Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let Me Introduce You ...

Looks like we hit another radio "hot spot" this past week with these custom call-letters introductions that were floating around in the early '70's ... a very novel concept that sometimes worked better than others (as you will see if you listen to a few of these ... quite honestly, most of them are pretty awful ... the WMAK-Intro'd "Sooner Or Later" is the best in the bunch ... but seems to be the exception to the rule!)  kk

>>>At the same time as "Sooner Or Later," another ABC Dunhill act had a custom version on WLS. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds' "Don't Pull Your Love" sang (very quickly) "WLS Chicago" before the opening line.  (Ron Smith) 
>>>OK, we've got to get copies of these!!!  Clark Besch, are you listening?!?!?  (kk) 
>>>I have a WLS demo from PAMS for these things that PAMS called "Pop Tops" but it included only WLS intros for "I Am I Said" and "If" as I remember.  Not sure where the tape is.  It was just a demo sent to other stations.  (Clark Besch) 
>>>Well, if you can FIND it, we'll run it!!!  Would love to hear these.  (kk)

Hi Kent -
I'll save Clark Besch the trouble ... I found the two WLS Pop Tops from 1971. They are for Jackson Five's "Never Can Say Goodbye" and Bread's "If". By the way ... they are not great! I never heard them played here in Chicago. (enclosed)
Mike Hartman  
Clark found these two ... plus a few others ... check out the sound clip below!  (And you're right ... "not great" is putting it mildly!!!)  kk 

I found my WLS demo (even tho I'd have never dreamed I would find it by chance in a stack of dusty tapes nowhere near my WLS stuff!).  Judging from the memories of David Lewis, Ron Smith and me, I'd say we remember 1971 pretty well for being 40 years ago!  This came at the exact time we were loading up and moving from my childhood home of Dodge City, Kansas to Lincoln, Nebraska, where I have lived since.  I did not get much chance to hear the Pop Tops on WLS at the time, but when we got to Lincoln, KOIL in Omaha was featuring them quite a bit. 
The enclosed PAMS Pop Top sampler versions may not have ever aired, as it seems, judging by the three of us remembering these being featured in songs from early sum
mer and fall, 1971 records.  The sampler tunes were all from a month before these at least.  I assume (with big promotional push by PAMS) that stations jumped on right after the demos were mailed and thus the Grass Roots were probably in the first batch sent to WLS.  At KOIL, I distinctly remember "The Drum" by Bobby Sherman having the intro "Come to Omaha, beat the Drum on K-O-I-L" just before Bobby's singing part.  Again, this was a month after the sampler cuts.  I suppose this could have been a MINGLE production, since the wording is more in line with what they did as opposed to the basic calls in the PAMS messages.  I had no idea there was a competing company doing this.  Anyway, there's quite a few WLS Pop Tops in here along with a WGAR Cleveland one.  BTW, Is doing a Pop Top over Ocean's song sacrilegious???  Haha.
I have the PAMS full page ads for the Pop Tops promotion, but have not located it yet.  If I do, I will send along. 
Meanwhile, here's a photo of what the PAMS Pop Tops 1971 promo tape looks like.

Clark Besch

Yep, these are pretty awful ... and I can honestly say I don't remember hearing a single one of these on the radio.  (Meanwhile, the WMAK "Sooner Or Later" piece INSTANTLY sticks in your head ... and I absolutely admit to EXPECTING to hear it now every time this song comes on the radio!!!)  Like Big Jay said, it was one hell of a marketing concept ... and I'm hoping we can still get Joey Reynolds to stop by and tell us a little bit more about this whole promotion!  (kk)

>>>The custom intros were produced by the Joey Reynolds organization. In Nashville, we have custom intros for "I Just Want To Celebrate", "Peace Train", "One Fine Morning", "Do You Know What Time It Is?", and of course "Sooner or Later."  (David Lewis) 
>>>I was reading the stuff contributed about the “Sooner Or Later” custom intro on your blog recently and wanted to tell you that my very good friend and associate Joey Reynolds indeed recorded many intros like that one for many stations in the early to mid-70s.  He actually called the company MINGLES for a while.   (Big Jay Sorensen)

Clearly, some of these worked better than others ...

As mentioned, I am surprised by songs from later than fall 71 having these intros.  I believe PAMS dropped the idea by fall of 1971.  I have a feeling that stations found it a bit hard to deal with.  First, it cost money, big money, to buy these monthly bits.  Then, it was a small number of songs, so how did you program THESE songs?  Did you give them extra play when you should not?  Some became hits, but some were "over the hill" by the time the intros arrived.  Some, like "The drum" did NOT become hits, so it was not played that long.  PLUS, some people just did NOT like these things and told stations so. 
Joey Reynolds was a great DJ!!  All the way from his east coast 60's ride to when I listened to him on WNBC in the 80s!!  I know I have his 4 Seasons intro for his show as well as Bernadette Carrol's "Party Girl" intro somewhere for Joey's show from the early 60's somewhere.
Clark Besch

One of the local stations in Grand Forks, North Dakota, had the PAMS Pop Tops for a bit in the early 70's. The one that pops in to my head was "If" by Bread.  As the intro played, the vocal came in "and we're glad to be with you ... on K N O X." Vocal came in on count four of the 2nd measure of the intro. When I was a
kid I'd get out my tape recorder and my copy of the song and try to copy them. At one point I could have had them all, but for some reason I didn't grab them as they went in to the dumpster.  What the heck was I thinking?  I remember "Don't Pull Your Love" on WLS, too.

I'm just amazed that I don't remember a single one of these WLS intros ... so you may be right ... perhaps they never even aired and PAMS just used the call letters of one of the biggest Top 40 outfits in the country to market this concept to other radio stations across the USA.  Like I said, I listened to WLS and WCFL pretty much non-stop back in '71 (yes, MY memories are pretty clear on this era, too ... my high school graduation came that year and we recently went to our 40th Reunion Party!).  One of my favorite memories from '71 radio was the way WLS and WCFL used to fill that silent gap in Lee Michaels' big hit "Do You Know What I Mean", one of my all-time favorites from this era.  Radio doesn't do that kind of thing anymore ... but right at the end of the song (during what can't be more than a three-beat measure) you were likely to hear just about ANYTHING fill that dead air ... from a chicken squawking to a car crash to a "Hubba-Hubba" to God knows what!!!  This special treatment made the listener feel like they were in on the joke.  Then in 1974 when "Life Is A Rock" became a #1 Hit, I remember WCFL jumping on this first with their "Super 'CFL rolled me" ... and before long, WLS was playing it, too ... but the phrasing of WLS just never quite fit that song ... which is probably why WCFL dropped the "W" and went with "Super 'CFL" instead!!!  The three call letters just doesn't lend itself well to some of these intros as evidenced by listening to the PAMS spots.  (By the way, since they included it on their first CD, WLS-FM plays the "WLS rolled me" version of "Life Is A Rock" all the time again now ... clever for 1974 ... not so much in 2011!!!)  kk

There were several special edition songs in the late 70s and 80s.  Whenever I hear the Pointer Sisters' (Bruce Springsteen written)  song Fire,  I still hear ... "I'm ridin' in your car.  You turn on WLS". 

There were several specialties that the Big 89 created that I vividly recall.  When Billy Don't Be a Hero was a hit, they combined it with a Partridge Family song.  "From where I stood, I saw she was cryin' and through her tears I heard her say" ... "Doesn't somebody want to be wanted like me, where are you?".  Thirty-Seven years later I still expect to hear David Cassidy's voice break it when Bo Donaldson gets to the chorus.

A classic Larry Lujack song intro has stayed with me all of these years. It happened during his talk up to the vocals of a 1975 hit.  "... Jackie Blue ... the Ozark Mountain Daredevils ... every single one of them."
Phil Nee  

Hoping that we'll hear from more of our readers who remember some of these custom intros ... or have a few of their own to share.  It's another cool topic that all came up quite innocently ... but I'm glad you folks are enjoying it!  (kk)

>>>I still sing W --- I --- B --- G --- Sooner Or Later, just before Rob Grill sings the line.
(Big Jay Sorensen)
The ONLY thing I remember of WIBG, wasn't their jingles, but their Robert Halls commercials!!! Really!
Jersey John

The 90-minute non-pledge version of "Airplay" is starting to air on some PBS stations. I'm not sure if Chicago's going to pick it up ... they aired the pledge show a lot.

Also, the DVD is available through PBS. If anyone ever asks you, there's a link on my website ... or you can go to and click on "shop".

I really appreciate everything you've done for us.

Carolyn Travis
Great news, Carolyn!  As you know, I'm a BIG fan of this documentary ... so I'm VERY happy to let our readers know that they can now get a copy of their very own.  (And stay tuned ... we just may have a couple of copies to give away, too!!!)  kk

By the way, here's the link to Carolyn's website ... a "work in progress" that'll just keep improving with time!

Earlier this week we gave you Robert Feder's link to a new radio interview with Ken Draper, the guy who helped to put WCFL on the map back in the '60's.  Now we've got a link to another new special spotlighting a special era of competitor WLS ... from their PRE-Rock Era ...
While not something I would have listened to, WLS' Barn Dance and Don McNeill's Breakfast Club were considered national radio treasures back in the day.  If you're into the History of Popular Radio, this is a "can't miss" special. (kk)

Thanks so much for the Feder article telling us about the Ken Draper podcast.  It was, as expected, great!  The producer did a great job of mixing the jingles with the memories.  Despite the fact that I'd have loved to hear a bit about the music they played, it was great to hear the jock stories and how it all came together.  Certainly, CFL's success owes alot to KYW / WKYC in Cleveland where most of these guys, including Ken, came from to Chicago.  KYC was a great station too.  I interviewed the late WLS leader, Gene Taylor, in 1991 and he echoes many of the thoughts Ken presented, from a WLS perspective, and they seem to mesh well.  There was little or no speaking between the two leaders back then.  It was a great time in Chicago radio -- the Greatest!  

And I got this from FH Reader Fred Vail down in Music City after our WCFL link ran the other day:
John Wellman 7:26pm Sep 13
Happy Birthday to radio legend Dick Biondi...still going strong at is an aircheck before he came to Chicago:
I didn't realize it was Dick Biondi's birthday the other night (but I know that he was off the air.)  Is he REALLY 79?!?!?  Happy Birthday, Dick!!!  And how cool is it to hear him mention The Jordan Brothers (Frank Jordan has been a Forgotten Hits Reader for several years and has participated with us from time to time) ... hear him play a Brook Benton / Dinah Washington duet (just like he did the other night, which inspired ME to feature one in our Friday "Today's Forgotten Hit" segment) ... a track by the NEVER played Jack Scott (who we were SUPPOSED to interview this year) ... hear him play "Alley Oop", the very first song that WLS signed on with when they switched to a Top 40 station in 1960 ... (and, of course, home to Dick Biondi for SO many years!) ... it's just amazing to think that he was doing ALL this stuff 50 years ago!!!  (Just proves how much WE'RE doing to help keep this stuff alive!  In Forgotten Hits, everything "old" is NEW again!!!)  kk