Radio History 1950′s-1970′s – When Night Disc Jockeys Ruled

The Hours Between 6p And 11p Could Be Moneymakers For Stations

Teen Idol” DJ’s 

Since Alan Freed began playing rock ‘n roll on evening radio – there was no doubt – the evening DJ could bring in tons of ratings and revenue. Back then – many radio stars were born out of the 6p-11p area time slot – even with prime-time television viewing. Mostly teens and young adults listened, but, if you had them – you could have big ratings. At times – their average audience share could be bigger than the rest of the station.

The teen DJ set the tone for the next morning as well. If you listened at night – chances are – you had the same station tuned-in the following morning.

Every city had these night DJ stars – and New York City was no exception. Besides Alan Freed – there was – Paul Sherman, Bruce Morrow, Murray the K, Scott Muni, B. Mitchel Reed, Gary Stevens, George Michael, Chuck Lenoard – and others.

Unlike today, this could be a huge advertising revenue. I found this  from Spring of 1966. Holding the 7 to 11p shift at WMCA – Gary Stevens was then, New York City’s #1 evening personality – and within a year – had served-up over 200 sponsors. Unheard of in modern radio.

Stevens just came off 20 shares in the New York radio ratings – beating big-time rival “Cousin” Bruce Morrow – with a 12 share.

This was an era when all evening radio was live. In many places today, it can be voice-tracked – especially in medium and smaller markets – and, some large markets contain voice-tracking between 6p and 6a.

Most of those who grew up during the 1960′s and 1970′s – can name their favorite DJ – and usually – they came from the evening hours. Do you remember?

WMCA - Gary Stevens - May 1966

Gary West

NBC Saturday Night History & Trivia – Pop Culture/TV History

In Late 1975 – There Were Two Shows And A Hit Pop Single Called, “Saturday Night” 

We Loved Our Saturday Nights Back In 1975

 1975 Howard Cosell TV trivia abc-tv bay city rollers music historyNBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live” debuted in October of 1975. Originally, it was suppose to air Saturdays (after) the first week of each month.  The original title of the show was simply, “Saturday Night” because – ABC-TV had just debuted “Saturday Night Live” with Howard Cosell – a week prior.

The Cosell show ran earlier in prime time and was the sports announcer’s shot at becoming a mainstream talkshow host. He’d been associated with ABC Sports and Monday Night Football – and somehow, convinced ABC – he should get a shot. He did. The debut “Saturday Night Live” with Howard Cosell featured hot pop artists, “The Bay City Rollers” who, interestingly, were about to have a hit titled, “Saturday Night.”  The ratings for Cosell’s show were OK at first – then trailed off quickly.

In November, 1975, Cosell was quoted as saying, “The Saturday night time slot that ABC placed my variety show in has a deathly history. I inherited a cemetery.” By, the end of the 1975-1976 season, the show would be canceled.

art garkunkle 1975 saturday night nbc october music trivia popculture history First ads for NBC’s “Saturday Night” were few and far in-between. They usually came from record artists/record labels – who promoted upcoming appearances on the program. The first such ad for “Saturday Night” was from Art Garfunkel – who was making an appearance on the program – its second airing – on October 18, 1975. Also on that program, Paul Simon. “Saturday Night” made an immediate star out of sketch cast member Chevy Chase – the first to bolt for bigger and better things such as TV specials and movies. It quickly became a breeding ground for future movie stars such as Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy, among many others. Bolting actors almost became the bane of producer Lorne Michaels – although he wished them well, he really wasn’t happy when one of his stars left for other pastures.

So, in 1975, you have not one, but two, “Saturday Night” TV shows – but wait… The Bay City Rollers just released, “Saturday Night” – a top-10 record later in the year:

Can you tell me the first sports “personality” show that set the standard?

"Inside The NFL" with Jimmy The Greek, Irv Cross, Jayne Kennedy and Brent Musberger

“Inside The NFL” with Jimmy The Greek, Irv Cross, Jayne Kennedy and Brent Musberger

From Len G – Mr. Pop – With so many sports shows on ESPN, the Bob Costas NFL program on HBO and all the networks, can you tell me the first sports “personality’ show that set the standard?

Mr. Pop History – I don’t think there’s any doubt it was “The NFL Today” on CBS, back during the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Brent Musberger and Jimmy the Greek were just terrific. There was such a give and take energy and I’m not sure if these two got along off camera. Jimmy the Greek Snyder once punched Musberger in a bar. On the following program, they broke out an oversize boxing glove and laughed about it.

You get the picture – those dynamics made for a great sports show. Other members of the program included Irv Cross and over the years, folks such as Phyllis George and Jayne Kennedy. As good as some of these shows are today – and I love the Costas HBO program myself, I can’t help think it all began with the original “NFL Today.” It set the standard.

I just heard that Neil McIntyre passed away September 11. I can’t find his obit anywhere.

Radio Programmer Neil McIntyre During The 1970's

Radio Programmer Neil McIntyre During The 1970′s

From Christy – I hope you can help me. I just heard that Neil McIntyre passed away September 11. I can’t find his obit anywhere. Do you know more about his life?  I was an old friend from the 1960′s at 1010 WINS NY: a teenager trying to break into rock. We would practice with my girl group at WINS. Murray the K’s friend was our manager. We kept rehearsing so that we could meet Phil Spector but we never perfected ourselves to that degree… circa 1964.

Mr. Pop History – Radio programmer Neil McIntyre was indeed at 1010 WINS in 1964 during their last gasp at top-40 and WINS sounded great that year with DJ’s such as Ed Hider, Jack Lacy, Johnny Holiday and Murray the K. The problem was, WINS had WMCA and WABC breathing down their backs and there just wasn’t room for 3 top-40 stations. McIntyre had come from WHK Cleveland and brought WHK DJ Johnny Holiday with him to New York. WINS decided to go full-blast top-40 (again) and hired him during the fall of 1963. WINS scooped the world after all the Beatles came to New York in February, 1964, when John, Paul George and Ringo gave WINS all kinds of promos: “This is Paul McCartney and You’re Listening to 1010 WINS.”  (Ringo and John Lennon did the same for WMCA).

1964 was such a great year to be in top-40 radio with the British invasion of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks and so many others. Murray the K’s exclusive Beatle interviews were tops. WINS and WMCA tried to scoop each other with “firsts” in New York and it made for exciting radio. It was music competition at its best. The WINS sound in 1964 was exciting and highly produced. If a record was in the WINS top-10, it was in the “WINS Winners Circle.” You gotta love it.

Group W transferred McIntyre to KDKA  Pittsburgh in 1965 after the WINS all-news change. Later, Neil McIntyre programmed WPIX-FM (New York) during the early and mid-1970’s and was it my favorite choice for top-40. Like WINS, the station was loaded with personality DJ”s like Dennis Quinn, Les Marshak, Alex Hayes, Ted David and Jerry Carrol.

He was 68 and passed away from cancer. I’m told McIntyre was one of the nicest in the business. I’ve sent you his obit and thanks for a great e-mail.

When did Mr. Microphone come out?

From Rich C. – When did Mr. Microphone come out?

Mr. Pop History – Sometime around late 1978, but the TV airwaves came alive with Ronco’s Mr. Microphone in 1979. Click here for 1970′s technology timeline.

Who could forget that 70′s guy exclaiming “Hey good looking, we’ll be back to pick you up later.” Mr. Microphone was actually a low-power FM modulator, but through the magic of Ronco advertising, the device was turned into a hip tool to pick-up girls. The only problem with this commercial: you had to know what station the receiving FM radio was tuned to, so you could infiltrate their radio. Getting the frequency just right would have taken much insight and tuning time. Oh well, it’s only TV. It’s one of the classic commercials of the 1970′s.

I never ever remember red M&M candies when I was growing up

Red M&Ms

Red M&Ms

From David G – Mr. Pop – Is my memory correct in that, I never ever remember red M&M candies when I was growing up, but I see “red” today. Didn’t Mars discontinue the little red candies, then, bring them back?

Mr. Pop History – You have a good memory, Mars discontinued red M&M’s in 1976 because its dye was considered a health risk. But, they were brought back in 1987. Here’s something from the www.mrpopculture.com files from January 15, 1987:

Mars announces that red M&M’s are coming back after an absence of 11 years. The return of the little candy was prompted by a national outcry that included thousands of letters to the manufacturer and the formation of college campus societies. Red M&M’s were discontinued in 1976 because of “confusion and concern” over Red Dye No. 2, which was banned by federal regulators as a health risk. Red M&M’s were always safe though, as they contained Red Dye Nos. 3 and 40. Mars always sold a limited number of packages of green and red candies for the holidays.

Who was Larry Kings worst guest ever? Has he ever mentioned it?

Demond Wilson

Demond Wilson

From Diana G – Hello Mr. Pop. What a fantastic site. I’m finding the search engine now works great. Did you do some tweaking?

Also, Larry King, who never seems to have a bad guest. My question: who was his worst ever? Has he ever mentioned it?

Mr. Pop History – My apologies. Up until recently, the search on this site stunk. It was bad. One of the problems is the size of Mrpophistory. It’s probably the largest accessible (privately-owned and produced) content website in the world – now at 13,000 pages.  What I mean by accessible is that, you can get anywhere on this site without a fee or as much as a password.

Now, part 2 of your question… Larry King once said his absolute low-point came back in the 1970’s, with his overnight national radio show. The guest was actor Demond Wilson, who many remember as the son in “Sanford and Son.” According to Larry King – during that live interview – Wilson answered questions with either a yes or no. He refused to elaborate when King wanted to know. At one point,  Wilson blurted out – “When Am I Going To Get Paid?” And lastly, he refused to take telephone calls. It must have been a nightmare for King.

You state the Whopper came out from Burger King in 1970. From what I knew, that couldn’t be accurate

Whopper

Whopper

From Fred W – First off, I regularly visit your website, and enjoy it immensely- I adore pop culture trivia, and you are definitely an authority.

You state the Whopper came out from Burger King in 1970. From what I knew, that couldn’t be accurate- I was personally eating them before then. Not too long ago, Burger King did a commercial about the Whopper- where the original Whopper (a father figure) berating the Whopper Jr. (the son) for selling himself for a dollar- and the son coming up with an old ad where the Whopper was selling for 37 cents!

In checking Wikipedia- it indicates that the Whopper came out in 1957 (as did I) and sold for 37 cents!

So, the Whopper was far earlier to the market than the Big Mac, and although I do like the Big Mac, the Whopper is far superior.

Just my two cents

Mr. Pop History – 
Fred – Thanks so much for the kind words. Really appreciate it!

I’m sticking to the February 1970 date for the national BK Whopper introduction. On Wiki, someone copied the info on Burger King’s website, which says, something called a Whopper came out – in 1957.

One of the problems with this kind of information is – that very little can be verified from the 1957 info. It probably wasn’t much of a burger and was available on a limited basis. IOW – it wasn’t anything special.  In fact, most people don’t remember a BK Whopper before 1970. That’s just a fact. In 1969 – Whopper commercials were introduced, but on a regional basis. The most important point – there was no trademark on “Whopper” until 1968. Hmmm…

I do know when the McDonald’s Big Mac was introduced nationally in 1968, BK took out a trademark for the Whopper. This was September of 1968. Burger King knew that – whatever they had – they weren’t doing it right.

It clearly needed a big burger to compete with the Big Mac nationally.  Had they’d been serious, “the Whopper” would have been given the credit earlier – but – McDonald’s gets the credit for rolling out a big burger nationally – first.

And, you can bet BK was testing a version that was much different what was being offered.

The 70′s spawned the Citizen Band radio craze. Can you give me a little more detail?

From Tony C - The 70′s spawned the Citizen Band radio craze. Can you give me a little more detail?

MrPopHistory – Citizen Band or CB radio had been around since the late 40′s. Through the late 60′s, it was primarily used by businesses to communicate between a base and mobile units. Somehow, hobbyists picked-up on the service. It was just plain easier to get a CB license. You just filled out an application and mailed-in your fee to the FCC. In 1971, that fee was $20. Unlike Ham radio, there were no technical exams to take.

Courier Royale

Courier Royale

With more baby boomers getting walkie-talkies – these same channels were shared with Citizen’s Band. It was cool to all-of-a-sudden, go from a one-channel walkie talkie with 1/10th of a watt to a 23-channel CB radio with 5 watts. Put up a ground plane or Astro Plane antenna and boy, could you really get out. All of a sudden, non-tech types were talking tech – antennas with 3db gain or an SWR of 1.1 -language once confined to ham radio aficionados. This all took place in the early 70′s.

Lafayette Comstat

Lafayette Comstat

Some of the more popular CB-makes were Lafayette, Courier and Cobra. Some of these home-base CB radios were works of art. My favorite is the Courier Royale – a 23-channel tube rig. It just looks great and boy, did it perform. I also loved the simple design of the Lafayette Comstat 25B – in beautiful midnight black. Turn it on and the S-meter (signal strength meter) lit-up in several colors.

The big thing was signal strength. You basically looked at the rig’s S-meter while you were talking or receiving. CB’ers loved hearing – “you’re hitting me with a 10″ or “your pinning the needle.” A (3) on the S-meter was lousy. A (1) meant you were in the noise. You prided yourself on how good your transmission was or how “you were getting out.” You just hated your friend, who was on a hill and higher than you. He could “get out better.”

CB handles could get creative. You never used your full name: either a first name or one of these handles, as long as you didn’t copy someone else. “Yea Pink Panther this is the Bull Shipper.”

Around 1974, truckers (all-of-a-sudden) become well-known for their CB radios. Country music radio stations began playing songs with CB mentions. Who could forget Cledus Maggard and the Citizen’s Band. “Convoy” by C.W. McCall was the biggest of these records. Truckers and CB radios became synonymous in television shows as well. CB-trucker lingo was “in.” “10-4 good buddy,” “There’s a bear on my tail.”

With all of this popularity came more interference. It seemed that the 23-channel CB needed extending. Obliging, the FCC gave its citizens 17 more channels and by the late 70′s, the 23 channel CB radios gave way to 40 channels.

Sometimes it wasn’t all “good buddy.” I recall a story in Dallas where two CB’ers kept interfering and stepping on each other while they transmitted. They dared each other to meet. They did and when it was over, both were shot and one died.

What group sang ring, ring telephone ring, Was it Cimerron or something like that?

Cymarron

Cymarron 45rpm Single

What group sang ring, ring telephone ring (somebody said baby what ya doing). Was it Cimerron or something like that? It was a 70′s hit. Leo Kolte also covered this song.

Mr. Pop History - The song you are asking about is “Rings” by Cymarron – a top-20 hit in 1971. The group is from the South and this is their biggest record. A few years later, Lobo would cover “Rings,” substituting “Got James Taylor On the Stereo” with “Got The Allman Brothers On The Stereo.”

This cleverly written song about re-starting a relationship uses the word “ring” in different context. From telephone ring, doorbell ring into the “ring around the sun” and the ring around “your pretty finger” into “let the wedding bells ring.”

I like to call songs like these “gems.” Should have been a bigger hit. The problem with some of these terrific songs during the late 1960′s and into the 1970′s was that some of the bigger radio stations such as WABC, New York had unusually short play lists. If you listened to WABC or stations playing copycat, you would have never known this terrific song (or many others).

Legendary Memphis/Muscle Shoals record man Chips Moman produced “Rings”. Although he didn’t write “Rings,” Lead singer Rick Yancey wrote the flip side “Like Children.”

Below is a sample of Cymarron’s “Rings” from the original 45rpm single.