1959 ‘FORMULA RADIO’ STIRS FUROR IN DETROIT… MARCH 30, 1959 – Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


August 9th, 2012

From the MCRFB news archives:

Veteran DJ Exits Sparks ‘Formula Radio’ Furor; WXYZ Ace Fred Wolf Responds To Backlash





From the MCRFB Aircheck Library, featuring:

WXYZ-AM – Fred Wolf – 1961.mp3

WXYZ-AM – Fred Wolf – Part 2 – 1961 – With Dick Osgood.mp3


DETROIT — The No. 1 topic among record and radio executives continues to be “formula radio,” with the local press, jocks, distributors and broadcasting brass taking aggressive stands — both pro and con — on the subject.

The furor, of course, was sparked by the recent resignations of veteran deejays Ed McKenzie from WXYZ radio here, and Eddie Chase from CKLW radio in Windsor, across from the Detroit river. Both jocks blamed “formula radio” for their departure.

The local newspapers had a field day after the Chase resignation, with CKLW radio making public charges of prevarication on Chase’s part for reasons of his leaving. CKLW president J. E. Campeau issued statements to the Detroit Times that Chase designed his statements “to cash in on the subject of (the) so-called formula broadcasting.”

Campeau added in the Hearst publication story that, “the truth is, we insisted that Chase, whose ratings were sagging badly, return to live broadcasting from the studios…. instead of doing taped shows from the lobby of a local theater…. services such as time signals. weather reports, traffic conditions and other public services he could not provide on a taped show. In six months, his ratings became the highest in Detroit for most of the afternoon time segments.”

The station president claimed that Chase continued to view giving the public added station services as unnecessary. Chase refused to comment on Campeau’s statement and charges until he officially leaves the station.

WXYZ’s Fred Wolf broadcasting ‘live’ during a mobile remote in Detroit in 1955

Fred Wolf, disk-jockey star of WXYZ radio and television, however did not hesitate in an end-of-the-week climax denouncement of opposition to “formula radio” to label it as “”live, live, live!” Castigating “old-timers” for not wanting to move, Wolf explained “formula” as “fast-paced production, station identification, less talk, more music.” Admitting he couldn’t sincerely endorse straight formula, Wolf said identification is the big thing…. “It takes a good man with personality, get-up-and-go and a live program to get away with formula.”

Wolf and station officials’ opinion on “formula” were clearly not shared by some others in the industry here. Decca branch manager John Schlee, Columbia’s Russ Yerge, Mercury and Dot distributors John Kaplan expressed themselves vigorously in the local press against “formula.” They frowned because their sales staff must spend more time with record dealers in order to get their records on the listings which the dealers give the disk jockeys as weekly hit tunes. They also dislike the “wearing-out” of a disk on radio DJ shows because they fear the public may lose some interest in buying their disk product, therefore possibly affecting any potential high volume return in sales. END.

Detroit radio veteran Fred Wolf broadcasting his morning show “live” from the WXYZ remote studio-trailer circa 1955

 (Information and news source: Billboard; March 30, 1959).

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life