Friday, November 9, 2012

The Friday Flash

A few more radio comments ... and some reaction to our "Today's Forgotten Hit" selections / suggestions:

re: RADIO:
>>>Mickey sent us "I Must Be The Devil" by The Box Tops and then "Who Do You Love" by The Woolies along with "The Rains Came" by The Sir Douglas Quintet. Honestly, I think you're pipe-dreaming now ... short of an Internet station, you're not going to find these three coming out of your radio speakers anytime soon. We can't even get them to play legitimate Top 20 Hits anymore, where two OUTSTANDING hits by The Sir Douglas Quintet certainly qualify ... "She's About A Mover" hit #13 in 1965 ... and is a GUARANTEED "crank up the volume" song (if somebody would only play it!!!) This one will get your listeners going EVERY SINGLE TIME. And their 1969 "comeback" hit, "Mendocino" (#14) is another sure-shot audience grabber. Play these two and I guarantee you that you'll hear from your listeners complimenting you on your creative song choices. anything else.) As for The Box Tops, "I Must Be The Devil" was a B-Side ... so they SURE ain't gonna play THIS one!!! Despite eight legitimate Top 40 Hits, The Box Tops seem to have been reduced to One Hit Wonder status by the all-knowing, all-powerful radio gods, who only recognize "The Letter" as airplay-worthy. (kk)

Hey Kent -
Not pipe- dreaming ... my home town radio station WORD in the sixties ... an am station ... played these and more. They played it all, and the really great thing you could call in and request songs that were not on any play list, B-sides ,LP -cuts , and they would dig them up and play them.
Spartanburg, South Carolina ... WORD Radio.
Yep, it was a different time to be sure ... deejays were allowed to get creative back then and play something like a B-Side or an album cut ... and the audience responded kindly to this little bit of deviation from the traditional play list. As we discussed in great length during our Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides Series, many of us still remember these great flip-side tracks ... because not only did radio play some of them but WE played them at home when we bought these 45's. (Not the case anymore when everybody just goes and downloads that one specific track they like and nothing more ... even albums don't seem to hold much value anymore because listeners are cherry-picking their own favorite tracks and downloading them ... in many cases without even listening to the rest of what at one time may have been an entire concept of musical ideas put forth by that particular artist. Today radio barely focuses on the hits of that generation let alone anything else off the charts. 25 years of "classic hits" has been reduced to a playlist of about 300 titles, ignoring THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of other tracks that also crossed our stream of consciousness back then. But WE remember ... and, thankfully, so do some of these specialized Internet stations, which is about the only place you're going to hear something a bit off the beaten path anymore these days.
Maybe it really is too much to expect terrestrial radio to follow suit and attempt to compete ... it is, after all, THEIR apathy that has driven us away ... WE still care ... but clearly they don't. This next letter makes a good point in this regard about the evolving sound of radio. (By the same token, this is why satellite stations like XM / Sirius can offer specialized channels that feature only music from the '50's or '60's or '70's or '80's ... and find an audience willing to PAY for the opportunity to hear these tunes again. Terrestrial radio chooses instead to program with blinders on ... they see that their dwindling audience is willing pay to for the music they really want to hear yet still don't realize that if they simply gave them that same variety of music on their own radio station, many of them would come back and become listeners again. (Now how short-sighted is that?!?!?) kk  

More on WORD, courtesy of Mickey Cooksey ...
WORD signed on September 1, 1940, at 910 AM as Spartanburg's second radio station. under the ownership of Spartanburg Advertising Company, which also owned WSPA, a station that was established a decade previous. WORD utilized studio and tower space from WSPA.
In 1944 the FCC ordered the WSPA-WORD combo to be broken up due to ownership regulations which forbid an owner from having no more than one AM station per market. This was completed on March 17, 1947, when WORD was sold to Spartan Radiocasting. Later that year, sister FM WDXY 100.5 signed on the air, but would sign off the air by the end of the 1950s.
In 1952, a dispute erupted between both Spartan Radiocasting and Liberty Life over a proposed allocation for VHF TV channel 7 in Spartanburg. It was settled in 1958 when Spartan Radiocasting bought back WSPA-AM and FM from Liberty Life Insurance and spinning off WORD and WDXY to different ownership.
WORD was well known as Spartanburg's Top 40 powerhouse in the 1960s and 70s under the name "Big Word". Some of the South's heavy weights worked there during the 70's that included: Russ Spooner, Bob Canada, Kemosabi Joe Johnson, Fred Hardy and Robert W. Morgan (not the same Morgan that worked at KHJ) though. By the 1980s, WORD faced declining audience shares from FM competitors WANS and WFBC-FM and switched to various formats before going dark in 1989. In October 1990, WORD signed back on as a simulcast of 1330 WFBC from Greenville as both stations switched to News/Talk with WFBC becoming WYRD in the mid-90s.      

Thanks for the kind words once again. You need to come on out to the vault for some musical fun - in the meantime I try to keep the lesser songs spinning on the turntables in the vault - just last week we had Tiny Tim doing "Great Balls of Fire". And check out this coming week's attractions - CHOLLIE MAYE - JOHN FRED AND HIS PLAYBOYS, before it they hit it big in the later 60's and changed to the Playboy Band - JOHN COLEMAN , yep the channel 7 weatherman cut a 7" record - FAITH HOPE AND CHARITY - DON FRENCH and i think you featured that song in the past with discussions - THE DOVERS - BOBBY WOMMACK - HARVEY AND THE SEVEN SOUNDS - AL MARTINO - HAYDEN THOMPSON.
THANKS, Kent, for the work you do on this site -- IT'S THE BEST
Jeff James
Thanks, Jeff. Let's nail this sucker down before Christmas time. FH Readers can always check out the latest Jeff James memories "From The Vault" here: Click here:
You are correct. Practically every radio station here in OKC is owned by just a few companies like Clear Channel, Citadel, etc. And every station they own is on a single floor of an office building here in OKC. Normally there are some 5-6 stations that the companies own.
A few months ago it was in the business section of the paper that Tyler Broadcasting located here in OKC is buying (has bought) four stations from Renda Broadcasting. Tyler, I believe, already owns four stations.
A few months ago I bought a brand new car. I started listening to Sirius Radio, especially the fifties on 5. Would you believe that in a little over a week I noticed something about it. I seemed to be hearing, I thought, the same oldies somewhat over and over. My opinion. There was one particular record I seemed to noticed and a couple of weeks later I was talking to a friend of mine and he mentioned this one particular record as being heard almost every day. The record in question was SEARCHIN' / YOUNG BLOOD by the Coasters. He joked that the powers that be at Sirius probably owned some licensing rights to that song.
I don't know if you or how many of your readers remember the song out of 1958 MOPETY-MOPE by the Bosstones. I heard that on Sirius a total of four times within a five day period. It was played during different parts of the day. I wondered why a record like that was played that many times in a short period of time when I believe it wasn't all that big a record nationally.
Don't get me wrong. I heard on Sirius songs that obviously aren't heard any many on the traditional terrestrial radio. Another example is OLIVER TWIST by Rod McKuen on Spiral records from 1961. I heard that one three times over a period of four days. Again I wondered why it was played that many times over that same period when it wasn't all that big of a hit nationally.
That just sounds like lazy programming to me. If you're going to do "specialty" broadcasting like that, the sky's the limit. I used to love listening to XM 60's because you heard all kinds of things that nobody else was playing. (See my comments below about the music of the '60's ... there was SUCH diversity in this music that you could play just about anything and get away with it ... and find an audience for it.) The same would hold true of their '50's channel ... with no limitations on what they feature, their playlist ought to have about 3000 songs on it ... which gives absolutely NO reason why a non-hit like "Mopety-Mope" should be played that often. Once in a while, yes, as an attention grabber ... but not every song belongs in "heavy rotation"!!! (kk)   

The Drive's A-Z comes to a close later today ... eight days and over 2000 songs of completely unique programming with absolutely no repeats ... what a pleasure to listen to. (Lots of new surprises this year, too!) My guess is that not only did this outside-the-box programming not cost them any listeners, it instead brought NEW listeners on board as word of mouth spread and they heard about what The Drive was doing. For those of you out there afraid to try anything new or play anything other than the tried-and-true, there's a lesson to be learned here. And the fact of the matter is a WHOLE lot of us turned off your same old / same old for the past week in order to listen to something fresh and interesting instead. (kk)     

I've been following the radio rants, reading many, skimming through others, often thinking I could chime in but not wanting to repeat what had already been said. Having spent most of my life in radio prior to retiring last year, I've decided to make just a few comments.
First, I have no clue what the heck these programmers are thinking with their tight play lists. Many months ago I wrote (and you published) my experience and conversation with a classic rock consultant. Basically, I asked him why we were only playing a few songs by the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Steve Miller, CCR, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, etc., when they all had tons of hits. I asked why we weren't playing countless other top hits. His response was "nobody likes Bon Jovi" anymore. I asked him if this was the same Bon Jovi I had just seen in a sold out show in Omaha. I asked if this was the same Bon Jovi that was topping the concert tour receipts for the past several years. He ended the discussion and walked away. Whether you like Bon Jovi or not isn't the point. The point is, these consultants are destroying radio with their line of thinking. I don't understand it and I can't explain it.
About seven months ago our last local vestige of oldies disappeared from the radio. An AM Clear Channel station had a local morning show that featured some great music from the 60's. The jock was in his early 60's and really knew the music. We were fortunate to have him. (After 9 a.m. they put programming on the bird with mostly 70's music.) In their infinite wisdom, Clear Channel let the guy go and changed to a country format ... all satellite. Funny part is, we already have two FM country stations in this market. WTF?!?! Again, I have no clue what they're thinking.
I was prompted to write today after reading Jim Shea's insightful comments, including "the demo who finds 60's music familiar is aging out of the 25-54 cell and therefore is unmarketable to sponsors." This thinking has been prevalent in advertising for literally decades. The validity of this could be debated for weeks. Right or wrong, it's a factor that plays into the business end of the industry. And when the business end starts calling the programming shots, the listener is the one that gets burned. As I've said many times over the past decade, radio no longer broadcasts in the public interest. It broadcasts in the owner's interest.
Finally, I hate to break the news, but radio has traditionally left every generation behind. When did you last hear a station that played big band ... aside from PBS and a few rare outlets? My parents generation was left behind by radio decades ago. Back in the early 70's there were stations playing the Ray Coniff Singers, Dean Martin, Percy Faith, Floyd Cramer, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, etc. Hell, I even worked at one of those places back in the day. And now they're gone ... leaving another generation behind. Like those, the oldies stations have been dwindling and will continue to disappear. While we'd like to think that 60 (age) is the new 40, radio programmers are beginning to see us as dinosaurs. And this will continue until oldies on the radio are extinct. Just think, one day the music of the 90's will be considered oldies.
I apologize for the negativity ... I'm as disappointed as you and your readers.
Thanks, Steve ... a couple of your comments are right on target ... and again back up a lot of what I've been saying. Your former oldies station that flipped to country in a market where there are already two country station proves again the mentality of these geniuses calling the shots. (Well, country must be working so WE should play it too!) By the same token, why not program a station instead that caters to a wide selection of music and think like the listener for a change. (What's on YOUR iPod? Is it only one kind of music from one era? Is it just 40 songs each by 24 artists? Probably not. OPEN YOUR EYES and see that EVERYBODY out there today is programming to their own tastes ... and then program to the largest common denominator.) Mason Ramsey has been pushing "Music For The Ages", a GREAT programming concept that's gone absolutely nowhere because of these narrow-minded, thick-skulled consultants who aren't even smart enough to realize that we grew up with ALL of this music around us. We ALL went through our various musical phases ... Elvis and The Beatles ... The British Invasion and Motown ... Top 40 Pop ... album rock ... the Disco Era ... hard rock of the '80's ... techno-pop ... whether we liked it all or not, we were still exposed to it ... so why wouldn't music from ALL these different genres garner a response from us as listeners? We've grew up through it all ... and no matter how much we did or didn't like a particular song or artist, each and every one of us will react with a "Man, I haven't heard THAT songs in AGES!!!" response if you simply give us the opportunity to do so. Why do you continue to insult us by denying the fact that WE evolved as listeners right along with all the changes made in the music?
We've talked SO many times before about how back in the '60's you'd hear the latest British Invasion tunes played side by side with folk music, bubblegum, the best R&B from Motown, Atlantic and Stax, country crossover hits by Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers, great instrumentals by Booker T and the MG's, Cliff Nobles, Hugo Montenegro and (OH MY GOD!) Herb Alpert and Paul Mauriat!!! Competing side by side with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly!!! And, incredibly, IT ALL FIT!!! (Some of the biggest records of 1968 included "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro, "Valleri" by The Monkees, "Love Is Blue" by Paul Mauriat, "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors, "Hey Jude" by The Beatles, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, "Harper Valley PTA" by Jeannie C. RIley, "Grazing In The Grass" by Hugh Masekela, "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams, "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, "Born To Be Wild" by Steppenwolf, "Simon Says" by The 1910 Fruitgum Company, "Abraham, Martin and John" by Dion and "Bottle Of Wine" by The Fireballs. Could there be a more diverse group of artists competing for our attention at one time??? TALK ABOUT VARIETY!!! And ALL of these songs were played side-by-side and NOBODY had a problem with it. It's the narrow-minded thinking today that has destroyed the concept of creativity in programming. Yes, we had Dean Martin and The Ray Coniff Singers and Percy Faith and Johnny Mathis ... and I maintain that ALL of these artists would still fit today in small doses of the right material. (You hear them at Christmastime, right???) How cool would it be to hear "Chances Are" thrown into the mix once in a while ... with a little deejay rap (from somebody who actually knew what he was talking about) about making out at the submarine races ... to help tie one generation to another. The music of the '20's, '30's and '40's didn't sustain its listening audience because it didn't have the mass cross-over appeal that the music of the '50's, '60's and '70's had ... and still has. As pointed out, kids today are hearing and LOVING this great music when they're given the chance to be exposed to it. Look at how major hits by The Four Seasons and ABBA have crossed over to Broadway and introduced whole new generations to these infectious sounds.
Mark my words ... five years from now ... ten years from now ... SOMEBODY out there is going to develop a "brand new format" that starts playing the music of the '50's, '60's and '70's again ... and they're going to declare this guy a programming genius because he tapped into an uncharted era previously ignored by all of mass radio combined. Or ... 80% of radio will become music-free ... because all of us now have at our fingertips the ability to play whatever we want whenever we want with absolutely NO restrictions or limits. Radio can continue to dig its own grave ... or they can adapt to give their listeners more of what they really want to hear. Doing nothing at all ... going with the same old / same old ... is only driving us further and further away. (Honey, put me down for an Internet Car Radio for Christmas ... I don't think we're EVER going to win this battle!) kk 

Tear 'em down, Kent ... we're depending on YOU! :)

Just wanted to tell you that of all the records Jay and the Americans recorded, todays' FH is my all time favorite ...LET'S LOCK THE DOOR ( AND THROW AWAY THE KEY).  No wonder she couldn't find her keys ... because they had been thrown away.

What a treat hearing "I Can't Stay Mad At You" this morning. This is truly a forgotten gem, which is a little baffling considering the writers: Gerry Goffin / Carole King. They had quite a run in 1963; checking my Whitburn book, they were also Top 10 that year with "Go Away Little Girl," "One Fine Day," "Up On The Roof," "Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby" and "Hey, Girl."    
Be Well,
Carl Wiser
I love BOTH of Skeeter Davis' Top Ten Hits ... "End Of The World" is one of my all-time favorites ... and while "I Can't Stay Mad At You" may seem a little bit dated in light of Womens' Rights since 1963, it comes off a WHOLE lot better than "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)"!!! kk   

Great call on Linda Scott. The song remains, in my opinion, a classic example of uncertain, female, teenage angst. I used to play this sucker endlessly on the old turntable as a young boy discovering things like ... you know ... testosterone.
There was something about the song that was somewhat melancholy, yet uplifting.
Two points: Was Linda a classic "one hit wonder?"
Two, I assume that Linda recorded out of the Brill Building, so I'm guessing the background voice belongs to Neil Sedaka.
When I was doing my sports TV gig in New York back in the mid 90's I had the pleasure of recording video and audio spots at "The Brill." Honest to gosh, all I could really think about was Barry Mann singing "Who Put the Bomp."
I'm a big r and b guy ... I used to go to the old Regal Theatre all the time. Hell, you could see the original Temptations along with a Japanese monster flick with sub-titles for two bucks. But, does the Brill have to take a backseat to Motown?
We could debate this for hours. I'd have to give Motown a slight edge due to Smoky Robinson's song writing ability, the Funk Brothers, and the promotional genius of Barry Gordy. Never the less, Brill is synonymous with hits and the writing genius of people like Carole King.
Keep on rockin, double K,
Chet Coppock
Notre Dame Football - WLS
Linda Scott followed up "I've Told Every Little Star" with another Top Ten Hit I think you'll remember ... "Don't Bet Money, Honey". Before the year was up she scored her third Top 20 Hit with "I Don't Know Why". Scott hit Billboard's Top 100 Pop Singles Chart eleven times in all ... but those were her biggest hits.
I can't find anything that shows Sedaka as working on Linda Scott's hit record ... by the time it came out, Sedaka was having hits of his own ... and recording for a different label ... so I think it's probably unlikely (although we did report several years ago that Neil did some pretty fancy rock and roll piano work on the Bobby Darin instrumental "Bullmoose" ... and also worked with Connie Francis on a couple of her biggest hits ... so who knows!!!)
Honestly I think the Skeeter Davis track "I Can't Stay Mad At You" is a blatant rip-off of Neil's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" ... and she recorded for RCA, as did Sedaka in the '60's. I think it's probably far more likely that he helped out with THAT recording than the Linda Scott tune!
Much like Motown, there was a very definite Brill Building Sound ... which is surprising in a way because of the sheer volume of songwriters and producers working there. It just goes to show you again how diverse the music of the '60's really was. This was the day of the songwriters and the studio musicians crafting the hits ... a different era to be sure ... but a very successful one. (You'll have to check out this Wrecking Crew documentary sometime ... I know you'd love it!  I've also got a piece The Biography Channel did on The Brill Building Sound several years ago.  You bring the popcorn!) kk   

Kent ...
You played Linda Scott's Forgotten Hit. She's from Queens, New York. Whatever happened to her?
I thought for sure she'd show up on one of those PBS shows.
You had a picture of Brian Hyland. He's from Queens, New York. Brian and I went to the same High School, Franklin K. Lane. He's a little older than than I am. I think he quit school after his " Bikini " Hit. He became famous, I didn't.
Reading a book by Bob Greene ... "Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights." I think he use to write for the Chicago Tribune.
In one of the chapters - he's on a plane listening to Bob Seger on one of the American Airlines stations. He tells this story. He grew up in Ohio. When he turned 17 years old, he went to this bar, "The Sugar Shack," to have his first beer. Who
was appearing there? Bob Seger. No Cover, No minimum. Who would've thought 25 years later that Bob Seger was famous enough to have his music featured on an American Airlines station.
Frank B.
Bob Greene is a GREAT writer who really captures the feel of that era ... he lived through it just like we did and was just as affected by it. (He's also a Forgotten Hits Reader, by the way!!!) And yes, he worked for both The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun Times ... and now does a syndicated column for CNN. His most recent books explores the death of the daily newspaper, something he dedicated his life to for so many years.
I highly recommend ALL of his books ... you won't be disappointed. (Knowing how much this music meant to him growing up, I was really hoping that he might pick up the baton and run with our current rave out on the sad state of radio programming today ... but so far not even a nibble. C'mon, Bob ... there's strength in numbers ... and you can reach a MUCH bigger audience than I can!!!) kk   

Your fourth selection today, THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT, as you mentioned, was sometimes used by certain DJ's as a going off air theme.I remember one DJ here using it as his going off air theme.
Which brings me to the question. Have you ever asked your readers what themes or songs as they remember, did certain DJ's use when they were going off with their air shift and or possibly going on with their air shift?
Not specifically ... but the topic has come up from time to time. Certain deejays were most definitely identified with certain songs as their "themes" ... I'm sure our readers can come up with a number of examples. (kk)  

Since we used some 1968 examples above, how about THIS one for Today's Forgotten Hit.
You hear the original #1 Hit version several times a day ... but when's the last time you heard Jose Feliciano's unique interpretation of "Light My Fire" ... a Number Three Hit.  Wouldn't this be a nice way to "mix things up" a little bit once in a while?  (kk)