Where Detroit Radio Plays On!
FM Outlet Trending Rock Field in Motor City
DETROIT — WABX-FM, a stereo station owned by Century Broadcasting, has been slowly moving into a progressive rock format, says John Small, station general manager. The station has been programming Vanilla Fudge, Ravi Shankar, Cream, Tim Hardin, Jefferson Airplane and John Hammond, among others. This is good news to record men, who’ve long needed radio exposure for some of the groups who are scoring better in album sales than singles sales.
There seems to be a trend in shaping in the FM field for this type of station. WOR-FM has the college-age crowd sewn up in New York, but dropped the ball, and alert management at WNEW-FM picked it up and will be dipping more and more into the progressive rock bag. Already, Bill (Rosko) Mercer is playing progressive rock and blues on WNEW-FM 7 until midnights. In Los Angeles, KMPX-FM, guided under program director Tom Donahue, has been making an impact on album sales in the rock field. KPPC-FM is slated to go on the air soon with a progressive rock format in Los Angeles. Back in New York, there are also two additional radio shows that give exposure to good rock groups.
WBAI-FM, the non-commercial station in New York, beams a good broadcast after midnight hosted by Bob Fast;this show plays everything from gutty blues to progressive rock to folk (Arlo Guthrie got good exposure via tapes on this station before Reprise signed him). Also, Phil Morris is now hosting a show on a Newark, New Jersey radio station — WHBI-FM — in the wee hours of the morning that gives exposure to good rock groups like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Joan Baez and the Blues Project. His show is expanding to the time of 3-5 a.m. in January and Morris hopes to further expand it midnight-5 a.m. soon.
WABX-FM in Detroit started out a year and a half ago playing instrumentals and “Easy Listening” versions of rock hits. Then the station began programming a few of the smoother rock hits and eventually shifted into block programming devoted to folk and jazz. Folk and rock tunes then were integrated into the daytime programming. Small said the Animals and the Bee Gees, and the Beatles had made an impact on the daytime audiences. The station is now receiving 25-40 letters (from their listeners) a day.
“There’s a lot of meaningful music being produced today in the rock field . . . tunes that are absolutely beautiful. They’re timeless. These are the records I’m trying to sneak into our programming. I’m sure we’re going to be extending this type of thing.” Small said he waited to achieve a “happy medium without trying to sound too bluesy.” There is a possibility that the station may obtain a folk-rock act to emcee a radio show — the Misty Wizards of Reprise Records. The act, composed of Dick Keelan and Ted Lucas, were featured on live remote broadcast from the Detroit Auto Show this past weekend and will also have a two-hour show scheduled for next weekend. END.
– By CLAUDE HALL
(Information and news source: Billboard; November 25, 1967).