We Never Called It Content

Larry Lujack, The Real Don Steele, Robert W. Morgan, Dale Dorman, Ron Lundy, Salty Brine, Bob Steele, and so many, many more. These names I’ve dropped are all no longer on the radio. Terrestrial radio anyway. We radio geeks like to think they are now Rockin’ N Rollin’ the hinges off the pearly gates.

Everyone can understand the circle of life. People retire, people pass on.

But this past week saw the “forced retirement” of more big names in radio. Two of them that were on Los Angeles radio have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They delivered, according to what I’ve read in the trades, excellent audience ratings. So what happened?

Bill Gates once famously announced “content is king” as we entered the Internet age. Microsoft would give businesses WORD, EXCEL, PowerPoint etc. The business schools graduated a whole gaggle of spreadsheet nerds who excel at these computer tools. The Telcom Act of 1996 was the beginning of the consolidation of radio and when Wall Street would jump into this wonderful new investment opportunity.

When you look at radio stations via spreadsheets, you primarily are reducing everything to numbers. It completely eviscerates the human element from the decision making process.

Nobody turned on Steele, Lujack, Morgan, Dorman, Lundy, Brine, Steele and the rest of radio’s iconic personalities and said, “I’m going to get me some great content.” We turned on our favorite radio station because the people behind the microphone were members of our family. We enjoyed spending time with them. We knew that what we were experiencing, they were experiencing right along with us. They were local & live.

Radio is an art form. When you remove the artists, there’s not much left.

Radio is a pretty simple business. You play recordings people want to hear, you keep your hand on the pulse of the community you’re licensed to serve and report on what’s going on that people need to know and you hire personalities that become the audio glue that keep it all together running smoothly and engage the listener.

To support the expense of doing all of this, you work with businesses to expose their products and services to the audience you’ve attracted to your radio station.

The irony with today’s radio is that more radio stations operate out of a single location than at any time in radio’s 95 year history, but with less people per station than at any time in that same history. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rick Moranis (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) return to make a new movie about today’s radio called “Honey, I Shrunk the Staff.”

Frederick Allan “Rick” Moranis, a native Canadian, was a disc jockey on three Toronto radio stations back in the mid-70s performing on the radio under the name “Rick Allan.”

No one has a clue how much the employment in the radio industry has shrunk as the industry rushed to consolidate. What we do know is when you walk into any of these huge clusters; there are rows of empty cubicles, offices that are no longer occupied – it can be depressing.

I’m not saying that radio, like every other business, shouldn’t be running more efficiently and taking advantage of technology to control the costs of operation. But the buzz you hear is that the fat cutting has become cutting the bone.

As Ken Levine wrote in his blog about the state of the radio industry:

“In the past when a great disc jockey got fired he would simply show up elsewhere. But who knows today? Nobody is hiring. They’re all just firing.”

Today’s radio is being driven by Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations trying to put a pretty face on the new strategy. But radio is more than just studios, transmitters, and now websites/social media, radio is made up of people, albeit fewer of them by the day.

Radio was never a just a job. Radio was a mission inspired by people who were passionate about all the medium could be. Everyone inside a radio station worked towards this common goal, just like the people at Google, Apple, Southwest – to name a few – do.

People didn’t get into radio, radio got into people.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio

70 responses to “We Never Called It Content

  1. It’s funny that failing radio stations haven’t tried the one format that could help them in local markets — covering local news with a local team of news reporters instead of scrapping news and just having nameless, personality-less syndicated DJs screaming nonsense all day.


    • Vic Doucette

      The problem with that idea, as much as I would love to see it happen, is that an all-news format requires more employees than any other format. You need anchors, reporters, producers, writers, and so forth, far more people than if you just wanted live, local DJs.

      I am fortunate to live in a market with an all-news station that is generally excellent. But the company that owns it has been sold, and I fear that layoffs and a reduction in local content (there’s that word) is coming.


  2. E. Curtis Johnson

    Well stated, Dick. This is one of the best summations about the heart and soul of radio that I’ve ever read. The state of the industry you describe is why I’ve hung up my head phones for good after 37 years on the radio.

    E. Curtis Johnson

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done. Very well done…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely right! It’s sad, what “corporatization” has done to radio.


    • Radio had corporations before the big change of the Telcom Act of 1996, but that new law saw the flood gates open up with investors who didn’t know or care about radio as so many radio folks did. We see similar results occur in every industry that is over-taken by spreadsheet wielding MBAs.

      Things you can measure don’t always count and things you can’t measure often do.


  5. Jerry Wells

    Absolutely right! “Corporatizatio” and deregulation has ruined radio. Maybe one day after the big corporations have lost enough money, the pendulum will swing back.


  6. ws1o

    Hate to say it, but Homo sapiens is at a stage where the financial rewards of any endeavor are paramount. Think about it; consider farming, music, film, cooking, building cars, theater, information technology, sports, politics, etc, regarding just about anything you can name, craftsmanship and art has been thrown out where it doesn’t contribute to more efficient, immediate ways to make money. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee any time soon when that will be changing.


    • Interesting you should say that. Similar thoughts are rattling around in my mind about this very thing but not quite ready to come out yet.

      Stay tuned.

      Change may be closer than you think. But how it comes about may not make any of us any happier.


  7. rob cowan

    Interesting that you brought up Rick Moranis. We were best friends growing up and worked together as the comedy team of Cowan & Moranis in 1975-76. While I was doing evenings at CJOY in Guelph, Ont. at 1460 on the dial, just down the road and down the dial at 1430, Rick Allen was doing “swing” at CKFH in Toronto when the afternoon drive slot opened up. At his suggestion, I pursued the job and was invited to do a “live” audition one afternoon at CKFH. I had to call in sick at CJOY and was scared to death that someone in Guelph, would hear me, and I’d be summarily dismissed. Fortunately, I got the job. Rick then decided to go back to York University and we pursued the comedy team thing (about 2-3 years ahead of our time) and then Rick was invited to do afternoons at 104.5 CHUM-FM in Toronto. Rick Allen had done overnites at 680 CFTR and had worked with some of the greats there, like Chuck Christian, Doc Holiday and Duke Roberts under the PDship of George Johns, before going to CKFH. It was Rick Moranis though, who worked at CHUM-FM. I later did a couple of years as a weekend and swing guy at CFTR myself, before going back to CKFH, which was then CJCL, having changed its call letters upon the sale of the station by Foster Hewitt to Telemedia, based in Montreal. Radio was so much fun, wild and creative back then. Very little of all of that remains now, including literally thousands of jobs throughout the industry, that no longer exist..


    • Thank You Rob for sharing that piece of great radio history!

      You had the opportunity to work with the great George Johns?. You’re a lucky dude. He certainly wrote a lot of great American radio history after he crossed the border {glad we didn’t have a wall up. (j/k)}.

      You worked with fabulous folks at some incredible Canada radio stations. Enjoy those wonderful memories.


      • rob cowan

        Actually, it was only Rick who got to work with George Johns. I was hired at CFTR by Bob Saint and fired by Sandy Sanderson but you’re right. I did have the opportunity to work with some great people over the years, including Bob McCown, Larry Silver, Mike Marshal, Mark Hebscher, John Gilbert, Andy Barrie and a PD who at one time had the most extensive vinyl record collection in existence, Jim Kidd.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Al Smith

    Some great radio personalities. However, it should also include the always creative Gary Burbank.


  9. Dick, the tragedy of what’s become terrestrial 21st century radio is timing. DeReg of the ’80s, then the Comm Act of ’96 gave all the greedheads in the business carte blanch to cheapen the product, lay off their best better-psid talent in all depts. & plug in thr bird at a time when tbe internet was lying. in wait to occupy people’s spare time. It was also a time when local cable TV became a significant affordable local advertising medium. In short. the broadcast execs got all they wanted, slit open the geese that laid them their golden eeggs and let them rot. Only significant local/live will resuscitate radio as we knew it. It’s something that the web & other media cannot reproduce.


    • So much of our media history is “timing” Rich. You’re so very right. Timing is what gave America a commercially supported radio world vs a government controlled one; like the rest of the world at that time.

      Timing (and power) is what moved the FM band from the piece of spectrum Armstrong was running his successful Yankee Radio Network on to where it sits today (due to David Sarnoff).

      Sarnoff would also delay the introduction of a higher quality TV picture with color to get on-the-air quickly with B&W.

      The timing of WWII caused everyone’s patents to go into a pool so America and the allies could win the war. That really caused broadcasting to explode after the war ended in a way had those patents not have been pooled might not have happened.

      Timing, as they say, is everything.


  10. There are still many great small and medium small market stations out there. Some radio people have the Walmart mentality lamenting that there are only one or two big radio companies that exist ,and nothing else. There are thousands of stations that still entertain communities in our country everyday. You just need to look for them. I am sad when I travel in a small community and hear a 24 hour satellite feed from a national network that has been around for 30 years, with mismatched liners, several seconds of dead air when joining a break, or rejoining a break one minute into a song. With computer and VT technology you can sound very local on a budget. On another note, with increased competition, sales has to be part of the equation. How many major market personalities would stay on board if they were told tomorrow you gotta start selling? This is what smaller markets have done for years to survive. I was not a fan of the Telcom Act of 1996, but half of the stations at the time were losing money. I wish it would of been implemented in a different way (such as a cap on how many stations could be owned nationwide by one company).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your input Damon. Some of the best radio is being done right here where I now live, in Kentucky. Many Kentucky radio stations are owned and operated by local broadcasters. I wasn’t addressing them.

      I wrote my blog today after reading about some famous air talent that were being “signed-off” who still are some of the big names in radio broadcasting today and doing on-air work as good as at anytime in their career; maybe even better.

      In an ad supported media world, the problem has become an infinite supply of ad space (broadcast, print & online) and a finite supply of ad dollars.


  11. Curt Krafft

    There is really nothing I can add to this. You hit the nail right on the head. Without the human AND local factor, radio is soulless. And that which has no soul contributes nothing to the general good. Excellent article.


  12. How the hell could a radio station lose money unless it was run by a complete idiot? I never saw an owner of even the most rinky-dink sad little station eating beans, for them it was lobster, caviar and Cadillacs…while the DJs ate mac & cheese but at least they got laid and lots of free albums. You’d have to be brain dead to not be able to make a station turn a profit.

    Well, OK, come to think of it, that explains why there may be some stations that lose money…..


    • T. Jay Dexter

      Brian said, “I never saw an owner of even the most rinky-dink sad little station eating beans, for them it was lobster, caviar and Cadillacs”

      There was a reason for most of that…Trade. The owners got the good stuff, while the DJ’s only got to play their commercials.


  13. Pingback: We never called it sex | The Odd is Silent

    • T-Rob, your blog post had a lot of meat in it. Thank you for amplifying on my thoughts and expanding the conversation.

      After I posted my blog post this morning I read this blog post by Greg Satell on “Why Business Defies Logic.” It too, illuminates the problems faced by broadcast.

      In essence, broadcast radio has been operating in a period with “Joseph Effects” and with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) finds itself operating with “Noah Effects.” And this business dilemma occurs across all types of businesses and industries; not just broadcast.

      To really understand what I’ve savagely condensed, I urge folks to read this blog post: http://www.digitaltonto.com/…/why-business-defies…/…


    • I wondered what had happened. I’m still learning how WordPress works.


  14. Janelle moi

    Radiois certainly Not the same… My x-husband was on radio for years so was my son & my brother-in- law…they are very talented & funny!!! It’s such a shame it has changed soooo much! They hire & Fire so quick too! I was in television for years & the same thing happened there!!! Very sad!


  15. Warren Cosford

    “Stevie Nicks wound down the evening with a last minute plea for The Music Industry, which she pointed out was in a “sad state”. “Go to Concerts, buy albums, listen to the radio”, she pleaded as she took her final bows”.
    Toronto Sun, June 23 2007.

    What Stevie Nicks was decrying is what she senses is The End of An Art Form. In Music, On Radio.

    What is an “Art Form”?

    From what I’ve seen, it’s being absolutely Masterful at Your Craft. Every day you wake up prepared to try Something New. On Radio, you know “It” when you hear “It”. Your hand instinctively turns The Volume Up. It takes God Given Talent. But it’s still a lot of work.

    Mostly though, it’s just having No Fear. No Fear to be willing to go where others just haven’t thought of going. Risking Everything.

    I LOVE spending time with Special People who “Get It”.

    When I went to Windsor/Detroit in ’93 to “fix” Radio Four I knew I was going in to try to do something where many others had tried and failed. So….I contacted two people who had tried and SUCCEEDED in Detroit under Challenging Circumstances.

    Think about it. Makes sense doesn’t it?

    Dick Osgood was the last surviving member of the group of people who created The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and Sergeant Preston et al at WXYZ Detroit. In 1994 he was 97 years old and insisted that he drive his car to meet me.

    Rosalie Trombley had been The Music Director of The Big 8 CKLW. I didn’t ask her age.

    Two Different Eras. Two Wonderful and Talented People who understood The Art of Radio. I spent some time with both. Conventional Radio had pretty much forgotten them. They were surprised to hear from me. Happy to educate me about What Makes Detroit Special.

    Dick and Rosalie were The Spark. Each, in their own way, had helped to create Radio Stations from The Outrageous Thing.

    In a little over two years later, Radio Four in Windsor/Detroit became CHUM Group Radio’s Third Largest Profit Center.

    From Nowhere to #3.

    And while people may always associate me with The CHUMs of The 70’s and 80’s, Radio 4 was My Greatest Programming and Operational Challenge because I started with So Very Little from So Far Back.

    For the first time since The Big 8 of the 60’s and 70’s, Detroit Radio was paying attention to Windsor.

    The Secret? On each station as with Dick Osgood in the ‘30s and Rosalie Trombley in the ‘60s, I started with creating programming elements which grew from…..

    “The Outrageous Thing”.

    If “it” could be found in Research.
    Then everyone would be doing it.

    HOWEVER…I don’t mean to say that there is not a Role for Research in Radio. There is. But it SHOULD NOT replace The Art of Radio. It should follow it. And today….too often…it does not. Why? Research is Easy to find. Art is not. And The People Who Create the Art are often Volatile, Difficult, Headstrong and…..well….Cosmic.

    Art Creates New Things. Something Radio has not been doing a lot of lately. Research only follows.

    So….will Radio as An Art Form disappear? I think not. I hope not. Could it? Some would argue it already has. But they don’t hear as much Radio from as many different places as I do. Real Radio may have been overwhelmed by The Consolidation of Mediocrity so you won’t find it in The Trades….but it’s Out There being Preserved and Evolved by The True Believers.

    As I drive around North America, I hear it from Beaumont TX, Dayton OH, Covington LA, to Mobile AL and more. I still discover something new and worthwhile to listen to about once a week. Occasionally I drop in to say hello. It’s a Memorable Day for all of us.

    For Dick Osgood, Radio Theatre was “Art”.
    For Rosalie Trombley The Drake Format was “Art.”
    Will Radio that inspired The Transistor Under the Pillow Passion of at least 4 Generations be The Next to go?

    Not if The Kids of Tomorrow hear Passion from The Kids of Today. And are prepared to do The Outrageous Thing.

    Warren Cosford

    Liked by 1 person

    • Warren, THANK YOU.

      I talk about the radio history that was made by WXYZ in Detroit and their radio dramas in my History of Broadcasting in America Class at WKU.

      And I play the documentary of “The Big 8 – CKLW” and the powerful role played by Rosalie Trombley in making the magic happen with her music direction.

      I would LOVE to spend time with you and talk radio.

      Your very detailed and thoughtful response to what I wrote captures everything I feel about the POWER of radio and how you make the magic happen.

      I tell my students that radio is not like it was when I was attracted to it and worked in it for over forty years. Heck it changed just about every one of those years too.

      Radio is what YOU make it. I’m merely teaching you the fundamentals. The things that never go out of style. What you do with them and how your create the radio of tomorrow is up to you.

      I think I’m going to add to that going forward “Do The Outrageous thing.”

      Thank You Warren Cosford for mentoring all of us in what GREAT radio is all about.


      • Warren Cosford

        Hi Dick:
        Happy to see that you still have The Spirit of Radio, congratulate you on bringing so many of “us” together and for encouraging and inspiring The Next Generation at WKU.

        I’ve written many articles over the years about my experiences in Media and consider myself blessed to have worked in Radio at The Dawn of Rock and Roll. At the moment I’m exploring the possibility of compiling many of them in a “book”, but not until I can figure out how to include Audio.

        As you enjoyed “The Outrageous Thing” I suspect you may enjoy a slightly different approach to much the same topic.

        “Extreme Becomes Mainstream”.

        Extremist: “One who goes to extremes. Farthest removed from the ordinary or average: radical, outrageous” – New Webster’s Dictionary

        I got the feeling sorry for myself the other day. Two radio friends had died within a few days of each other. Three others lost their jobs. It was getting so I didn’t want to answer the telephone. Particularly if it was from Canada.

        Here in the U.S. there’s a lot of concern about the economy, but most are optimistic. The glass is half full. In Canada, most of the people I talk to believe the glass is half empty.

        My peers and I began our careers in an optimistic profession. Radio and records were booming. Many believed you could work for a company, grow with it, and live happily ever after. Today, the young people in our business, and most ‘90’s businesses, have no such belief.

        Often, there are lessons in history. The people who made radio and records happen probably think of themselves as entrepreneurs. I think most of them were really Extremists – people who did radical things outside of the ordinary and average – and had the courage of their convictions to stay focused on what they believed, despite criticism, ridicule and even outright hostility.

        Over the years, there have been many Extremists in music, but the first I knew of in rock and roll was Elvis. As a teenager, he was mocked for his hair and his clothes. As a musician, he was booed off the stage. But he stuck to it. Eventually he broke through. A significant part of the mainstream embraced the extreme and was changed forever.

        Of course Elvis wasn’t the first nor the only music Extremist of his time –he just unlocked the door. Outrageous rockers such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis opened it for a generation of Extremists who would create the new mainstream. Radio embraced it. Todd Storz, Gordon McClendon and Bill Stewart created a radio station in Kansas with a playlist of 40 records. Pretty extreme. But before too long Top 40 radio became the mainstream.

        The Beatles’ music was not extreme at the beginning. But the members of the band were. Their hair, their clothes, their attitude. Their music evolved into the mainstream. Long records, the LP as an art form, revolutionary recording techniques, symphony orchestras, album cover art. The Beatles didn’t do it all first, but the band made it possible for everyone else later. The Beatles, once again, made it OK to be extreme. The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and a multitude of others broke through when a radio Extremist named Tom Donahue created a radio format for them in San Francisco.

        People with vision. The Rebels. Some of my favourites are John Hammond at Columbia Records, who was a senior citizen when he signed Bob Dylan. Think about it. Would you have signed Bob Dylan? Phil Spector built a wall of sound and rocked the music business establishment. Emet and Nesuhi Ertegun and Jerry Wexler brought a black sound into the white mainstream. And Berry Gordy brought a white sound into the black mainstream. And even my old friend Steve Popovich resigned a cushy job at CBS so that he could launch his own label to release Meat Loaf. No one else would release it. Too extreme.

        In radio, Bill Drake made Top 40 a science. Later, in New York City, Scott Shannon and John Chaffee Jr. re-invented it with Z-100 and The Morning Zoo. Ed Cossman narrowed the niche with disco WKTU.

        In Canada, some of the music extremists were Capitol’s Paul White who released The Beatles in mid-1963. His counterparts in the U.S. almost missed The British Invasion boat. Ray Daniels and some friends recorded a niche band called Rush and picketed CHUM-FM to get it played. Warner Music’s Kim Cooke was considered a little strange as he fought to re-package old records as boxed sets, which incidentally, helped Dave Booth and Colin Escot find their niche writing liner notes.

        In Canadian Media, Allan Waters proved that you didn’t have to have long hair to be an Extremist. He turned a daytime teen station into an Empire. Gary Ferrier, Walter Soles, Pete Griffin and Larry Green evolved that vision into CHUM-FM. It’s not accident that Moses Znaimer’s vision at CITY-TV didn’t find its legs until CHUM took it over. And while you a read a lot about Bob Pitman giving birth to MTV in 1981, you are unlikely to read about Bud Pierce and Marcy Martin at CITY-TV planting their own video seeds in a less fertile field in 1978. I know, because I’m proud to have worked with them.

        Even radio sales has had its Extremists. I heard them snicker when CHUM’s John Wood created radio’s first regional sales department. Only John and his staff are laughing today.

        Now those are just some of the Extremists I know, or have met in radio and records. There are literally thousands more in other businesses. Most were initially derided as, at best, weird or, at worse, anarchist. All of them had two things in common; they loved what they were doing – and they were driven to do what they did.

        Recently, even the staid conservative country music industry has become Extreme. The first hint of it I heard was the Steve Earle album in 1986.

        I was working at CHUM at the time and trying to figure out what to do with 92.7 in Garden City, New York if Ron Morey “won” it. Sean Ross, who was writing the Gold column in Radio and Records suggested “Punk Country” Sean was kidding. Steve Earle wasn’t. It was a great record. Not really country, not really rock. It had attitude. Steve’s U.S. label was trying to “break” it country with no luck.

        I played Steve Earle for CHUM-FM PD Ross Davies. He loved it. Or at least liked it enough to add it. In Canada, Earle became an AOR act, and sold gold. I was impressed enough to attend the Big Country Awards in 1987, write a column about the experience in RPM, and predict that country would be “the next Big Thing”. I called it “Music for Adults by Adults”, but that’s another story.

        A few months later I went to New York and launched Modern Rock WDRE. We became America’s first Top 40 Punk station. Radically extreme. Our PD became Modern Rock’s PD of the year.

        When I came back to Canada in 1989, one of the stations I ran was BX-93 in London. At that time, a typically disguised AC/Country station. They were even playing Lionel Richie. We hired a new PD, Ian McCallum and, of course, added Steve Earle and dropped Lionel. But by then there was a lot more radical country to choose from so, to introduce it, we debuted a new show we called Renegade Country. That’s where Garth Brooks and The Kentucky Headhunters were first heard on Canadian Radio.

        This radical approach to country radio helped earn BX-93 more than one million hours tuned, both full coverage and central by the Fall of 1991. It also got Ian and I an invitation from Ross Reynolds to speak to MCA’s Marketing people. I’m sure some of them thought we were crazy, or at least, that we had some pretty extreme ideas.

        In today’s world, we need Extremists more than ever, as radio and records don’t seem to be as relevant as they once were. It’s unlikely to be the veterans who will step forward. Much like Robin Williams’s character in the movie Hook, many have forgotten where the magic came from. No, the future will more likely come from the rookies. Remember that the next time the A&R guy won’t return your call, the music director always seems to be in a meeting, the PD doesn’t reply to your employment application or ownership decides that creative bottom line management means buying new equipment and putting you out of a job.

        Music’s future may not be tied to “conventional media”. Radio’s future may not be as interwoven as it has been to music. Be patient. Keep your eyes, ears and imagination open. Because it’s a great time to make a difference. Change is in the air. All over the world the opportunities are there as more than the Berlin Wall falls. Change is opening the door as never before for Extremists. Depending on where you sit, it’s called either Revolution of Evolution. But for sure, it is Opportunity. Just check the headlines:

        EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE. NO IDEA IS TOO OUTRAGEOUS TO CONSIDER – Preston Padden, executive VP for Broadcasting


        DON’T BE TRAPPED BY CONVENTIONAL WISDOM – Jack Rivken, research director, Smith Barney Shearson

        Being an Extremist isn’t easy. Nothing worthwhile rarely is. There’ll be hoops to jump through, walls to climb, rivers to swim. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some allies. Most likely you won’t. But don’t let it get you down. Gather strength from the lessons of history and carry on. After all, you only go around once. Step out. March to a different drummer. And remember, most of us can see, but few of us have vision. Good luck.

        Warren Cosford’s “drummer” has marched him through Canada’s first country FM in the ‘60s, international music documentary syndication in the ‘70’s, music video, modern rock and young country in the 80’s and Canada’s first radio duopoly in the 90’s. This article was written in 1992


      • WOW. Color me speechless.

        I would agree that were living in a time of great change. Revolutionary change – not evolutionary change. And in times like this great opportunities exist for those with vision.

        Thank you for sharing your vision.


  16. Al Smith

    Dick. Didn’t notice it was a deceased list. At my age it still appears current. But good call. Of course they are all very much alive in our memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Al…they really ARE still much alive in our memories.

      I didn’t want to speak for anyone who could speak for themselves. There are really too many GREAT air personalities that influenced me to mention and I’m sure I’d leave someone out. My goal was to give a flavor of personalities from coast-to-coast and from some different formats who owned their town.

      Bob Steele at WTIC was named a VP at the company and his morning show had higher ad rates than the network TV stations in Hartford, CT but he wasn’t a DJ per se.

      Interestingly, people outside of these radio markets who have heard some of these people might wonder why they were such a hit. A quick air check review doesn’t fully reveal the magic they made in the service area of the radio stations they operated on. You had to live there to fully “get it.”

      And that’s why spreadsheets miss so much. Talent can’t be viewed only by the numbers. You have to experience talent.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Mark

    Thank you very much for this article, I wondered what happened to Larry Lujack, I grew up listening to him in IL when I was a kid, he was one of the reasons I took part time gigs in college and after when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I also quickly found out how little DJs made (at least starting out) and moved to a different career field. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Dick Taylor Blog: Your Sunday Good Read |

  19. Radio used to be “Theater Of The Mind” Now, there is no mind left. Technology, for all its wonders, has taken a once very grand business and sent it, for the most part, packing. A few major players own a stupid number of stations within a market. Competition within itself. Little creativity, little personality, little community service, voice tracking, read the liners and let the music do the talking. I walked away 1996 and miss the people more than the business, because of what it’s become. In the last 5 years, i’ve moved to the internet. I’m my own Owner, PD, MD, Announcer and Chief Engineer. My playlists are not restricted and my listeners like what I play. Over all, Terrestrial and Satellite Radio may have more people tuning in, but for how much longer if they keep on the path they’re on…………….


  20. To Whom I Lent My Autographed Copy of Superjock (sometime between 1974-79) and Never Returned It: I’d like it back, please. Thank you.


  21. Brian Keinath

    After the 30 yrs in radio I spent loving (most of) it, I now rarely turn it on anymore and even most of my CDs haven’t seen sunlight in years.


  22. Sue C

    Radio is still the greatest medium. There are still some great small stations in Chicago. The legends you listed were true talents. I would stay up late many nights listening to Eddie Schwartz. Probably not the smoothest but he loved his listeners and introduced us listeners to many amazing characters of Chicago. It’s so sad when talent is removed from a station. You feel like the station has kicked out a family member. I also feel like the stations are trying to cater to milenials and they are NOT listening to radio. Great article. Thanks for the memories.


  23. Mike Taylor

    Like you said: “Radio was never a just a job. Radio was a mission inspired
    by people who were passionate about all the medium could be.” And, I
    truly believed: “People didn’t get into radio, radio got into people.” I loved
    it for 43+ years, however the sad state of radio today made me hang up my
    headphones for good!


  24. TheBigA

    This sounds like a lot of old people bemoaning their lost youth. The DJs in the article all date back to the 1960s. That was 50 years ago! The DJs who recently left the LA station were all well beyond retirement age. Whatever happened to retiring? That’s the real question? How can radio ever expect to have a “next generation” when entire generations have been unable to get started because the previous generation refuses to retire? Not just at the major markets, but even in the small towns. The morning guy at my old station in NJ is almost 80! There are only so many radio stations. Only so many morning drive slots. If the boomers refuse to retire, there’s no place for the Gen Y DJs to go. What Dick Taylor forgets is that radio once actually did REAL art, which was radio drama. What happened to that? It was replaced by screaming DJs playing rock & roll. If we’re going to shed a tear for the DJs, why not also shed one for radio drama? The aging boomers forgot about the Golden Age of radio because they were the ones who destroyed it for the same profit motive we have today.. Now that the next generation is doing the same to their memories, it’s viewed as a sin. We need to embrace change, not fear it. Embrace the next generation, not attack it. Otherwise, radio will join the rest of the art, in stuffy museums that require federal funding because they can’t get advertising.


    • All of the radio drama stars you mention moved to TV when that broadcast medium came along.

      And radio stole its talent from Vaudeville basically ending that form of entertainment.

      Change occurred every one of my 40+ years in radio. I’m not afraid of change.

      What I’m saying is that radio needs leaders who look beyond the quarter. Leaders who understand that the best way to build a solid bottom-line is by growing the top-line.

      And I think we are starting to see those kind of folks re-entering the business.


      • TheBigA

        I agree that radio benefited from the death of vaudeville. And now, local radio is like vaudeville in the 60s. Why? Because there are bigger audiences, more money, and less work in other places. All of the DJs you list came from the days if clear channel AMs, when it was possible to be heard in 26 stations from a single station. Today, you can be heard in 50 states with voice-tracking and syndication. If you’re a talent, that’s the job you want to have, not doing local radio at a small station in Kentucky. While you’re crying about Charlie Tuna losing his job in LA, he’s happy that he’s going to be heard in more markets, playing songs HE wants to play, with no boss telling him what to do. Don’t cry for Charlie Tuna. Charlie is going from being an employee to an owner. That’s a great thing. He recognizes that there is a market for what he does at a lot of radio stations. That’s what top quality talent wants today, and why it’s harder to get them for local radio.


      • Radio didn’t “benefit from the death of Vaudeville,” it was because of radio that Vaudeville was put out of business.

        And unlike when TV took those same stars from radio, radio re-invented itself into a new entertainment medium.

        Charlie Tuna has had his syndication biz going for some time now, so this is not something new. It now is what he will devote all of his time to doing.

        And finally, there are many fine broadcasters in Kentucky. Scooter Davis at WBVR here in Bowling Green left Nashville to plant roots here in Kentucky and has been on-the-air for 34 years doing the morning show. The big stars truck up I-65 to be on his show.

        Here’s a story on Scooter done by our local TV news station. He was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, but is keeping a positive attitude while fighting it. He’s also staying on-the-air.



  25. Yep, back in 1964 I was able to phone in to Cousin Brucie at top 40 format WABC, a 50,000 watt clear channel station that was still “local,” and hear him mention on air that I was running for student council president. Good luck making that happen today.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: “We Never Called It Content” EXTRA | DickTaylorBlog

  27. Just did a podcast with Larry Gifford’s “Radio Stuff Podcast” about this blog. If you’d to hear more about what I have to say about all of this, you can hear it here: https://soundcloud.com/radio-stuff-podcast/radio-stuff-113


  28. spotmagicsolis

    Reblogged this on Synchronicity is taking terrestrial radio into a *better* digital future. and commented:
    What makes #radio special. Certainly it’s NOT “content”.

    Liked by 1 person



    Liked by 1 person

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  34. Warren Cosford

    Wow. Haven’t been here in a while. Nice to see it pop up in my email.

    First performed on the Radio when I was 10…..and that was 1955.

    Did someone mention Rick Moranis? I think he may have actually be “on” four stations in Toronto CKFH, CFTR and 1050 CHUM as Rick Allen. None of them for very long, in fact 1050 CHUM only for an all night audition. So I think of Rick as really only being “on” CHUM-FM because it was Afternoon Drive and we were the #1 FM in Toronto. It was Duff Roman who gave him the shift. I inherited him in 1977 when Duff quit as Q-107 and CFNY signed on the air. Pete & Geets were the morning team and Geets didn’t like being told what to do so when he left I put Moranis on the air for a week as Pete took some holidays. The Billboard Convention happened to be in town. People were complementing me on my Morning Show. I said…hell…that’s my standby Morning Show. I’d never been a PD before. I thought…”this is a pretty easy job”. But….The People Upstairs wouldn’t let me make Rick my Morning Man. Rick had been doing some Standup Comedy weekends in a Church Basement. He asked me for a 6 month leave of absence so he could go to LA and try The Comedy Store. I gave it to him….thinking that if he came back I might still have him for mornings. Three months later he asked for his job back. Apparently there were a lot of funny people in LA. But he didn’t come back for long. A pal of his at CBC Radio persuaded him to join them. He wouldn’t have to wait to perform at the end of 20 minutes of non-stop rock. From there it was SCTV and The Rest as They Say…….

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Tom Taylor’s NOW (4-24-2018) writes: “On-air talent is a huge draw” for AM/FM radio listeners, says Lauren Vetrano, Director of Content Marketing at Cumulus/Westwood One. She presents results from a new study with Vision Critical/MARU, and says “We asked 2,617 consumers how they felt about radio personalities. The results show a strong affinity and trust that marketers can use to their advantage in audio creative.” 68% of respondents “were able to name their favorite AM/FM radio DJ, personality or show.” More than half (52%) “say the main reasons they choose to listen to their favorite station” are specific people or shows. Lauren says “having a connection is about more than just preference…listeners develop loyal relationships based on humor and trust.” Read “The relationship between personalities and listeners is personal” by clicking on the link below


  36. Pingback: Play Records & Meet Girls | DickTaylorBlog

  37. Joey reynolds

    So many good things have been said about the past in slogans
    “Progress is our most important product “ was a great slogan
    “Change we must” thank you yoda
    The favorite of mine is an old ATT slogan
    which is more relevant , “if you dont choose one, one will be chosen for you”!
    There is a difference between morality and ethics-
    Busy pointing out sexlives of those who are seemingly immoral, yet we lack ethics.
    For instance
    Underneath of these complaints are about dismissing someone is because of age
    We the broadcast community in partnership with the govt are not being ethical. Every time you put money as the goal it fails you.
    Money is a server and a reward for work performed well.
    Radio is a servant to the public not the banks
    However we need change with ethical choices
    If we did not change we would be wearing starched pilgrim collars and be accompanied by a chaperone to get laid.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Joey reynolds

    Thank you tom for your work of keeping the flame of imagination lit
    Radio has a lot at stake
    I would like mine medium rare

    Liked by 1 person

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