…….. HAPPY HOLIDAYS……
DETROIT — Veteran deejay Ed McKenzie resigned from station WXYZ here last week in protest of the station’s “formula radio” programming policy.
Rallying to his side was his long-time competitor and another Detroit veteran spinner, Robin Seymour, of WKMH, who came out strongly last week for McKenzie and against “formula radio.” Seymour stated that, “It’s a crime and a shame when one of the true deejays – one of the men who made the jockey a major factor in broadcasting – has to bow to the dictates of a program director.”
Although Seymour and McKenzie – two of Detroit’s key deejays – have vied for audience ratings for the past eleven years (they occupied the same afternoon time slot) Seymour said they remained friends – their friendship dating back to the time McKenzie gave Seymour his first radio job at WJBK here.
Seymour had asked McKenzie to appear on his WKMH show to discuss the whole formula radio situation and his reasons for leaving WXYZ. Seymour said they will explore the jockey’s need for freedom of programming and will discuss further on whether the advent of “formula radio” has anything to do with the fact that no new name deejay (other than Dick Clark) has come up from the ranks in recent years.
Seymour said his station, WKMH, is now the only major Detroit station operating on a non-formula programming policy. The outlet did adopt a non-rock and roll format last year, but Seymour said the management dropped the policy last January, and put record programming back in the deejay’s hands. As a result, the jock said WKMH’s ratings are already showing a small rating climb – the first rating increase for the station in some time.
The WXYZ “formula” (featuring the Top 40 singles was adopted by the station about a years ago, and WXYZ vice-president in charge of radio, Hal Neal, opined “Our interpretation of radio is that it is a step moving forward.”
McKenzie on the other hand expressed his opinion that this “formula” did not jibe with his interpretation of radio as “being intimate and friendly.” He stated that his ratings were dropping since the “formula” policy had gone into effect and that he would sooner “dig ditches or sell hot dogs” than go back to formula radio “because I can’t do something I don’t believe in.”
The radio station disagreed with use of McKenzie’s bird calls on the air and his “on the air” comments on office typing and the programming. The station also found themselves in disagreement with McKenzie about their new policy to boost the station on his programs, which the jockey termed “unnecessary.”
McKenzie’s 3 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. spot is being taken over by Mickey Shorr, who will have another replacement for his own Night Train program. Reportedly making between $60,000 and $80,000 a year in his 29th year with radio, McKenzie was Jack The Bellboy at WJBK before he changed to WXYZ radio in 1952. END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; March 16, 1959).
Bob Seymour of WKMH, one of three local radio jocks, opens Hit Tune Party for Detroiters
DETROIT, July 30 – The first Hit Tune Party of the season was held Sunday, July 24, at the Eastwood Gardens, Eastwood Park, by the Michigan Automatic Phonograph Owners Association (MAPOA). The event drew a crowd of between five and six thousand teenagers, one of the biggest turnouts in the history of the organization.
Gene Krupa and his orchestra played for the event, offering an afternoon of dancing. Tunes picked as “candidates” for the hit tune selection were featured. Winner was Someday, as recorded by Vaughn Monroe on Victor. The number will be the hit tune of August here, and will be placed in the No. 1 position on all juke boxes in the Detroit area. A second-number to be co-featured will be selected later, according to Roy W. Clason, MAPOA business manager.
Three disk jockeys made personal appearances and assisted in handling the program for the evening. They were Bob Seymour, WKMH, Dearborn; Doc Lemon, WJR, and Johnny Slagle, WXYZ, both of Detroit. Clason acted as master of ceremonies.
A personal appearance was made by Frankie Mullec, Continental Records artist, whose new number Tell Me A Story was also played. Plans for a Hit Tune Party for August, with another name band to be featured, are now being made, according to Clason. END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; August 6, 1949).
CRUISIN’ 1956 Increase Records (1970)
ORIGINAL LP COVER NOTES
By Jerry Hopkins
The CRUISIN’ history of rock and roll radio begins in 1956, one of the most exciting years in “pop” history, and to take us down this memory lane (with a beat) is Robin Seymour of WKMH, which was, when he joined it, a little-known station In Dearborn, Michigan. Robin came to the suburban Detroit station from the Armed Forces Radio Network and he brought with him a voice that mixed the warm, confidential tone of an intimate friend with the slick disc jockey rap we all know today, a blend which made him a natural for housewives and teenagers alike.
Robin never had any particular ethnic identification or allegiance but the “Bobbin’ with Robin Show” quickly found its audience, as he constructed a bright, orderly program that featured (almost exclusively) the records listed on the sales charts printed by the music press. He also was among the first of the nation’s deejays to ask his listeners what they thought about new records, and hosted some of the earliest sock hops and commercial tie-ins with local record stores. In 1953 he was named “Disc Jockey of the Year” by Billboard, the music trade magazine. The following year he was given the same title by another publication, Hit Parader.
1956: President Eisenhower underwent an operation to relieve blockage of the small intestine due to ileitis, but physicians said he would be physically fit to run for re-election. Scientists said radiation was a peril to the future of humanity, Egypt seized the Suez Canal and the United Nations established the first international police force on the Sinai Peninsula. The first trans-Atlantic telephone cable system went into effect. The Hungarians revolted. Six Marine recruits were marched into a stream at Parris Island and drowned. The Andrea Doria sank off the coast of Massachusetts. And Elvis Presley and the spread of rock and roll nearly pushed everything else in this list of news stories right out of the conversation.
This was the year Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel, Hound Dog and perhaps half a dozen other million-selling songs . The first of these (Hotel) appeared in the number one position the end of April and that song or another by Elvis occupied the same lofty spot twenty-five of the year’s remaining thirty-six weeks.
1956 was the year “rock ‘n’ roll” became an angry epithet, blamed by psychiatrists and religious leaders (not to mention thousands of parents) for the rise in juvenile delinquency; some even said it was all a part of some Communist plot. Elvis and his pack of noisy imitators were called obscene and there were real riots at dozens of concerts. There were non-rockers on the record charts, to be sure, but it was Carl Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes and Bill Haley’s Alligator that became a part of the New Culture, not Gogi Grant’s Wayward Wind and Morris Stoloff’s Picnic. The war babies had come to teen-age.
Most adults in ’56 thought it was a fad and that “it” would go away. Most radio listeners believed otherwise. There were a number of rock giants on the popular music charts in 1956 and many had made their abrupt and rhythmic appearances there after serving an apprenticeship in the ghetto called rhythm and blues.
That’s what 1956 was: the teen-age 1776. There’d been rumblings earlier, but this year all the lines were drawn.
— Jerry Hopkins
Recreating one of his old radio shows from 1956 is Robin Seymour, who then was with WKMH in Dearborn, Michigan. He had come to this suburban Detroit station from Armed Forces Radio and soon his warm, confidential tone had won him teenagers and housewives alike. His BOBBIN’ WITH ROBIN show was the reason BILLBOARD named him Disc Jockey of the Year in 1953, and HIT PARADER magazine did the same in 1954. Today he’s in television and concert promotion in Detroit. For this album, Robin Seymour was the first of the seven disc jockeys in the CRUISIN’ series selected as the best living representatives of Fifties and Sixties radio from seven top American radio cities.
(Cruisin’ LP series notes by producer Ron Jacobs, for Increase Records; 1970).
And today, a Robin Seymour video message from 2010 . . . .
It’s What’s Going On In And Around The Detroit Music Scene….
Detroit — Columbia Records, Tom and Jerry Schoenith’s Upper Deck of the Roostertail and CKLW combined Monday, July 3 in an all-out promotion for Columbia’s Moby Grape. Columbia Records promotion man Russ Yerge brought the Grape into town that day and arranged with the Schoenith’s to have a special Moby Grape night at their club, which is normally closed Mondays. The public was admitted free. Paul Drew, program director of CKLW, co-operated in promoting the evening with a barrage of spot announcements about the free show. Drew also put the group’s single “Omaha” on his CKLW Big 30 playlist. All of the CKLW deejays, including Tom Shannon and CKLW-TV personality Robin Seymour, were on hand at the Upper Deck to introduce the Haight-Ashbury San Francisco band. The new group earlier in the day appeared on Seymour’s TV show. . . . Terry Knight is booked into the Chess Mate for two weeks beginning Monday, July 10. . . . The Bee Gees are coming into Detroit on a promotion trip Thursday, July 13. . . . Gordon Lightfoot is playing at the Living End the week of July 17. . . . Nanett (Fabray) was in Detroit Tuesday, July 4 to promote her Canusa record, “The Look Of Love.” END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; July 8, 1967).
It’s What’s Going On In And Around The Detroit Music Scene….
DETROIT — The Monkees concert originally scheduled for July 29 at Olympia Stadium which was canceled due to the riots, was rescheduled for August 13. WKNR, alongwith its promotion and production department, heavily advertised and was sponsor to the Detroit sold-out event, in conjunction with Dick Clark Productions. . . . The Pleasure-Seekers, an all-girl group from Grosse Pointe, are booked into Trude-Heller’s in Manhattan and have signed with Associated Bookings in New York. . . . The Grateful Dead played at the Grande Ballroom, a psychedelic ballroom-venue here owned by Russ Gibb, on Friday and Saturday, August11 – 12. . . . . CKLW-TV personality Robin Seymour is hosting a series of ‘Celebrity Nights’ at the Upper Deck at the Roostertail on Mondays. He opened on Monday, August 7 with the Rationals, Deon Jackson and Chris Peterson. . . . MGM promotion manager here, Larry Benjamin, is hosting a party for the Paupers to meet disk jockeys and the press at the Pontchartrain Hotel Wednesday, August 16. . . . The Kingsmen are booked to perform at the University of Detroit, Saturday, August 26. . . . “Bearskin Rug Sounds,” an album of readings by CKLW disk jockey Tom Shannon, did so well locally that it will be distributed nationally on the Sound label. . . . Walsh Allen has joined WJLB as operations manager. He spent three years as program director at Cleveland’s R&B WABQ. . . . The Jimi Hendrix Experience makes its first Michigan appearance at the Fifth Dimension in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, August 15. . . . The Spencer Davis Group is in concert at the Ford Auditorium here, slated for Thursday August 24. . . . The Motown Records sales convention takes place here August 25 – 28. END.
Addendum: For more on the WKNR 1967 “Monkees In Detroit” concert, see our previous MCRFB March 3, 2012 feature, here.
For more on Tommy Shannon’s “Bear Skin Rug” Music LP, see our previous MCRFB May 4, 2012 feature, here.
(Information and news source: Billboard; August 19, 1967).
DETROIT’S NO. 1 DEEJAY DEBUTS NEW TEEN DANCE SHOW
DETROIT — “The Lively Spot,” hosted by CKLW deejay Tom Shannon, bowed here on CKLW-TV (channel 9) on Monday, September 30, replacing the Robin Seymour “Swingin’ Time” show. The show will be seen 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday when it will be known as “The Tom Shannon Show.” He’ll continue his 6 to 9 p.m. on the CKLW radio station.
Elmer Jasper, director of programming for CKLW-TV, predicts Shannon will become a great favorite of Detroit young people on TV. Shannon joined CKLW four years ago. A song-writer, he wrote the 1963 hit, “Wild Weekend,” by the Rebel Rousers. He also wrote “Soul Clappin’,” a local hit currently playing in Detroit on the radio charts, as performed by the Buena Vistas on the Marquee record label. END.
(Information and news source: Billboard; October 5, 1968).
CKLW-TV Bows Show for Teens
DETROIT — A Canadian TV station, CKLW-TV, which also serves Detroit, has kicked-off an hour daily variety show for teenagers called “Swingin’ Summertime.” Host of the show, which features both live and taped segments, is Robin Seymour.
Among the artists appearing on the first show were the Rolling Stones, Gene Pitney, Dwayne Hickman, Paul Anka, Deborah Walley and Harry Belafonte. The show is telecast live before a teen audience at the CKLW television studios in Windsor, Ontario. END.
(Information and news source: Billboard Magazine; July 31, 1965).
Bandstand TV Scene Bears Watching — The Detroit Scene
HOLLYWOOD — Teen-age bandstand TV shows come and go–and a couple of important ones met their demise during the past few months — but over-all they seem more popular than ever. Especially at the local level. A quick check of some of the nation’s major bandstand shows found them not only doing well from the advertising sponsorship angle, but in audience ratings.
“Shebang”, for instance, has been sold out the past few months and has a waiting line of advertisers, said producer Bob Burnett. And, though the Los Angeles show is no longer in syndication, it reaches a minimum of more than 4 million daily via CATV distribution throughout Southern California.
Among those national bandstand shows that became drop-outs were ABC-TV’s network “Shindig” show. “Shivaree” dropped out of syndication, but the producers are working on a new format to have it back in syndication next month. The show is now seen in the Los Angeles area.
For the national shows, formats tell the story. A local show can usually do quite well because, as talent-coordinator Art Cervi of “Swingin’ Time” in Detroit puts it, “From the local standpoint, you got a raison d’etre because you’re hitting the people–the kids–who can and do appear on the show. You have an audience participation factor that let’s people identify with you.” The Detroit show out pulls national shows in the market, said Cervi.
The Detroit Scene
“Swingin’ Time” on CKLW-TV, Detroit, is an hour bandstand show during weekdays and the Saturday hour show concentrated on featuring record artists. But so many artists are now seeking to be on the show that talent-coordinator Cervi is using them on weekdays too.
Sponsorship for the show is good. The show is supporting itself and “it looks like its going to do much better,” Cervi said. “I think there’s room for a show like this in every big market. The only trouble some shows run into in various markets is that the markets are saturated with such shows. But we’re doing so well locally that Robin Seymour has given up his radio shows to concentrate on “Swingin’ Time’.”
Cervi said his show reaches 85 to 90,000 homes a weekday and around 125 to 130,000 homes during the Saturday show. END.
Addendum: Here’s several videos of ‘Swingin’ Time,’ hosted by Robin Seymour on CKLW-TV 9 in the 1960s. A young Johnny Rivers and Bob Seger enhances as highlights as they appeared on the show. The complete shows features the Supremes and the Rationals when they first appeared on the popular Detroit/Windsor TV dance show.
(Information and news source: Billboard Magazine; April 2, 1966).