Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life
Wednesday, November 4, 1981
A DETROIT RADIO BACK-PAGE
A NEW FEATURE ON MOTOR CITY RADIO FLASHBACKS!
DETROIT FREE PRESS: WCHB 1440 ‘Beaming With Pride’
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(Above WCHB article is courtesy freep.com newspaper archive. Copyright 2016. Newspapers.com).
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RADIO FRANK HUB FOR TAPE PLAYER CARTRIDGES AND CAR PLAYE
Radio Frank Hub for Auto Tape Player Units and Cartridges in Dearborn for 1967
DETROIT — A “please handle” policy on tape cartridges has created a booming business for Radio Frank, a Dearborn-based, 2-way mobile phone and tape outlet here. “First, we tried keeping the cartridges back of the counter,” said owner Frank Meckrock. “But we now we put them out front where customers handle them. First thing you know, the customer is picking up two or three extra cartridges he never intended to buy.”
If Radio Frank returned the cartridges behind the counter, “business would drop 50 per cent,” Meckrock said. Pilferage is rare, but if a clerk suspects anyone of thinking of pocketing a cartridge without paying for it, the store clerk gives them extra special service and attention.
Radio Frank, relying heavily on radio promotion, has been moving anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 tape cartridges a month and installing player units at the rate about 200 per month. Most of the business — “about 25 to 1” — is 8-track, Meckrock said. The firm promotes heavily on radio, mostly on weekends when people “have got money in their pockets,” including the major deejay shows of CKLW and WCHB in Detroit.
Tom Shannon on CKLW does an excellent job in marketing cartridges, Meckrock said. The radio advertising pulls 30-40 people into the store on a Saturday. About the middle of May, business tapered off a little bit . . . “there were only three to four cars waiting at a time in line in the alley behind our building to have units installed. We used to have 30-40 cars waiting out there like, for a car wash,” he said. Radio Frank installs units in six cars at a time, “doing this, all day.”
Overall, however, business has been very good. The firm is located on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, in “Ford Country.” Executives at Ford Motor Company get their cars free and all have tape cartridge players; they buy a lot of their cartridges from Radio Frank. The firm was mostly involved in the car radio business until about four years ago when it started selling 4-track units and cartridges.
“I thought at one time that the 4-track business was good,” but 8-track has far passed it.” he said. Meckrock got into the 8-track business in August 1965.
When he used to buy on 4-track cartridges, he bought the music he like personally. Some of those cartridges were still around, he says, and now he buys only the product that would sell. END
(Information and news source: Billboard; July 1, 1967).
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Detroit’s WCHB-AM 1440 ‘Super Soul’ radio personalities. October, 1966
Jerry Boulding Joins WCHB/WJZZ Detroit
“I’m looking forward to programming one of America’s premiere jazz stations, WJZZ, ” says Boulding, who adds that the station will retainits mass appeal jazz directionfor the time being. “I foresee no immediate changes there, but I think we’ve got some very exciting things planned for WCHB, one of the country’s first black-owned stations, in spite of the fact it’s on AM,” he says.
WJZZ switched to its current modern jazz format at some point in the early 1970s. The station was formerly WCHD-FM, Detroit. END
(Information and news source: Billboard; March 12, 1983).
On The FM Band — WCHB Reaches Out To Jazz
DETROIT — “WCHB-FM “sells the hell out of jazz,” said Jack Millman, of Music Merchants, a leading distributor. WCHB-FM’s play of the “Groovin’ ” cut from the “Hip Hugger” album by Booker T. & The M.G.s. on Stax Records sold more than 20,000 albums in a month, Millman said, “and forced out the single. The first day the single was released, we moved 18,000 copies.”
Jack Springer is one of the most powerful air personalities on the station, “but all contribute. All go their own way,” said Millman. That station made Hugh Masekela in Detroit. When Masekela appeared at the Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, you couldn’t get near the place. I went by the club on a Sunday afternoon and there was a huge line outside.”
The station is now breaking a Cadet Records album called ‘Groovin’ With The Soulful Strings,’ he said. “Burning Spear” will likely be released as a single as a result of airplay of this album. The station is also giving Marlena Shaw, a Cadet artist, a big push with her “Go Away Little Boy,” has sold extremely well in the market because of WCHB-FM.
“The station does so well because the deejays are individuals playing good music,” Millman said. “The station may not show up on audience surveys, but I couldn’t care less. They sell products, and that’s all what counts.”
He said that Music Merchants advertises records on the station because of it’s tremendous impact on the public. “We don’t have to advertise, but we’re doing very successfully with it. Our accounts are now asking what we’re going to advertise next so they could get it in stock.” The radio advertising is followed by displays and personal contacts with retailers. Music Merchants has advertised product on radio for some time and has long-term contracts with CKLW calling for 30 spots a week and WCHB-FM. The distributing firm has its own advertising agency. END
(Information and news source: Billboard; November 11, 1967).
Blue-Eyed Soul Artists Herald Musical Integration on Airways
NEW YORK — Hot 100 radio stations have been “borrowing” the most popular tunes of its R&B sister stations for the past few years and the trend, if anything, is increasing. Some rock ‘n’ roll outlets have, in fact, gone so far as to hire Negro air personalities and the reason has been two-fold. For one thing, these particular personalities were top flight: Chuck Leonard at New York’s WABC and Larry McCormick at Los Angeles KFWB. Second, there was the feeling that they could appeal to a wider audience.
But this past year marked a turnabout for R&B stations. It happened quite by accident; some of the news artists being programmed by program directors at the nation’s major R&B stations such as WWRL, New York; WDAS, Philadelphia; WOL, Washington; and WLAC, Nashville, turned out to be white.
Frank Ward, general manager of WWRL, puts it this way: “You should have seen the face of Rocky G when he found out who the Righteous Brothers were!” Rocky Groose is program director at the New York outlet. Many other R&B outlets were also fooled by the “soul” sound of the two artists.
Georgie Woods, an air personality with WDAS, Philadelphia, came up with the term “blue-eyed soul” to cover these white artists now receiving airplay on R&B stations. Besides the Righteous Brothers, once the barriers were down, R&B stations began spinning any white artist — the big name ones — who could be said to have “soul.” In other words, sound like a Negro. These “soul” artists were many and the term became quite loosely used; for example: Sonny & Cher, the Beatles, Tom Jones, Sam the Sham, Barry McGuire, Roy Head.
What it actually meant was that R&B stations were trying to give rock ‘n’ roll outlets a run for their money . . . to hold on to their audiences. To get involved in the action, many British groups are appearing now — American groups, too — with the R&B sound.
The next step?
Some R&B stations decided to concentrate on appealing to both white and Negro audiences. Instead of aiming at an ethnic group, these stations began to realize that R&B music had a basic appeal. So, they integrated their air personality rosters, once almost almost a private domain of the Negro. There were some white deejays in the field — John Richbourg at WLAC, Nashville, and Porky Chedwick at WAMO, Pittsburgh. But they were rare. Then, KYOK, Houston, hired Al Gardner as program director; KGFJ in Los Angeles has two white deejays, WCIN, Cincinnati, not only went with an integrated staff, but plays such artists as Bob Dylan, Brenda Lee, Billy Joe Royal, and the Rolling Stones . . . . anyone that has “a little bit of soul.” WAKE, Atlanta, which changed its call letters to WIGO, has an integrated staff. WLOU, Louisville, has had an integrated staff. So does WLTH, Gary, Indiana.
It is the integration of music that has contributed to the integration of staffs, believes George Woods of WDAS, Philadelphia. Rudy Runnells of WOL, Washington, feels that the Negro audience is no longer a specialized “in” group. “Musically, they’ve grown out of the strictly heavy-accented R&B field limited only to Negro artists.”
KGFJ, Los Angeles, keeps as pure “soul”as possible, but program director Cal Milner says high general market audience ratings indicate the station is being listened to “by the white kids in order to hear R&B records early . . . we’re playing them about 10 days earlier than the rock stations.” Hunter Hancock and Jim Woods are the blue-eyed soul deejays at KGFJ; Hancock is currently rated the No. 3 air-personality in the market influencing R&B record sales. Milner says Hancock sounds “ethnic” on the air.
James Whittington, operations manager and program director at Atlanta’s WIGO, said his station had a different situation that brought about its integrated air staff. When the station changed formats recently to R&B, it kept on a white deejay, Tommy Goodwin, because of his tremendous following. Goodwin is the drive time personality and Whittington says, “he’s worrying heck out of rock ‘n’ roll personalities by playing R&B records.”
WLTH, Gary, Indiana, set out deliberately to aim at both white and Negro teenagers with an integrated play list as well as an integrated staff. The station manager, George Corwin, previously worked with WSID, Baltimore, an R&B outlet. END.
Addendum: In covering 1966 Detroit R&B radio stations, WJLB-AM and WCHB-AM were the two premier soul stations on the radio dial. But these two R&B stations seemed always well ahead in playing the newest soul records and albums before they would hit the charts, at times weeks before other local popular Detroit Top 40 stations would find those selected R&B hits on their respective radio playlists.
In was known also that during the 1960s, WJLB and WCHB also held a respectable Detroit (non-black) radio audience. And one reason was due in part that by 1966, both stations tended to first introduce and promote at the earliest local R&B hits, the newest soul hits and albums produced by many independent and major record labels. And of course, there was Motown Records and Stax as well. By 1966, soul music, or R&B, would comprise as much as up to one-third of the singles played in mainstream top 40 radio stations around the country.
(Information and news source: Billboard; October 22, 1966).
Detroit Record Distributors Play Down Chart Value in Sound-Alike Market
DETROIT — While local record merchandisers claim that area radio “Top 40 Charts” are highly inaccurate, they say they are able to live with the situation because no one in the Motor City market uses radio charts as a buying guide.
This lack of direct chart influence on record sales, according to dealers, is due to the relatively high number of competing “Big Beat” radio stations in the area — all offering slightly different formats and none having a clearly dominant influence in effect in the Detroit pop market.
Sam Press, co-owner of Ross Music Shops in Detroit, said that “There are actually three influential rock stations — WKNR and WXYZ here (Detroit) and one, CKLW, in Windsor, Canada, competing for the kids’ attention, plus two very strong R&B stations, WCHB and WJLB (Detroit). You have to remember that because of Motown, R&B (or Soul music) is a stronger product here than it might be in other markets. So what you have is kids constantly switching dials between all these stations and not being dominate by any of them. A (WKNR) ‘Keener’ chart might have some of the most popular songs in the area on it but it will be invariably late in listing a big English hit which the kids have been hearing on CKLW of Windsor, and will likewise be late in list a hot R&B number that has been exposed by one of the other stations.”
“What this means,” he said, “is that teen-agers choose the best of several stations. For this reason we don’t have to buy according to any one station’s charts. The independent dealers in this town wait until they start getting requests before they will order anything — except something by a very hot artist.”
Asked if his customers would not seek out a competitor who already had the hits in stock, Press said: “The racks are even slower in getting current singles out — we can move faster than our competition.”
NOT USED AS GUIDE
Lou Salesin, a 35-year veteran of the business who owns Munford Music Shop, said he also does not use “radio charts as buying guides. I must ignore WKNR and the other lists; they are inaccurate for a number of reasons. Some of these inaccuracies could be eliminated — and I would like to see that happen, just for the principle of the thing.”
Sol Margolis, owner of the Ross Music Stores, told Billboard: “I only order what I get calls for, plus a minimum of new releases by established artists. To my knowledge, no Detroit dealers uses radio charts as any kind of a buying guide. We know better than to trust what these sheets say.”
Another dealer, who did not wish to be identified, said that “you simply cannot believe what the radio charts list. The problem is there are too many pop records being released. I think the manufacturers are working on some sort of percentage planning. They just keep churning the records out, hoping that 4 per cent or more will make money for them.
“As far as local charts are concerned,” he added, “we often see a record that hasn’t been shipped already on the sheet. Other times, we see stations keeping numbers on the charts long after they have stopped selling. They do this, apparently because they got on a record too late, and then refuse to admit that their influence hasn’t been able to keep it a hot seller. There are many complicating factors, but the end result is inaccurate charts. All the dealers know this, and they depend on requests and their own experience in the business to tell the how to buy.”
Chet Kajeski, of Martin and Snyder, one-stop in Detroit, told Billboard: I find frequent discrepancies on the radio charts. As far as I am concerned, they hurt jukebox operators in the area. By failing to list, and expose on the air, what is a legitimate ‘adult’ hit, they can cut down play on the boxes. This happens when a record sells very well in the area, deserves to be listed on the charts, but doesn’t get listed because such a record does not get the additional push of air play, its life on the jukebox is sometime shortened.
“I don’t believe,” Kajeski added, “that many record dealers are affected by the charts in the Detroit area. By being inaccurate, these charts defeat their own purpose.”
By RAY BRACK and PAUL ZAKARAS
(Information and news source: Billboard; September 3, 1966).