Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Saturday Surveys (1-18)

Three more vintage charts, courtesy of Clark Besch, for our new Saturday Survey Feature in Forgotten Hits!   

First up this week, a 1965 chart for WHK in Lorain, Ohio.

Look at Robert Goulet all the way up at #3 with "My Love, Forgive Me", a #18 Billboard Hit that I can honestly say I don't think I've EVER heard played on the radio.  (It didn't chart here in Chicago on WLS, the big Top 40 radio station at the time ... but reached #33 on our Top Tunes Of Greater Chicagoland survey.  Even so, I certainly don't remember ever hearing it ... yet apparently it was still a big hit in other parts of the midwest.)

British Artists are well represented with Petula Clark at #1, the latest Beatles two-sided hit at #4, The Searchers at #10, The Dave Clark Five at #16, Gerry and the Pacemakers at #26, The Kinks at #39, Chad and Jeremy at #41 and The Zombies premiering at #48.  (Although he was much bigger in England than he was here in The States, P.J. Proby doesn't make our list because he's actually a Texas boy!)

"Dusty" by The Rag Dolls falls to #15 from its Top Five berth the week before ... this song only made it to #55 in Billboard but has come up several times before in Forgotten Hits.

England Dan and John Ford Coley had a much bigger hit with "Gone Too Far" (a #23 Billboard charter) in the Denver area than they did nationally ... it looks like this one topped the KTLK Chart for at least a couple of weeks in 1978.  (It's an all-but-forgotten track by this popular duo today ... if you hear anything at all by them anymore, it'll most likely be "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight" ... radio seems to have forgotten that these guys had SIX Top 40 Hits during their three year chart run!)

Check out #24 to see that "Gold Dust Woman", a "Rumours" LP track, was charting as an "extra", along with their current hit "You Make Loving Fun" at #6.

A couple more 1978 Forgotten Hits favorites include these tracks:  "The Way I Feel Tonight" by The Bay City Rollers, "Strawberry Letter 23" by Brothers Johnson and "Back In Love Again" by LTD ... ALL deserving of that occasional radio spin once in a while!

We found a couple of Top Ten surprises on this WLBB Chart from 1968 ... "I'm In Love" (a GREAT Wilson Pickett track) and "Cover Me" by Percy Sledge both ranked right up near the top of the charts alongside established hits like "Woman Woman" by The Union Gap, "Judy In Disguise" by John Fred and His Playboy Band, "Chain Of Fools" by The Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin, "Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles and "Daydream Believer" by The Monkees.  (You'll find Chicago's Buckinghams up there, too, with their latest hit, "Susan" ... as well as Monkees' songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart with their first smash, "I Wonder What She's Doin' Tonight".)

Friday, January 17, 2014

50 Years Ago Today

In the scheme of things, it's kind of scary to think that many of us can look back and recall in vivid detail the events we experienced 50 YEARS AGO!!!  Has it REALLY been 50 years?!?!  Where did they go???  (Suffice to say, we're all getting old!!!) 

But I wouldn't trade these memories for the world ... look at what we had the chance to experience first-hand in our lifetimes! 

That being said, the 50 Year Anniversaries kick off this week as The Beatles made their first significant U.S. Chart appearance this weekend in 1964.  

We'll be looking back all year long at significant dates and events ... The Beatles may have opened the door (or, more appropriately, kicked it down!), but soon an entire wave of new artists invaded our shores ... and The British Invasion had begun.   

We'll retrace those steps chartwise each week.  (For the purpose of this series, actual Billboard and WLS chart dates are being used, regardless of issue dates or "week of" or "week ending" dates ... from what I've seen so far, they seem to coincide pretty accurately, reflecting the advancement of British Rock on both the national and local level, as we witnessed here from Middle America.) 

So today we look back at January 17th / 18th, 1964 ...  

The Beatles debut at #45 with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart, the highest debut of the week (and their first "OFFICIAL" U.S. chart showing)   

As we all know by now, WLS first charted The Beatles in March of 1963 when "Please Please Me" (by "The Beattles") made an appearance near the bottom of the WLS Silver Dollar Survey for two weeks.  It never rose above #35 … but WLS is credited with being the first radio station in America to play a record by this hot new quartet from Liverpool.
The Beatles wouldn't make another appearance on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey until January 17, 1964 … when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" premiered at #40.

Top Ten Hits this week include "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton (#1 on both charts), "Drag City" by Jan and Dean, "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen", "Popsicles And Icicles" by The Murmaids and "Hey Little Cobra" by The Rip Chords.  These five tunes were Top Ten Hits common to both charts.  A week later The Beatles would join these hits in The Top Ten.

Surprises on the WLS Chart -- "California Sun" by The Rivieras was at #4 ... it wouldn't even premier in Billboard until a week later.  Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me" held down the #5 spot ... the following week it would reach #1.  (It remains one of my favorite songs and recordings of all time.)  A novelty hit "Dumbhead" by Ginny Arnell was at #8 ... it was at #59 in Billboard and never reached their Top 40.  Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs were at #9 with "Daisy Petal Pickin'", their follow-up hit to the chart-topping "Sugar Shack" and "Java" by Al Hirt was already a Top Ten Hit here (at #10), something it wouldn't become in Billboard for another four weeks.  (Imagine that ... WLS LEADING the pack instead of just following the crowd like they do today.)

Ironically, the dates in January and February of 1964 coincide exactly with the dates THIS year ... so January 17th and 18th fall on Friday and Saturday just like they did way back when.

This all comes to an end on February 28th, however, as 1964 was a leap year ... and 2014 isn't ... but it's still kinda cool to see these dates fall EXACTLY 50 years later!!!

More to come, ideally throughout the year, as we retrace The British Invasion as it unfolded.  You'll see the full impact these artists had on the charts ... and how even long-established artists here in The States struggled to get their songs played on the radio.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday This And That

re:  It Just Keeps Getting Better:
Still no resolution in the Sonny Geraci Benefit Concert travesty ... as of this morning, NO money has yet to change hands.  Meanwhile, Bill Thompson, the guy who collected all the money, has closed up shop ... and somehow feels like the victim here because of the relentless press hounding him to turn over the payment to the Geraci family.   

“Until further notice,” Stringz & Wingz is closed, said Owner “Chef” Bill Thompson in an interview Jan. 14.  Thompson said bad publicity from the event moved him to part ways with Stringz & Wingz. 
“That way, [the new owners] can salvage the business,” he said. “I’ve just been dragged through the mud.” 
-- from the Streetsboro Gateway News follow up article written by Bob Gaetjens   

Hold on here just a minute ... so Thompson says he's been "dragged through the mud" by the media ... for STEALING nearly $30,000 raised in the Sonny Geraci Benefit Concert?!?!?  Why on earth would anybody think badly of him for THAT?!?!  They need to seize these funds, charge him with theft and then put him in a mental institution where he can have his head examined to see HOW in the world he can portray himself as the victim here!!!  Frickinunbelievable!!!!!  (kk)  

Hi Kent,  
My name is Christine Haylett.  My husband and I are the owners of Guitar Shack and Once Loved Threads in Streetsboro. I've been a volunteer with Family Days for eight years and they are like a second family to me. I was reading your blog and I have been completely disgusted with this whole fundraiser fiasco. Sonny is an awesome man and has brought so much to our community for family days.
I wanted to let you know the community has come together with planning a series of fundraisers so that Family Days can still take place this year. Guitar Shack is kicking off the series of fundraisers on January 24th. There will be music and a Chinese auction.   The fundraisers will continue thru June with area businesses.
What happened was a travesty but rest assured this town will not let it rest till all that was wrong is put right again.  Have a great night,

Good to hear ... and I will make mention of this.  I'm just appalled at how this guy is making himself out to be the victim here ... when it's quite clear what he's done.  The concert was put together with the best and noblest of intentions ... what a shame that one selfish jerk can put the whole town through such a negative publicity spin.  Please keep us posted.  Thanks, Christine.  (kk)  

Who is this cretin that is keeping the Geraci family's money? Somebody out there has to have a relative named Guido that is skilled with a Louisville Slugger and would love to tee off on some kneecaps ... fuhgetaboutit. 
A "C" note to some palooka is a whole lot cheaper than a gaggle of lawyers who would take a cut. There are so many pissed off people who could possibly be blamed. Just an unrealistic thought.  Frontier justice used to work ... wha hoppened.
Alex Valdez 
I just can't believe this guy has the gall to play the victim here ... when the ONLY person to blame is himself!  (kk)

Thank you, Kent for your resources. This is a travesty and needs to be made public.
This low life actually posted that he was being dragged through the mud because of this and left his partnership in the club to save the club's reputation. But, in my opinion, it sounds to me like his partners are dumping him so they won't be liable. 
Thank you again for supporting our efforts to make things right for Sonny and his family.
Be well -
Dennis Tufano
People all over the country are talking about this right now.  Fans who dipped into their pocketbooks to make a donation to a noble cause are outraged ... this money needs to be redirected to its proper source, the Geraci family.  It was our love for Sonny and all the joy that he has given us through the years that inspired these donations in the first place.  I can assure you that NONE of us intended OUR funds to go to Chef Bill Thompson!  (kk)  

re:  50th Anniversary:  
Last week we told you how David Letterman was trying to reunite Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to perform on his Late Night Program in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  (Letterman's show is broadcast from The Ed Sullivan Theater ... so it really would be quite a coup!)
I don't know if they never came to terms ... or if they'll still show up there to perform ... for that matter, Paul McCartney seems to be QUITE a fan of making surprise appearances on Saturday Night Live, too, so expect ANYTHING to happen between now and the second week of February.
Meanwhile, it HAS been announced that Paul and Ringo WILL perform at this year's Grammy Awards (where The Beatles will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.)  The Grammy people are being very careful NOT to use the word "together" ... although I've got to believe that they will join up for something, even if they each perform solo first.  The ceremony takes place later this month (on the 26th).  A special Grammy anniversary special called "The Night That Changed America", featuring an all-star line up of artists performing Beatles tunes ... and they just might show up there, too!  The show will tape on the 27th, the day after the Grammy Awards Ceremony and then air on February 9th, the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  (kk)

Hi Kent, 
Real good to read of Tommy Roe’s involvement with the 50 year Beatles’ celebrations. 
Tommy and Chris Montez had big UK hits in 1962 with “Sheila” and “Let’s Dance” respectively. They then toured the UK in March, 1963, on a bill that included the Beatles and another UK group, the Viscounts, whose line up once included Gordon Mills, later manager of Tom Jones and Engelbert. 
The timing landed Tommy and Chris right at the beginning of Beatlemania, as “Please Please Me’ was #1 in the UK and the “Please Please Me’ LP was released during the tour. Here’s a piece of memorabilia I found on the web:

Best wishes, 
Mike Edwards   

More on Tommy ...  

Tommy Roe will recreate his set from February 11, 1964 at the Washington Coliseum as part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles invasion of America.
February 11 was the date of the first ever show by the Fab Four on U.S. soil, two nights after their American television debut on the Ed Sulliven show. Roe opened for them that night at the group's invitation after he played with them during a 1963 British tour.
On February 11, 2014, the Washington Coliseum will once again be the site of Roe (and the Beatles) music with a full recreation of the event featuring Tommy and the Beatles tribute band Beatlemania Now. The event is being produced by the DC Preservation League and the Douglas Development Corporation who have also assembled an exhibit of photographs from the night.
For the record, the Crystals were also scheduled to perform that night but were not able to make it due to a snowstorm.  Jay & the Americans and the Righteous Brothers joined Roe as opening acts. 8,092 people attended the original show with ticket prices between $2 and $4. 

The Beatles with Tommy Roe and Chris Montez

The 50th Anniversary Celebration is in full swing!  Watch for our little tribute kicking off tomorrow in Forgotten Hits ... and then following the timeline throughout the year as first The Beatles ... and then the rest of The British Invasion ... made their way to the top of the charts here in America!  (kk)  

Just got this from NYCFAB50, who are sponsoring and hosting much of the celebration in New York City on The Beatles' anniversary of their first trip here to The States. 
If anybody on the list is planning to attend some of the festivities, please drop us a line.  Meanwhile, here's some info about some discount room pricing ...   

Thousands of fans from around the globe will “Come Together” in  to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles next month with all the numerous events in the City. 
There will be the gala star-studded concert event "Twist & Shout: NY Celebrates The Beatles" at the world-famous Apollo Theater on Thursday, February 6; the "Across The Universe" Beatles Music Festival at the historic Hudson Theatre Friday night and all-day & night Saturday, February 7-8, the All-Star "America Celebrates The Beatles" Celebrity Tribute Concert at the Town Hall Saturday night February 8, a Sunday February 9 ceremony & live show at the Hard Rock Cafe and the Grammy Museum will be bringing a very special exhibit and symposium to Lincoln Center at the same time.  
Two Broadway hotels are offering very special discounted rates for fans coming to the Big Apple to enjoy all the great Beatles happenings: The MILFORD HOTEL NYC on 700 8th Avenue (212) 869-3600 in the heart of Times Square and the Broadway Theater district, and the MILLENNIUM BROADWAY HOTEL on 14 West 44th Street (212) 768-4400. 
The Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square is the home of the Hudson Theatre and the "Across The Universe" Music Festival. Rooms are only $179 for Singles or Doubles using the code "BEATLES50" for a limited time. 
Rates at the Milford Hotel, also centrally in Times Square, are only $159 for doubles using the same code "BEATLES50" for a limited time.  
These are amazingly low rates in Manhattan, and may not be available for long, so if you're planning a Beatles vacation in New York during the 50th anniversary celebration and you haven't booked your accommodations - or if you've booked a hotel at a higher rate and want to save money to spend on admissions or souvenirs - you may want to book these hotels now.

The Smithereens are once again returning to one of their biggest influences, The Beatles, in a recreation of their first U.S. concert. 
On February 11, 1964, the Beatles played at the Washington Colloseum in Washington, DC. They ran through a quick twelve song set that included such early hits as Please Please Me, She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand to throngs of screaming fans.
The Smithereens play those twelve songs, in the original order, "only louder than the screams, and with less jelly bean throwing!"
The band previously saluted the Fab Four with 2007's Meet the Smithereens!, a track-by-track recreation of Meet the Beatles and 2008's B Sides The Beatles.
Track List: 
Roll Over Beethoven / From Me To You / I Saw Her Standing There / This Boy / All My Loving / I Wanna Be Your Man / Please Please Me / Till There Was You / She Loves You / I Want To Hold Your Hand / Twist and Shout / Long Tall Sally 

re:  This And That:
I also read that Maureen Gray passed away. Only record I have of hers is DANCING THE STRAND, a less than minor hit here in the OKC area.
Apparently much bigger in the Philadelphia area ... our FH Buddy John Madara wrote and produced a couple of her earlier records ... and it sounds like she went on to sing with some pretty big names several years later.  "Dancing The Strand" peaked at #91 in Billboard in 1962, when Maureen was all of 13 years old!!!  (kk)

"Melanie sold 80 million records" ...
Is this correct ... very doubtful ... :-) 
Mike S.
Huh?  I'm sorry ... where did you see this???  (kk)
In your January 11 version of the Saturday Survey, the following caught my eye:
"Melanie was one of the stars of Woodstock, appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Dick Cavett shows, and has sold over 80 million records."
Seems very high, right?
Really enjoy Forgotten Hits ...
Thanks for keeping the music and memories alive, and for all the hard work involved!
Wow, I must be REALLY missing something here!!!  I've scoured that page and STILL can't find anything there that says this ... what the heck am I missing?!?!?  That being said, yes, I would agree that those statistics seem slightly exaggerated!  (kk)

We told you earlier that Johnny Rivers was coming to The Arcada Theatre later this year.  (I can't wait to see him ... I've never had the pleasure!)  Well, it seems that Johnny is celebrating a 50th Anniversary of his own this year ... that's when he first started performing at The Whisky-A-Go-Go (and those "live" recordings first started hitting the charts.)
Here's the whole scoop, courtesy of Tom Cuddy and Vintage Vinyl News:

It's official ... Mick Fleetwood confirmed this week that Christine McVie is rejoining her bandmates ... live shows (and hopefully a brand new album) to follow!  (kk)

Meanwhile it looks like The Rascals have once again scattered ... Felix Cavaliere will be performing here in Chicago as a solo artist (billed as Felix Cavaliere's Rascals) in September at The Arcada Theatre ... and guitarist Gene Cornish is participating in New York's 50th Anniversary Beatles celebration.  No word yet as to whether the four original members may be scheduling any new shows together.  (kk)

And, speaking of The Rascals ...

Just started listening to a new internet radio oldies station, RichBroRadio. Pretty good, playing more than the usual 100 songs over and over. Just heard a song I hadn't heard in years. 'Baby Let's Wait' by the Royal Guardsman. A favorite and not a 'Snoopy' song. Remember that one?
Bill P
Woodstock IL
Oh yeah, one of my favorite Forgotten Hits ... we've featured it several times before, most recently after seeing The Rascals "Once Upon A Dream" show here in Chicago.  The Rascals recorded this one first but never released it as a single.  (The Royal Guardsmen reached #33 on the national charts with their cover version ... and #15 here in Chicago.)
We've linked to RichBroRadio before ... yes, they're definitely playing a wider selection music ... and this seems to be the case with virtually ALL of the Internet stations that are programming oldies music today. (It's kind of what cable television did to the major networks ... they air more in-depth series with far less censorship ... and we all know how the conventional networks have fallen behind.  Network TV Execs will tell you that they can't cover some of the subject matter that seems to have free reign on cable.  Apparently terrestrial radio finds itself in the same boat.  However they COULD do something about it ... if only SOMEBODY out there had the balls to take a stand!  (kk)

I'd never heard Albert Hammond's original recording of "The Air That I Breathe". Love the surprise break in the middle. What a neat find! Thanks, Kent.
David Lewis
We sent this one along to Scott Shannon, too, so he can feature it on his next Rock And Roll Remakes Weekend.  (When is that going to air, Scott?  It's always been one of our favorite True Oldies Channel weekend salutes.)  kk

It is interesting to point out that the Elliott, Walter & Bennett song, "The 12 Days of The Cleveland Browns Christmas" was one of several that the trio did in late 1980 for many of the NFL teams.  A quick check of the internet shows that at the very least, Elliott, Walter & Bennett did "localized" versions of the songs for not only the Cleveland Browns, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams.  The Cleveland Browns version seemed to be remembered the most, even though the other 4 teams -- less Pittsburgh -- also would make it to the playoffs that season.
I don't believe that EW&B made it even close to the number of "localized" versions that Tommy Facenda had with his song, "High School USA" in 1959 -- I believe he had 28 different versions.
Uncle T. Jay

Yeah, what a great marketing ploy THAT was!!!  I have a CD that features all 28 versions ... Billboard charted the record showing the record label as "Atlantic 51 to 78"!!!  Unreal! 
I've heard from a few others that "The 12 Days Of Christmas" was "customized for different NFL markets but didn't know the specifics as to how many versions actually existed.  Thanks, Jay!  (Plus I obviously got their name wrong!!!  I thought it was Walter and Bennett Elliott, a DUO, not realizing that Elliott was one third of the trio.  Honestly, until a reader wrote in asking about the flipside of this record, I didn't even know it existed!)  kk

>>>The leader of The Movies was Michael Morgan of the Messengers.  (Phil)
Some or all of The Movies were the backup band for wild vaudevillian rocker Uncle Vinty in the '70s. I saw them at the Blue Moon Ballroom in Elgin, and at the "new" Amazingrace in Evanston. What a wild show, complete with props and costumes.
Guy Arnston in Algonquin
Michael and the Messengers had a couple of big hits here in Chicago with "In The Midnight Hour" (#5, 1967) and "Just Like Romeo And Juliet" (#12, 1967).
Phil Nee also sent me a later recording by Michael Morgan which is pretty darn catchy, too.  Check it out below.  (kk)

"That's The Way A Woman Is" was played a lot in Milwaukee and Madison in 1971.  It was on Rare Earth records.  It always has reminded me of the Greg Kihn song The Breakup Song.
It looks like this one charted in Billboard, where it reached #62 (as by The Messengers).  It scored even higher in Cash Box, just missing The Top 40 when it peaked at #42. 
Oddly enough, Joel Whitburn's book doesn't mention Michael Morgan at all ... instead he gives two completely different group line-ups.  Perhaps Gary Meyer can fill us in on a few more details ... I'm sure these guys got extensive coverage in his Wisconsin Music Book!  (kk)

FH Reader Tom Cuddy (a MAJOR Chicago fan!) sent us this link to an article about the upcoming tour featuring Chicago and REO Speedwagon.  Incredibly, these two super-star acts have never toured together before.  Chicago's got a couple of local appearances coming up later this month where they'll perform with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra ... THAT should be pretty cool to see, too!  (kk)

A record player that only plays 45's?  (Didn't they used to call that a jukebox???)
FH Reader Dave Barry just sent us this link about a new, limited edition product on the market designed ONLY to play your old 45's.  (And it ain't cheap ... if I'm doing my math correctly, those $2500 Euros equals about $3400 in U.S. funds ... plus shipping and handling.  Damn!  I can download a WHOLE lot of music for $3400!!!  And I'll bet they sound a WHOLE lot cleaner than most of my old, scratchy 45's!)  I just can't believe there's a market for this ... maybe that's why they're only making 100!  (kk)

re:  Survey Says ... :
Please add my name to your readers that noticed the date was wrong by a year on the WKLO radio survey. When I read it the first time, I said to myself that the year is wrong by one year. Didn't really think anything more about it until your other readers wrote in today and caught the mistake as well.
One more thing about the weekly surveys. Through the years I have noticed occasionally a "typo" of some kind on a survey, sometimes a little humorous.  I'll get mine out and try to locate some, and send them to you.
I don't know if you have ever bought and or subscribed to various periodicals like GOLDMINE and / or DISCoveries. I used to buy them off and on years ago.
What I'm getting at is that I just have one here at my home. It is a DISCoveries issue dated July, 1991, Volume 4, Number 7. The main feature or articles has to do with collecting radio station surveys from the time period of 1955 - 1990.
It shows dozens and dozens of radio station surveys from many of the top forty radio stations here in the country. You might look it up if you have a copy.
We had any number of misspelled song titles and artists over the years here in Chicago, too.  I guess it was inevitable (although I'd think it would have been something relatively easy to catch and prevent had anybody been looking at them!!!)
Sometimes it was clearly intentional ... we'll show you some of those in the weeks to come ... clever plays on words and such ... or maybe a specific theme running throughout the survey.  It showed that the radio station was having fun with the whole idea, and I really like that!
I don't have any of my old Goldmine or Discoveries magazines anymore ... but I know somebody who might.  That'd be a fun one to check out ... sending a copy of your email to Jack Levin who has spent a WHOLE lot of time collecting and selling rock-related magazines over the years at record shows and on eBay and such ... (kk)
That issue brings back some memories. I sent them ad copy for that issue and they screwed it up! As a result, my ad did not run. They did run it next issue ... of course a fat lot of good it was gonna do me then!  As luck would have it, a survey collector from Peoria contacted me. Over 20 years later, he's still buying charts from me. It was a cool issue. I no longer have it, as I donated all my back issues of DISCoveries and Goldmine to the ALS Mammoth Music Mart years ago. But in case you didn't know, Kent, not only do I have a gazillion Chicagoland surveys, but plenty from other places, too.Clark has been a good customer over the years, too. If anybody in the Chicago area is interested, ALL my surveys will be with me at the Chicagoland Record Show on January 19.
Might have to try and make it out to that one ... Hillside?  And maybe you've got some cool collectibles you can scan and send me to run in our hot new Saturday feature!  Thanks, Jack!  (kk)
Our new Saturday Survey feature has REALLY taken off ... I'll bet Forgotten Hits readers sent in close to 500 surveys for consideration to be used in future installments.  (It's going to take me a long, long time to sort through all of these!!!  But it's encouraging to know that we may be able to keep this feature going for years to come if we have enough to run without repeats.)  Be sure to check it out this Saturday in Forgotten Hits!  (kk)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Of Your Radio Comments

re:  Bringing The Oldies Back to WLS-FM:  
To All:
I'm a long time member of the "Forgotten Hits" newsletter and website. You may have gotten a few emails similar to this one recently. I will make my point brief. 
I no longer listen to Chicago radio AT ALL. Since I got satellite radio in my car (and internet radio at my desk), I'm no longer being held hostage to songs like "Brown Eyed Girl" 800 times a day. And I will not resume listening to local Chicago radio until you start playing songs people actually want to hear. 
The current playlist makes me want to punch a wall, I'm so sick and tired of it!!
Kristy White    

>>>Variety and personality have NOT gone out of style ... we're just stuck with a generation of "leaders" who don't understand it or know how to use it ... and that's a shame ... because THAT is what will spell the death of radio once and for all.  (kk)  
LOL!  Kent ... as always I appreciate your web page.  To comment on your radio airplay hits, I tend to agree.  I think the reason why the songs from the 20's, 30's and on didn't survive is because they were never marketed.  No one had the money to continue playing them and giving them the publicity and air play that they deserved.  A lot of the songs were from the "Depression Era".  Luckily my Mom was good about passing those songs along to me and helped to nurture in me a huge appreciation for music.  Perhaps you remember "Bye Bye Black Bird." or "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," or "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," "Has Anybody Seen My Gal," etc.   Like the oldies, those songs still live. They have a way of taking on a life of their own. I don't think radio will ever die as long as there are audiences who still like the oldies and people that appreciate good music. That is music that makes them happy.  You might be interested to know that when I visit the nursing homes, I still see the folks enjoying the songs that were from 80 and 90 years ago. Amazing! Good music has a way of becoming part of one's dna. You're right when you say the "leaders" don't understand the music or how to use it. But I see that it is "seeping" into advertisements and movies so perhaps there is hope.  
Like I've said, at this point we'll take it any way we can get it!  It was certainly not the intent of these artists when these songs were written for their songs to be used in commercials to sell candy bars and insurance ... but right now it's keeping the music alive, introducing it to a new audience and hopefully along the way generating a few royalty checks and licensing deals for the original songwriters and artists.  (Witness Paul Evans' email from a couple of weeks ago ... he's THRILLED that his music is being used in television commercials right now!)  Honestly, ANYTHING to keep it out there is a plus ... but the most LOGICAL venue to make this happen continues to ignore its potential and magnitude ... and that's just a shame.  (kk)   

Just letting you know I hear your plea!  I have been thinking about my place in this situation and have decided to write a letter to the address you provided and also fax same.  I am a fairly decent writer, and this way I have provided something they can hold in their hand.  (yeah ... and tear it up, too)  I can also send follow-ups, questioning them on how they perceive their situation.  Of course the question of children, education, their reactions ... maybe some quotes from their journals just might pop up in the print.  It is always worth a try.  If we don't look ahead and expect better, then we are reduced to looking behind and feeling incomplete.
You keep saying that this music is timeless and that future generations will enjoy it as much as we did, if only given the chance.  Well Kent, my son just sent me a video of my 13 month old granddaughter using his phone to find, play, and listen to The Beatles.  Apparently she does this on a regular basis.  Take THAT Cumulus Broadcasting!  Not just MY children, but my children's children. 
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano
About five years ago we were driving our daughter and three of her friends to some after school function and, naturally, I had the oldies station on in the car (because we HAD one back then!!!)  Pretty soon I heard the girls singing along ... with nearly every song that came on the radio.  And then, just faint enough to hear, one of them whispered "I hate to admit it ... but I really do love the oldies" to which another replied "So do I."  I couldn't help but smile.  No, they would NEVER tell their folks ... or risk becoming social outcasts by admitting this to their friends ... but in the safe, secure, privacy of my back seat they let their guard down a little bit and confided in each other.
We hear it performed at their school concerts ... again, back in the day when we HAD oldies radio in Chicago it was not at all uncommon to find Paige calling the radio station on a Saturday Night and requesting the great Motown classic "It Takes Two" or "Love Will Keep Us Together" by The Captain and Tennille or "Yo Yo" by The Osmonds.  As recently as a year and a half ago (when she was sixteen) Paige asked me one morning, "Why is EVERY Beatles song so good?  What did THEY have that the other groups didn't have? ... Every song you play by them ... and every song I hear by them ... is just SO much better than the rest.  No WONDER they were so popular!"  (Two MAJOR enlightening factors in this epiphany were the facts that she had just watched ... and fallen in love with ... the Beatles movie musical "Across The Universe" ... and had just discovered Side Two of "Abbey Road", which she then played incessantly for about the next three weeks!!!)
Sunday afternoon while flipping thru the television channels I found a PBS station that was running a back-to-back marathon of programs filmed at The White House ... concerts by many of today's contemporary stars ... and the one thing that ALL of these had in common was they were salutes to the music of our generation, some 40 to 50 years later ... "The Motown Sound" ... the "Songs of Hal David and Burt Bacharach" ... the "Songs of Carole King" ... the "Songs of Paul McCartney" ... many Gershwin Honorees by the President and Mrs. Obama ... but ALL saluting and performing the music that we keep maintaining will never die.  That's because this music is TIMELESS ... for ALL generations to enjoy.
Look at the PBS T.J. Lubinsky Concerts that air constantly ... check out many of the concert programs on Palladia ... ALL featuring the music of our generation that radio for SOME crazy reason thinks is no longer relevant or marketable.
It's the blind leading the blind, hiding behind consultant research that doesn't in any way, shape or form reflect reality.  (See my analysis below in my comments back to former Y103.9 deejay Jim Shea ... and then FIND me that person that these consults continue to insist exists!!!)
It's just RIDICULOUS!!!  (kk)

I, too, like Scott Shannon's True Oldies format ... that's why I listen via his web app since that's the only way we have in Chicago now to hear that format.   But I do agree with you that Cumulus should think about placing it on one of their HD channels here in Chicago.
Rich R.
There's just something about being able to push the button and hearing it on the car radio.  It just isn't the same when it's computer background music and you have to be sitting at your desk in order to hear it!  (kk)

No way does Cumulus allow oldies to return to WLS-FM. The format of oldies ... music through the mid-70s ... is not advertiser friendly.
There is also the fact the station would have many, many, over 60-year-old listeners.
I need to explain some realities which are unpopular:
1. Whatever oldies format works in another city or town, doesn't mean it will work in Chicago.
2. Oldies would attract listeners under 60 ... however, not enough to satisfy the advertising agencies. Their flawed thinking is younger people are more impulsive and willing to buy new technology. Whether it be cars, smart-phones, HD TV sets, etc. I am not saying older people do not have disposable income. That's not it. It's the notion of getting the older people to respond to the advertising the way the younger people do. It's not fair, but many things in life are not. WLS-FM, needs younger listeners. Oldies will not deliver enough of them.
3. Bottom line:  Pretty much what you hear on WLS-FM, will continue to be heard. It seems like this station is making a deliberate attempt to shake off much of its past.
4. For the those who may not be aware, radio is strictly a business. One function is to entertain. However, advertising revenue is the deciding factor in what formats are heard in major cities. Personally, I love Jazz music. Will I hear it on an over-the-air FM signal in Chicago? Not likely. For those who like Dance music or say, Active Rock? Forget it. Not a chance it will be playing in Chicago on a major FM signal. This is the reality. What it boils down to are niche formats as I have described and again I will say ... what plays well in Peoria or Rockford, will not necessarily work in Chicago.
Dave DuBrow
A couple of flaws in this line of thinking, the most OBVIOUS one being exactly what we've been alluding to on the website ... the powers that be at WLS-FM are IDIOTS if, in fact, "the station is making a deliberate attempt to shake off much of its past."  That alone would stand as one of the biggest bone-head decisions of all time if true.  WLS is one of the very few stations left that can rightfully bill themselves as one of the "greatest radio stations of all time" ... other spots on the dial would KILL to have their legacy.  (The reason I think it's NOT true is the simple fact that the station has gone out of its way to bring back the legendary jocks who were on the station back in their hey-day ... that's why you've still got guys like Brant Miller, John Records Landecker, Dick Biondi and ... until recently ... Fred Winston broadcasting from the WLS bandwidth.  They just brought in a HUGE Chicago name from the past by way of one-time top morning man Robert Murphy and continue to employ Greg Brown, whose name is synonymous with oldies music thanks to all his years at Magic 104.  All things being honest, I don't think they know WHAT they want ... or how to go about achieving it!
As stated before, there are at best a handful of stations nationwide that hold the historical legacy that WLS has ... failure to capitalize on this and use it to the station's best advantage only proves my point that the wrong people are in charge.
And secondly the oldies format DOES work in Chicago ... other than a few isolated months here and there, Chicago has had an oldies station with devoted listeners since the late 1970's and early '80's.  WGLD, WFYR (the great Chicago Fire), Magic 104, Real Oldies and True Oldies have ALL made their mark here ... the city has embraced each and every one of these stations.  When Magic 104 flipped over to the Jack-FM format here a few years ago, it failed miserably.  Scott Shannon brought The True Oldies Channel in and listeners flocked to WLS-FM to hear their favorite music again ... and because this format is once again missing from our airwaves, I'm betting they'll come out in even bigger droves this time around if WLS simply flips back to the music that made them legendary in the first place.  (And guess what station is currently occupying the old Magic 104.3 spot on the radio dial ... why it's K-Hits!!!  And guess what ... although they started out promoting themselves as Chicago's '60's, '70's and '80's channel ... and, thanks to their links to the VERY successful WCBS-FM in New York should have had a REAL handle on how to program here to the Chicagoland market ... they're now simply yet ANOTHER "Classic Hits" station ... just another one of many on the dial ... at least SIX in fact, playing the exact same music.)
Simply put, Chicago doesn't need six major stations programming from the exact same play list ... besides, Cumulus already has one of those now that they've purchased The Loop, on which they're reportedly deepening the play list to better help distinguish it from WLS-FM who are already playing many of the same songs and artists ... as are The Fox, The Drive and The River.  Come on ... how many times a day do we REALLY need to hear "Comfortably Numb" and something by Led Zeppelin ... not to mention the always present "Jack And Diane", Steve Miller, Fleetwood Mac, The Who and Boston?  We truly have reached the point where when nearly ANY given song comes on the radio today, you can no longer tell which station it's on because they're all playing the exact same thing ... and more and more lately, at the exact same TIME!!!  You switch from one station to another, only to find that the exact same song is playing there, three words apart from what you just turned off!!!  How does a radio maintain ANY identity with THAT sort of programming?  There is no longer ANYTHING unique about any one of them to make them stand out from the rest of the pack.  (kk)   

I was going thru some surveys for upcoming posts and ran across one that was sufficient for your WLS plea to play GOOD and lost oldies!  This comes from a WDRC Hartford, Connecticut, survey from Feb 5, 1971.  It could be an ad for FH, but change the "Big D" to WLS and there you have your ad for your project!!  Where are the cool ideas for contests anymore??  Ever hear a contest on radio these days that is actually a great idea, or one that ties in with radio programming like this?? 
Clark Besch

And then this, too, from Clark, remembering when serious thought and creativity went into making YOUR radio station stand out from the rest, a lost art to be sure.
Dan Hughes is a big radio fan of the old days and sent me this about the charts:   
Your note on KDWB / WDGY reminds me of a couple of stories.
First, in 1963, KDWB was seen as the "hip" kids' station, and WDGY was the older "establishment" station. 
KDWB was 630 on the dial, and they called themselves something like KDWB - Radio 63 (it rhymed).  And all through the year 1963, they played a three-second promo at least once an hour:  "63.  That's easy to remember."
And I remember a great little promotion they did one winter.  Just before top-of-the-hour news, they played a guy with a deep voice saying, "In the past hour, KDWB played 19 songs.  Guess what station played just 15 songs?"  and then right into the legal ID and the news.
Finally, you'll love this:
-- Dan

I read your blog post about the possible departure of Chicago's WLS 94.7 FM as an oldies station. Does Chicago's K-Hits 104.3 FM count?
Also: I stopped listening to WLS 94.7 FM Chicago when the station dropped from Sunday mornings Casey Kasem's American Top 40 - The 1970's in November of 2013 after two and a half years carrying the show. Now I wish that 93.9 WLIT My FM would pick up Casey Kasem's American Top 40 - The 1980's!
Darryl Heine
K-Hits seems to have also picked up the same "Classic Hits" format and play list as the other stations in town.  They started out playing legitimate hits of the '60's, '70's and '80's (although always FAR more '80's than '60's ... take "Beatles Wednesday" out of the mix and you'll find very little music at all from the '60's on the station anymore, despite their slogan promising to play "The Greatest Hits of the '60's, '70's and '80's") ... but now they seem to have gone the Classic Rock / FM Rock route, too, by featuring more of the kind of music you'd expect to hear on WLS-FM, The Drive, The Loop, The River and The Fox.  That gives us SIX stations in town now feeding us the exact same music ... enough to make ANYBODY stop listening.  (How come their high-priced consultants haven't figured THAT out yet?!?!?)
Once Upon A Time I made an open-ended offer to K-Hits when they first started out to help with some programming ideas.  This was right around the time Jan Jeffries shook things up at WLS-FM and their ratings took a huge plunge and K-Hits actually overtook them in the Chicago Ratings Book.  But K-Hits is a CBS affiliate station ... and WCBS-FM out of New York is a very successful oldies station, proving again that it's not the format that doesn't work ... it's knowing what to DO with the format that makes the difference.  Sadly, they weren't interested in any "outside advice" ... and now just keep diving deeper and deeper into the album rock arena, leaving more and more listeners behind in the process.  (If THAT'S the music I want to listen to, I'm going to switch over to a station that does it a WHOLE lot better like The Drive or The Loop ... and NOT somebody who's going to sprinkle in some Top 40 Pop or Disco into the mix!!!)  Make up your mind what you want to be, K-Hits ... 'cause right now you're not winning over ANYBODY!  Your falling ratings should tell you that.  Has ANYBODY in radio EVER questioned the possibility that maybe ... just MAYBE ... the consultants are wrong ... and listeners are fed up with the same diet being fed to us day after day after day literally everywhere we turn?  (kk)   

WLS-FM needs to improve its playlist, drastically. Why, on one Sunday, when it was live and local, I had the pleasure of hearin’ ‘Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash, AND ‘the Gambler’, by Kenny Rogers Can’t get variety like that anyplace else. I’m all for adding more music and variety to the playlist. Many forgotten top 40 hits, from the 60s thru the 80s.
Dave Wollenberg, 

Hi Kent,
Just catching up on Forgotten Hits and loved hearing "Games" by Redeye.  So much GREAT music out there that doesn't see the light of day anymore.  I remember "consultants" telling us "it's better to be playing a hit when your competition is playing a song that isn't a big hit!"  After a while you have to ask yourself, how much vanilla can you give the public before they finally scream for chocolate -- and what has more listener value in the long run, a song that is played over and over 10,000 times or a song that hasn't been played in awhile and surprises your audience and gets them to say to themselves:  "Wow, I haven't heard that one in ages and that sure brings back memories!"  When is the last time you heard songs such as "Painted Ladies" by Ian Thomas (brother of comedian Dave Thomas) -- just because it didn't make the final cut on focus group number 500 doesn't mean it isn't good music and doesn't have listener value.  Even Classic Rock stations who have purported to disdain the high-rotation lists of Oldies and Top-40 stations now find themselves doing the same rotational sins they have condemned others for.  "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Stairway To Heaven" no longer have the listener draw and magnetism they once had, not because they aren't GREAT songs but because high-rep playlists have driven the public to high levels of saturated listener-fatigue.  You mix that in with a deregulated media and about five corporations programming the masses and you have about as much variety as the ketchup aisle at Wal-Mart.  The keyword is safe -- the by-product is BORING!  And they wonder why listenership is down and people are seeking other avenues.  This country now has about as much local and regional media taste and identity as a homogenized Burger King menu.  You keep going to the corner cafe for your burger and McDonald's will get the message.  You would hope the media giants would be more concerned with taking care of their customers then they are with their share-holders but as we have seen more often than not, that's not the case.  You and your friends quit listening to vanilla radio and eventually they'll get the message, because to them a wallet's whisper is louder than a listener's scream!
Tim Kiley

Unfortunately, radio has been insulting the intelligence of their audience for decades now, hiding behind consultants and research that claims they're giving their listeners what they really want ... because they're not smart enough to want more ... they're not capable of absorbing more.
I just checked ... between 1956 and 1986, just over 4800 songs made Billboard's Top 20 Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.
A radio station that's programming 200 songs accounts for 4% of its potential source material ... 300 songs, 6%.  Heck if you just said "I'm going to throw HALF of this list out the window because it's dated" ... or "it doesn't test well" ... or any number of other half-assed reasons ... that would STILL leave you with 2400 songs to choose from.
Do something NEW with this information!!!
Here's a radio challenge for you ... programming advice free of charge, first come, first served.
For 2014, pick 2,014 songs from this very list ... Top 20 songs that DON'T get played on the radio anymore ... and PLAY THEM!!!  Promote the heck out of it!  Let your audience decide.  You can still program in the same crap you're playing all day long ... but dedicate your station each and every hour to playing at least ONE of these 2014 chosen few.  Why, it'd take you almost three months to play them all!!!  But for three months your listeners will be treated to an unexpected surprise ... something they'll want to stay tuned in for just to see what surprise you've come up with next.  My guess is they'll not only LOVE it, but will also start offering their OWN suggestions of GREAT Forgotten Hits!!!
Will SOMEBODY out there PLEASE do this so we can prove these consultants wrong once and for all?!?!?  (kk)  

Hi Kent,
True Oldies ... it should be everywhere!
The big station here (So Cal) is KRTH and it's mostly 70's and up with no 50's at all ... ouch!
Davie Allan 

Hi Kent, 
Your sentiments are beautiful. Your cause is just. You are absolutely right about the format.  
However ...
And not to be discouraging here, but the guy you have to convince in Jan Jeffries. I will relate my one experience with the man and you tell me whether or not he is a psycho.
I was working part time at the AC station (Star 97 I believe they called it) in Nashville in 2000, between full time jobs. I was filling in on the midday show. I was new and perhaps did not fully understand the format. The lunchtime hour music log listed three request positions. Right off the bat I got a request for "The Reflex" by Duran Duran. I aired the call and played the song, dropping "Manic Monday" by the Bangles.  
Jan Jeffries walks into the studio about 40 seconds into the song (we have never met, he is just in visiting from Atlanta) and says he'd like to see me after the show in his office.  
I stroll in, expecting a nice "get acquainted" sit down. But instead he grills me about dropping the Bangles in favor of Duran Duran. I told him I saw the request position, etc., and he listens patiently and then proceeds to lecture me about how "Manic Monday" is one of the top testing songs with Women 25-34, and how on earth could I have not known that ... and his tone was as if he was trying to fathom this obvious death wish I had for my career, because I had obviously nuked any possibility I might have had with the company. For playing fucking DURAN DURAN, okay? That some 25-34 year old woman actually requested!!! It's not like I played "Dead or Alive", right?
Soon afterward they put me over on the jammin' oldies station which they flipped a few weeks later to alternative rock and I stopped getting hours and took a morning job in Evansville.
My point is that the whole Dickey organization is based on research ... finding what people want (meaning what is most familiar to them) and providing it, thus making it more familiar. That is the basis of their corporate creedo. That is what you are asking him to change. This is like asking Arnold Schwartenegger to do Shakespear.
Jim Shea
LOL ... LOVE it!!!  Thanks, Jim.  The ONLY up-side to your note is the fact that Jan Jeffries is no longer in the position of power at WLS-FM ... and, in fact, it was under HIS regime that the ratings TRULY sunk ... so much for research and know-how.  (I've said this a million times but these "research consultants" are clearly asking the WRONG people!!!  I defy you to find me ANYBODY on this planet who will tell you:
"Well, what I REALLY want is to hear "Jack And Diane" eight to ten times a day ... and when you're not playing that, could you please play Steve Miller and "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey instead?  OK, sure, I understand that you can't ONLY play these three songs and artists ... so go ahead and stick "More Than A Feeling" by Boston in there half a dozen times as well, ok?  And maybe six or seven things by Fleetwood Mac or Bob Seger or Billy Joel.  And don't forget "Tiny Dancer"!!!  Lord knows we can't go a day without hearing THAT one six or seven times!!!  But that's it, ok?!?!?  Because, truthfully speaking, I'm just not intelligent enough to absorb any more than that.  OK?  Got it?  Thank you ... oh, and please mark me 'Loyal Listener #1'."   
Cumulus is in the VERY enviable position to be able to make a noticeable change here ... and they already own one of the most powerful stations in the history of radio ... and I've just GOT to believe that they want to make people forget the complete disaster this station has experienced over the past 12-15 months.  Suck it up ... save face ... and give the listeners what they REALLY want.  The timing is perfect ... and the time is NOW!!!  (kk)  

Cumulus is VERY committed to Classic Hits formats ... so I doubt you will get too far, despite the total logic behind your argument. There is no logic to be found within the walls of Cumulus' corporate headquarters.   
Anonymous by Request
Yes ... but maybe we can tap into something here ... as far too often these corporate big wigs fail to see the obvious.  Cumulus now has FOUR stations on the air here in Chicago ... including a Classic Hits format, a Classic Rock format, an Indie / Alternate Music format and an All-Talk format ... and, from what I understand, the option for one more station that just as easily could have gone Country.  That pretty much gives them one of everything ... a WIDE variety of options on the dial ... and you know the old saying ... throw enough shit against the wall and sooner or later something will stick.  But since there are already four OTHER "Classic Hits" stations already playing the exact same music in town, why not diversify and give the listeners something different.  If you've just GOTTA hear "Jack And Diane" one more time today, you've got about half a dozen places to go to do so ... program something DIFFERENT and see if you can't pick up a completely DIFFERENT demographic in the process.

We need to reach these people ... they need to hear it from the listeners themselves!

Write ... Call ... Email ... Let Your Voice Be Heard!!!

And for God's sake "Don't Stop Believin'"!!!

(fade to black)

There MUST be something to that, right?!?!?  I mean I hear Steve Perry preach it at least a dozen times a day!!!

Here's that information again:
3280 Peachtree Road, NW Suite 2300
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
TEL. (404) 949-0700
FAX. (404) 949-0740
Right now Robert Feder and Scott Shannon are still ignoring us ... so we need to go to THEM ... THEY have the power to let the Chicagoland listeners know of our efforts ... there is strength in numbers ... we just need to reach the right audience.  We just need them to let the listeners of Chicago know that a movement is underway.  Please write again and let them know that Chicago wants its True Oldies Channel back!!! (kk)