Sunday, February 7, 2016

50 Years Ago this Month – Batman Rocks Radio

1966 bore the weight of conflict and free speech. Those of us graduating high school in the late ‘60s teetered on the cusp of one extreme or the other. For many, our choices programmed the rest of our lives – into mainstream college and families, or experimenting with life and visionary innovations. But the country and we were still young.

Fifty Years Ago this Month, music played a crucial sanctuary for our insecurities, much like today. No self-respecting car cruising the drag was without a radio; and like televisions today, a radio commanded space in every room of the house.
Did your after-school job take a month to earn up to $40 for that Silvertone 4-speed automatic phonograph? Thumbing through the Sears (& Roebuck) catalog though, you could score an AM clock radio for half that. We were cool. California Dreamin’ … on such a winter’s day …
With our radios came those smooth-talkin’, happy-hawkin’ DJs who echoed our fears and soothed our tears … if only Batman could save the world!  

At WILS/Lansing Michigan, it was Batman to the rescue! Trading on the hottest show on television, the station’s “Top Sounds of the Week” for February 1966, featured “The exciting adventures of Bat-Fink and Rubin, the wonder-midget.” No, we were not particularly politically correct “in the day … 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

50 Years Ago this Month - Let's Go Trippin'

“Trippy, man” … and that’s how we began January, 1966 ~ 50 Years Ago this Month!  

Life is trippy even without LSD – better known as “Acid” – the hallucinatory craze of the late ‘60s. Well, I didn’t need any of the “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” to ride the whirlwind of life which threw me into a new location on New Year’s Day.

And before I could even get my bearings, the dreaded cold bug invaded my senses – ‘twas the season, ya know? All better now though, and ready to tackle an exciting New Year of pioneering Rock & Roll Radio DJs. How about you? Let’s get at it then – January, 1966 began … 

With New York City at a standstill, public transportation workers went on strike January 2nd and remained off the grid until the 13th. Meanwhile, recent high school grads were called up for a different kind of duty … 
The Face of Battle (AP/Horst Faas) by
Andrew H. Talkov

8,000 US soldiers landed in South Vietnam on January 18th, bringing the total number to 190,000. It would be a brutal year for our fresh-faced high school buddies. RIP

How did we deal with it? We listened to KYA/San Francisco’s now-legendary DJs, Emperor Gene Nelson, Johnny Holliday and the others, spinning “safe” sounds of James Brown, the Righteous Brothers, and Simon & Garfunkel. But that was all about to shape-shift into wild, vibrant, swirling colors ...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

50 Years Ago this Month – Soul Stretching

Like 2015, 1965 was a year of change, unrest, and innovation. As the people spoke out on racism, religion, and war, our music reflected the times.

Leading a poignant revolution, The Beatles released Rubber Soul (December 3rd), their landmark album that marked a change in their tunes, from purely moneymaking pop to introspective creativity. Peace and harmony? Not so much …

Sunday, November 1, 2015

50 Years Ago this Month – DJ Dan Ingram Spins Sloooow

While we planned for Thanksgiving 50 years ago this month, The Supremes swayed to their music on the radio, thankful for a sixth #1 Motown hit, “I Hear a Symphony.”
The Supremes hung for two weeks at #1 on WABC/New York’s chart for 11/23/65, and it was still climbing at #3 on L.A.’s KRLA Tunedex. But what event earlier in the month cut fans off from their favorite songs?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

50 Years Ago this month – Do the Wolfman Boogie

It’s ROCK-TOBER! Wolfman Jack LOVED “Howl”oween, for obvious reasons. His howl lit up the airwaves in 1965, but not so much in song. It may not have been October, but sometime in 1965 Wolfman Jack and The Wolfpack released a self-titled album (Bread label), with Wolfman Boogie, Parts 1 & 2.

Robert Weston Smith’s adopted persona didn’t begin with a rumbling howl and a pumpkin …  
Without a trick in sight, this month’s 50 Years Ago tribute is a sweet Halloween treat! In BFYP’s Book I (1954-1959), we explored Wolfman Jack’s youth. Enjoy the excerpt, and learn about the boy who became a wolf! Ooooowwwww!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

50 Years Ago this Month – Just Yesterday

August’s “Help!” slip-slides down the charts as summer melts into school. By the end of September 1965 it was clawing the charts at #13 on KGB/San Diego’s “Boss 30” Records.*

Does that mean we’d lost interest in The Beatles already? Not just no, but hell no. Their nostalgic tune lamenting they weren’t half the men they used to be “Yesterday,” struck a chord with the KGBeachBoys (station’s cutesy name for their DJs) grabbing the #1 spot.

KGB has always reveled in its slightly rebel reputation … as some of their surveys have recorded for posterity. And this month, someone there liked Ringo best …

Friday, July 31, 2015

50 Years Ago this month – Magical Mystery Tour Part 2
Help! It was a magical mystery tour …

All ears were glued to Rockin’ Radio stations, and eyeballs fixed and dilated on posters taped to the ceiling, as The Beatles launched their second US concert tour.

It began August 15th at Shea Stadium in New York, heralding the birth of “stadium rock,” as Beatlemania peaked.

NY radio stations, like WTRY (Albany) were in a ticket-giveaway frenzy, and lucky DJs like Lee Gray and Rick Snyder basked in the celebrity and summer sun. 
What was it like for fans and their fave DJs …?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

50 Years Ago this month – DJ Rick Snyder in WTRY Dream Job
BFYP DJ Rick Snyder was at home on the turntable at WTRY/Troy, New York, in July 1965. His story is coming up in BFYP Book 2. In the meantime, a couple of tidbits in a sneak preview!

“‘My mother played the piano, my aunt sang, and I played the trumpet,’ said Rick. ‘But the only music that was constantly available was on the radio.’

“One day he rode his bike across town to WOLF (Syracuse, New York) and watched Denny Bracken doing his DJ thing. (Another station with a studio window on the world.) Denny invited Rick and his friend into the studio. It didn’t take long—watching the DJ say a few words while the engineer did all the work—Rick was hooked.