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 advertisingrevenue. 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

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Radio History – WCBS Goes News – August 28, 1967

Not “All News” – Yet

WCBS Tower Hit By Plane – 12 Hours Before Format Change

 

New York City was about to get a new “news” competitor – with more news than all other New York radio stations with the exception of one – WINS. The ad below talks about all the marvels of “Newsradio 88.” You notice it doesn’t say, “all news?” WCBS would have to wait a few years – as the CBS radio flagship still had to carry CBS radio programs, including the midday “Arthur Godfrey” show. Back in 1967 –  most stations – music or otherwise, carried 5 minutes of news at the top and bottom of each hour.

To look at the ad, you’d think everything was in place on that Monday morning. 50,000 watt 880 had/has a great signal off a tower located in Long Island Sound. But – the morning of August 28, “Newsradio 88″ could only be heard on 101.1FM – WCBS-FM. Late afternoon the previous day – the tower was hit by a private plane – killing five. It was through a thunderstorm and the pilot wasn’t supposed to be flying that plane. One of the top stories of the morning – “five dead as plane hits WCBS radio tower.”

The same tower complex housed another 50,000 watt radio station – at 660 and WNBC. It too, was off the air. Both stations scrambled – 880 was back on later in the day on one of the WLIB (1190) towers and  WNBC got a hand from WABC (77), using their smaller auxiliary tower. Limited power.

By Friday – both stations were back to their original location – City Island with a temporary tower at 200 feet tall. For the time being – WCBS operated with 10,000 watts and WNBC – at 5,000 watts.

As far as radio format changes – this one had to top them all. August, 1967:

WCBS News Radio signs on 1967

Gary West

Some 1010WINS Radio History – New York.

1010 WINS Morning Men

Murray the K Most Popular – 1961

And Other New York DJs – 1961/1963

 

1010WINS, New York will be celebrating 50 years as an all-news station in 2015. That’s an amazing run. The station still has decent ratings given the exodus of AM radio listeners. This, as of July/2014.

When the station played top-40/pop music – it was on top from 1958-1962. With a team of DJ’s centered around Jack Lacy, Stan Z. Burns (Bernstein) and later, Murray the K – WINS always had problems with mornings – going through a morning man a year since the death Irv Smith in 1960.

Here’s one of those forgotten 1010WINS morning men – Dick Clayton, who replaced Lonnie Star late in 1962. Clayton would be replaced by Ed Hider in late 1963.

This comes to us from 1963, courtesy the WCBS-AM site – apparently Avon was doing a new radio campaign and selected certain New York DJ’s for targeted live reads. You can see two from WINS/1963 – Jack Lacy – and Dick Clayton.

Clayton came to WINS from WIL, St. Louis – a station that also gave New York City amazing radio talent such as Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, Jack Carney, Gary Stevens and Bob Dayton

New York Radio History 1010 WINS 1963

More 1010WINS – Murray the K owned nights in New York between 1961 and 1962. Here’s a Murray the K/WINS item from 1961:

murray the K  1961 1010WINS

 

Gary West 

Radio History – KFWB Los Angeles – In 1959

One Of History’s Most Iconic Radio Stations – KFWB

The Year Was 1959

mr pop history radio kfwb 1959

 

In Chuck Blore’s memoir, “I Wrote The Book” he talks about the thinking and concepts that became KFWB Color Radio. Before he was asked to put a radio format together in Los Angeles, Blore had learned from the best: Gordon McLendon and Todd Storz – having worked for both organizations. He was hired away to LA and there, he created a format that was nothing like Los Angeles had ever heard – or for that matter, the entire industry. “Color Radio” lit a fuse that – at its peak – had the largest radio ratings ever recorded.

Debuting January 1, 1958 – by 1959 – KFWB Los Angeles was earning 30-35 and 40+ shares. Sure KFWB existed before the Blore magic – but, it was a dog.

KFWB history chuck bloreKFWB was so influential, according to Chuck Blore, tapes of the station were mailed out just about everywhere… All the time. DJ’s and program directors did their best to copy the station. Looking for new ideas, some needed the tapes so bad, their careers depended on it. KFWB is more than not – the most influential station in radio history.

The seven original KFWB DJ’s/talent were: Bruce Hayes, Joe Yocam, Al Jarvis, Elliot Field, B. Mitchel Reed, Bill Ballance and Gene Weed.

Here’s what I have: Chuck Blore’s creativity extended off the air as well. In 1959, KFWB took out a series of classified ads (who did that?). These are more like teasers – but, there were many. Reading one of these – you just had to tune in to “Color Radio Channel 98:”

KFWB Classified Ads - 1959

Here’s another goody re: KFWB and 1959. The KFWB “Color Radio” jingles – the first of their kind, had a distinctive, memorable signature. I found this, from 1959 – though, if you did a search, you’d never know it – because the name of this tune is “Image” – but, it’s really something I call the, “KFWB Boogie.” So, you have the KFWB melody/jingle made into – a sort of 1959 dance tune. Imagine that – the first time I’ve ever heard of a radio station trademark “jingle” turned into something you could dance to – a single onto itself.

Part 2 is actually the shaker – part 1 is a little mellow. But – it’s the KFWB jingle – loud and clear!

“Image” – Hank Levine (part 1 and “boogie” part 2)

Gary West

Radio History – 1010 WINS Adds The Mutual Network 1961

1010 WINS Radio History – 1961

It was big news back in the summer of 1961 – The Mutual Broadcasting Service – trying to re-invent itself (as did all radio networks back then) – became the news network for independent stations. Mutual just lost WOR radio – then landed 1010WINS – back then, one of the top radio stations in New York.

WINS was of course, a music station in those days and this ad lists all the DJ personalities on the station. Murray Kaufman is of course, “Murray the K” and his nightly show was hitting 20-25 shares – mostly teens.

WINS Ad - August 1961

Radio History – New York Radio Ratings – March/April 1967

Here’s an interesting piece of history. It’s the local NY City ratings from March/April 1967 and what’s different is… these are City numbers. Pulse – most of the time, did a 15 county survey – but – in a rarity – I found this – from Variety.

WMCA, then a top-40 station, has 2 1/2 times the ratings of its competitor – WABC and WWRL – a Soul station – did pretty well – also beating WABC. T

 

Ratings - WMCA-WABC 1967 Pullout

 

FM Radio History – Interview With Larry Berger – WPLJ, NY

Legendary FM Radio Programmer Larry Berger Talks About His 14 Years At WPLJ, NY.

“Those years were a time when radio programmers were given wide autonomy to create and manage the on-air product”

Back in 1974, AM radio still dominated music listening ratings. In New York and vicinity – there was WLIX, WICC, WVNJ, WNBC, WGSM, WABC, WPAT, WHN, WHLI, WNEW, WLIB, WFAS, WGBB, WMTR, WGLI, WALL, WSTC, WNJR, WBAB, WCTC, WVOX, WGCH, WKER, WRAN, WJDM, WERA & WWRL.

On the FM dial – WLIR, WPAT, WVOX, WCTO, WINE, WPLJ, WNLK-FM, WSTC-FM, WALK, WKJY, WXLO (99X), WPLR, WCBS-FM, WPDH, WPIX-FM, WBAB-FM, WNEW-FM, WTFM, WWYD, WSPK-FM, WRFM, WDHA, WBLI, WRVR, WRNW , WBLS & WDJF.

In September 1974, Larry Berger came to WPLJ and made it a dominate music station, keeping ‘PLJ competitive, despite market changes.

"95.5 WPLJ - New York's Best Rock"

“95.5 WPLJ – New York’s Best Rock”

Mr. Pop -  Larry – you’ve had a very distinguished career in radio. Interestingly, you graduated from Rutgers with a degree in journalism.

LB – That’s correct. My first major station was working as music director for WWRL, New York.

radio history - 1968 WWRLMr. Pop – WWRL was a “soul” station with a black and white staff.

LB – Most of the jocks were black – except the afternoon man. The manager, Frank Ward was white as were (most) of the news people. I enjoyed working with Frank Ward and enjoyed my time at WWRL.

radio history frankie crockerMr. Pop – WWRL was an incredible station. All soul – but with a top-40 sound.

LB – I started there in 1966 – and you couldn’t go wrong with all the Motown, Stax and Atlantic soul music – much of which made it over to pop stations WMCA and WABC.

Mr. Pop – The ratings at WWRL were pretty decent. Considering that ‘RL was at 1600, 5,000 watts and very directional. A 1967 March-April (city) Pulse report has them actually beating WABC. And ‘RL had a star in DJ Frankie Crocker.

LB – ‘RL was very popular. One special “Negro” survey from Pulse said that 65% listened to WWRL. The second station in that survey – was all-news WINS.

Mr. Pop – That’s amazing. Now – In late 1968, you move north to Middletown and programmed WALL (1340). It was owned by the same folks who owned WMCA – The Straus family.

wmca radio history 1968LB – I had actually interviewed at (top-40) WMCA after leaving ‘RL. I also interviewed at WABC.  At the time, there was nothing available. Then, the job at WALL opened up. I was program director and also did an air shift.

Mr. Pop – WALL was an interesting station: very contemporary and very local.

LB – Exactly. We had a good team and I thought the station sounded pretty good. I learned a lot at WALL and cherish those memories.

WABC radio 1972Mr. Pop – While you were at WALL, you were offered the assistant program director job at WABC – by Rick Sklar.

LB – I think I’m the only person that ever turned down a job offer by Rick Sklar. The reason – I bought my first home just a few weeks before the offer came through.

Mr. Pop – You were actually competing with WABC in Orange County.

LB – Yes, and we always beat them in the local ratings.

Mr. Pop – What’s fascinating is – Glenn Morgan got the job as WABC APD. He was with a station in Atlantic City – also at 1340 on the AM dial – WMID.

wmidLB – A little history: because of an FCC mix-up, the calls were switched:  WALL (Middletown) was supposed to have the call letters WMID. And the WALL calls were supposed to go to Atlantic City. They got flipped.

Mr. Pop – What an amazing radio story. Now, around 1973, you get a nice job offer.

LB – Yes – My name had gotten around ABC radio and so, the general manager from WRIF (Detroit) heard about me, came out – sat in his car and monitored WALL. He said the station sounded great and offered me the job at WRIF – an ABC FM station. I began at WRIF in March of 1973.

Mr. Pop – So you go to Detroit where they were doing their version of “Rock ‘n Stereo” and you also got to meet some folks along the way.

WRIFLB – I did. Detroit it seemed, was a gateway to New York as talent such as Jim Kerr and Pat St. John will tell you. Pat was at WRIF and his brother was on the air there, as well.

Mr. Pop – You didn’t  stay at WRIF that long – because – the general manager had transferred to New York and WPLJ, and then, asked you to join the staff. When did you join PLJ?

LB – September of 1974.

Mr. Pop – FM radio was just starting to get ratings in general. And, WPLJ wasn’t doing that well in the ratings. Who were your competitors?

LB –  Most of our listeners were on the young end and I believed our growth could come from that segment. So, stations such as 99X and our own WABC were WPLJ competition. 99X at the time – was hot. I heard it in a lot of places.

WNEW-FMMr. Pop – And WNEW-FM?

LB – In a sense – yes, we were both playing album rock – but WNEW-FM skewed older. The opportunity for WPLJ was with the younger audience.

Mr. Pop – What was the sound of WPLJ when you got there?

LB – It was sort of a pop-rock station. It had a mix of pop hits and rock tracks.

Mr. Pop – And, what was the lineup when you arrived?

WPLJ 1974 radio historyLB – Jim Kerr mornings, middays was Paul Krimsier (who left to go into the ministry), Pat St. John afternoons; Tony Pigg 6-10 and John Zacherly at night. Alex Bennett was doing overnights.

Mr. Pop – How long did it take to make a ratings impact?

LB – The station made a big jump in the ratings in my third quarter – April/May – of 1975. And our audience was male and female.  Women, 18-24 were a big component of the ‘PLJ audience.

Mr. Pop – Around this time, WPLJ had a unique, “compressed” sound, like no other.

LB – Most listeners back then used mono FM radios and I felt we’d be at a better advantage if our sound  jumped out. WPLJ did exactly that – as you tuned across the FM dial in New York.

Mr. Pop – Was WPLJ a station that relied on call-out research during the 1975-1979 era? How did you pick your music?

hotel california album coverLB – Call outs were not up and running at that time. Music was done by consensus at weekly music meetings with me, the music director, DJ’s other staff members. Usually – we would consider 10 to 12 songs and rotations/exposure would be readjusted.  WPLJ was a song-by-song format. We considered each song as an individual unit. A popular album such as the Eagles, “Hotel California” – we may be playing four cuts off it – but each song would be in a different rotation.

Mr. Pop – What was your hottest rotation?

LB – About once every five hours. And, there were songs we would play once a week – like secondary tracks off of old albums. We had almost 2,000 songs.

Mr. Pop – What was the job of the music director at that time?

LB – They would listen to music, keep track of the music library; meet with record promoters – and basically worked hand-in-hand with me.

Mr. Pop – Your sister station – WABC was the biggest music station in the country. Rick Sklar was the program director. Any interesting stories?

rick sklarLB – Rick was an amazing programmer – and, he was a good corporate person. And, he loved being around TV, movie and music celebrities. Sometimes we butted heads – but not often. When “Saturday Night” began on NBC-TV – we had the cast up at WPLJ to do a live interview. We could have recorded it – but these were people who did it “live” every week. Jim Kerr – a very good interviewer – was moving it along. Then one of the female cast members let the F-bomb out. Unbeknownst to me, Rick Sklar was in his office, listening to WPLJ and wasn’t too happy. He came over and started letting me have it. I started arguing back. Here I was – having it out with the biggest program director in the country. It was just one of those times. But – we really got along great. I’d always admired him and learned so much from watching how he ran WABC’s programming.

Mr. Pop – Great story.  So, WPLJ is cooking after this point, 1975 into 1978, then WKTU-FM decides to go disco and the whole music radio landscape in New York seemed to shake.

wktu is #1 1979 radio historyLB – WKTU/Disco was a boon to FM in New York – as it drove a lot of audience to the FM dial, but it also fractionalized that audience and forced us to narrow. Remember, we were playing everything from Earth, Wind & Fire to Simon & Garfunkel with “The Who” in the middle. Disco forced us to narrow the mix pretty significantly – eliminating any R&B and the softer side of the station.  This was the time that WPLJ became much more rock oriented.

Mr. Pop – And this was around 1979 when the WKTU ratings impact was really felt.

LB – That’s correct.

mrpopculture radio historyMr. Pop – With the narrower playlist – came faster rotations.

LB – Yes and that’s when we began to rely on call-out research.

Mr. Pop – And, this was a time when sister WABC was being slaughtered.

LB – WABC’s initial reaction to WKTU was to play longer disco cuts and that was a mistake. There was a lot of dissention at WABC at the time. Sadly, it seemed they really didn’t know how to react when they were dethroned. They had been #1 for so many years.  But, I had my own challenges at WPLJ.

Mr. Pop – What difference did music call-outs make for you?

Thw Who 1979LB – We were able to determine which songs to play in stronger rotations – to a more accurate degree. And, define songs that were not necessarily from hit albums.

Mr. Pop – And, this was a time that WPLJ got more into concert promotions, a province that belonged WNEW-FM – but in 1980, 1981, 1982 – you guys seemed to be everywhere. It was the time of those WPLJ concert buttons – now a collector’s item.

LB – We began working more closely with some of the promoters and looking back, we got quite busy.

WAPP FM radio 1982Mr. Pop – It’s 1982 and you have another competitor – WAPP – which lasted basically that summer.

LB – We did take a ratings hit the summer of 1982 because of WAPP – a new rock station – which had gone the entire summer without commercials. When September came, we were ready though and our ratings came up. WAPP didn’t last that long.

WPLJ 1982 concert buttonMr. Pop – Also in 1982, it’s a new era for top-40 – and you really got a sense of this with a visit to Philadelphia.

LB – I made a trip to Philadelphia to monitor WMMR and WYSP – two album rock stations – but ended up listening to Mike Josephs’ “Hot Hits” station down there – WCAU-FM. There was so much great music we were not playing. I realized there was a re-birth of top-40 radio – something that New York had not realized. In New York – there was no top-40 station. We played some of it – Men at Work – that kind of thing. And MTV was starting to become an influence as well.

WPLJ RocksMr. Pop – You’re still a rock station into the Spring of 1983 – and doing OK in the ratings.

LB – Yes, but my feeling was – the music that was coming out didn’t hold, what I called – “the rock coalition.” Folks who liked, “The Who” didn’t like “Men at Work.” And people who liked hard rock – didn’t like anything else.

Mr. Pop – You finally decide to make WPLJ into a hit station.

LB – My pitch was to change the station into an adult-oriented top-40 station. We’d play all the top-40 hits – but the sound, presentation and priorities were with women 25-44 and play all that great music at the time. There was a huge opening. With our existing rock format – only 30% was current. Back in the 1970’s – we had been playing 70% currents. So, there just wasn’t a lot of new, solid rock-oriented music.

Mr. Pop – So, you convince management.

LB – I pitched it on a Thursday. And by the following Thursday at 4am – it was on the air.

Mr. Pop – And – this was June of 1983?

LB – That’s right.

Mr. Pop – What were some of your positioners?

LB – We became “Hit Radio 95” and used liners such as,  “Home of the Hits,”  “All Your Favorite Music On One Station.”

Mr. Pop – All this before the debut of Z-100.

LB – Yes. Many people thought we tried to pre-empt them. That’s a logical conclusion – but not true. Malrite had several stations including country in San Francisco and had a legendary rock station in Cleveland – so, we didn’t really know what they were going to do with their newly acquired Newark FM station. Our objective was rather self-centered – what was good for us. There’s nothing you’re going to do about the competition anyway.

Mr. Pop – And, you’re battling it out with Z-100. And, you became WPLJ (Power 95) in 1985 and then, the call letter change to WWPR in 1987.**

LB – The plan all along was to become “Power 95” – because – we realized the call letters became kind of a double-edged sword. WPLJ to some – meant we were still a rock station ready to play, “Stairway to Heaven.”

Mr. Pop – How did you do against Z-100?

LB – We beat them 12+ in one book and tied them 12+ in another and consistently beat them in big margins 18+. They leaned more younger, more teen oriented and that  gave our sales department a nice pitch.      (Audio: Ellis Foster)

Mr. Pop – In 1985 – New York had four top-40 stations as WKTU-FM and WAPP joined the battle. KTU hired Dan Ingram for afternoons.

LB – It was an interesting time – but the battle really was between us and Z-100. The other two didn’t last long in the format.

Mr. Pop – You eventually left WPLJ/WWPR in October of 1988 with a great run!

LB – It was. An amazing time with a great staff  both on and off the air. Those years were a time when radio programmers were given wide autonomy to create and manage the on-air product.  And I was fortunate to have the support of management.  All in all, the radio audience was the big winner!

** The WPLJ call-letters were “parked” at a station in Scranton, PA – just in case. And, they quickly returned to 95.5 in New York City.  

Larry Berger Photo

Interview conducted by Gary West

Rush Limbaugh has been using a piece of bumper music on his show. It’s very catchy, but it isn’t anything that was ever popular.

"A Woman's Got The Power" Single

“A Woman’s Got The Power” Single

From Marty H – Mr. Pop History, I swear if you get this one, you are the best! For years, Rush Limbaugh has been using a piece of bumper music on his show. It’s very catchy, but it isn’t anything that was ever popular. I can identify every bit of music he uses on the show with this one exception. I’ve never heard him mention this piece of music – ever.
I know this is a long shot.

Mr. Pop History – For readers who don’t know, bumper music is the music bridging commercials to the next segment of a radio talk show. It’s the thing to do and Rush perfected the art. Now, to answer your question. I’m going to guess and this is a long shot indeed! I noticed over the years that Rush has played a tune, which absolutely bombed on the charts. I was given this copy by a radio station in 1981. It was one of those throwaway records stations get. I don’t listen to Rush a lot, but notice Rush is still playing the same tune, either with different artists or a different arrangement. But lets go back to this single. A group called the A’s released it in 1981 on the Arista label. The song is called “A Woman’s Got the Power.” Rush listeners should recognize this incredible piece of mystery bumper music. Rush Limbaugh played this version for years and years.

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.