Monday, February 10, 2014


Hey kk,
I have been enjoying reading about all the controversy surrounding today's radio or lack of.  The old saying “don’t fix it if it aint broke” comes to mind.  It’s definatley broke as far as I’m concerned and the fact that no new avenues are being attempted is puzzling. 
Tommy James' reference to growing up and having access to the 50,000 watts of WLS and your comment about the night time signal reaching 48 states was spot on. 
The importance of the DJ’s and the jingles can’t be overlooked as well. If one never left the confines of Chicago they might never have known how important the 50,000 watt signal was to so many of us. They also may not have recognized the fact that much of our music was only going out to a local audience and not to the entire country.  
Our local DJ’s were our friends and companions who understood us, even if our parents sometime didn’t.
Back in 1968 I discovered for myself just how much WCFL and WLS meant to me the hard way. Away from home for the first time in my life. I remember getting the WLS signal off and on at night while I was penned up in Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Hearing a Chicago DJ, some radio jingles and a New Colony 6 tune was a slice of heaven for a kid that grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.  The fact that I was alone, (Dear John), confused and had no idea what was in store for me in the very near future made this radio signal encounter very personnel and much needed. 
If I had never left home I might have taken the whole experience for granted, but it was such a needed and personnel experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
There were many trips back to Chicago in the years that followed. I would never return but for visits to either bring my bride-to-be home to meet the family or give my folks their first look at their new grandchild. Making  these trips during daytime travel, I always knew I was getting close when I could pick up the radio signal of WLS.

If you what to know what radio meant to us growing up, just watch American Graffiti and check out the smile and expression on the Richard Dreyfuss (Curt) character while he’s out cruising and listening to Wolfman  Jack.  

Pilot Of The Airwave
Here is my request
You don’t have to play it
But I hope you’ll do you best 
I’ve been listening to you show on the radio
And you seem to be a friend of mine 

Jerry Kamper

Morning Kent,
I hardly ever listen to the radio anymore, except for Saturdays when a local radio station WATD 95.9 FM plays a very varied and marvelous program of songs from the fifties on up. They do streaming and have on demand replay of past shows.
I was interested in the portion of the blog about the number of plays newer songs receive over today's radio stations and it got me to thinking what offerings today appeal to our generation and how do we learn about them. My daughter introduces me to the current songs she thinks I may enjoy, and there is a local singer and famous Happy Hour singer from Cape Cod with a keen eye for what attracts audiences and entertains crowds named John Morgan (he has appeared in several places all over the country but never hit the big time but is a marvelous entertainer) ... between those two I have learned about a lot of 'newer' artists and some good contemporary music.  Interestingly their respective selections are almost exactly the same.
Wagon Wheel / Darius Rucker, Toes / Chicken Fried, Knee Deep / Zac Brown Band. I guess these are really a new group of 'oldies' per se but with all the crud on today's rock stations it takes a while for them to filter up to the top.
Many of the great things we enjoyed in our formative years have 'matured' and sadly what that means is that the powers that be have taken the innocence out of it and channeled it to the bottom line.
I support your appeal to return to the joyous, innocent, carefree days of our youth when Radio was spontaneous and thrilling but I fear that all that energy has been compromised to benefit the bottom line.
March in 24 days! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles and keep the memories alive.

When Bruce Hix died late last year, he was mentioned in the Sporting Green. Hix, who was 65 and died of complications from Lou Gehrig's disease, was a star athlete at Westmoor High and was in the Giants' organization in the late 1960s. I got a note from Jeff Trager, saying Hix also had strong radio connections, as a record promoter for 15 years.  
"He was one of the best promotion people," Trager said. "Any musician or group would give their eyeteeth to have a promo man work their records like Bruce did. He was a pit bull when he believed that a radio station should be playing his records."
"Promo man." The term connotes a slick-talking guy carrying stacks of new records into a radio station, trying to persuade the program or music director to add them to the station's playlist.
"It was your job to get it played, amid all the competition," said Trager, a promoter from 1967 to 1992. The promo men - and, until the mid-'70s, women were scarce in the profession - faced long odds. A typical Top 40 station, playing safe with listeners, added only three or four new titles per week, according to Dave Sholin, former music director and program director at KFRC. Every Monday, he'd get visits or calls from a dozen or so promoters pitching upward of 60 new releases.
Sholin, who attended Westmoor High in Daly City with Hix, admired his classmate. "It was take-no-prisoners with him," he said. "He had facts to convince me to add a record. If not, he knew he had to come in with all guns blazing." And if he was rejected: "We were still friends."
One time, Trager recalled, a program director in Salinas turned down a record Hix had brought in and Hix took it back. "This is my property," he said. The two men argued, and the program director had to call the police to get Hix out of the station.
Trager, said Sholin, "is another one who'll say, 'I'll do whatever it takes.' There was a song that was near No. 1 in the country in 1979; we never played it. (It was "Music Box Dancer" by Frank Mills.) He had a portrait done of us with a gold record for that artist." But Sholin didn't budge. "It didn't fit what we were doing."
A native San Franciscan, Trager, 70, was a jazz fan as a kid. He attended City College but had no career ambitions. In the mid-'60s, he was a bellboy at the old Jack Tar Hotel, where George Moscone, then a state senator, got haircuts. Moscone connected him with a friend who worked with A&M Records in Hollywood. Soon, Trager was working for a record distributor, selling records to stores. From there, he became a promoter.
Trager's success stories include Joni Mitchell's 1974 single "Help Me," which had been selling nicely in various big cities, but which he was having a hard time pitching locally, in part because Mitchell had been branded a folk artist. He brought sales figures into KFRC, where Sholin was music director.
"He was unrelenting," Sholin said. But he trusted Trager's ears and added the record. Soon, "Help Me" was on playlists around the country and sold more than 3 million copies. Said Trager: "It makes Joni Mitchell a hit pop artist." Trager said he also convinced labels to release the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" as a single and championed the equally unorthodox theme from "Chariots of Fire." Both were smash hits.
He remembers meeting Tina Turner backstage at the Fillmore West in 1969, after he'd promoted the Ike and Tina single "I've Been Loving You Too Long." It got plentiful FM play, and the Turners were booked for the Rolling Stones' U.S. tour in late 1969. "She grabbed my hand," Trager recalls. "She said, 'A couple of years ago we were playing bowling alleys; you breaking that record meant a lot to us.' It's cornball, but we made a difference in people's lives." Trager worked until 1992 and now produces fundraising concerts for various causes.
Other promo men and women Trager and Sholin noted included Johnny Barbis (now a chairman of Elton John's management group), the Galliani brothers (Lou, Bob and Rick), Bill Perasso (whom Trager credits with breaking non-pop hits such as "Walk on the Wild Side" by Jimmy Smith), Beverly Stephens, Don Graham (credited with breaking "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" on KYA in 1959), and the late, great and always tanned Pete Marino. "He wasn't a music guy; he promoted Pete. But he was well respected, and he broke Peter, Paul and Mary.")
Today, says Sholin, a DJ at KSJJ in Bend, Ore., and a record promoter on the side, there are fewer promotion people. New technology and social media have changed the ways music fans can discover music, and have affected radio. But, Sholin says, "research on 'where do you get music from?' shows that it's radio by a wide margin. Radio use is at an all-time high."
And stations continue to get visits from promo people. "Johnny Barbis says that promo guys are still getting records played," Trager says.
Talk talk: In a move to pump up KNEW (960)'s sluggish ratings, Clear Channel Media has pushed that talk station further to the right, adding Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to its lineup. Don Parker, VP/programming, said he expects KNEW's new lineup will make it "a destination for conservative listeners." Limbaugh moves over from sister station KKSF (910), which now boasts more "live and local programming," according to Clear Channel. More accurately, it's live or local, because one main name, Randi Rhodes, who'd been on KNEW, is syndicated by Premiere Networks. Here's how it breaks down: On KNEW, Glenn Beck remains on mornings 6 to 9; Limbaugh takes 9 to noon, replacing Dave Ramsey. Hannity goes from noon to 3, in place of Rhodes. Andy Dean joins from 3 to 6, bumping Norman Goldman. On KKSF, Armstrong & Getty remain on the morning shift, from 6 to 10. Frosty Stilwell fills the Limbaugh slot, from 10 to 1. Rhodes follows until 3, and Gil Gross continues on afternoon drive, 3 to 7 p.m.
Clarifications: Jeff Pope joined the morning show on KEZR ("Mix 106.5") in San Jose, not KBAY (94.5). Mornings there are anchored by Sam Van Zandt and Lissa Kreisler, who just celebrated nine years together ... And in my list of KSAN alumni who are on the radio, I neglected my own honorary cousin, Mimi Chen. She hosts "Peace, Love, and Sunday Mornings" on KSWD ("The Sound") in L.A. Sorry, Meems! {sbox}
-- submitted by Dave Barry

Chicagoland Radio and Media is reporting another MAJOR shake-up on the local scene in regards to radio:
NextMedia Prepares To Be Taken Over By Digity, Executive Changes Begin

Great article by Fred Jacobs this week on radio returning to what made it golden:
Unfortunately, it comes too late for Jim Kerr and Pat St. John at debt-laden Sirius/XM:
It appears your campaign needs to spread …
-- Ron Smith

Kent ...
More Bad Radio News.  Sirius / XM has dropped their disc jockeys on the 50's and 90's channels
Pat St. John has a show on WCBS-FM, Sunday Mornings.  Norm N. Nite has been a WCBS-FM DJ at least three separate times. He left and came back, left and came back, left and came back. Maybe he'll come back one more time.
Frank B.

The universal speak in radio seems to be "don't speak" ... too bad ... because even automated and voice-tracked radio still offers SOME connection to your audience.  I guess we just all grew up in a different era ... obviously a by-gone day.  I still maintain that anybody who got into radio 15-20 years ago did so because they were inspired by somebody else that they heard on the air ... and they wanted to that themselves.  Where are our future broadcasters going to come from ... or is that, too, simply a job that doesn't exist anymore.  ("Yeah, Mom ... I want to do THAT!!!  Give out the call letters and time and temp every fifteen minutes!"  Somehow, I don't think so.)  kk

As for OUR campaign, we can't seem to get it off the ground.  Even Scott Shannon (who would most benefit from the return of The True Oldies Channel to the Chicagoland airwaves) has been hesitant to get onboard.
Thanks, Kent ... but chances are slim for me there.  But in radio these days, there's always a shot.
I'd much prefer to have Scott involved ... and I'm not quite ready to abandon our cause just yet ... because I truly believe in it ... but if we can't get The True Oldies on WLS (where it REALLY belongs) we may have to concentrate our efforts on bringing the oldies to ANY radio station in town that'll have us and work the campaign from that angle.  (I've given a hundred reasons already why the oldies BELONG on WLS ... it's the PERFECT fit ... and there isn't ANYONE better than Shannon to make this happen ... but right now we just don't seem to be getting anywhere.)
Meanwhile, Scott's still got time to poke fun at our efforts (and a kind-spirited way!)

Without his help (and a support group of listeners INSISTING that we get the music we want), I'm afraid our best efforts will die by the wayside.  However, if radio keeps up the way it's going, there won't be anyone listening at all pretty soon.  (Look at all the major changes being made this week alone!  All the more reason to give the listeners what they really want.  At least then you'll HAVE listeners, tuning in, dedicated to your station and format.)  At this rate, I'm about ready to switch over to country ... at least it'll give me a short break from the action and I won't hear the same tired retreads over and over and over again. (Sure, it'll be repetitive, too ... but it'll be NEW repetitive!!!  It might actually take me a month or two to burn out on this new music.)
And who knows ... maybe if I pledge my allegiance to country radio Taylor Swift will write a song about me! (Hey, it wouldn't be the first time that somebody wrote a song about Forgotten Hits!!!)  kk

Speaking of Scott Shannon, this news came as a bit of a shocker Friday Morning: 
The legendary New York City DJ Scott Shannon announced his retirement from WPLJ-FM. Shannon said on the Scott and Todd (Pettengill ) show this morning that he's ready to move on from the station and today will be his last day on the air. No long goodbye. He says it's time to go after 22 years as part of the Scott and Todd show. Shannon says he's not retiring. "I love radio and what I do will probably involve radio." Listeners were calling in to thank him and reminisce about old times. Shannon is a radio icon. He did say he expects something will come up for him in the future in radio. Shannon also has an oldies program heard on about 90 stations. 
Sean Hannity tells Radio Ink, "Scott Shannon is not only the creator and pioneer of the AM Zoo format, a format copied all over the country, he's a great all around radio genius with the best EAR for good radio I have ever run into. I am proud to call him a friend, a mentor and am even more proud he is and will continue to be the VOICE of the Seam Hannity show.  
Pettengill said, "Scott and I had an amazing run and I'll miss our mornings together and cherish the memories we made. I'm also very excited about the opportunity ahead with a very talented group of people that I know our listeners are going to love." Longtime Executive Producer Joseph "Monk" Pardavila and news anchor Cooper Lawrence will continue on "The Todd Show" in their current roles.
Wow!  (Maybe him a Leno have something cooked up together!!!  Both are leaving their long-time gigs after 22 years on the air!)  Scott had alluded to some "problems in New York" recently but I had NO idea this was coming.  With his talent he'll do just fine ... hopefully he won't have to work 24 hours a day anymore to keep up with his WPLJ gig and record his True Oldies segments.  (Man, now I want him back on the air here in Chicago more than ever!!!)  kk

Lots of Scott Shannon stories in the media after Friday's surprise announcement ...

These all come from FH Reader Tom Cuddy:


Disc jockey Scott Shannon retires from WPLJ-FM morning show

"Of course, I'll miss being a part of the morning show here on PLJ and I might even pop back in from time to time and try to get Todd to play a Rascals song or two," Shannon, 66, said during his "Scott & Todd in the Morning" drive-time show, co-hosted with Todd Pettengill.
"Scott and I had an amazing run and I'll miss our mornings together and cherish the memories we made," Pettengill, who will continue with his own "The Todd Show" during the same 6-10 a.m. slot, said in a statement.
Shortly after the surprise announcement, Shannon and Pettengill's own Facebook page assured listeners, "Nope, it's not an early April Fool's joke. Today is Scott Shannon's last day after 23 fun-loving years at 95.5 PLJ. Thanks for all the kind wishes."
Shannon -- also known as a turnaround expert who famously took Z100 (WHTZ/100.3) from last place to first almost immediately upon his arrival there in 1983 -- has had stints in markets from Los Angeles to Nashville to Tampa, Fla. He remains the voice of the syndicated radio network "The True Oldies Channel" and the announcer of "The Sean Hannity Show," all part of Cumulus Media, owner of WPLJ.

Scott Shannon, radio legend at NYC’s WPLJ, announces retirement  

Arriving in New York City in 1983 to launch WHTZ's 'Morning Zoo,' the deejay became on-air institution. Co-host Todd Pettengill will continue solo with 'The Todd Show.'



Scott Shannon, who brought top-40 radio back to New York 30 years ago and has since become a morning institution himself, is leaving the WPLJ (95.5 FM) morning show.

Shannon made the announcement on the air Friday, ending a 23-year run at WPLJ. His partner, Todd Pettengill, will continue solo at the station with the renamed "The Todd Show."
Shannon, 66, did not announce his future plans except to say he might "drop by" on occasion to have Pettengill play "a Rascals record or two."
"I'm not retiring," he told The News after the show. "No way. This is just a change."

Shannon created and programs the syndicated "True Oldies" channel, which is expected to continue.
Shannon came to New York in August 1983 to turn the new WHTZ (100.3 FM) into a top-40 station, the city's first.
With a mix of fast-paced music and high-energy DJs, Z100 went from "worst to first" in one rating quarter.
Shannon cohosted the morning show, which he called the "Morning Zoo." It wasn't the first ensemble morning show, but its success made the concept a widely copied template.
Shannon left WHTZ in 1989, moving to Los Angeles to start a new format he called "Pirate Radio." It was not a big hit and he returned to New York the next year to host the morning show and become program director at WPLJ.
He has also become known over the years for other work. He and Pettengill star in a series of "behave yourself at the movies" spots and he is the voice of the Sean Hannity radio show.
In the radio business, he has been known for a smart sense of keeping a morning show lively and a good ear for hits.
He is also known as a student and historian of radio and rock 'n' roll. He is a big fan of vintage rock music, though he has always been careful not to let his own taste distract him from what listeners want to hear.
I'm a little bit surprised that the media is referring to this as Scott's "retirement" ... I don't think he has said that at all ... In fact, I believe he said that he is NOT retiring from radio ... just parting ways with WPLJ.  I think we'll be hearing LOTS more from Scott Shannon in the years to come.  (kk)

Here is a short video of Scott's last moments on the air on Friday ... clearly a "news story" if they were able to get a film crew up there in time to record this moment!




One of the guys at work was recently talking about turning 40.  (He was born in 1973, the year that I turned 20!)  Hey, most of us have been through it ... traumatic for some, I guess, but really ... in the whole scheme of things ... no big deal.

The reason it's relevant here is because he was talking about all of the GREAT music that came out the year he was born ... much of which he plays on his computer and/or iPod while at work.  Things like "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon or any variety of songs by the great Jim Croce ... "Brother Louie" by Stories, "Photography" by Ringo (especially after seeing Ringo perform it on The Grammys), "Live And Let Die", "Superstition", "Will It Go Round In Circles", "Shambala", "Hello It's Me" ... tracks by War like "Cisco Kid" ... you get the idea. 

He LOVES this music ... and knows every song by heart, even though he wasn't listening to the radio at the time.  It has stayed such a BIG part of our lives, that he was still exposed to it ... it has lived on in ways none of us ever could have imagine.  (And, quite honestly, by 1973 / 1974 music was getting a little bit boring again for many of us ... lots of schmaltzy tracks near the top of the charts by Barbra Streisand and Helen Reddy ... and things like "The Morning After" and "Sing" by The Carpenters (a Sesame Street song forChrissakes!!!) flat out crap like "Playground In My Mind" by Clint Holmes and "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes. 

How many of us born before 1956 can say the same?  (I'm a music guy ... and I can't tell you what was playing in 1953 ... because it didn't stay relevant ... it holds no connection for me.)  But once rock and roll started in 1955 - 1956, everything started to change.

If you watched The Beatles 50th Anniversary celebration last night, you saw Grunge-Rocker Dave Grohl's young daughter singing along with EVERY single Beatles tune played that night ... Dave later described The Beatles as "my mom's favorite band ... and then MY favorite band ... and now my DAUGHTER's favorite band."  In fact, there were several times during the performance (excellent, by the way ... more on this tomorrow in Forgotten Hits) where I just stared in amazement at every audience member singing along because the knew every single word of every single song.  (And I can guarantee you much the same was true for those watching at home ... in ANY age group.)  I don't know if the anniversary special drew 73 Million Viewers or not (it was a much more captive audience back in 1964 with FAR less viewing options ... you had the three major networks ... and that was about it!) ... but still it struck a chord that is common to ALL of us.  (Loved Paul's line about "paying tribute to yourself"!!!)

This music is TIMELESS ... we've been preaching it for nearly 15 years now to anyone who will listen ... and ANYBODY in power in radio who can't see and recognize this doesn't belong in the music business ... simple as that.  To continue to ignore its impact and relevance is pure stupidity.  You're in the wrong line of work.  Is there ANYBODY left out there with half a brain who can stop this wreck and turn the train around?  Please?!?!?!?  (kk)