Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On

WCHB-FM TOP JAZZ ‘SALESMAN’ IN DETROIT . . . NOVEMBER 11, 1967

August 20th, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1967

On The FM Band — WCHB Reaches Out To Jazz

 

 

 

 

 

 

1967 WCHB 1440 Line-Up (Detroit)

Detroit WCHB 1440 Line-Up 1967 (Click on image 2x for largest PC view).

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).

WCHB-AM Detroit Soul Hits from October,1967

WCHB-AM 1440DETROIT SOUL NEWS’ July, 1967

BLUE-EYED SOUL ARTISTS SPAWN TOP 40 INTERGRATION . . . OCTOBER 22, 1966

January 3rd, 2014

MarqueeTest-2From the MCRFB news archives: 1966

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.

"Blue-eyed Soul" Roy Head in 1965 (click image for larger view)

“Blue-eyed Soul” Roy Head in 1965 (click image for larger view)

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.

WCHB Soul Radio, Detroit 1966 (click on image for larger view)

WCHB Soul Radio, Detroit 1966. Note that Nat Keller, a Caucasian deejay, was also on WCHB 1440 (click on image for larger view)

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 DEALERS DOWNPLAYS RADIO PLAYLIST VALUE . . . SEPTEMBER 3, 1966

October 30th, 2013

MarqueeTest-2From the MCRFB news archive: 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.

WKNR-AM radio survey, September, 1966

WKNR-AM radio survey, Detroit, September, 1966 (click image for larger view)

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

WXYZ-AM  radio survey, September, 1966

WXYZ-AM radio survey, Detroit, September, 1966 (click image for larger view)

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.

CKLW-AM radio survey, Windsor, October 1966 (click on image for larger view)

CKLW-AM radio survey, Windsor, October 1966 (click on image for larger view)

“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).

R&B WCHB TAKE RATINGS LEAD IN BANNER YEAR . . . AUGUST 13, 1966

October 25th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

R&B Stations Ride High in Frequency Across Major U. S. Radio Markets

 

 

 

 

 

DETROIT — R&B radio stations are having a banner year and many have turned into powerhouses in major markets in general. For example, WCHB here in Detroit is No. 3 during the daytime in the general market and and after 6 p. m. goes to No. 1. The ratings success story of WOL in Washington in the past year has been the talk of the radio industry. All over the nation, modern R&B stations in general are doing great and program directors point to two factors as having an influence on this — the growing popularity of R&B music among whites as well as Negroes, plus the up-dating of the programming and production at these stations.

Bill Curtis, program director of WCHB here in Detroit, recently commented that, “This station has been building up over the past two years. It’s owned by two Negro doctors who’ve been extremely involved in community affairs, so people look to us as leaders in the community.

Detroit WCHB-AM 1440 “Soul Radio” personalities circa 1966 (click on image for larger view)

“Too, our sound is as good or better as any station in town. We have strong deejays: Bill Williams is one of the best in the country, a top 40 type of personality. And we have Martha Jean Steinberg. All of our personalities are just as smooth, as competent as any jock on any station.”

Like other program directors, Curtis felt the over-all status of the R&B deejay has made tremendous progress in the past year. And one reason why they have achieved status in the community, he said, “is that in the old days the stereotyped R&B deejay said anything that came to mind. It often offended people or was distasteful. Today, with modern production and tight programming, the deejay only have time for news, temperature, announcing the time, and playing records. There is very little time left in possibly saying the wrong thing.”

KYOK in Houston is another station achieving success. Program director Al Garner said that R&B radio “period” is looking better in Houston. Sitting in for vacationing deejays during the past few weeks, Garner said he noticed that his station was picking up a growing number of Latin listeners, as well as white kids. The station runs third and fourth now in the general market, he said, and competes on the general market level for advertising.

Lucky Cordell, program director of WVON in Chicago, said the status of R&B deejays, at least, was improving. “E. Rodney Jones and Pervis Spann own a nightclub. Herb Kent has just opened a ballroom for record hops. It’s now a prestige factor to be an R&B deejay. Deejays are respected in the community.”

He likened the success of R&B stations in the past few months with the civil rights movement — “We’ve become more and more a source of information. We’re doing a much better job of reporting the news that involves Negroes than the other station in now. Whereas R&B stations used to be mostly for the kids, this is no longer true.” The station, he said, helped “a good deal in settling the people down during a recent flare up.”

George Wilson, program director of WHAT in Philadelphia, said there’s no question about the status of the R&B deejay improving. The National Association of Radio Announcers, he said, had helped enormously. “There’s a growing substance to the organization and it’s making an influence.

“Nowadays, the successful R&B radio stations are the ones with the hip young guys who understand what radio is all about or the older deejays who were intelligent enough to adjust and grow with the times. The quality of deejays on R&B stations have improved. Here, for example, our regular weekly meetings are intelligent discussion sessions. I can bring up a matter and get an intelligent response; we come up with a workable solution.”

He felt that all R&B stations have shown audience increases this summer despite issues of racial problems, but believed they would keep this audience this fall and not lose them. WHAT is playing records by Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield and Chris Montez . . . “any record the Negro people want to hear. He picks up the information at local Negro nightclubs, which he makes it a point to visit once or twice a week to listen to the tunes being played most on jukeboxes.

WVKO in Columbus, Ohio, has made tremendous strides commercially, said program director Bill Moss. He felt there was a general “uplift” attitude throughout Negro radio. “This is one of the things NARA is preaching and and those stations that are already not in style are at least becoming aware of the progress being made by the better radio stations.” R&B radio stations now have to assume a role of leadership that “we didn’t before. We must assume the responsibility of uplifting the kids.”

WDIA in Memphis sets an enviable position; it has been No. 1 in the market for about 17 years, said program director Bob McDowell, largely through community involvement. The station supports 145 baseball teams with equipment, provides two buses to take handicapped children to school daily, supports a school for crippled children, plus other goodwill projects. McDowell said he felt the status on R&B deejays have improved. “I can tell by the quality of the men who’ve come here in the past three years; they’re good, high quality personalities which is one reason why we’re on top.”

The popularity of R&B music is growing, he said, “even here,” in Memphis, considered to be one of the leading R&B markets of the nation. END.

(Information and news source: Billboard; August 13, 1966).

COUNTRY MUSIC MAKING STRIDE, CKLW ON TOP… SEPTEMBER 18, 1971

August 20th, 2012

from the MCRFB news archives: 1971

J. P. McCARTHY NO. 1 IN MORNINGS; WDEE NO. 3 IN DETROIT: PULSE REPORT APRIL/JUNE 1971

 

 

 

 

DETROIT – Country music seems to be doing well in Detroit where WDEE is third in the market 6 A.M. through midnight in the April/June Pulse. CKLW and the Paul Drew pack is No. 1 with 19, WJR comes in with a 17 and nobody touches J. P. McCarthy in the mornings: this guy has a 21 from 6-10. Across the board, WDEE, programmed by John Mazur, has a 7, 8, 6, and 3 (through hours 6-10 A.M.) Breaking the other stations down CKLW has 17, 20, 21 and 14. WABX-FM has 2, 3, 4, 6. WKNR has 3, 3, 6, 5. WRIF-FM has 0, 1, 2, 3. WCHB was pulsed with 4, 4, 5, 10. END.

 

 

(Information and news source: Billboard; September 18, 1971).

EXCITEMENT IN R&B RADIO: WCHB 1440… JULY 2, 1966

April 4th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

WCHB Adds Own Excitement To Rhythm and Blues Format

 

 

 

 

 

DETROIT — R&B music is the most exciting music in the world now, believes WCHB program director Bill Curtis. That, plus a “lot of hard work,” is the foundation on which the R&B station has built its success.  Billboard’s latest Radio Response Ratings survey of this market, the fifth largest in the nation, showed the station as the major influence on sales of R&B records. Fifty per cent of the record dealers, distributors, one-stop operators, and local and national record executives voted in favor of the station over its competition in broadcasting in the Detroit area.

Detroit’s WCHB Super Soul Survey 40; March, 1966. (Click on image for larger view).

 

Although R&B music has grown increasingly so popular that Hot 100 stations are playing more and more of it, Curtis wasn’t worried. “We play more of it and we try to play it before they do. But it’s the most exciting music in the world right now, and nothing will ever take it’s place.”

 

The station has been responsible for giving many new R&B records that important initial exposure; in fact, the exposure has been so important that the power of the station has forced rock ‘n’ roll outlets in the city to play the records because of the sale created. An example is “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, said Curtis. This was the flip side of a record, but during a listening session Curtis was impressed with the B side over the A side, “A Satisfied Mind.” “Just a fluke that I listened to it,” he said. “I don’t go around turning over a cat’s record.” But “Sunny,” which the station went on to play, went to No. 1 at local Hot 100 format stations.

Another record the R&B station broke in the market was “Open The Door To Your Heart” by Darryl Banks on the Detroit-based Revilot Records and Curtis predicted it would be “a big one.”

“I Get a kick out of exposing a new recording product, helping it become a hit. At least you know you’re doing something worthwhile. Also, you get an indication of the power of your station and how much you can influence your listeners.” END.

 

(Information and news source: Billboard Magazine; July 2, 1966).

R&B RISES ON THE AM RADIO DIAL… APRIL 29, 1967

March 5th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

R&B Radio Outlets Richer; Static Quo on DJ Dollars Dismal


 

 

 

 

NEW YORK — The current success of many R&B format radio stations across the nation “is not that all apparent at the deejay level,” according to Ronnie Roker, an executive at Mark II Records.

Mark II records is the label of Tag LTD. Productions, a firm headed by Magnificent Montague, former air-personality with KGFJ, Los Angeles, and Roker, formerly with Liberty Records. The label’s first release is “Precious Memories” by the Romeos, now No. 38 with a star on the R&B chart, and climbing also on the Hot 100 Chart in pop sales. Montague played congos and bongos on the record. The LP is due out soon featuring the group.

The record got its start on R&B stations; among those that helped boost it were WVON, Chicago; WWIN and WEBB in Baltimore; WABQ and WJMO in Cleveland; KGFJ in Los Angeles, KATZ in St. Louis, and WJLB and WCHB in Detroit. It was WQV in Pittsburgh, Roker said, that swung the record into the pop field and did so much to promote record sales.

Format Operation

R&B stations — practically all major ones — have gone to a format operation, Roker said. “Format lessens the amount of new records exposed, although the number of records exposed on R&B radio stations far surpass that on pop stations.  Its much easier to get a record started in the R&B field, though not as easy as five years ago. Today, you have to put out a good record to get it played.  There are very few bad records — or even mediocre ones — played on any R&B station.”

The tight formats now being used by R&B stations have really helped them, Roker felt. “It has been responsible for higher ratings of these stations in the general market, bringing them more business and higher advertising rates.” But this hasn’t helped most deejays, he said; their salaries haven’t been increased or, at least, it’s “not that apparent.” Roker said he felt deejays should share in the growth of the stations through higher salaries, “but whether they will is a different matter.” END.

 

Addendum: Here are two *rare* airchecks of Detroit’s own R&B Grandmaster himself, “Frantic” Ernie Durham, as he was 10 years earlier on R&B WBBC-AM in Flint, Michigan, in 1957 and in 1958. (Photo; Ernie Durham in 1967). 

 

From the MCRFB Aircheck Library, featuring:

WBBC-AM Ernie Durham: Ernie Durham – WBBC – Flint – November 1957.mp3

WBBC-AM Ernie Durham: Ernie Durham – WBBC – Flint – November 1958.mp3

 

(Information and news source: Billboard Magazine; April 29, 1967).

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On


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