Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WLS WEDNESDAY ... More WLS ... and Radio In General

A good story on the LPFM radio scene ...
This was in yesterday's free paper here in Colorado Springs, the Independent:
The gist of it is that the FCC will begin issuing no-cost low-power FM radio licenses to nonprofits later this year, and evidently isn't allowing big commercial radio interests to stonewall the licensing process, as it did back in 2000-2002.
Here's the quote that goes right to the heart of Forgotten Hits:
Daniel Hyatt, a former engineer for Denver's Jammin' 101.5 FM ("True Old School, Smooth R&B"), is enthusiastic about the new offering. "If you've got a group of four or five people who are really involved in the local music scene — or are doing something else locally — this is a chance to do that without getting involved in these huge corporations or having to spend millions of dollars."
Hyatt, who started out in the industry doing audio product development, has been consulting with small Colorado municipalities and nonprofits interested in starting their own stations. But he's also hoping that fellow music fanatics will get on board.
"If somebody wants to put a religious station on the air, that's cool," says Hyatt. "But I'm hoping that's not all it is, that there'll be stations that focus on the local rock scene or some stoner guy who's talking about rock B-sides from the '60s."
I've long had an interest in pirate radio -- see Andrew Yoder's excellent book Pirate Radio from 1996 -- and this would basically legalize it. There's still the cost of the equipment, but it's a marvelous opportunity for rock radio to move beyond cookie-cutter formats and do interesting things with music that today almost never sees the airwaves at all.
--Jeff Duntemann
  Colorado Springs, Colorado
We have a couple of low-signal non-profit radio stations on the list that read Forgotten Hits regularly ... and have the freedom to play what they want instead of what they're TOLD to play.  It makes all the difference in the world.  Here's hoping a couple of mega-stations spring up as a result of this new ruling.  (Problem is then they'll want to make money doing it!!!  And so would I!!!)  kk  

A few weeks ago we ran a piece sent in by Ron Smith showing the average age demographic for television's most popular programming ... incredibly, THEIR sales people have found a way to still market to their audience (whereas radio seems to have completely given up forever on such a concept.)
This week, Ron sends us another similar piece showing again just how skewed this narrow-minded programming really is ... tunnel-vision at its finest ... as radio continues to ignore (and leave behind) the largest segment of its listening audience:
Even “The Big Bang Theory” has a median age of nearly 50. Meaning if Sheldon, Leonard and Penny were DJs, they’d be working the 11 PM to 2 AM shift, if at all.
-- Ron
Click here: Fifty Shades of Grey: Broadcast Audience Older Than Ever | Adweek

And, it's coming ... we heard our first commercials this week for the Annual All-Christmas-Music Programming on WLIT-FM (now calling themselves "My FM" ... but not about to give up the one thing that consistently boosts their ratings every year ... even if it DOES mean that the holiday starts earlier and earlier each year!!!)  Without giving a specific date, the new campaign simply promises "All Christmas Music ... when the time is right".  Of course in MY book, that would be the day after Thanksgiving ... but I've got a hunch we may start to hear some Jolly Ol' Saint Nicholas tunes before the kids put on their Halloween costumes this year!  (And weirder still?  We actually had SNOW FLURRIES in Chicago today ... on October 22nd!!!)

re:  WLS:
Forgotten Hits Readers are diggin' our recent tributes to WLS Radio ... here are a few more comments we've received in the past few days!
Thank for posting the WLS surveys! What a treat.

It was wonderful to see your letter from Dex Card. Dex brings back good vibes.  I recall back in '68 when I was the road manager for the New Colony 6 that we played Dex's "Wild Goose" clubs at three or four suburban outlets along with Racine, Wisconsin.
It was truly a magic era. Unlike today, jocks were larger than life.
Really, did anybody have greater pipes than Joel Sebastien? Did anybody run a tighter board than Jimmy P. Stagg?
Jeez, I still recall seeing a group called the Chicago Transit Authority playing at Barnaby's on N. State Street back in '67 for two bucks.
End the viagra triangle. Return Rush Street to the days of boy-girl attraction and louder than loud rock 'n roll.
Chet Coppock
Host: Chicago Blackhawks HeritageSeries

Joel Whitburn recently told me about a Billboard Magazine feature that ran from March, 1964, through March, 1967, spotlighting the top Top 40 Radio Stations AND Disc Jockeys in 41 markets across the U.S.A. 
They called it "Radio Response Ratings" and Joel has often considered publishing the results for The Beatles Era. 
Because it only covered three years, I’ve kept all of these documents for my own use.  However, if there was enough interest, I could probably print out a booklet showing all 41 markets.  It actually was pretty interesting learning about “Boom Boom” Brannigan in Albany, Pat Hughes in Atlanta, Johnny Dark and Buddy Deane in Baltimore, Arnie “Woo-Woo” Ginsburg in Boston, Jim Stagg in Cleveland, and, of course, “Cousin Brucie” Morrow in New York.    
The reason I like the Billboard ratings (as opposed to something like the Arbitron ratings for this same era) is the fact it focused more on the disc jockey ratings in each of the 41 major markets rather than the radio station itself.  The DJ’s of that era were huge personalities and celebrities.  They had TV dance party shows on the weekend, were featured on commercials, emceed rock concerts, and hosted openings of new restaurants and businesses in their markets.  They were immensely popular, and avid listeners of Top 40 radio always had their radios tuned in to their favorite guys.   
I really liked the WLS surveys you posted, as it reminded me of those golden days of Top 40 radio and just how many great personality DJ’s there were all across the U.S.!
Joel then allowed me to publish the results of the Chicago Radio Stations, March, 1964 - November, 1966.
Who knows ... if there is a lot of positive response, perhaps it would persuade me to publish all the results.  Or, maybe, we could feature one market every week or every other week so that your readers across the country can see the results ... and share their memories of some of the hottest Top 40 jocks in their area.
Hey, sounds like a GREAT idea to me!  Heck, we could start a new feature like this next year and run it for nearly the entire year!  (41 Markets!!!)
Meanwhile, here is a recap of the Chicagoland Top Pop Radio Stations, showing four ratings periods as described below:
A)  Report published on 3/14/64 - WCFL had not yet switched over to Top 40 at this point
#1 Jock - Art Roberts, WLS
#2 - Ron Riley, WLS
#3 - Howard Miller, WIND
#4 - Bob Hale, WLS
Also mentioned (but not rated):  Gene Taylor (WLS), Dick Williamson (WIND), Bruce Lee (WIND) and Lee Rodgers (WIND)
60% of all listeners polled for this report were tuned in to WLS ... 35% to WIND and the other 5% scattered between all of the other stations
B)  Report published on 10/31/64 - Again, WCFL was not yet a player
#1 - Ron Riley, WLS
#2 - Art Roberts, WLS
#3 - Dex Card, WLS and Clark Weber, WLS  (a tie)
Also mentioned (but not rated):  Bernie Allen (WLS), Gene Taylor (WLS), Howard Miller (WIND), Dick Williamson (WIND) and Bob "Coffeehead" Larson (WIND).  (Notice how WLS completely dominated The Top Four Jocks at this point in time)
WLS = 46%; WIND = 36%; 18% split
(Top R&B Jocks for this era:  E. Rodney Jones, Herb Kent, Ed Cook and Lucky Cordell, all of WVON.  Top Country Jocks included Len Ellis (WWCA), Bill Blough (WMRO) and Chris Lane and Don Chapman, both of WJJD.
C)  Report published on 10/16/65 - WCFL was just switching over to Top 40 at this point in time
#1 - Ron Riley, WLS
#2 - Art Robert, WLS
#3 - Dex Card, WLS
#4 - Jim Stagg, WCFL
Honorable Mention to Clark Weber, Bernie Allen and Don Phillips of WLS, mentioned but not rated.
WLS now had a commanding 56% to WCFL's 33% ... and WIND's shares no longer made the list, meaning the other 11% were split between all of the other station in town!
D)  Report pubished on 11/19/66 - WLS had now been a player for about a year ... but still only commanded a 39% share of listeners ... WLS still had 59% of the listening audience tuning in, reducing the rest of the pie to just 2% split between all of the other stations.  (When we say WLS and WCFL were Top 40 Giants, we mean GIANTS!!!!!)
#1 - Ron Riley, WLS
#2 - Art Roberts, WLS
#3 - Jim Stagg, WCFL
#4 - Clark Weber, WLS
Also mentioned:  Dex Card, Bernie ALlen and Don Phillips of WLS and newcomers Barney Pip, Ron Britton, Joel Sebastian and John Wellman of WCFL.
Cool info, Joel ... thanks for sharing!  (kk)  

Hi Kent:  
As a young lad of 7, I turned from the usual Milwaukee stations with my older brother to WLS in the Summer of ’63. It would become a regular part of our listening routine for many years. I remember hearing “Rev-Up” by Manuel & Renegades, “Bust Out” by The Busters and other songs like that which were not big hits up in Brewtown.  It was always interesting to listen to the other stations. We Listened religiously to the “Three Most Requested” songs for as long as it ran. Picked up WCFL by late ’65 as well. It was always fun to see what they would play that our stations didn’t.  For me AM was pretty much dead by ’75 & Disco etc. , but there were some great memories and fun times. We also collected the surveys, but they were not to accessible up here, so occasionally we would write a letter to WLS and they would send some to Milwaukee. They always came through with a few. Good Stuff!
It always amazed me listening to the jocks play oldies and completely screw up the years of the songs so much. Obviously, there weren’t Whitburn books in the 60’s, but they did have their own surveys and  Billboard etc. ... you wouldn’t think it would be that tough to get them right, but alas they were wrong a lot. Even in the scoped aircheck put on today old Ron Riley said “Palisades Park” was from 1961 instead of ’62! Cracks me up. Still some great memories!
Ken Freck  

>>>I wish I had HALF the energy Dick Biondi has ... and he's got a good 20-25 years on me!  (lol)  And he just keeps going and going, still putting on a positive spin despite all the crap the radio station has thrown at him these past few years.  He truly loves what he does ... and it shows in every way.  (kk)
Dick has more strong will than anyone I know in the business. And he still has the same enthusiasm today that he had the first day I met him!
Bob Hale

Well, another interesting and fun-filled week at Forgotten Hits!
Dick Biondi was my first radio hero and every time I hear songs from the early 60's, I always remember him playing them and me with my earphones on listening much later than I should be. Thanks, too, for the Oldiesloon site. At last I can actually read some of the surveys for myself in text. 
We blind guys can't read the scans so we don't get all that useful info that you sightlings can always get. <grin> 

Ah, WLS ... Silver Dollar memories of the days of putting my transistor radio under the pillow when I went to bed.

Thanks for the mention of my books. 
But why is the date of the first three Silver Dollar Surveys such a mystery?  
Since the second survey was October 15 and the third was October 29, it's pretty obvious that they went from "Week Ending Oct 14" to "Week Of Oct 15" and back to "Week Ending Oct 29" again. 
And since there are two different surveys dated March 10, 1962, they must have changed from “Week Ending March 10” to “Week Of March 10” again. 
It’s not exactly “What did Billy Joe McAllister toss off the Tallahatchee Bridge?” 
-- Ron Smith 
It's just REALLY kind of odd to think (and hard to believe) that they'd change their format for one week only ... and then change it right back again ... especially a week after their very first survey was released!  
October 14, 1960 was a Friday, making the 15th a Saturday.  That means the 29th would ALSO be a Saturday.  So they went from week ending on Friday to week starting on Saturday to week ending on Saturday???  
I know in my many years of listening to the station the new survey always came out on Friday ... that was the day they premiered the countdown for the very first time (as well as the day you could pick it up in the record stores.)  So why would they announce a brand new survey on Friday if the OLD survey ended on Saturday???  Again, something just doesn't add up here. 
The two surveys dated March 10th is especially baffling ... because the week before and after don't reflect a skip in sequence.  (By the way, March 10, 1962 was also a Saturday.) This is complicated by the fact that surveys also exist for March 3rd and March 17th ... so any way you cut it the March 10th date is a duplicate of some sort because there is no time in between.  (Look at "Weeks Played" on Bruce Channel's #1 Hit "Hey Baby" ... it goes from six weeks on March 3rd to seven weeks on one of the March 10th surveys, to eight weeks on the OTHER March 10th survey to nine weeks on March 17th.  So how did they squeeze four weeks into a period of 14 days???  Even using your theory of a start / end scenario, that STILL leaves an extra unexplained week in there.  It just doesn't make sense.  (That's why I think it'll never be properly explained.)  kk


I have lived and breathed WLS ever since we first recorded "Surfin' Bird" off Bob Hale's Silver Dollar Survey show in late '63!  He must have not liked the song by his comments and then later similar comments on their followup, 'Bird Dance Beat."  Anyway, I had the GREAT problem of living in Dodge City, Kansas, DXing all over the country with little interference from local stations.  BUT, I also had the LOUSY problem of having TWO Oklahoma City stations at EXACTLY 890 and 1000 on the AM dial.  Neither were the great WKY and KOMA that Larry Neal (and I) speak of.  They were KBYE at 890 and KTOK at 1000.  At least KBYE was daytime only.  They liked to block out WLS and WCFL as much as possible. 
Interestingly, in the 80's OKC started a cool oldies station with the call letters WWLS!!!  I found that fun to tune to then!
Clark Besch 

Thanks for the kind words. May I also add thru the years of collecting WLS surveys that not only have I met you, but also Ron Smith as well as corresponded with Bill Hengels, Clark Besch, Ed Erxelben and probably a few more. Not only that, reading comments from some of the jocks I used to listen to faithfully as a teen and young adult is still a joy for me. I met Dex Card once many years ago when I was a board operator at WXRT and he dropped by to drop off some commercials for his Wild Goose clubs. I talk to Bob Hale every so often on Facebook and although I'm now 63, I still feel like a kid when I go thru my surveys, or when I get in more (about 50 or so this month). There's any number of questions I'd love to ask these guys about the music, which of the performers were total jerks and which were the nicest guys you ever wanted to meet, radio then and today and just the general atmosphere of the time. Also if any of the jocks would want some of the old surveys, in some cases I could have upwards of 50 copies of the same week. I'll never be able to sell them all ... therefore you can contact Kent and he'll pass along my contact info. You can have them as a gift for all the hours of enjoyment I had listening to you, rather than my parents asking me why I'm listening to this crap. If they only knew now that's how I make a living. Finally, I guess I have a favor to ask in return. Next spring it is my intention, rather than paint the front side of my record store, I intend to paper it with radio station bumper stickers. So if any of you have some to spare, city, how recent and format are unimportant, it would be great. Of course when the project is finished, I'll send some photos. 
Jack Levin
If you're a survey collector (and aren't already in contact with Jack), drop me a line and I'll make the connection for you.  Meanwhile, WLS and WCFL jocks of the day ... you heard the offer ... now's your chance to pick up some vintage, original surveys with your pictures on the covers.  Again, just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to hook you guys up!  (kk) 

More great surveys, courtesy of Bill Hengels ... 

Bill, too, has a complete set ... and extras to share ... in fact, one of his screen names is!!!

have 100% complete sets of both WLS AND WCFL.  On WLS, I only need 13 originals to replace Xerox copies.  On WCFL I have a complete original set!
Here are some of the surveys you mentioned that were not printed or distributed by WLS. I made up the surveys from the list you gave me, from your friend who wrote down the list from the foam boards in the stores. The reproduction surveys were dated from March 13, 1972 - July 16, 1973. 
Bill Hengels

Just a few examples of Bill's "converted" charts during the period when WLS stopped printing these for distribution to the public.  Thanks to faithful listeners and collectors, we were able to put together a complete set of ALL the missing charts for this era ... and now have all of the missing WCFL charts that exist, too!  (kk)

Thanx for including my WLS Story in the October 16th "Forgotten Hits." Or as I used to write to those who gave me mentions in their paper publications Back in the Day, "Thanx for the Ink!" 
Today, it's more like this:

And as you were also featuring Classic "WLS Hit Parades," here's yet another for you just for fun. 

The Best to You!  
Chuck "Dah-Buell-Ell-Ess" Buell  
I LOVE the "dog on the computer" graphic ... too cool!  (I should make that my new letterhead!)  
Thanks, Chuck ... you made my day today!  (kk)