Here's a brief re-cap of FBC's
first 25 years, as documented in:
FBC Time Line
1975 - Founders Dave Bernath and Dick Rosemont first connect when Dave calls
Dick at WKAR-FM during his Audio Aftermath program.
1975-77 - The two travel the U.S. on three road trips, getting to know one
1977 - (spring) Dick and Dave decide to pursue their interest in music and
records by opening a used record store and begin buying albums. Inventory is
accumulated through want-ads and from thrift stores, friends, garage sales, etc.
They look into renting at the Campus Town Mall (then known as the 541
Building) and go with the developing retail space on the upper level.
(summer) A friend suggests the name Flat, Black & Circular but it’s not
immediately decided on. For a lack of a better idea, and having to get a phone
installed, the name is chosen. It’s formally called Flat, Black & Circular
Recycled Sound and abbreviated FBC. Business cards are printed, using artwork from an
old Audio Aftermath poster and listing hours as Open at 11:00. At the
time, they didn’t know how late to work but knew they didn’t want to start before
11:00. That opening time was unheard of then but has since been adopted by
many E. Lansing businesses. Other promotions included 45 labels printed with
store info and glued on giveaway records, two extra turntables with headphones to
audition albums while sitting on living room furniture and a free, new album
when you sold records to them. Among the choices were quantities of the first
albums by Johnny Cougar (nee Mellencamp) and Blondie. Who’d have known?
(September 26) It’s opening day and after having spent the entire night
arranging the store, Dick & Dave are still pumped and ready to open. In addition to
used albums, they stock 45s, cassettes, old issues of Rolling Stone magazine
and some sheet music songbooks.
1978 - Dick meets his wife-to-be Jane when she asks to borrow the bathroom
The FBC softball team hits the diamond in the E. Lansing Men’s unofficiated
league. Team jerseys are all printed with the same player number: 33 1/3.
They’ve survived at least through the 2002 season.
1979 - FBC moves across the hall to accommodate another business’s expansion.
1980s - Dick & Dave continue to cram more records and cassettes into the same
With the increased popularity of CDs, there comes a day when the first used
one is purchaseda Deep Purple title.
1989 - The FBC Archive is established to show rare and interesting records. A
topic schedule is printed and the display changes monthly.
1990 - Reports on the death of vinyl records are premature, and continue
1991 - Eventually expansion becomes necessary. The south wall is removed and
a new counter and CD bins are built. We say goodbye to the last remaining
patch of our original (used) purple shag carpet!
1993 - E. Lansing scene-maker Patrick Bryant becomes the first genuine
employee. Friday hours are expanded to 8:00 pm.
1994 - Longtime customer (since 1984), occasional go-fer and friend Jon
Howard replaces Patrick and continues to this day to be an integral part of the
1998 - When the front of the Campus Town Mall is remodeled to include
windows, FBC shifts forward in the building to finally get a view of the out-of-doors.
Used video tapes start to be bought and sold, with the inevitable addition of
DVDs to follow.
1999 - FBC begins accepting Visa and Mastercard. Many customers are happy
about it, others know how dangerous it’ll be for them!
2002 Our landlord and friend, Bob Metzger, succumbs to his 3-year battle with
cancer. He will be missed.
FBC Time Line 25+
Time stands still for no music store.
2004 In the Sept. 2004 issue of the college edition of Sports Illustrated,
"The Music Issue" (??!), FBC was listed among the Top Ten Campus Indie Music Stores.
Oddly, the founding of FBC wasn't the only thing of
major importance that happened in 1977.
- Alex Haleys Roots draws a record TV audience
- Jimmy Carter is sworn in as President
- Earvin Magic Johnson Jr. leads Lansing Everett High to state the championship
- Apple Computer incorporates and issues its Apple II
- Radio Shack introduces its TRS-80 computer
- Volkswagen phases out its Beetle in the U.S.
- Congress considers a bill to increase the minimum wage from $2.30 to $3.35 by 1981
- JVC introduces the VHS VCR to compete with Sonys proprietary Betamax
Debbie Boones You Light Up My Life is the top song of the year. Other
hits include the Bee Gees How Deep Is Your Love, the Emotions Best Of My
Love and the Eagles Hotel California. To varying degrees of public
notice, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads and the Sex Pistols all release their
debut lps this year.
Woody Allens Annie Hall wins four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and
Best Director. Other hits of the year include Saturday Night Fever, Star Wars
and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
Deaths include Elvis Presley, Leopold Stokowski, Bing Crosby, Columbia
Records engineer Peter Goldmark, who (erroneously) received credit for perfecting
the long-play album, Maria Callas, Guy Lombardo and Charlie Chaplan.
Were it not for the following events
FBC would probably be selling turnips.
1830s - Albany Institute physics professor Joseph Henry comes up with the
theory of electromagnets, which will make modern electrical recording and
1863 - Inventor F.B. Fenby coins the word phonograph.
1877 - Emile Berliner invents the flat disc
1888 - Twelve-year-old pianist Josef Hofmann stops by Thomas Edisons New
Jersey lab and becomes the worlds first recording artist
1900 - Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen invents and patents his
"Telegraphone," a telephone recorder utilizing steel wire
1901 - The Victor Talking Machine Company is founded
1921 - One hundred million records are produced
1928 - 78 rpm becomes the standard record speed as an electric turntable is
1931 - RCA Victor comes up with the long play record but it isnt long enough
to garner general interest
1934 - The term high fidelity begins making the rounds of audio engineers
1940 - Magnetic tape recorders are developed in Germany
1948 - Microgroove, black vinyl, long play albums are introduced by Columbia,
offering up to 20 minutes of uninterrupted listening per side. The first lp
pressed? The Beethoven Violin Concerto by Nathan Milstein and Bruno Walter of
the N.Y. Philharmonic Symphony.
1949 - RCA introduces the 45 rpm, 7-inch single.
1955 - Stereo tape recorders are available to consumers.
1958 - Stereo record albums are introduced, typically at $1 more than
Early 1960s - Crazy Californian Earl Muntz comes up with a 4-track tape
cartridge to play music in automobiles
1962 - Phillips issues the first compact audio cassette
1963 - Personal jet maven Bill Lear ups Muntz’s ante by developing his 8-track
1968 - Monaural albums are phased out while stereo 45s become the norm
1969 - Quadraphonicfour channelsound is introduced
1975 - Sony issues its video tape cartridge system, the Betamax
1979 - Sony develops the Walkman, beginning a revolution in personal sound
1982 - Billy Joels 52nd Street is the first commercial CD to be released
1992 - Sony introduces its recordable Mini Disc.
1995 - Pierre Omidyar starts the online auction site eBay
1997 - DVD-video is introduced in the U.S. and becomes the fastest accepted
new audio/video format ever
1997 - The first practical MP3 player is created, leading to the
controversial music file-sharing web site Napster.
Some actual phone calls & customer conversations
Caller: "How late are you open?"
Clerk: "Six o’clock."
Caller: "Is that when you close?"
Clerk: (following a long, thoughtful pause) "Yes."
Customer observing a shipment being unpacked: "Wow, that’s a good disc!"
Customer: "Why’d you get so many copies?"
Clerk: (continuing a sales transaction) "Do you need a bag?"
Customer: "Bag of what?"
Customer looking at CDs: "Are these in order by album title or by artist?"
Customer: "I just heard a cut on the radio by Ducks And Sheep. Do you have
Clerk: (after much head scratching) "I think you’re looking for Duncan Sheik."
Caller: "Do you guys buy merchandise? You know the Beatles’ Anthology? I
have the special boxes they were shipped indo you want to buy them?"
Customer: (after having made a purchase and looking at a bin labeled "Free
CDs For Our Customers") "Are these CDs free or what?"
And, just for the record...
FBCs popular $1 blue dot albums are 66% cheaper now than in 1977. If their
price kept up with inflation, theyd be $2.95 today!
Flat, Black & Circular celebrated its 30th birthday
on Wednesday, September 26, 2007.
A splendid time was had by all.
Now that FBC is 30, can it still be trusted?
Is it a coincidence that exactly 120 years earlier, on that very date, Emile Berliner invented the flat record?