WXYZ DUMPS TOP 40 ‘DETROIT SOUND SURVEY’ . . . MARCH 18, 1967 – Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


June 9th, 2012

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1967

WXYZ-AM 1270 Switching Over to A ‘Good Life’ Sound; Drops Top 40 ‘Detroit Sound Survey’



From the MCRFB Jingles Archive:

WXYZ – The Good Life Jingle Package – 1967  (Click on for audio play)


DETROIT — Unable to carve a niche in the torrid rock and roll field here, WXYZ introduced a “Good Life” sound here last week in a drive by new operations manager Joe Bacarella to create the station’s own audience with a new format appeal, slated tentative for March 5. The new sound hinges almost entirely on uptempo songs from a playlist of 150 tunes.

WXYZ-AM, until recently, was a top 40 station in the Detroit market going against WKNR-AM and CKLW-AM. WJBK, currently an adult-oriented conservative music station, made the switch several years back, dropping top 40 music by August, 1964.

Joe Bacarella

The records played will include everything from up-tempo tunes by Henry Mancini to records by Sonny and Cher and the Herman’s Hermits. But Bacarella emphasized that only the big band sounds of artists like Sonny and Cher and Herman’s Hermits will be played.

Records like Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” said Bacarella, features a big band sound. “Whereas at one time the Herman’s Hermits put out tunes featuring only the group, today their records features many more instruments than just the group itself. Ramsey Lewis’ ‘Wade In The Water,’ if you listen closely, contains that big band backing.

“It’s what’s happening in today’s pop music. It’s good to hear that rock beat, but nothing can compare with a Buddy Rich doing it.”

Bacarella, who came to WXYZ two months ago from Detroit’s WCAR, says the station will feature WNEW type deejays and a WIP (“work in progress”) format. The 150 tunes includes two selections each from 50 albums and 50 singles. Artists played, besides those already mentioned, include Peggy Lee, Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra, and Eydie Gorme.

The format features 12 albums in four categories — male vocal, female vocal, group, and instrumental. A new playlist is compiled anytime the station may feel the need.

As part of it’s new image, WXYZ recently brought in the deejay duo of Howard and Martin and have invested in a fantastic promotion campaign behind the team. Bacarella said the station was also out to establish a “show business” image to correlate with the “Good Life” music sound for a new Detroit audience.

When Tony Bennett recently appeared at the Roostertail nightclub, the entire deejay staff taped interviews with the artist and Howard and Martin did a show from a script with Bennett for their program.

So far, the reception to the new WXYZ changes overall “has been excellent as had been expected thus far,” Bacarella said. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; March 18, 1967)

WXYZ's new morning team Harry Martin and Specs Howard

WXYZ’s new morning team Specs Howard and Harry Martin.

“The Sound Of The Good Life”

WXYZ – The Good Life Song (Edit) 1967

WXYZ – The Good Life Song (Female) – 1967

WXYZ – The Good Life Song (Male) – 1967

A MCRFB Note: By the time Joe Bacarella arrived at WXYZ (from WCAR) on January 16, 1967, station manager Chuck Fritz had just finalized the deal in ink when hiring the duo of Martin and Howard from Cleveland’s WKYC as the new morning team on 1270.

From the MCRFB Aircheck Library:

WXYZ-AM – Harry Martin and Specs Howard 1st Show – 1967

Martin and Howard made news in print in Detroit when first introduced on December 5, 1966 (Click on image for larger view; scan courtesy Jim Heddle Collection)

It was a big investment. Reportedly, WXYZ agreed to pay the two personalities $48,000 each, with another $20,000 going to the team’s personal writer, an individual by the name of Ray Koeppen.

The very next day, on January 17, the duo was surprised after meeting with ABC brass from New York that WXYZ was dropping the top 40 format for MOR instead, much to their “devastation.”

With the new MOR format at WXYZ in place, Martin and Howard were never given the complete freedom the comedy team had celebrated during their eight-year run at Cleveland’s top 40 WKYC.

By early 1968, the highly-invested Martin and Howard team tanked within earshot of a dismal 4.0 rating for the morning drive. Shortly thereafter, after much anticipated acclaim, the comedy-duo were finally dumped by the ‘XYZ brass. Martin and Howard were finished and done in Detroit. Dick Purtan, who was hired at the station for afternoons after returning back to Detroit from a very short stay at Baltimore’s WBAL, was then promoted by Bacarella to be the new morning man at WXYZ.


Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life