Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


August 31st, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1967

Playlist shortened to 40 Top R&B Playlist; New Jingles by Quincy Jones Added; Quick-paced Delivery Will Be Central Theme




DETROIT — WJLB, Booth Broadcasting’s 1,000-watt R&B operation here, has just launched a new programming policy centering around tighter production, faster-pacing transitions, and has added a new set of custom-jingles by Quincy Jones.

Wash Allen, former 1967 WJLB program director in 2011.

Wash Allen, who just recently took over WJLB programming director duties after being transferred from Booth’s WABQ in Cleveland, said the Detroit station “would be running with a full-blast, exciting young sound.” Play list will be 40 records, to which he will add as necessity demands. “You can never tell how many good tunes will come out in a good week,” he said.

The aim will be to add consistency in programming, Allen said. He felt that his philosophy was the same as Bill Drake, consultant to RKO General stations, and Paul Drew, program director at CKLW in Detroit. “Certain top tunes must be played consistently and deejays must be consistent on their shows. One deejay can’t make a radio station; it has to be a total operation and this is a new concept in R&B radio. In the old days, one guy could make a radio station; he could make a record. It can no longer be like that today.”

WJLB 1440 AM radio deejay lineup; late 1967. (Click on image for larger view)

Things are changing so fast in radio, especially in R&B radio, that Allen felt that many older deejays  were finding it difficult to grasp what was happening. “To some extent,” Allen said, “it was necessary to teach radio to these people. It wasn’t anybody’s fault that this situation developed. It’s just that times are changing and a radio station has to move with the times.”

Allen begin his radio career with WVOL in Nashville while attending Tennessee State University. He had been with WABQ for about two-and-a-half years before moving to WJLB. He considers himself “a derivative of Ed Wright,” who’s been program director at WABQ prior to joining Liberty Records as head of its Minit label. Allen wrote the lyrics and produced the Quincy Jones jingle custom package. Future plan calls for psychedelic-themed jingles as well.

Station WJLB has brought in new equipment and is building up its news department. In Martha Jean Steinberg and Ernie Durham, Allen felt he had two of the top air personalities of any station in the nation on board. “Now, with the new equipment, we have everything to work with.” END


(Information and news source: Billboard; September 23, 1967)


August 30th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1965






Keener’s Swingin’ Sweeney may have had more that his fill when he quit in August 1965. Bob Green, left, looks on.

DETROIT — Frank Sweeney, music director and morning air personality on WKNR “Keener 13” radio, resigned Saturday, August 14, after completing his morning show.

Frank Maruca, program director at the station, said that Paul Cannon, former all-night talent at the Top 40 station, has been named music director. Jim Jeffries of sister station WKFR in Battle Creek, Michigan, has been brought in to handle chores on a temporary basis.

Maruca said Sweeney had been planning to give up his air time on August 23 to devote himself strictly to music director duties. He did not give any reason for Sweeney’s abrupt resignation from the Detroit station. END



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

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August 29th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1967

CKLW New Detroit Singles Champ





NEW YORK — CKLW, 50,000-watt Hot 100 format station in Detroit, has taken over as the leading influence on sales of singles records in the market, according to a Radio Response Survey just released by Billboard for publication.

WKNR lead last year by a wide margin. This year, CKLW had 55-per cent of the votes of record dealers, distributors, one-stop operators, and local and national record company executives — all whose business depends on record sales. The survey depicts not only a leading ability to influence sales of products, but a large teen and young adult audience. WKNR had 45 per cent of the votes.

Tom Shannon of CKLW was the leading deejay influencing singles sales, according to a Billboard survey dated October 2. WJR lead WXYZ by a thin margin in ability to influence sales of albums, indicative of a large younger adult and adult audience combined, as well as an ability to influence them to buy product. Bill Drake, RKO radio consultant, was hired by CKLW earlier in the year.  END


(Information and news source: BillboardNovember 4, 1967)


Besides playing the national Hot 100 hits, CKLW also was playing some of the greatest hit records that ever came out of Detroit (including Bob Seger) besides Motown — here’s just 4 from the CKLW BIG 30:

For the week of August 29, 1967, “Heavy Music” by Bob Seger is at the #4 spot, after just two weeks on the guide… “To Share Your Love” by the Fantastic Four is at #6, only three weeks after its debut on the BIG 30 survey… “You Gotta Pay The Price,” the instrumental by Ric-Tic’s own Al Kent, is just below at #7, another fast-climber after just three weeks… “If This Is Love” by Detroit’s very own Precisions, climbed to the #13 spot overall, after just two weeks on CKLW…

On the national pop and R&B music scene: “Some Kind Of Wonderful” by the Soul Brothers Six was on the CKLW playlist for eight-consecutive weeks… “Little ‘Ole Man,” by Bill Cosby, and “Never My Love,” by the Association, had just debuted a week earlier on the CKLW BIG 30 guide…

“Ode To Billy Joe” by Bobbi Gentry was the No. 1 song for the second-week in a row… and that’s just some of the BIG 30 hits that were played on CKLW 800 during the week of August 29, 1967.

CKLW August 29, 1967 (click on image 2x for largest chart view)


August 25th, 2017

A ‘BROADCASTING’ WWJ 950 AD PAGE RIP: October 22, 1962 (On your PC? Click image 2x for largest view. On your mobile device? “Stretch” image across your device screen)


August 25th, 2017

A ‘BROADCASTING’ WWJ 950 AD PAGE RIP: November 19, 1962 (On your PC? Click image 2x for largest view. On your mobile device? “Stretch” image across your device screen)


August 25th, 2017

A ‘BROADCASTING’ WWJ 950 AD PAGE RIP: December 17, 1962 (On your PC? Click image 2x for largest view. On your mobile device? “Stretch” image across your device screen)



August 24th, 2017

A ‘BROADCASTING’ WKNR 1310 AD PAGE RIP: March 09, 1964 (On your PC? Click image 2x for largest view. On your mobile device? “Stretch” image across your device screen)


August 24th, 2017

A ‘BROADCASTING’ WKNR 1310 AD PAGE RIP: August 17, 1964 (On your PC? Click image 2x for largest view. On your mobile device? “Stretch” image across your device screen)


August 23rd, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1964





HOLLYWOOD — Concert promoters are taking a second look at the British bands as financial reports indicate that the romance between the long-haired lads and their adolescent admirers may be cooling — at least at the box office.

Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas circa 1964. (Click on image for larger view)

Ironically, America’s Top 40 radio stations are playing the British groups with dominating force, indicating that what happens in the concert arena has no relation to what makes a station’s playlist.

In a recent Las Vegas gig, the Dave Clark Five drew around 3,000 teens in the 8,000 seat Convention Center for an $8,000 gross, causing the Thunderbird Hotel and Vegas’ radio station KENO to suffer an unexpected loss. The same group had grossed $10,000 in Minneapolis but local promoter Ray Colihan lost $4,000 on the date. He paid the British band $25,000 for two dates, one in Des Moines. It was also reported that Colihan lost a larger sum promoting a concert with the Rolling Stones earlier this year.

The Rolling Stones cost one Chicago promoter by the name of Ed Pazdur $5,000 when they bombed in Cleveland earlier in November. The group had been booked in the 11,000 seat Public Auditorium with a $44,000 top gross potential.

The Rolling Stones show was in trouble when city fathers took exception to the news that young girls had withdrawn their savings from a bank and flown to England to visit the Beatles. Cleveland’s mayor Ralph Locher decreed that rock and roll contributed nothing to the city, casting the Rolling Stones show in a bad light. Pazdur has the Dave Clark Five booked for Thursday, December 17.

Gerry & The Pacemakers circa 1964. (Click on image for larger view)

Other reports have reflected the same mood elsewhere. A British rock show in Ottawa, Ontario, fell on it’s face when the unit only drew 1,957 paid admissions in the 6,000 seat YMCA Auditorium. The bands headlining the show were Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, along with Gerry & The Pacemakers on the billing as well.

It is known that American publishers and now the promoters are concerned over the slipping box office appeal of certain British acts who are presently touring the concert circuit here.

As one publisher had stated, “This situation ought to be brought out into the open so that the disc jockeys would be fully appraised as to what’s happening. They’re playing the British records like they’re the only ones selling. But these same acts are bombing in person.” END


(Information and news source: Billboard; December 12, 1964)


August 22nd, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1967

Drake Blasts Recording Reps for Tabbing Him Tight-Play Addict





NEW YORK — Bill Drake, program consultant who has been just hired to consult all RKO General radio stations, including CKLW in Windsor/Detroit, lashed out at record reps who would tag him with the image of a tight playlist artist.

Bill Drake circa 1962

Drake, who scored ratings successes at KFRC in San Francisco and KHJ in Los Angeles, was in New York last week trying to work his magic on an FM station — WOR-FM, a stereo operation that had already made a sizable dent in New York ratings with a rock ‘n’ roll format. One of the first moves Drake did make was hire Gary Mack, formerly at KHJ, at WOR as program director of the station, replacing Art Wander.

As for other changes at the station, Drake said he would would try to improve the presentation of the music and the content. “The station will continue to play a lot of diverse album music, aiming at the 18-35 age group. It’s going to be rock, using every type of LP cut. Oldies would have a lot of influence…. a lot of Motown product, for example.” He said that other radio stations under his banner have been playing album cuts, “but to take an album and put it in the control room and say the deejay can play from it, is the same fallacy a lot of stations make in saying Sinatra is a super star. You don’t play Sinatra for the sake that he’s Sinatra; he’s had some bad cuts too. You don’t play Dylan for the sake he’s Dylan, Sinatra for the sake he’s Sinatra, Motown for the sake they’re Motown,” Drake concluded.

“The object is to play the good Dylan, the good Sinatra,” he said. And a lot can determine this. People working at the various stations guided by Drake listen to every cut of every LP, every single. Drake credits his success to “hard work and the good people working with me in striving for total success.”

Swap Information

Information between the stations is exchanged in writing, there are conference telephone calls on the music itself, as station personnel all exchange playlists. “But the music playlists at various stations vary an awful lot. This actually gives us the opportunity, contrary to opinion, to expose and test nine times as many records as anyone else. If a radio station plays three new different records each week that the other stations are not playing, this would run to 27 new records each week.”

Basically, he felt his radio station policy isn’t just to play the top few records . . . but he does advocate not playing “losing” records. “The object is to play winners. It’s good for us, it’s good for the record companies. If you consistently have weak records on the air, it’s obviously going to limit the amount of exposure you can give a strong record.”

“I could never understand why record companies wouldn’t be irritated because their good product was being hurt by the amount of weak product sometimes played.”

Fresh Product

Drake does believe definitely in playing new records, saying his stations were spinning LP cuts by the Jefferson Airplane before the group hit paydirt with their recent single, “Somebody To Love.” “You’ve always got to have fresh new product on the air… good new records… whether by some new or known artists. Otherwise your station winds up with a staleness.”

Bill Drake circa 1971

Playing records by and for hippies will not lead to a successful radio station; he felt. he believes the whole of the San Francisco movement is a myth. Request radio is also too narrowly aimed . . . “What’s wrong is that these stations get the teenage listeners. You want them too, but not exclusively. Younger kids are the only ones, however, who have the time and patience to dial for a particular song they want to hear on the radio. They aren’t going anywhere anyway. Because they have more time on their hands than older people have.

The object of winning radio is to please everybody without going after just them. “You play ‘Happy Together’ by the Turtles, ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On,’ by the Supremes . . . those are monster records everybody likes.”

Still, aside from the “monster” policy, Drake’s stations for the most part, do allow for some leeway. Tom Rounds, he said, picked up on “Ode To Billie Joe” early and began playing it under the assumption that it was going to become a monster hit on the chart. The record hit the chart a week ago like gangbusters and is still climbing.

Obviously, so is Bill Drake, currently rising fast with WOR-FM in New York and CKLW-AM in Detroit. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; August 12, 1967)

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life