

In the final analysis, however, regardless of what any guide tells you, the ultimate  price of any item is:  "whatever you can get someone to pay for it."   Not long ago, I was walking through one of those "antique malls" and saw a late-1940s black label Decca record by Bing Crosby.   It was in horrible condition - I doubt it would  have  been listenable.  Even if it were in excellent condition, this record would only have minimal value.  In bad condition, it is totally worthless because it is so easy to find a copy in good shape.  Nevertheless, this beat up record was locked behind a glass display case and had a $9 price tag.   Trust me, for $9 you can purchase some genuinely collectible records - even at a record dealer.   Nobody who knows anything about old records would pay 25 cents for that thing in the antique mall - let alone $9.  But, of course, most people do not know anything about old records.  It is entirely possible someone will eventually walk past and go: "Look, Honey, an old record by Bing Crosby!  Granny used to listen to him!  Gee, that record must be really old and valuable!  And they only want $9 for it!  That's just about what we spent on fast food before we came here.  Wouldn't that record  look really great up on the wall by our entertainment center?  Honey, let's buy it!"   On the other hand, I suspect that there are plenty of record dealers who have a hard time getting $9 for records that are worth $9.

Question: Why do you use Real Audio?  Why don't you use MP3 which sounds much better?
Answer:     I use Real Audio because it is the most accessible and convenient format for the majority of visitors to my site.  What is nice about Real Audio is its ability to "stream."  One can click on a selection and be able to hear the music within seconds.  The major purpose of my site is to bring forgotten, vintage music to a new generation of listeners.  Many of my site's visitors have had no previous exposure to the music and are more likely to stick around and sample a few selections if they do not have to wait for a file to download. This is especially true for those who are using a dial-up modem.  I do realize that MP3 offers near CD sound quality.  On the other hand, the recordings featured on this site are between 60 and 100 years old.  My putting them in MP3 is probably not not going to make them sound significantly better.

Question: I have a question pertaining to old sheet music. . . . .
Answer:     I get a lot of questions about old sheet music.  It would not surprise me if a site devoted to sheet music has put up a link to mine.  Unfortunately, sheet music is a subject that I am not very knowledgeable about.   I have managed to pick up over the years a few dozen pieces that date from the 1890s through the 1930s.  Since I do not presently play any musical instruments, the the primary reason I bought them was because of the art work on the front covers.  Many are very beautiful and stylized.   Even then, sheet music is something that I buy only when I find it at a very good price.

Question: Don't you have a website about the music enjoyed by the late novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand?
Answer:     Yes, I do.  Ayn Rand (1905-1982), the author of the best-selling novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, has had a definite influence on my thinking.  Most Ayn Rand fans are already aware that she was very fond of certain upbeat, turn of the century tunes that she informally referred to as "tiddlywink music."  I always enjoy it whenever two or more of my various interests cross paths.  Therefore, as sort of an adjunct to my regular record collecting activities, I always keep my eye out for 78 rpms of music with some sort of Ayn Rand connection.  I have put streaming Real Audio files of what I have  found so far  in a website that you will find by clicking here.

Question: Why don't you include more (swing/big band/blues/1940s) selections?
Answer:    Ultimately,  the standard for determining for what selections I include is my own personal taste.  Nevertheless, there are some other factors involved. 

One of the things I ask myself is if I think a particular selection deserves to be revived for a new audience. 

While I do make an effort to provide a cross section of the popular music of the era, some musical styles are better represented than others.  It should be quite obvious to regular visitors that I am very fond of upbeat  "hot" commercial dance band recordings from the late 1920s and early 1930s. Such recordings are always well represented on my site.   I also enjoy the music from the swing and big band eras - yet I give such recordings only a token presence.   A lot of it has to do with the fact that one can (fortunately) go to any decent music store and purchase reissues of almost everything that was recorded by bandleaders such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller.  The same cannot be said about the recordings of people like Sam Lanin,  Nat Shilkret, Leo Reisman, George Olsen, Ted Lewis or even Paul Whiteman, whose band was absolutely dominant in the 1920s. 

Today, such bands are all but forgotten and their recordings are treated with scorn by most modern music critics.  Indeed,  on the all too infrequent occasions where their works have been reissued on LP or CD, it is not uncommon for the author of the liner notes to speak derisively of the selections and act as if the only reason one should listen to them is to get a historical perspective on some of the sidemen who became prominent in later years.  Regardless of what the critics say,  this is some of the most energetically happy, yet melodic, music that has ever been recorded.   Sadly, for many of the selections I include, my site is one of the few places the general public can go to hear them. 

Question: How come your 1920s & 1930s section is so much bigger than your Turn Of The Century section?
Answer:     There are two reasons.  First,  I am especially fond of the music from the 1920s and early 1930s and, not surprisingly, that is where my collection is the strongest.  The other reason is the fact that my site statistics indicate that only about 20% of the people who listen to my 1920s section even bother to check out the Turn Of The Century section.  Those who don't are missing out on some great stuff.   Granted,  acoustic recordings are going to initially sound  primitive to modern ears.  But once you  listen to a few selections, your ears will adjust and  it will not be quite as noticeable.

Question: What happened to your site statistics page?
Answer:     I took it down.  Keeping it updated was too time consuming and was becoming a chore.   Let's just say that this site gets lots of visitors.

Question: How do you know the dates for the recordings?
Answer:    The one reference source I rely on most is Steven C. Barr's The Almost Complete 78 RPM Record Dating Guide (II).  This relatively inexpensive book is a must have for any serious collector.  It provides dates for most popular American, Canadian and British 78 rpm records by catalogue number and by matrix number.  Other books I use include The Complete Entertainment Discography by Brian Rust and Recorded Ragtime 1897-1958 by David A. Jasen.  Another excellent source of information is Brian Rust's  two volume The American Dance Band Discography.  Unfortunately, this work is out of print and used copies are very much in demand and are not cheap.

Question: What do you think about the recent  "swing" revival?
Answer:     I think it is great - though a lot of it still has rock elements that I do not particularly care for.  About a year ago, I discovered a program on a local radio station that was giving airtime to some of the newer swing bands and big bands.  I really enjoyed a lot of the selections, though there were also those that I did not really care for.  Unfortunately, the station was sold to "Radio Disney" (anyone have a mouse trap handy?) and the show went off the air before I was able to get a feel for which of the new bands I liked and which I didn't. 

I think the renewed interest in swing  - as well as the nostalgia kick evident in other areas of our culture - is a positive sign.  That young people are looking to the past for inspiration and not to the future is a recognition of  just how  bankrupt our culture has become since the 1960s.   I do not think this nostalgia craze will last indefinitely, however - nor should it.  Hopefully,   those who are in their teens and twenties will rediscover the very best the past had to offer and take it in new and innovative directions.  The kind of music featured on my site will never regain its former popularity.  What we might be able to hope for, however,  is for it to provide the inspiration for something that is entirely new and different  - but yet has some of the beauty, excitement and vibrancy of the music from the past.  Perhaps the rediscovery of swing by the twenty-somethings is the start of that process.  Don't forget,  the Italian Renaissance started out as a nostalgia craze for the accomplishments of ancient Greece and Rome. Once the ancient  ideas from the past were rediscovered,  others came along and took them in new directions - and just look at the incredible results that followed!

Question: Are their other types of music that you enjoy but do not feature on the site?
Answer:    Yes.  Most definitely.  I love certain types of classical music.  I like the music from 19th century ballets, operas and operettas.  Sometimes when I am driving around town late at night, I will tune to some of the stations broadcasting from Mexico.  I do not understand Spanish, but their music is very enjoyable.  It is very melodic and often has a great beat.  Unfortunately, the language barrier makes it difficult for me to learn names of the songs and the artists.  A friend of mine has recently introduced me to Reggae.  Some of it sounded quite nice - though my exposure to it is still quite limited.  I also enjoy some of the early Rock and Roll tunes from the 1950s - especially the so-called "doo wop" groups.  Up until the mid-1960s, even Rock and Roll had melody. 


Return To Dismuke's Virtual Talking Machine Home Page