Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


August 18th, 2017

WJLB-AM 1400 MARTHA JEAN ‘The Queen’ 1967 (Press Photo)

WJLB-AM 1400 MARTHA JEAN ‘The Queen’ 1967 (Press Photo)

Martha Jean the Queen


In the early 1950s, Martha Jean, would become one of but a few female broadcasters in the country working radio “on-the-air.” She landed her first DJ stint in broadcast radio when she was hired at Memphis’ WDIA in 1954.

In 1963, Bell Broadcasting in Detroit, WCHB, hired Martha Jean from Memphis’ WDIA. After three years on the radio there, she left WCHB for Detroit’s WJLB on October 24, 1966.

Fifty years ago, during the Detroit riot in July 1967, in her personal attempt to quell the widespread civil disturbance and “calm the citizenry” — Martha Jean convinced WJLB management to cancel all scheduled programming — thus allowing her to remain on the air for an unprecedented 48 consecutive hours.

The legendary soul radio personality Martha Jean, known as “The Queen,” remained a broadcasting staple for over four decades while in the Motor City. She became a formidable voice for Detroit and its inner-city. In 1982, she purchased her own radio station, becoming management for WQBH (formerly Detroit’s WMZK).

She remained there on the air until the day she passed away, January 29, 2000.

WDIA MARTHA JEAN Memphis circa 1950s.


August 15th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1965

West Coast Clamors For Dylan Tunes





HOLLYWOOD — West Coast recording companies are rushing to cut Bob Dylan songs, with his message-protest numbers all but killing surfing, hot-rod, and all other teen-age themed topics in recorded numbers this Summer.

California-based Music Publishers Holding Corporation head Jack Maas reveal that 48 different Dylan records have been cut within the past month, have either been released, or will be cut in the next several months. Many of the Dylan songs are ‘covers’ of hits already having found their way on the current national charts.

Bob Dylan at work at Columbia Records in 1965. (Click on image for larger view)

“Most of Dylan’s materials has been requested and recorded by West Coast companies,” Mass said. The reason he attributes to this West Coast activities is simply that young a&r men here have latched unto Dylan with more enthusiasm than their Eastern confreres.

Among these “young” producers, Maas names Steve Douglas and Dave Axelrod at Capitol; Gary Usher, Decca; Andy DiMartino, Liberty Records; Al Schmitt, RCA; Dick Glasser, Warner Bros.; Bud Dain, Crescendo; Terry Melcher, Columbia; Herb Alpert, A&M Records.

“In all my years as a publisher, I’ve never seen such activity for demand for one writer,” Mass emphasized. “I’ve got people constantly calling me for his material!”

There are currently seven Dylan tunes on the charts, and the movement is moving forward for the new folk-rock sound, which began with the Byrd’s single, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and then the avalanche for Dylan songs began.

MPHC has a total of 80 Dylan songs and 12 new songs the folk-singer just cut for a new Columbia long-playing album. All of Dylan’s songs are published by M. Whitmark & Son, an MPHC company.

Just released are the following Dylan tunes: “I Don’t Believe You,” by the Lincoln Greens, Crescendo; “Blowin’ In The Wind,” by Johnny Rivers, Imperial; “If You Gotta Go, Go Now,” by the Liverpool Five, RCA; “All I Really Want To  Do,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” by Joe and Eddie in new Crescendo albums.

Set For Release

The Turtles’ debut LP, “It Ain’t Me Babe”; 1965. Album re-issued on Compact Disc. (Click on image for larger size)

Soon-to-be-released Dylan tunes include “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Love Minus Zero” and “I Don’t Believe In You” by the Turtles in their first White Whale LP; “Chimes Of Freedom,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” in a Dino, Desi and Billy Reprise LP; “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Randy Boone in his Decca LP; “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “All I Really Want To Do,” “Like A Rolling Stone” and “You Were On My Mind” in a new Surfaris Decca LP; “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “All I Really Want To Do” in a new David Rose MGM LP; “All I Really Want To Do,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in a forthcoming Cher Imperial LP; “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Love Minus Zero,” “All I Really Want To Do,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “She Belongs To Me” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” will be in Duane Eddy’s new Colpix LP.

Leroy Van Dyke’s first single for Warner Bros., is Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” Also, World Pacific is readying a new band (name undisclosed) which will debut an LP featuring 10 Dylan tunes, to be released near the end of the year.

Mass claims that teenagers are listening to the lyrics. Despite the heavy commercial rock n’ roll beat and the blasting overly amplified guitars, most in the music business tend to realize that the lyrical content of a song is getting through to young people, more in popularity in the current folk-music scene. The rock background, that in itself, has helped the singles get on Top 40 music stations. There are some skeptics who feel the kids are not quite listening to the words, but are rather phased by the new beat instead.

Dylan’s Columbia albums are loaded with message, protests, and satire songs, very cerebral and complex., which has not yet been “discovered” by the “long-haired” folk-rock performers as a preference of choice with today’s popular music.

Beach Boys on Chart

The Beach Boys are the only group represented on the charts with a summertime, teen-outdoorsy song with “California Girls.” All the West Coast  beach-surf sound groups seemingly have been washed out to sea by the Dylan-influenced groups who have also begun imitating Dylan’s droning, monotonous vocal style.

Asked by Billboard to comment on the current rage to record message songs — some meaningful, some otherwise — folk singer Harry Belafonte said that folk music has always stressed social interests in protesting. Characteristics of the folk and rock idioms may be found in some established musicians as Odetta and Brownie McGee, Belafonte said. Folk and rock have their roots in Negro music,” Belafonte noted.

Today’s commercial folk singers may be compared to troubadours of yesterday, he said. The intensity of Negro music is part and parcel of the new sound reflecting the the world’s changing society, the entertainer continued.

Folk-songwriter and singer Phil Ochs in 1965. (Click on image for larger view)

Dylan’s overwhelming emergence as the chief procrastinator of the protest writers has all but obliterated other young folk-oriented writers who were created in this vein. This group includes Phil Ochs, Mark Spoelstra, Len Chandler, Richard and Mimi Larina and Pamela Poland. Paul F. Sloan has already gained notoriety for penning, “Eve Of Destruction,” a powerful single which has begun it’s climb up the charts.

The current trend has all but eliminated Caucasian groups from singing “let’s go to the hop-type songs.” The newest teen topic is protesting against a person’s abnormally long hair, and of social discords evidently present in our times. On the other hand, rhythm and blues’ artists and groups have not yet discovered Dylan and are yet still singing in their soulfully shouting style, with enough drums and rhythmic beat to satisfy their listeners with the current music trends. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; September 4, 1965)


August 14th, 2017

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1963

R&B Music Defined By Berry Gordy In His Own Words





DETROIT — There has been a lot of dispute lately over the definition of rhythm and blues as against rock and roll, pop and blues. To get some opinions on the subject, Billboard talked with several top people in the field and Berry Gordy, head of Tamla-Motown and Gordy Records, this is what he had to say about the matter:

Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. in front of 'Hitsville' in 1962 (Click image for larger view)

Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. in front of ‘Hitsville’ circa 1963.

“It originated from Negro folk music. It’s characterized by a heavy-bottom sound — heavy drums and bass — and its strongly dominated by blues. It differs from rock and roll. The latter is lighter and not as heavy on the bass, it’s more pop with a heavy back beat. Rock and roll is derived from R&B, but its a cleaner sound — not as flunky and muddy on the low end — more of a light, up-tempo sound. Rhythm and blues — more than any other type of music — is from the soul and expresses the sincere feelings of the artist. No special musical schooling or training is necessary.

One thing — there’s quite an overlap between rhythm and blues, rock and roll and pop. Take our tune, ‘Do You Love Me,’ by the Contours on Gordy as an example. It was recorded rhythm and blues but by the time it reached the half-million mark, it was considered pop. And if we hadn’t recorded it with a Negro artist, it would have been considered rock and roll.”

Now — talk about being home for the holidays, virtually the entire Tamla-Motown-Gordy artist roster got a Christmas present by returning home to Detroit, ending a two-month concert tour that started in Washington and ended last week at New York’s Apollo Theater. They had a helter-skelter pace of one-nighters in between. Included on the tour were: the Miracles, Mary Wells, “Little” Stevie Wonder (he’s the 12 year-old Motown sensation who plays piano, drums, organs, banjo, harmonica and sings too), the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye and the Contours. The same line-up were signed for a New Year’s Eve show, Monday, December 31 at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; January 5, 1963)

Motown’s own The Contours circa 1962


August 11th, 2017

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1965

Are We On The Cusp Of ‘Destruction’?





HOLLYWOOD — A record predicting the frenetic plight of society today, written with biting incisiveness by a 19-year old renegade from surfing music, is gaining acceptance over Top 40 music stations despite its “controversial” lyrics.

The writer is P. F. Sloan and his composition is “Eve Of Destruction,” sung by Barry McGuire on Dunhill Records.

Close to 200,000 copies were sold as of last week. The disk was released on July 26.

Barry McGuire's 'Eve Of Destruction,' Dunhill Records; 1965.

Barry McGuire‘sEve Of Destruction,’ Dunhill Records, 1965.

What is so remarkable about the single is it’s acceptance by radio stations. During the past two years three other singles of a controversial or social nature were refused by radio stations. These disks, labeled unacceptable or controversial by American broadcasters were In The Summer Of His Years,” a tribute by Millicent Martin to the late-President Kennedy on ABC-Paramount, which was covered by Kate Smith on RCA, Connie Francis on MGMMahalia Jackson on Columbia and Tony Arden on Decca; “Now,” a plea for first-class citizenship for Negroes sung by Lena Horne and released on 20th Century Fox and “Ballad Of Ira Hayes,” depicting injustices to American Indians, sung by Johnny Cash on Columbia.

Dunhill Productions executive Lou Adler, in attempting to explain why “Destruction” has jumped on format station playlists, claims the song is not a protest at all. The writer is simply relating conditions in the world today, he says. “Sloan is not a hippie or pacifist,” Adler says. “He’s just a youngster who speaks in a contemporary language.”

Adler feels many of radio’s young disk jockeys have beliefs which coincide with those of Sloan’s. Adler points to a broadening of attitudes by broadcasters which allows them to now accept a song whose lyrics (published by Trousdale Music) makes mention of senators (who) don’t pass legislation . . . .  marches alone can’t bring legislation . . . .  when human respect is disintegratin’ . . . .  think of all the hate there is in Red China . . . . then take a look around down Selma, Alabama. 

A rekindling of interest in folk music, including the current folk-rock trend (see Billboard; June 12) has created an aura in which disk jockeys are aware of changing times, Adler says.

One additionally vital reason for the acceptance of the single, according to Adler, is the rock-like background behind Barry McGuire, a former lead with the New Christy Minstrels. 



This contemporary guitar-harmonica sound allows disk jockeys to quickly identify the disk as a commercial product. In the case of the other three “message” records, the arrangements (were regarded) uncommercial. There were scattered stations which played them, but nothing like the exposure “Destruction” has received here from KRLA, KFWB, KHJ and KBLA.

Despite the probing of domestic tinderbox situations like the struggle for human rights, the single is being played in all parts of the country, the label says. Among the first markets providing exposure were Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington. It was reported in some areas disk jockeys and program directors went to station managers and owners in obtaining clearance to play the record.

When Lena Horne’s “Now” protest single was released, several program directors told Billboard in Los Angeles they were in the entertainment business and were not concerned with airing records with political overtones. When the Millicent Martin tribute to the slain president was recorded from its original “This Was The Week That Was” British TV show, broadcasters claimed the single was in poor taste. Some said they did not think it was proper for anyone to make money from the tragedy.

John Barrett, general-manager of rating leader KRLA, told Billboard that the arts have always been associated with political thought and that for radio to negate this was foolish. KRLA was playing “Destruction” because it suddenly appeared on its local survey, Barrett says. If public demand warrants play, the station complies, unless decency rules out exposure, Barrett explained. “It is not our prerogative to censor.”  Barrett said the station played a Kennedy tribute single but did not air the “Now” disk since it never showed up on its survey of 30 locations a week.

Barrett added there has been “surprisingly little comment” from listeners about “Eve Of Destruction,” McGuire’s debut for Dunhill. There were more comment from station personnel who were split idealistically over the controversial overtones heard throughout the song. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; August 14, 1965)


August 11th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1965

‘Eve Of Destruction’ Has Its Day





This eastern world, it is explodin’, violence flarin’, bullets loading. You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’, you don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’. And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’. …

But cha’, tell me over and over and over again my friend, ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”…                                                                               


CHICAGO — Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction” may be too controversial for the city’s middle-of-the-road radio station, but it represents a new trend in music, according to WCFL and WLS, the city’s two rockers.

BARRY McGUIRE’S “Eve Of Destruction” on Dunhill Records. Released in 1965.

The record also has all the earmarks of being a hit in terms of retail sales. Bob Garmisa, of Garmisa Distributing Co., says he moved 17,000 copies of the record in the Chicago area in the past three weeks.

Fred Sipiora, of Sipiora One-Stop, said he’s sold 1,500 records of the song and has another 1,500 on order. “Dealers are starting to ask for the records,” Sipiora says.


WCFL broke the record in late July and was followed by WLS a week later. Some of the more conservative radio stations, however, are keeping hands off. Jack Williams, recently named program director at WIND, Group W’s powerful middle-of-the-roader, termed the “Eve Of Destruction” lyrics “sick.” “It’s not the sort of record we want to play for our audience,” Williams said. WIND evaluates its playlist weekly, and Williams said “Destruction” was voted down twice.

EVE OF DESTRUCTION” was written by P. F. Sloan; produced by Lou Adler, P. F. Sloan for Dunhill Records

At NBC’s WMAQ, Glenn Bell, program director, said, “We’re not playing it because it’s too hard for our middle-of-the-road audience sound.” Bell, however, said he felt the record will have the greatest impact on the world of pop music of any record issued in the past several years.

“If I were a Top 40 station, I would play it,” Bell said. “In fact, I would make it a pick.”


At kingpin WLS, Clark Weber, the station’s new program director, said “Destruction” had all the earmarks of a hit. WLS’ sister stations WXYZ, Detroit; WABC, New York; KQV, Pittsburgh, all put it on the air the same time.

Weber described “Destruction” as a “message record blending folk and R&B.” “It bites,” he said.

The WLS music man feels that the British hold on pop music may be on the wane and that “Destruction” may represent a type of music which will “move up to fill the void.”

WCFL’s program chief Ken Draper predicted flatly that “Eve Of Destruction” would be “a very big record.” “Pop music doesn’t create taste, it reflects it,” Draper said. He felt that “protest music” was already a trend. “It’s a little frightening, it makes us look at ourselves, but it’s here.” Draper remarked.

The WCFL programming chief said the McGuire record was nothing more than a logical follow-up to other “protest” disks done by such artists as Sonny Bono, Bob Dylan, Sonny and Cher and Jody Miller.

“Tragedy is nothing new to music,” noted Draper. “Operas are filled with it, and people consider it art. When people hear it in a pop song lyric, it shakes them up a little bit.” END


 (Information and news source: Billboard; August 21, 1965)


August 10th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1970

WWWW To Add Oldies With Current Hits





Detroit — Though WWWW-FM is building an image here of being the solid gold station, general manager Don Barrett said that the heavy slate of programming will be current releases from the charts. Working slowing with national program manager Ken Dowe, who’s responsible for the programming of all the McLendon Broadcasting stations,  Barrett set up a format which hinges on two oldies to one current record.

All the oldies are slated for the personalities, though the deejays use their judgments in playing current hits. The current records are usually in the upper half of Billboard Hot 100 Chart or in the top 15 sellers in the city, although WWWW-FM will also play new releases such as Dionne Warwick’s “Your Own Backyard.”

The oldies will go back to 1951, and the station has a library that will permit it to go nine-days without repeating an oldie. This is why Barrett slates all of the oldies — so that when an oldie comes up, it comes up at a different time of the day. “Gee” by the Crow is just as good at 3 a.m. as it is at 3 pm., Barrett said. And, to create a consistent sound around the clock, the station doesn’t alter its sound during the “housewives” hours or the afternoon hours when teens and young adults are more prone to listen to radio.

The reason for the format change (WWWW-FM was a background music station until March 10) was that a study of ARB and Pulse figures showed the station was “fighting with too many stations for too small a piece of the audience pie,” Barrett said. Barrett, whose career includes serving as national program director of all McLendon stations, was most recently in sales in XTRA, a Tijuana station in which McLendon is involved in.

Deejays at the station include program director Ron Rose, Chuck Richards, Tom Michaels, Robin Seymour on weekends, and Tom Clay. Clay, who does the 5 – midnight stint on the station, comes in at 9 a.m. to start prepping his show, Barrett said — “the sign of a real pro.” In McLendon fashion, WWWW-FM is building a campaign around Clay that will include a two-week saturation spot schedule on local television.

The station recently gave away a gold-painted 1957 Chevrolet to help build its image and is now preparing to give away “Good Guys” sweatshirts because no other radio station has done it in Detroit for several years.

Oldies are separated in three different lists — A, going back before 1960; B, 1960 through 1964; C, 1965 through the present. Any time a pre-1960 record is played, the next record is from the “C” list, said Barrett, so that the sound don’t stay too long in the distant past. END


 (Information and news source: Billboard; July 25, 1970)

A MCRFB Note: You can watch a video with Don Schuster on WWWW-FM, December 25, 1970, in a previous MCRFB (February 20, 2012) feature by going HERE.


August 9th, 2017








Tape recorders. Home stereo components. Portable record players. Transistor radios.

A look back at some of the ’60s electronics American consumers were buying from the Radio Shack chain, 1967. These four product pages were taken from the Radio Shack catalog, from that year.

Motor City Radio Flashbacks found an amazing website online where you can view the entire archived Radio Shack publications — where you can view page-to-page — every single catalog from 1936 to 2005.

It’s a decades’ electronic blast from the past you’ll enjoy viewing. Check it out! 🙂

A MCRFB viewing tip: On your PC? For a larger detailed view click above image 2x and open to second window. Click image anytime to return to NORMAL image size.

Click your server’s back button to return to MCRFB.COM home page.

On your mobile device? Tap on image. Open to second window. “Stretch” image across your device screen to magnify for largest print view.


July 29th, 2017
National Guardsmen patrolling Detroit’s Grand River Avenue in front of the Olympia, Thursday, July 27, 1967

The National Guardsmen patrolling Detroit’s Grand River Avenue in front of the Olympia. Thursday, July 27, 1967 (click on image for largest  view)

 J U L Y    2 9 ,  1 9 6 7 :   T O D A Y  I N   M U S I C   H I S T O R Y



Unused-Monkees-Detroit-Concert-Ticket-1967-Olympia (MCRFB)In Detroit, the Monkees scheduled concert at Olympia Stadium was immediately canceled days earlier due to widespread rioting, shootings, fires, and block-to-block looting — affecting local and federal mandated curfews imposed over the entire city through a four day period, week of July 23-27. Sponsored and scheduled by Dick Clark Productions and WKNR for Saturday, July 29, the concert would later be rescheduled for another date in August.


Today In Pop Music History: July 29, 1967

MCRFB NOTE: Previously featured on Motor City Radio Flashbacks, July 29, 2014

THE DETROIT FREE PRESS Tuesday July 25, 1967 (click on image 2x for detailed PC view)

1967 DETROIT RIOT -- July 23-27, 1967

DETROIT ABLAZE. At the intersection of Linwood and Clairmount. Tuesday, July 25, 1967 (click on image for detailed view)

J. Michael Wilson * Wednesday, July 26, 1967

SPECIAL THANKS to Greg Innis for the WKNR J. Michael Wilson audio byte above.

THE DETROIT MONKEES CONCERT was rescheduled for Saturday, August 13, 1967 at Olympia. One year to the day after the Beatles performed there last, 1966.


July 28th, 2017


— BILLBOARD: Peaked #26, June 24, 1967 —


July 26th, 2017

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: DETROIT FREE PRESS Tuesday, July 25, 1967 (click on image 2x for largest detailed view)

ABC NEWS DON HOWE * Tommy McIntyre; WXYZ News * July 26, 1967

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: DETROIT Sunday, July 23, 1967 (click on image 2x for largest detailed view)

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: Wayne County sheriff officers on foot patrol near 12th and Elmhurst in Detroit. Wednesday, July 26, 1967 Photo: LIFE (click on image 2x for largest view)

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: Wayne County sheriff officers on foot patrol near 12th and Elmhurst in Detroit. Wednesday, July 26, 1967 Photo: LIFE (click on image 2x for largest view).

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: The National Guard vigilant near intersection of Linwood and Joy Rd., Thursday, July 27, 1967. (Photo: LIFE)

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: The National Guard stand vigilant near intersection of Linwood and Joy Rd. Thursday, July 27, 1967. (Photo: LIFE)

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: National Guardsman Gary Ciko, foot-patrolling Linwood Ave., looks up at rooftops for possible snipers (Photo: LIFE)

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: National Guardsman Gary Ciko, foot-patrolling Linwood Ave., looks up at rooftops for possible snipers. (Photo: LIFE)



Link update (July 26, 2017): See Scott Westerman’s recent comments HOW KEENER COVERED THE SUMMER OF 1967 at his splendid WKNR tribute website, posted July 21, 2017.


For a more comprehensive coverage on the five-day civil-disturbances in Detroit, July, this week in 1967, see Motor City Radio Flashbacks’ previous (July 16, 2012) feature — by clicking on the header-title below.


(Note: Previously featured on Motor City Radio Flashbacks, July 23, 2015)

FIVE DAYS IN JULY: THE DETROIT NEWS Monday, July 24, 1967“The shaded area in the above map of Detroit indicates where the rioting was more intense Sunday and this morning. There have been many reports of firebombing and looting in other sections of the city.”

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life