Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On


August 20th, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1967

On The FM Band — WCHB Reaches Out To Jazz







1967 WCHB 1440 Line-Up (Detroit)

Detroit WCHB 1440 Line-Up 1967 (Click on image 2x for largest PC view).

DETROIT — “WCHB-FM “sells the hell out of jazz,” said Jack Millman, of Music Merchants, a leading distributor. WCHB-FM’s play of the “Groovin’ ” cut from the “Hip Hugger” album by Booker T. & The M.G.s. on Stax Records sold more than 20,000 albums in a month, Millman said, “and forced out the single. The first day the single was released, we moved 18,000 copies.”

Jack Springer is one of the most powerful air personalities on the station, “but all contribute. All go their own way,” said Millman. That station made Hugh Masekela in Detroit. When Masekela appeared at the Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, you couldn’t get near the place. I went by the club on a Sunday afternoon and there was a huge line outside.”

The station is now breaking a Cadet Records album called ‘Groovin’ With The Soulful Strings,’ he said. “Burning Spear” will likely be released as a single as a result of airplay of this album. The station is also giving Marlena Shaw, a Cadet artist, a big push with her “Go Away Little Boy,” has sold extremely well in the market because of WCHB-FM.

“The station does so well because the deejays are individuals playing good music,” Millman said. “The station may not show up on audience surveys, but I couldn’t care less. They sell products, and that’s all what counts.”

He said that Music Merchants advertises records on the station because of it’s tremendous impact on the public. “We don’t have to advertise, but we’re doing very successfully with it. Our accounts are now asking what we’re going to advertise next so they could get it in stock.” The radio advertising is followed by displays and personal contacts with retailers. Music Merchants has advertised product on radio for some time and has long-term contracts with CKLW calling for 30 spots a week and WCHB-FM. The distributing firm has its own advertising agency. END

(Information and news source: Billboard; November 11, 1967).

WCHB-AM Detroit Soul Hits from October,1967



August 13th, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1959

An Editorial | November 30, 1959





L A M E ,    H A L T    A N D    B L I N D


N E W   Y O R K   D I S T R I C T   A T T O R N E Y  Hogan and the Oren Harris Committee are boldly pursuing their investigations of the payola mess. This is all for the good, and may ultimately mean a better record and broadcasting industry — with cleaner business ethics and a fairer shake for the consumer.

Let us, however, urge the investigators to use utmost care in examining the evidence — in sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Many frustrated music men — out of step with current song and recording trends, see in the present goings-on a chance to a position of eminence. The ranks of the frustrated include artists, songwriters, publishers and record manufacturers — many of whom sigh for the good old days, blame their plight on rock and roll and construe that “rock ‘ n’ roll” is an outgrowth of payola.

Billboard November 30, 1959

Billboard November 30, 1959

T H E   C A N C E R   O F   P A Y O L A  cannot be pinned on rock and roll. Payola was rampart in the music business during the vaudeville era of the 1920s and the band era of the 1930s and 1940s. It did not affect major song trends then, and likewise, it is seen to have little effect in the 1950s.

The trend-setters are the Elvis Presleys, the Johnny Cashes, the Fats Dominoes, the Johnny Mathises, the Bobby Darins, etc. Artists of this stature make their mark despite payola. They make it because they reach kids with 98 cents in their pockets. They are the better arbiter.

Typical of the wild “evidence” being bandied about currently is the daily newspaper story about singer Don Anthony “whose record of ‘Careless’ became a hit on his own label, Barbizon Records . . . .”

Anthony made need police protection, as he claims, but his recording of ‘Careless’ never became a hit. Quite the contrary, all evidence indicates it was a complete bomb.

O T H E R    S I M I L A R L Y   W I L D   A N D  irresponsible pieces of “evidence” are lightly to come to light.

It would be highly unfair, and would do the record industry a great disservice, if irresponsible allegations by embittered has-beens were taken seriously by the investigators or the press.

There are many talented, creative peoplein the music business; there are many who are incompetent or no longer attuned; there are many who are, simply stated, evil.

The probers should aim carefully. A buckshot blast may do general and irreparable damage while missing the specific target: PAYOLA. END

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


August 12th, 2014

Motor City Radio Flashbacks logoFrom the MCRFB news archive: 1959

Spells Hefty Career Damage For Many; Finis For Some; Policy Shifts Likely





NEW YORK — Judging by events of the past week, one effect of the current deejay-payola probe is likely to be that of at least 25 disk jockeys (ranging in importance from the moderate to the biggest names), program directors, record execs and publishers will have been substantially damaged as far as their careers in the music business is concerned.

Some will recover, but other may truly “go down the drain,” in the words of Alan Freed, who lost both his jobs at WABC and WNEW-TV last week.

Budget Angle

WABC Alan Freed FiredOne of the most immediate effects of the probe may very well be a sharp decrease in the number of local record-hop type shows. Freed’s parting with WNEW-TV was said to have been at least partially sparked by AFTRA’s ruling that Freed (who reportedly was paid only $450.00 weekly for six-hour long daily TV shows) paid scale (about $140) to each act for lip-synching to records on his show.

Freed — and many other TV record hop emcees across the country — usually had from four to eight disks guests daily, thereby posing a practically impossible budget problem.

In line with this, station WJBK, Detroit, has said it had no intention of scheduling another “Detroit Bandstand” show replacement for emcee Dale Young, who resigned from that station last week, refusing to comment on the reason for his exit.

Tom Clay was fired from WJBK over the weekend, after he admitted accepting payola. Clay admitted he received about $6,000 over the last year and a half from small record companies. Another Detroit broadcaster, Jack Le Goff, was fired last week from WJBK after he aired an editorial defending payola “as a part of American culture.” Still another Detroit radio jock, Dom McLeod, resigned also from WJBK last week, making three spinners out in a 36-hour period.

Other Resignations

Although the payola probe wasn’t necessarily involved, several other deejays resigned from stations across the country last week. Joe Niagara moved his previously announced December 19 resignation date (from WIBG Philadelphia) up to last Monday (November 23) following a conference with WIBG managing director John C. Moler.

Three of Boston’s top jocks (Stan Richards, Bill Marlowe, Joe Smith) were given notice by WILD,in what was described as a move “to de-emphasize the role of the deejays and to emphasize the role of the station from now on.”

The WILD story suggests what many in the trade believe to be a strong possibility — namely that the probe may result in the selection of music being taken out of the hands of individual disk jockeys and program directors almost entirely.Confronted with a threat to their FCC licenses, station management may decide the only solution is to ride herd on record programming personally.

It has been suggested that they elimination of payola will mean the return of “good music” (i.e. non-rock and roll) to radio. However, station management usually places more emphasis on the importance of ratings than anybody else in a radio operation, so the only conclusion is that they will give the public what surveys and rating indicate it wants to hear — be it rock and roll, far-out jazz or the minuet. Ratings services, of course, have also been recently been accused of hanky panky.

‘Payola’ Not Defined

The word ‘Payola’ itself has yet to be defined. Some stations believe it perfectly proper for jocks to have ownership interests in publishing companies, record firms, distributing outfits, etc. — as long as they don’t infringe on station programming; while other consider such activities just as much a part of payola as cash on the line.

WINS Radio PayolaFor example, John V. B. Sullivan, general manager of WNEW, New York, says he doesn’t consider it real payola “unless it affects the music.” Consequently, said Sullivan, he has no objections to WNEW jockey Lonnie Starr’s ownership in a couple of firms. Because his investigations have shown they don’t show up on his radio program. In fact, notes Sullivan, last year the firm actually cost Starr $400.

Sullivan also said that, “I don’t care if Frank Sinatra wants to give WNEW jockey Bill Williams a Cadillac because Williams would be playing Sinatra record already — thus such a gift wouldn’t affect the music.”

Westinghouse View

On the other hand Westinghouse Broadcasting last week said, “WBC does not condone disk jockeys’ ownership of record companies, distributing companies, publishing companies or ownership of talent. That is because of the actual or potential conflict of interest between ownership on the one hand and the creative selection of programming on the other.” Westinghouse did not say if it would take any action if investigation reveals that any of it’s jockeys are involved in such outside activities.

Harold Anderson,  general manager of WINS, New York, agrees with WNEW manager Sullivan, in that he doesn’t think ownership of labels, etc., necessarily constitute payola. For example, he said the station is aware of jockey Murray  Kaufman’s publishing and recording activities but he doesn’t think they may influence the spinner’s programming, because jocks at WINS don’t select records played on their own shows.

The disks are selected by the program department, with the assistance of a rotating trio of jocks. Anderson said he is convinced “our people are perfectly clean,” and that instant dismissal would follow if he discovered anything to the contrary.

The happiest result of the probe should be that it will make payola deals so difficult to manage in the future, that legitimate forms of record promotion will have a tremendous resurgence moving forward. END

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

Motor City Radio Flashbacks

Where Detroit Radio Plays On

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