Thursday, February 1, 2018

50 Years Ago Prog Rock & Mr. Rogers February 1968

February 1968 – Cue the Cowbell! 

Two very different but equally dynamic Radio personalities commanded our attention in February 1968:  

Dr. Don Rose honed his down-home style at WQXI/Atlanta, while Jim Stagg reveled in his popularity at his Chicago home station, WCFL.

Many high-profile Rock and Roll Radio DJs crossed paths as they crisscrossed the nation in their nomadic profession. Interestingly, both of these veteran DJs graced the air in San Francisco at one point or another, just not together …

Jim’s early career found him testing the waters in 1960’s City by the Bay at KYA. Not finding the avant-garde city his style, in less than a year, he hot-footed it back to the traditional Midwest. I’m guessing he never learned how to surf.

It would be another decade before Dr. Don skipped across the country to plant himself at KFRC. By 1974 the amiable Dr. Don felt his home and his heart, belonged in the cosmopolitan city, despite his corny, country-bumpkin one-liners. Cue the cowbell! We loved him.

What else happened in February 1968? Do you hear the sound of progress …?

February 1stWABX/Detroit decided classical music was on its way out, and they weren’t about to be left behind in the music revolution. Grabbing the Progressive Rock shiny new brass ring, they rolled over to a freeform style with a commanding presence through 1984. 
February 19th – Apropos! THIS month (2018), Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is in the news again, touting Tom Hanks as the star of a Mister Rogers biopic, You Are My Friend. It’s just in time to herald the show’s National Education Television debut on this day, 50 Years Ago! No, it has nothing to do with Radio, but you can’t deny Fred Rogers’ influence on the entertainment industry of that era … right up to this one. (Mr. Rogers moved to a heavenly neighborhood in 2003.)

Featured Radio Survey: A two-fer! Since we spotlighted two DJs above, and I just happen to have February 1968 surveys for each, you’re in luck! WQXI and WCFL surveys at your pleasure … 50 Years Ago This Month! Were you listening? "Love is Blue" (Paul Mauriat) led us into Valentine's Day on both sides of the continent. An instrumental that tugged at our heartstrings. Recall that awesome day when … 

Celebrate FEBRUARY 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!
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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

50 Years Ago 6-Cent Stamps +Wolfman Moon January 1968

Breaking News 01/18/18: Hugh Wilson, creator of WKRP in Cincinnati, the most fun and irreverent radio station not on real airwaves, left for Rock & Roll Radio Heaven January 14th. Thank you for the Rockin’ laughs, Hugh!

Always News: BFYP Rock and Roll Radio DJs: Book 1 (1950s) and Book 2 (1960s) ready at Amazon to take you boogieing down Memory Lane! Cheers to the Golden Age of Rock & Roll Radio ... Enjoy the moment ... again.

And now, flip on the mic, let’s Rock On back to 1968 …

Happy Retro New Year! It’s January 1968 … Again!

Ah, the good ol’ days … remember when 1st class postage raised from 5 cents to 6 cents? Oh, we were incensed!

At Blast from Your Past, we spend much time, in "remember when" pasts. There is a reason for that—the 1960s gave us the Golden Age of Rock and Roll Radio—and it’s still fun!

More than that, though, the era nurtured sweeping change, with music mirroring our attitudes. Mid-decade, radio chart Top Tens faded from Bubblegum Pop in ’61, ushering in girl-group sounds like “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” (The Shirelles) #1 at WIP/Philadelphia (January 23, 1961), to January 15, 1968’s #1 spinning at WLS/Chicago, “Bend Me, Shape Me” (American Breed).

Both love songs tugged at the heart strings, but “Tomorrow’s” violin strings were old school, compared to “Bend Me, Shape Me’s” heavy drumbeat and guitar riffs. An upbeat with a downbeat sound, reverberated through our growing pains as a new generation came to terms with war and discrimination. Musically, it lead us straight into the Heavy Metal era.

Heralding the mass manufacturing of portable, transistor models, Radio fought for its relevance, with the infamous boob tube. And like Rock and Roll, it proved Radio will never die. It simply shape-shifts into a different howling animal.

Which brings us to the animal we celebrate every January 21st, regardless of the year. Hint: Is it any wonder he was born under January’s Wolf Moon?!

Robert Weston Smith (January 21, 1938-July 1, 1995), self-described, “Original Rock & Roll Animal,” aka Wolfman Jack, turned a raucous 30 years old in 1968!

The iconic Radio personality is featured in the Blast from Your Past books, to which the series is dedicated. As a man, like all of us humans, Wolfman Jack had his foibles; as a howling Radio DJ and later, television host, he personified the innovation of broadcasting.

In January 1968, Wolfie and business partner, Mo Burton, enjoyed the fruits of their labors established in 1966, with a studio in Hollywood. Taping their shows stateside, they muscled their way over the airwaves of a powerful, towering Radio transmitter in Rosarito, Mexico. Olé!  

From the San Diego border, to Canada and points far East, Wolfman’s crusty voice boomed over XERB/1090’s radio waves and lit rebellious fires in impressionable teens.

Wolfman’s XERB strayed from Rock & Roll, pushing funky and soulful to the top three on its Soul 30 chart, January 3, 1968: #1 “Boogaloo Down Broadway” (Fantastic Johnny C); #2 “Chain of Fools” (Aretha Franklin); #3 “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell).

How’s your Boogaloo? Can you dig it! Ah, lay a little Soul on me …Have Mercy!*

Still perfecting his Wolfman persona in 1968, his transformation called for learning to electrify live audiences, in gigs up and down California. Though most comfortable behind the mic, he enjoyed thrilling his listeners. “Most of his fans had ‛never seen anything freaky-deaky like this.’ It was a more exhilarating high for him than any hallucinatory could produce.”** Polishing his stage presence would serve Wolfman Jack well throughout the 1970s. Aoooowwwwwoooo!  

As we strut into this 21st century New Year, take a moment or two for a January 1968 fun flashback, and Enjoy the Moment … Again!

Featured Radio Survey: WLS/Chicago hits the mark January 15, 1968, with a smiling image of BFYP DJ, Ron Riley, once briefly (and reluctantly) known as “Smiley Riley”—well before 1968, Ron lost the goofy personality name and was just a smiling, fun DJ. 50 Years Ago Ron rocked WLS! Were you listening? Recall that awesome day when … 

Celebrate JANUARY 1968: 50 Years Ago and … Rock On!
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** From BFYP Book 2, The Swinging Sixties; Wolfman Jack Part 3.

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