Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On


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).


December 20th, 2014
WJBK-Survey-December-20-1963-Front“DETROIT’S TOP 15″ * Bobby Rydell * WJBK (No. 08) December 20, 1963
WJBK-Survey-December-20-1963-Back“DETROIT’S HOT 15″ * Jack Jones * WJBK (No. 19) December 20, 1963

A MCRFB VIEWING TIP: To fully appreciate this WJBK Radio 1500 Record Review December 20, 1963 chart feature — to enlarge this image FULL SCREEN — click on the image 2x and open to second window for detailed view. Click image anytime to return to NORMAL image size.

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December 19th, 2014
WJBK-SURVEY-DECEMBER-6-1963-FRONT“DETROIT TOP 15″ * Shirley Ellis * WJBK (No. 06) December 6, 1963


“DETROIT HOT 15″ * Sandy Selsie * WJBK (No. 22) December 6, 1963

A MCRFB VIEWING TIP: To fully appreciate this WJBK Radio 1500 Record Review December 6, 1963 chart feature — to enlarge this image FULL SCREEN — click on the image 2x and open to second window for detailed view. Click image anytime to return to NORMAL image size.

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September 22nd, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB radio scrapbook: 1947

Detroit’s WJBK Dropping All Religious Commercial Shows






FLASHBACKDETROIT (November 8) — An almost complete turn-about of programming at WJBK, which has been in the works since the station was taken over in July by Fort Industries Corporation, becomes a reality November 16. Latest decision is to drop all religious commercial shows (which have accounted for about 15 hours a week on the station) except from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays.

Heaviest hit will be the Temple Baptist Church, which as carried eight half-hours on the station under the the direction of the Reverend J. Frank Norris, who recently had an audience with the pope. Nearly a dozen other groups, including Protestant denomination and Catholic churches, are affected.

Other Stations Sought

Stanley Altschuler, now head of the Stanley Advertising Agency here, and formerly foreign and religious director at WJBK, is attempting to find time for some of the groups on some other Detroit stations.

WJBK will continue to find sustaining time for some other religious shows, including a program for the Detroit Ministerial Association and the Ave Marie Hour.

Billboard, November 15, 1947

Billboard, November 15, 1947

In addition, WJBK becomes completely English in programming this week with the Polish Variety Hour, a two-hour show which has been running six days a week with one hour on Sunday afternoon, being taken off the air. The station formerly carried some 15 foreign language groups but has been steadily dropping them with one hour on Sunday afternoon, being taken off the air. The station formerly carried some 15 foreign language groups but has been steadily dropping them since the present management took over. The current Polish show is the last to go.

Most of these shows have been switched to WJLB, another 250-watter, which has taken over the Czech, Lith, Hungarian, Serb, Croat and Syrian shows, which were formerly on WJBK. On Monday (November 8) the Italian American Hour, formerly on WJBK five days a week at 8 p.m., and half an hour Sunday at  3 p.m., is starting over inside WJLB for half an hour at 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The switch has made WJLB practically the only foreign language outlet of the Detroit area, a rating they once shared with WJBK. Altschuler is supervising several of the WJLB programs, but now has no official connection with the station. His agency, however, is selling time on several of the programs, inasmuch as all these foreign language shows are handled on a participating basis.

At least one religious group which got airtime from WJBK is understood to be planning an appeal to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However a local committee which appealed to the FCC on the foreign language issue a few weeks ago was turned down and it is not expected that the religious group will have a different outcome to the effect just the same. WJBK’s position is that the change will be for better programming in the interest of the majority listener audience. END

(Information and news source: Billboard; November 15, 1947).


August 12th, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1959

Spells Hefty Career Damage For Many; Finis For Some; Policy Shifts Likely





NEW YORK — Judging by events of the past week, one effect of the current deejay-payola probe is likely to be that of at least 25 disk jockeys (ranging in importance from the moderate to the biggest names), program directors, record execs and publishers will have been substantially damaged as far as their careers in the music business is concerned.

Some will recover, but other may truly “go down the drain,” in the words of Alan Freed, who lost both his jobs at WABC and WNEW-TV last week.

Budget Angle

WABC Alan Freed FiredOne of the most immediate effects of the probe may very well be a sharp decrease in the number of local record-hop type shows. Freed’s parting with WNEW-TV was said to have been at least partially sparked by AFTRA’s ruling that Freed (who reportedly was paid only $450.00 weekly for six-hour long daily TV shows) paid scale (about $140) to each act for lip-synching to records on his show.

Freed — and many other TV record hop emcees across the country — usually had from four to eight disks guests daily, thereby posing a practically impossible budget problem.

In line with this, station WJBK, Detroit, has said it had no intention of scheduling another “Detroit Bandstand” show replacement for emcee Dale Young, who resigned from that station last week, refusing to comment on the reason for his exit.

Tom Clay was fired from WJBK over the weekend, after he admitted accepting payola. Clay admitted he received about $6,000 over the last year and a half from small record companies. Another Detroit broadcaster, Jack Le Goff, was fired last week from WJBK after he aired an editorial defending payola “as a part of American culture.” Still another Detroit radio jock, Dom McLeod, resigned also from WJBK last week, making three spinners out in a 36-hour period.

Other Resignations

Although the payola probe wasn’t necessarily involved, several other deejays resigned from stations across the country last week. Joe Niagara moved his previously announced December 19 resignation date (from WIBG Philadelphia) up to last Monday (November 23) following a conference with WIBG managing director John C. Moler.

Three of Boston’s top jocks (Stan Richards, Bill Marlowe, Joe Smith) were given notice by WILD,in what was described as a move “to de-emphasize the role of the deejays and to emphasize the role of the station from now on.”

The WILD story suggests what many in the trade believe to be a strong possibility — namely that the probe may result in the selection of music being taken out of the hands of individual disk jockeys and program directors almost entirely.Confronted with a threat to their FCC licenses, station management may decide the only solution is to ride herd on record programming personally.

It has been suggested that they elimination of payola will mean the return of “good music” (i.e. non-rock and roll) to radio. However, station management usually places more emphasis on the importance of ratings than anybody else in a radio operation, so the only conclusion is that they will give the public what surveys and rating indicate it wants to hear — be it rock and roll, far-out jazz or the minuet. Ratings services, of course, have also been recently been accused of hanky panky.

‘Payola’ Not Defined

The word ‘Payola’ itself has yet to be defined. Some stations believe it perfectly proper for jocks to have ownership interests in publishing companies, record firms, distributing outfits, etc. — as long as they don’t infringe on station programming; while other consider such activities just as much a part of payola as cash on the line.

WINS Radio PayolaFor example, John V. B. Sullivan, general manager of WNEW, New York, says he doesn’t consider it real payola “unless it affects the music.” Consequently, said Sullivan, he has no objections to WNEW jockey Lonnie Starr’s ownership in a couple of firms. Because his investigations have shown they don’t show up on his radio program. In fact, notes Sullivan, last year the firm actually cost Starr $400.

Sullivan also said that, “I don’t care if Frank Sinatra wants to give WNEW jockey Bill Williams a Cadillac because Williams would be playing Sinatra record already — thus such a gift wouldn’t affect the music.”

Westinghouse View

On the other hand Westinghouse Broadcasting last week said, “WBC does not condone disk jockeys’ ownership of record companies, distributing companies, publishing companies or ownership of talent. That is because of the actual or potential conflict of interest between ownership on the one hand and the creative selection of programming on the other.” Westinghouse did not say if it would take any action if investigation reveals that any of it’s jockeys are involved in such outside activities.

Harold Anderson,  general manager of WINS, New York, agrees with WNEW manager Sullivan, in that he doesn’t think ownership of labels, etc., necessarily constitute payola. For example, he said the station is aware of jockey Murray  Kaufman’s publishing and recording activities but he doesn’t think they may influence the spinner’s programming, because jocks at WINS don’t select records played on their own shows.

The disks are selected by the program department, with the assistance of a rotating trio of jocks. Anderson said he is convinced “our people are perfectly clean,” and that instant dismissal would follow if he discovered anything to the contrary.

The happiest result of the probe should be that it will make payola deals so difficult to manage in the future, that legitimate forms of record promotion will have a tremendous resurgence moving forward. END

(Information and news source: Billboard; November 30, 1959).

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On

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