Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On


January 27th, 2015

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1966







LONDON — Motown’s Four Tops took London by storm, Sunday, January 13, with a memorable one-night-only performance at Brian Epstein’s Saville Theater.

The group gave two sold-out concerts before an audience that included John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Donovan, Jane Asher, Eric Burdon, Georgie Fame, and EMI chief Sir Joseph Lockwood.

The Four Tops, London. St. Paul's Cathedral, 1966

The Four Tops, London. St. Paul’s Cathedral, 1966 (Click image for largest view).

The fantastic reception the Four Tops were accorded should assure Epstein of boom box-office takings when the group undertakes a nationwide tour of Britain for him in January.

As the group’s stage debut marked the launching of the Saville — previously a legit theater — as a London showcase for pop talent. Following unsuccessful stage venues including Ron Moody’s musical “Joey, Joey,” Epstein has announced that he will concentrate  on staging the world’s top pop talents at his West End venue.

In the words of Decca’s promoter Tony Hall, who hosted Sunday’s show, Epstein plans to turn it into the Apollo of Shaftesbury Avenue. Little Richard is expected to give a one-nighter there later this year, and Epstein has scheduled a Christmas show starring Georgie Fame and Julie Felex.

The concert acclaim for the Tops sets the seal on their British chart success with “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” which has climax a magnificent 1966 for Tamla-Motown here during time it has had up to six and seven acts simultaneously in the top 50 — a fantastic achievement for a U.S. label.

The Four Tops included three good renditions of non-Motown songs in their act, the Beatles’ “Michelle,” Tom Jones’ hit, “It’s Not Unusual,” and a great workout set on stage with “If I Had A Hammer.” They ran a number associated with their sound, “Baby, I Need Your Lovin,” and had to give two performances of “Reach Out.” They left their audience clapping, singing, and very happy — shouting, demanding more.

The quartet was backed by Bob Miller’s big pop band. Also on the bill was one of Epstein’s most professional acts, Cliff Beznett and the Rebel Rousers, whose strong act included their Beatles-penned British hit, “Got To Get You Into My Life,” and an Australian group called the Easybeats, currently scoring here with “Friday On My Mind.” END

(Information and news source: Billboard; November 26, 1966).

The Four Tops greets Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, Tops' UK Tour promoter, at the Royal Albert Hall, January 1967. (Click image for largest view).

The Four Tops greets Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, Tops’ UK tour promoter, at the Royal Albert Hall, January 1967. Beatles’ pressman Derek Taylor is seen standing behind Tops’ Duke Fakir. (Click on image 2x for largest view).


January 21st, 2015

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB radio scrapbook: 1943


Detroit Swings To “Ingenious Substitutes” For Solutions In Wartime WWJ, WJBK, CKLW





FLASHBACKDETROIT (May 29) — Despite the fact that the Motor City usually figures as the No. 1 manpower headache in the country, local radio stations are not too badly off in connection with announcing, sales and technical personnel. Several have resorted to ingenious substitutes or policies to meet the situation.

In the background is the fact that Detroit attracts labor in all fields, and this goes for radio stations as well, by its glamour as an alleged high-standard learning center. There has never been a surplus of station jobs available, jobs so far has not exceeded demand.

Billboard, June 5, 1943

Billboard, June 5, 1943

Generally typical is the set-up at WWJ, NBC station, and the only one to turn to female announcers — they now have two femme gabbers and one girl newscaster. Reaction from the public has been favorable, according to Edwin K. Wheeler, assistant manager.  However, the station is not committed to femmes unless they have to — they hired two more male announcers in the past two weeks. It is figured that the leaving of ladies on the staff will help if and when the femmes take over all the way. This may happen in a few months with the drafts of fathers, into which class most of the announcers now fall.

Fertile Sources Closed

The commercial staff of WWJ has not been touched by the draft yet, but has only three men, since most of the selling is done by the net anyway. They expect to lose two of the three, by August 1, and will probably get along with the remaining salesmen.

On the engineering side, WWJ has been able to meet the loss of men without difficulty so far, by drawing in skilled men from other fields. One source, now closed, was the smallest station, but with WMC rulings on job freezes particularly effective in this “essential” industry and especially in the Detroit labor region, this avenue appears about closed without extraordinary special exemptions in an emergency case.

WWJ got one good technical man who was formerly a radio serviceman, despite the shortage of serviceman in this city. Another replacement was formerly a radio “ham” operating his own station. These sources are about exhausted now.

WJBK, typical of the smaller stations, has lost two salesmen and three announcers, with another set to go in a week. They are having their salesmen double-up, and are getting by in the commercial department. So far, enough new announcers have been forthcoming to meet the situation, but the station is using five woman as monitors on foreign-language programs, covering 13 different languages.

Draft Free Breaks

The technical staff has not been touched at WJBK. Although there has been no deliberate policy, N. W. Hopkins commented that “We never figured that a handicap should be discriminated against if a man has the technical ability.” The result is a large proportion of F-4 men and the willingness now to employ any more they can get. In addition, WJBK has some technical men with pre-Pearl Harbor dependents, who has so far been draft exempt.

At CKLW, the situation is peculiar in that the station has studios in Detroit, but has its transmitter and other studios in Windsor, Ontario, and comes under Canadian regulations. The technical staff has been little affected as yet, according to Richard E. Jones, sales promotions manager, who said that “Canadian regulations have evidently given considerable thought to the requirements of the broadcast industry. It looks as though they were a little more liberal in granting deferments where an industry is of public importance.”

The station has lost two salesmen, four engineers and four announcers. The sales situation is being met by older men, and Jones commented that “We will probably have to expect a trend toward the employment of older men than has been usual in radio.”

Public Against Gals 

On announcers, sentiment at CKLW appears to be rather against the use of women announcers. This is based on a study of public reactions to the use of females at other stations, Jones said, though it may, in part, be due to unfamiliarity. CKLW, meanwhile, will try to get by with present announcers doubling up on duties.

Up until the past few weeks, local stations were able to attract staffmen from other cities, both small and large, with good scales of pay in effect here. A new type of difficulty recently became critical when one station lost an announcer from Chicago who preferred to go back to free-lancing there, when he was unable to get rooms to house his wife and family in Detroit after six months of trying. END

(Information and news source: Billboard; June 5, 1943).

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

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