Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life


October 12th, 2017

From the MCRFB NEWS archive: 1967







NEW YORK — Rock ‘n’ roll radio stations around the country are getting deeper into the business of selling their own records. In many markets the stations are fighting not only a competitive radio station for audience, but the competition’s albums for sales. A few of the most prominent battles – both on the air and in the stores raging are between KRLA and KHJ in Los Angeles, WIBG and WFIL in Philadelphia, and between WIXY and WKYC in Cleveland. Other album wars are expected to get under way as soon as some program director strikes the first blow.

CKLW‘s Paul Drew, program director of the Detroit powerhouse, was debating over two different album packages last week. Such radio stations as KGB in San Diego, Calif., WCFL in Chicago, and WDGY in Minneapolis have put out albums. The raison d’etre, of course, has been promotion. All of the album jackets carry, in letters a mile high, the call letters of the radio station; many of the albums feature pictures of the station’s deejays. In addition to the promotional value, there have been some profits turned on the albums. Radio stations, as well as a few of the big name personalities, have sporadically for years made use of oldies but goodies albums for promotion.

Gary Stevens of WMCA in New York has an album, Murray the K has one, Hy Lit has had several, for example. R &b radio stations have occasionally done much the same thing. On rare occasions, some stations have put out special LP’s of new material – generally of local artists – as promotion vehicles. Not only do radio stations reap rewards from these albums, but record companies and music publishers pick up a bonus from masters singles. Some stations have put their own albums together (most are done by companies, who handle all details). WDGY in Minneapolis did its own album, negotiating with labels and publishers.

Johnny Canton, music director, and Scott Burton, program director, spent three months on the project. Canton said they made up a list of 24 songs that they felt were good enough for the album and “ended up with 12 good tunes. . . kind of lucked out on the whole thing.” Tunes included “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny and Cher and “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. The album cost WDGY about 95 cents a copy and was used strictly as a giveaway over a six-week period. Only 2,000 copies were used and “When you divide six weeks into $2,000 the cost of the promotion was not that bad,” Canton said.

Uses LP in Battle

KRLA, however, is using its album in its rating battle with KHJ. Volume I of the KRLA sold 60,000 copies in Los Angeles record stores, according to station executive Bill Wood. The album, titled “KRLA 21 Solid Rocks,” was on the Music City stores hit list three months and No. 1 on the list 12 weeks, Wood said. The station just recently launched volume II, titled “Son of KRLA 21 Solid Rocks,” is about 34,000 in sales and still climbing.

Dick Moreland, director of special promotions for KRLA, pointed out that there is nothing new or unique in the concept of a radio station promoting it’s own tie -in albums. “What does set the KRLA album venture apart from many efforts in this field is the fact that our LP releases have become much more than station promotion vehicles. Volume one and two of the “KRLA 21 Solid Rocks” albums have become first magnitude monsters. Our success stems from the fact that the station has maintained total control over selection of material, package design, merchandising, advertising, and promotion. Few organizations know as much about the youth market as do Top 40 radio stations. We simply put what we know about youth to use in selling the albums.”

KHJ put out a two -LP set retailing for $3.50. Out about a week, it was reported the album is selling well. Buzz Custio produced it.

In Cleveland, two Hot 100 format stations are in competition on the air and in the stores. WIXY has almost sold out its second 3,000 pressing of its “Super Oldies Album Vol. I.” Volume II should be out by Christmas. WKYC’s “KY Classics” reached local stores about a week ago. Both stations selected songs from 1961 on. WIXY’s LP ranges from “Runaround Sue,” by Dion to “Rescue Me,” by Fontella Bass. WKYC’s album includes “Soldier Boy,” by the Shirelles as well as the more recent “Little Bit O’ Soul,” by the Music Explosion. Both albums have pictures of station deejays on the back.

“We wanted to bring our listeners the best songs in one album,” said Dick Weber, WKYC’s music central. Weber received a plaque for breaking “Little Bit O’Soul” while at WCOL, Columbus. The WIKY album has 20 cuts, the WKYC
album 16. Both have interesting marketing touches. Part of the profits of the WKYC album, sold only in the 50,000-watt station’s listening area, will go to the American Cancer Society.

WIXY has tied in the selection of its volume II super oldies album with a coupon in the Plain Dealer’s (‘Young Ohio’) section. Teens whose coupon of five favorites of 1960-1965 contains a selected song will receive the volume I album. WIBG, WFIL Score In Philadelphia, money and promotion have been the rewards of albums by both WIBG and WFIL. In two months, the “WIBGage Hall of Fame” album has sold 50,000 copies, said program director Jim Marks. The album featured 22 tunes, ranging from “The Way of Love,” by Kathy Kirby to “Baby Don’t Go,” by Sonny and Cher. A Post Records product produced by Buzz Curtis, a line on the back of the jacket said: “More to Come!!”

The WIBG album was distributed through Raymond Rosen in all major record stores and departments. Marks said that Sears probably did the most on it … “Hank Kasper, who’s in charge of the record department there, is causing the entire Sears operation to sit up and take notice of what can be done in selling records.” The WIBG album was sold occasionally as a loss leader.

WFIL racked up more than 45,000 sales on its Volume I and Volume II is shooting above 50,000. Sold as a full price item through stores and rackers, the second album features a tune common to the competitive album of WIBG – “Hang On Sloopy.” However, the rest of the tunes range from “Eve Of Destruction,” by Barry McGuire to “96 Tears,” by Question Mark and the Mysterians. Jim Hilliard, program director of the Hot 100 operation, said conservative estimates was that the LP would make WFIL more than $5,000 and “We didn’t have to put up one red cent.” Deejays were featured on the jacket; the album was available in both mono and stereo; both Sears and Korvette were selling it. For a time, the album was third in sales in the market, Hilliard said, “right behind albums by the Beatles and the Monkees.”

Among the firms packaging albums are Lost Nite Records, headed by Jerry Greene in Philadelphia; Post Records, headed by Buzz Curtis in Philadelphia; Take Six Enterprises, headed by Dave Ralnik in Hollywood, and Original Sound. END


(Information and news source: Billboard; October 7, 1967)

SEVERAL MONTHS AFTER it’s launch, late-1963, WKNR stamped it’s “Keener” brand having marketed their first “oldies” album in 1964. WKNR would release three more, the last, 1967. WKNR also was the only station in the market having produced four “oldies” LP’s within a four-year span. CKLW followed suit having released their first album by early 1968.


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Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Memories From the Soundtrack of Your Life