Tuesday, October 30, 2012


If YOU'RE not done talking about radio, then WE'RE not done talking about it either.

As such,you'll find quite a few more of your radio-related comments posted here over the next few days.  We'll talk about the old days and the current state of radio, 2012 ... and present the good, the bad and the ugly.

And for those of you who are already finding themselves bored with this discussion (and our recent ravings), you can either skip this new batch of columns completely ... or read them with an open mind ... because I think a few of you out there just may be missing the point.  (Clarification to come!)

But first ... a look back at the golden days of Top 40 radio ... 

First up ... some GREAT memories from FH Reader Clark Besch ... both of WLS in the '60's and some of the other stations he used to listen to back in the day.   

Hi Kent,
Please pass this on to Dex Card if you would. 
How incredible that you got an email from the GREAT Dex Card! As one of the biggest fans of WLS in the 60's, it is SO good to know Dex is doing well.
I have told the story of growing up and running home from school to catch Dex playing the Silver Dollar Survey in Dodge City, Kansas. I loved Dex's smooth delivery of the countdown. He was "the crew cut fellow in the first row," who welcomed us at 2:00 with "Hi again, everybody" as "BIG D" to "the Card Party keepin' ya company" on "Channel 89", often playing a record from "the Beatle Box" that also might include their latest "TSW" (two-sided winner) which may have "picked up a point" on its "journey to the top" OR might have "fell off three" as he was "workin' our way" thru "Chicago's most accurate and authoritative" "Silver Dollar Survey" on "8-9-0 A-Go-Go in Chicago". Most likely it was "a tough new record" "becoming a giant in our town and all over mid-America" on "Wonderful W-L-S" and at a little after 6, Dex would close saying "That does it for Dex today."
Yeah, I remember it like yesterday.
Dex had so many cool phrases that I would love hearing on a daily basis. In late 1965, Dex started playing a new song that I have made no secret that because of this, "Look Through Any Window" by the Hollies instantly became and still is my fave 60's song. It opened my eyes to Chicago's bias towards British Invasion groups and Chicago groups later. That was a turning point when I began listening to WLS a lot more than KOMA locally. I loved KOMA, but WLS was "mystic." Dex was a huge part of it. In the summer of 67, reception was not good because of the sun spot interference that was always the case DXing from Dodge City. Towards the end of the summer, I realized Dex was no longer a part of the LS staff and the "Silver Dollar Survey" was now the "Hit Parade." I loved Larry Lujack but always missed Dex's seemingly genuine interest in playing the countdown and the numbers of the songs as opposed to Lujack's not caring a bit about where the song was on the chart. It was a changing of the guards to an extent and a move to tightened playlists and an era of dwindling "personality" jocks that WLS had been known for. In retrospect, those mid-60's years at WLS were the best, IMO.
BTW, I also want to thank Dex Card for basically discovering and helping the Cryan Shames begin their career. They became my all time fave band and allowed me to eventually write the liner notes for their album CD reissues in the 90's and 2000's!
From an avid fan: MANY, MANY thanks to Dex there, too ... and for a great radio listening experience!
Clark Besch in Lincoln, Nebraska

Hi guys,
I could talk 60's WLS and KOMA all day. Heck, I do anyway. I pulled my accompanying KOMA week of August 18, 1964, for Kent to compare what I was listening to quite a bit more than WLS at that point in my 8 years old life. Here's the KOMA chart, which shows Billy J. Kramer at number one after all. I am guessing Larry is going by the WKY charts, the other great OKC station in those days. I loved them both and 'though KOMA was known "coast to coast" with its long fades in and out of their 50,000 watt signal, WKY actually beat KOMA most of the time locally in the ratings. It was not much different than a few years later with WLS and WCFL in Chicago where WLS boomed to all parts, while WCFL had directional signal "situations" that, despite also being a 50,000 watter like the Big 89, caused it to be less well known. Certainly, as Larry mentioned, WLS and WCFL BOTH had reception problems caused by OKC stations being exactly on those frequencies. VERY frustrating for me, too, listening in Dodge City, as these stations caused me to have such complications hearing Dex Card in the afternoons.
Anyway, here's the KOMA chart from Kent's WLS week of early listening!
Clark Besch

Larry Neal responds ... 

Clark is right ... any reference I made to songs or records here in OKC come from the weekly surveys of WKY 930 AM, which was a big competitor of KOMA. I am fortunate to have a copy of every weekly survey for WKY from the first one in August of 1958 up through the year 1979 when they ceased to be printed.

More Larry and Clark banter ...  

Larry brought up the great Art Roberts Sunday night oldies show "Hey Baby They're Playing Our Song." It was late at night, but kept oldies fans interested as well as giving Art a place to showcase his knowledge of the artists of yesterday (a bit like Larry Neal did on his Wax Museum show on KOMA in the 90's!).
Art's theme song for the show was done by Chicago's own Maurice and Mac from the local group, the Radiants! Art would then go on to inspire my buddy James Holvay to get permission from Art to write the 1967 hit of same name for the Buckinghams!!!
Clark Besch

You mentioned that you heard BURNIN' LOVE the other day and had not heard it in a long time. Well, come down to OKC and I guarantee you you'll hear it that you will go crazy. Same for SUSPICIOUS MINDS. If a person didn't know better, they would swear up and down that these were the only two songs that Elvis ever recorded.
Thanks for posting COME HOME COME HOME by the Sheppards. I had never heard that song before and kind of figured you would post it. I checked one of my books here at home and according to it, the song COME HOME COME HOME was the 'B' side of the record with the 'A' side being the song FEEL LIKE LOVIN'. You of course were right on the label's name and label number for the two songs which charted in your town.
A comment was made on the Pick Album of the Week. 
The great majority of time the pick album of the week here in OKC had nothing to do with the music format of the top 40 station they were listed on.  I was told years ago that record promoters paid to have their albums listed at the bottom of the survey even though no cuts were played. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.
Larry Neal

Believe me, back when we had an oldies station, we heard "Burning Love" by Elvis plenty here in Chicago, too, where Elvis seems to have been reduced to a three-hit artist ... "Burning Love", the WAY over-played "Suspicious Minds" and the millennium remix of "A Little Less Conversation" are about the only Elvis tunes you'd ever hear unless it was a birthday or death anniversary tribute. (I'll throw "Return To Sender" into that list, too, because Scott Shannon used to play that one quite a bit when he was still on the air here in Chicago.)
No one could expect a station play ALL of the songs they played back in the day ... that's what made a special feature like Ron Smith's old Chicagoland Countdown program was such a welcome delight. Each week Ron would count down The Top 20 Songs in Chicago on that date for any given year on Real Oldies.  You'd hear some real obscurities and surprises there ... NOT necessarily songs that belong in regular rotation, because a good number of them simply don't "fit" anymore ... but a real kick to hear them again within the context of this program.
Dick Biondi would also feature quite a few "obscure" and forgotten tracks on his Friday Night All Request Show, too, proving my point again that the listeners DO remember these tracks because they grew up with them.  The fact that radio doesn't play them anymore had not diminished their "value" and appeal in the listeners' minds ... so it was great to have a forum for a few hours a week that allowed this music to be played again ... but now that's gone, too, with these on-going line-up changes at the station.  (Where else is anybody new to this genre going to discover some of these  great, forgotten tunes?!?!)
Actually, I haven't given up all hope yet ... I have been secretly working behind the scenes to bring Ron's countdown program back to the airwaves ... and that's a REAL Forgotten Hits scoop ... because I haven't even talked to HIM about it yet!!! (lol)  I LOVED this program ... and it was TOTALLY unique to the Chicago scene ... a rich part of our musical heritage and upbringing ... and I firmly believe there is still a place for this program on our local airwaves (or streaming worldwide as the case may be.)
Ron, if you're reading this, I'd like to talk to you about it further ... it may be time to take this one off the shelf and get it back on the air again!  (kk)

I can assure you that WLS DID play songs from their "Pick Albums of the Week". (BTW, KOMA listed a Top 10 Albums weekly at bottom of their charts!) WLS most often seemed to program the LP cuts during midday shows in most counts ... I suppose because of the house wife type songs usually found on the pop LPs often picked for the albums of the week. However, Bernie Allen played the Troggs' B side "From Home" and most of the DC5 cuts from "American Tour" album on his show, so even the rougher edged LP cuts could be heard middays, too.
Clark Besch

For 13 years now we've been badgering deejays to step outside the box once in a while and play some of these great, forgotten hits on the radio again ... set the playlist aside now and then and program in half a dozen "WOW!"-factor songs into the mix and see how your audience reacts.  
We've had SOME success with our campaign ... and, by and large, you'll always find a lot more flexibility and variety on the internet today than you will on the terrestrial radio dial.  

Here's a couple of things that caught our radar last week:

I was disappointed to read that the Forgotten Hits website forgot about me.  Let me reintroduce myself ... Mike Baker And The Forgotten 45s.
I am not a journalist but I have come to the Forgotten Hits website to browse. I started a suburban oldies show as an alternative to Chicago radio. Never had any ratings to brag about, but no corporation rules and guidelines to adhere to.
Radio has never been my primary job. Maybe that is why I can have fun over the years with the audience and play more Chicago obscure oldies. As you may now know, after 17 years I am "off" but you might hear a peep from me soon. Until then, my website and supervising WLTL radio at Lyons Township High School will keep me occupied. If you care to check what mischief I have caused, look me up at www.mikebaker45s.com where a whole lot of "stuff" is.
Keep up the Forgotten Hits,
Mike Baker And The Forgotten 45s

Several months ago we ran a blurb about Mike Baker signing off the air with his "Forgotten 45s" program.  I felt cheated in that in ALL the years that I've been doing Forgotten Hits, nobody had ever tipped me off to Mike's program ... I had missed it for 17 years and, now that I was FINALLY aware of it, it was only because it was about to cease to exist!!!  (It just seemed to me that we could have done SO much together during that time to help further the cause of this great, forgotten music, had we only been able to make that connection.)
Cool to hear that you have been following Forgotten Hits ... and it's GREAT to hear from you, Mike.  If you DO get the show up and running again please let me know so we can help to spread the word ... our readers would really enjoy a program like yours.
It's too bad really ... you did your show for 17 years and I'm coming up on 13 years of Forgotten Hits now ... seems to me like we should have connected somewhere along the way and put some specials together! (I'm still up for that, by the way, if you start broadcasting again. It certainly WOULD be a fresh and welcome alternative to our listening choices today!) kk

Meanwhile, it's certainly safe to say that THIS one took me by surprise when I received a link last week ...

Hey, HERE'S a clever name for a website and music premise ... Click here: Gary Shannon—Forgotten Hits
Honestly, it's hard to get mad at ANYBODY (especially in the world of radio) dedicating themselves to resurrecting some of the great, long-forgotten music that doesn't get played anymore. (That's certainly been our premise for the past 13 years!)  Gary's promising to feature legitimate Top 40 Billboard Hits (and Lord knows there are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of them that radio doesn't play anymore) ... it's just a little hard "sharing" the name when we've worked so hard to establish it for the past 13 years.  (In fact, I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with it at all!)     

Regardless, I promised Gary a plug-for-plug exchange and we'll see where it goes from here. As I said, we're all united in the same cause ... and that just means better awareness (and better radio) for the public at large. Besides, he has the means of reaching an audience through radio that we don't have here in print ... so who knows, maybe we'll even work together somewhere down the line on picking some killer selections to feature.
Stay tuned! (kk)      

UPDATE: Well, it's been about a week now ... and not so much as a reply ... so I'm not quite sure what's up with that.  (Being true to my word, Gary, I've plugged your site anyway, regardless of how I may feel about the use of our name, Forgotten Hits.)
Do we really need to rename ourselves "Kent Kotal's Forgotten Hits" to maintain clarity and identity?!?!? Actually, readers have been encouraging me to do this for years now, telling me it's time to take "ownership" of this premise, but I've steered clear ... Forgotten Hits belongs to ALL of us who value and remember this great music that doesn't get played anymore ... I may have come up with the concept ... and act as the moderator ... but I've always viewed the success of this whole operation as a joint venture ... it's the collaboration of the fans, the music, the memories, the musicians and the dee jays that makes this whole thing work ... so while I can take credit for the initial concept ... and may act as the glue that holds the whole thing together ... Forgotten Hits simply wouldn't work without all of you. So it's a bit frustrating to see somebody else trying to capitalize on this name. (Call it something else, dude! ... "Forgotten Top 40" ... here, you can have that one for free!!! Grab it before somebody else does!) Honestly ... after nearly 6000 newsletters and website postings over a 13 year period ... and nearly two million website visitors in the past four years ... I'd have to say that we've pretty well established who we are and what we do. Google Forgotten Hits and/or Kent Kotal and dozens and dozens and dozens of pages will pop up. Like I said, this is a tough call ... as I'm in favor of ANYBODY helping to keep this great music alive ... just come up with your own banner and we'll support you 100% (and send hundreds of new listeners your way, too!) And give US a plug now and then in return. Doesn't that seem like the fairest win / win for all parties concerned??? (kk)