U100 WYOO AM/FM Minneapolis/St. Paul Revisited

September 15, 2021

45 years ago today, the greatest radio station in Twin Cities history pulled the plug and went dark. Now of course, that’s my personal opinion and many will disagree. But in my mind, U100 aka “The Supah Yeww” will always be the ultimate radio station to ever grace the Minneapolis/St. Paul airwaves.

U100 was actually two stations simulcasting as one: 980 AM and 101.3 FM. These stations began life as WPBC, the People’s Broadcasting Company. Husband and wife team Bill and Becky Ann Stewart owned the stations. The format was best described as Easy Listening. Or, as WPBC put it in their promotional announcements: “Playing more of the prettier, popular music for easier listening.” The Metropolitan Opera was broadcast on Saturdays. Rock and roll was absolutely forbidden on WPBC. It was rumored that Becky Ann even went as far as to scratch out album cuts which were “too loud” with the point of a compass in order to keep the airstaff from playing them.

In 1972, WPBC AM/FM were sold to Fairchild Industries. The stations were split and both formats were flipped. WYOO-AM 980, “The New YOO in the Twin Cities”, broadcast a mix of mostly 1950s oldies and nostalgia programming. WRAH-FM 101.3 “Rah-dio for the Twin Cities” was automated, focusing on rock album cuts. The results were disappointing, both in terms or ratings and advertising revenue. Less than 2 years later, management made the decision to flip both stations to an AM/FM simulcast hybrid Rock/Top 40 format.

U100 was born on August 26, 1974. Live at the Minnesota State Fair, Program Director Rob Sherwood abruptly brought an end to WYOO’s Oldies format. Upon throwing a music cart across the trailer, he promised not to play any more “turkey records.” Rob then played Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends”, announcing that since he had left KDWB five months earlier with this song, “I guess I’ll come back with this song. A new era in Twin Cities broadcasting…as we introduce you to boogie! Are you ready to boogie?” This was followed by a montage of the entire U100 jingle package. Which in turn was followed by the J. Geils Band’s “Give it to Me.”

In many ways, U100 was an innovative station, far ahead of it’s time. For starters, they broadcast in FM Stereo as well as standard AM. This was a big deal in 1974. All of WYOO’s competitors were available on AM only. The format was “Rock 40”, more than 10 years before Dan Kieley coined the term at KKRC/Sioux Falls. Sure, U100 played the current Top 40 hits by KC & the Sunshine Band, Wild Cherry, Hall & Oates, and Elton John. But they also played album cuts from Led Zeppelin, Yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many others. They also played the longer album versions of current hits, rather than the short “45 versions.” Two that immediately come to mind are “She’s Gone” by Hall & Oates and “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship. The latter was somewhat controversial due to it’s racy lyric content.

Which leads me to the most important reason I loved U100: their DJs were radical. Always pushing the envelope. The station even billed itself as “OUTRAGEOUS!” in their promotional literature. Drug references were subtle but frequent. The infamous “U100 Grabs Me” T-shirt had a pair of hands strategically placed right where a female’s ‘special features’ would be. Afternoon jock Chucker Morgan called himself “The Mother Chucker”, a play on words for you-know-what. He also hosted “Chucker’s Leak Line” where kids could call and leak test answers to other students. Parents and teachers hated that feature. Teenagers loved it! Each weeknight at 10:30, “Boogie Check” allowed listeners to call in and speak their mind, tell a joke, or whatever. I had just started the 7th grade at Valley Middle school when U100 went off the air. It was an absolutely huge deal around school. Many kids wore their U100 T-shirts backwards or inside-out in protest. It was like losing a friend. More than any other radio station, it was U100 that inspired me to pursue a career of my own behind the microphone. John Records Landecker of WLS was the jock who had the most influence on me, but WYOO was my most influential station.

Why did U100 die? Depends on who you ask. Some claim it was simply impossible for them to compete against 3 other well-established stations. Minneapolis/St. Paul was unique in that it was the only market at the time with FOUR Top 40 outlets. KDWB-AM 630 and WDGY AM-1130 had been playing rock and roll since the 1950s. KSTP AM-1500 was a fairly recent convert to the format but had the money and the muscle of Stanley S. Hubbard’s Hubbard Broadcasting behind them. All 3 of U100’s competitors had bigger budgets and larger promotional warchests. Others claim that Doubleday (KDWB’s parent company) made Fairchild an offer for their FM frequency that was simply too good to pass up. By this time, it was early 1976. Top 40 stations had begun migrating from AM to FM in select markets. Smart programmers and owners knew the future of this format was in high fidelity FM stereo, not scratchy AM mono. In any case, the FM station was sold to Doubleday and would become KDWB-FM 101.3. Since FCC rules prohibited a company from owning more than one AM and one FM per market, the AM facility was sold to local Beautiful Music broadcaster WAYL-FM.

Just before midnight on Wednesday, September 15, 1976, U100 night DJ JoJo Gunne played the station’s signature song: Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” At it’s conclusion, JoJo thanked the audience, saying “Remember, I love ya”, kissing the microphone, and then “We gone, bye bye” into Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from My Friends.” At the song’s conclusion, just a hurried Legal ID: “WYOO AM and FM stereo Richfield now leaves the air.” The transmitter was quickly turned off, presumably to comply with the 12:00:00 deadline. Just like that, the greatest radio station in Twin Cities history was gone forever. Across town, KDWB overnight DJ Mark Ranier gleefully announced “and they just went down for the last time!”

At 6:00AM on September 16, KDWB began their 101.3 FM simulcast as “The All New KDWB, FM-101 and AM-63.” On Monday, September 20, WAYL assumed control of the 980 AM frequency. I find it amazing how a station that was on the air for barely 2 years had such a profound effect on Twin Cities radio and it’s listeners. To this day, people in Minnesota still remember and reminisce about “The Boogie Station”, “Fun Lovin’ Super U”, “The Acapulco Gold Countdown”, and of course “Boogie Check.” For those of us lucky enough to grow up in that time and place, the day the music died was exactly 40 years ago today. Right On, Supah Yeww!

Holiday Brand Electronics

May 6, 2020

If you’re in the Upper Midwest, you’re no doubt familiar with Holiday Stationstores. If you’re over the age of 50 and grew up in Minnesota, you will also remember Holiday Village. Long before Walmart or even Kmart, Holiday Village was Minnesota’s original superstore! If Holiday didn’t sell it, you didn’t need it.

One of the things that made Holiday unique is that they had a huge selection of “branded” merchandise. Soda pop, motor oil, charcoal lighter fluid, fishing line, games, toys, paint, automotive supplies, even Christmas lights could all be found with the Holiday nameplate on them. Electronics, too. As you might have guessed, the radio and TV department was where I spent most of my time whenever Mom or Dad would take me to Holiday.

Recently, I came across a Facebook page entitled Fridley Holiday Village 487. This is a must-see for anyone who is interested in the history of Holiday stores. Apparently, the page creator was an employee at the Fridley, Minnesota Holiday Village (487 was the number that corporate assigned this particular store.) The page contains several photos, including some of vintage Holiday brand electronics. Each Holiday Village store carried the complete line. Some of the more popular items were also sold at Stationstores. This was especially true in smaller towns where there weren’t many places locally to purchase radio equipment.

This is a basic AM transistor radio from the early 1970s. It was manufactured under various brand names and in several different colors. Everyday price was around $4. Once-in-awhile, you could find a coupon in the local newspaper which would allow you to grab this little gem for the unbeatable price of $2.98!

Another simple AM pocket radio. I believe this one is a bit older, dating from the 1960s. During this time, it was common for radios to promote the number of transistors they contained.

Everyone needs a clock radio! Also from the early 1970s, Holiday sold this unit for about $10. It wasn’t a fancy model. Sensitivity and selectivity were about average. But it did a great job of waking you up in the morning to the sounds of your favorite local AM station.

Holiday’s 1972 Christmas Catalog featured this neat-o pair of walkie-talkies. Like the first pocket radio, these were also produced with several different nameplates. They came in a blister pack and were displayed on peg hooks. I bought a pair in 1975, paying the same everyday low price of $9.98. Which was amazing, considering that price inflation ran rampant in the mid-1970s. Transmit frequency was 27.125 MHz (CB Channel 14), receive frequency was everything since it had a very wide regenerative receiver. Range was advertised as 1/4 mile but was actually more like 1/10 mile. This was your basic “kiddie talkie” from back in the day.

Another, slightly older pair of Holiday walkies from the 1960s. The interesting thing about this particular model is that it did NOT use Channel 14, as did nearly all of the “toy” transceivers. Instead, it used 27.065 Mhz which was CB Channel 9. Yes, the emergency channel! Why? Because Channel 9 was not officially designated as the emergency channel until 1969. After that time, most of the kiddie talkies moved up to Channel 14 where they remained until the 49Mhz migration of 1978.

Finally, a vintage Holiday portable reel-to-reel tape recorder! This gem comes with everything you need, including earphone and carry strap. I’m not sure of the age on this unit, but I would guess it to be mid-to-late 1960s. By 1970, cassette recorders were becoming commonplace, replacing the reelers. Especially in portable units.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the heyday of Holiday electronics! If you have additional photos, please send them to me so that I can share with everyone on Drew’s Radio Site!

Coronavirus Killed the Radio Star

April 27, 2020

Coronavirus. COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2. Whatever you choose to call it, this pandemic has dramatically transformed life as we know it. Businesses are closed. People are being ordered to remain in their homes. Entire industries have been destroyed, seemingly overnight. Radio is not immune. In fact, radio may prove to be one of COVID-19’s biggest casualties.

Terrestrial radio was in trouble before the coronavirus. Large broadcasting conglomerates had endured several rounds of layoffs and terminations. AM radio in particular was on life support in many cases. Then came COVID-19. Sponsors immediately began cancelling or severely cutting back on their advertising. After all, if your store or restaurant is closed, there’s not much sense in spending money to promote it. Radio stations reacted by furloughing staff. Due to “shelter in place” orders, remaining air talent began broadcasting from home. This is likely to be a permanent trend, regardless of when the pandemic ends.

I expect many stations to go dark as a result of this sustained lack of incoming revenue. Those which were just barely making it pre-COVID will be first to turn off the lights. Standalone AMs with poor signals and tricky directional patterns are the most likely victims. These operations will be deemed to be no longer viable, unable to generate a profit. Licenses will be turned into the FCC and the frequency allocations deleted. FMs are not immune, either. Especially those which rely on automation for all or much of their programming.

As always, the survivors will be those stations who continue to serve their communities with live and local programming. Yes, that’s expensive, but it’s also a necessity now more than ever. These broadcasters are likely to be get the most support from their advertisers. Let’s suppose you own a car dealership in a smaller market with two competing radio groups. One provides a genuine service with live talent and coverage of local events. The other runs their stations off a computer, only going live when they absolutely have to during times of severe weather (or possibly not even then.) Previously, you had the budget to run ad campaigns with both groups. Due to the coronavirus, you now only have enough money to buy spots from one. Which will you choose?

The days ahead will prove both interesting and extremely challenging for those employed in radio. Hang in there and as always, good luck!

PS: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Due to excessive amounts of spam, I’ve had to disable comments on the site and move them to our Facebook page.

Rush Limbaugh Diagnosed with Advanced Lung Cancer

April 9, 2020

Rush Limbaugh just announced on his radio show that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He told his listeners that he hopes to be back on Thursday, February 6th, but would likely be absent on some days due to ongoing treatments.

As Rush finished his Monday show, he said “Every day I’m not here, I’ll be thinking about you and missing you. Thank you very much.”

More on this story as it develops. Prayers for Rush and his family.

104.1 FM Ames/Des Moines Resurrects “EZ” as KOEZ

April 9, 2020

My friend Jon Ellis reports on Northpine this morning that Saga Communications’ KMYR has changed call letters to KOEZ. This corresponds with a positioning change from “More 104.1” to “104.1 EZ FM.” Ironically enough, this brings 104.1 back to the 1980s when they were KEZT “EZ104”, playing a Beautiful Music format, aka “A Softer Place to Be.”

I’m curious as to why Saga didn’t just resurrect the KEZT call letters? Because they were used for so many years in the Ames/Des Moines market, I’m guessing there would be immediate name recognition. In any case, 104.1 has come full circle as KOEZ, now playing lighter music for easier listening.

By the way, the KOEZ call letters were last used by 92.3 Newton/Wichita, Kansas. They gave up the calls in 2000 after flipping to Adult Contemporary as KMXW “Mix 92.3”

Happy National CB Radio Day aka “10-4 Day”

April 9, 2020

I’ll bet you didn’t know October 4th was a national holiday! It is, thanks to former President of the United States Jimmy Carter. On October 2, 1978, President Carter proclaimed this date to be forever known as “10-4 Day” by issuing the following statement:

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of Citizens Band radio. CB is now a widely used emergency communications system. It helps keep motorists safe on our Nation’s highways by providing faster notification of highway accidents, increased detection of reckless driving, and more information to reduce traffic delays. The CB is also effective in emergencies unrelated to motor vehicles. By allowing for citizens’ participation in public safety, we greatly enhance that safety.

The growth of CB use in recent years is extraordinary. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now issued nearly 14 million licenses. More than 20 million Americans have used a CB radio at one time or another.

While CB is primarily for emergency use, the non-emergency channels bring enjoyment and companionship to millions of Americans, including my own family.

In recognition of the fine service provided by Citizens Band radio, I join with CB organizations across the country in celebrating ’10-4 Day’, October 4, 1978.”

If you’re lucky enough to still own functioning CB radio equipment, get on-the-air today and make some contacts. You never know who you’ll find out there, just waiting to talk to you on 27Mhz. Happy 10-4 Day, fellow Radio Geeks!

Rewound Radio WOR-FM 98.7 Labor Day Weekend Special

April 9, 2020

Leave it to Allan Sniffen to come up with another great Rewound Radio special for Labor Day weekend! As you may recall, Rewound Radio brought us a full July 4th weekend of Dan Ingram airchecks. Not to mention the WABC Memorial Day weekend special!

For Labor Day, Allan is presenting the glory days of WOR FM Stereo in New York City. “The Big Town Sound” on 98.7. Original WOR-FM shows from 1967 to 1971. You’ll hear the original WOR DJ’s, music, and the distinct sound of Drake/Chenault Top 40 Radio in the 1960s and 70s. This special presentation lasts 3 full days: Saturday, Sunday, and Labor Day Monday. Don’t miss Rewound Radio’s Labor Day weekend tribute to WOR-FM!

High School Football Games = AM DX Opportunities

April 9, 2020

It’s that time of year again! The 2019 high school football season has begun. Friday night lights, cheerleaders, popcorn, and, all too often, AM radio stations that stay on their daytime power/directional pattern in order to broadcast the games.

I call these “football emergencies.” Many AM stations which are required to drastically reduce power and/or use a restrictive directional pattern at night will conveniently “forget” to drop to their required after sunset parameters when broadcasting play-by-play of local sporting events. The reason is so that more listeners (and advertisers) can receive the games clearly. Problem is, this is a blatant violation of FCC rules. The FCC does allow AM stations to operate their daytime facilities during bonafide emergencies. These include earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and floods. Some program directors and general managers seem to believe this rule also applies to high school football games.

A quick scan through the AM dial on an autumn Friday night reveals several potential violators. In the age of the Internet, it’s pretty easy to determine who you should and should not be hearing from your location. Once you’ve made a positive ID on the station, check their coverage map at radio-locator.com. If you’re hearing a station from 200 miles away that is licensed for 170 watts nighttime and you’re in their directional null, it’s a pretty good bet they’re not operating within their night parameters! To confirm, try to receive this same station on a different evening. My guess is that you won’t hear a trace of them.

Since we’re not FCC enforcement agents, we might as well turn lemons into lemonade. I consider these “football emergencies” to be great DXing opportunities. This is your chance to log stations which would otherwise be impossible from your location. It’s usually very easy to identify stations running local ball games since the towns will be mentioned frequently. Also, these games tend to be heavily sponsored by local merchants. Small town advertisers almost always include their locations in their spots. “Joe Blow’s Construction, located at 123 Main Street in Anytown. Joe Blow’s Construction. Call them today at 666-3333. Joe Blow’s Construction, for all your construction needs.” These ads stick out of the pile like a sore thumb.

Let us know what you’re hearing during these “football emergencies.” Happy DX’ing!

Got A Remote Today? Watch out for the Prize Pigs!

April 9, 2020

Let’s talk about PRIZE PIGS! Every station had ’em, but some were worse than others.

May, 1991. I had just moved to Florida and needed a gig. Was hired to do 7-Midnight at a country station in Ocala. Nearly every week, I had a Saturday afternoon remote.

The station’s “hook” in getting people to come to the remotes was customized T-shirts. Our logo appeared on the front with the sponsor’s logo was on the back. It was a great promotional idea except for one small problem: the PRIZE PIGS!

There was a small but determined group of pests who would show up first at EVERY remote. These enterprising folks always arrived early, just to make sure they got their share. They all demanded shirts, of course. One for Mr. Redneck, one for Mrs. Redneck, and one for each of the 6 kids.

And FOOD! OMG! If you had ANY type of free food at the remotes, these people would be on you like flies on you-know-what. At one of my events, Domino’s had co-sponsorship and gave us 15 large pizzas, designed to last the duration of the remote. They were gone in 15 minutes!

Besides taking all the shirts and eating every morsel of food, the presence of these prize pigs was a deterrent to actual customers showing up at the remotes. Their appearance left much to be desired. As a bonus, they were severely lacking in personal hygiene skills. That unbeatable combination of body odor, stale cigarette smoke, and last night’s beer was always enjoyable when standing in close proximity. Especially in the hot Florida sun.

We eventually implemented an “18 and over” rule and extended our “one winner every 30 days” limitation to remote shirts. The piggies would show up anyway, thinking they could pester us into giving them a shirt. Or, they thought we wouldn’t remember their faces from the previous 9,652 remotes they attended.

Prize pigs are everywhere. But I’m tellin’ ya, nothing beats country listeners in North Florida for tenacity, consistency, and determination!

WFLI AM-1070 Chattanooga “The Big Jet FLI”

April 9, 2020

As most of my regular readers know, I am a HUGE fan of the Classic Top 40 format. It’s what I grew up with, listening to radio as a kid in the 1970s and early 80s. The roots of this format trace back to the early 1990s when select stations began playing “The Greatest Hits of the Seventies.” A few years later, “and Eighties” was added to their positioning statement. In some cases, they didn’t want to mention the 80s. Instead, their tag line became “Seventies and More” with “more” signifying the addition of 80s music. Later still, most of these evolved into “Classic Hits” stations. Some were great, others were okay, and some were just plain awful. The latest and greatest entry into the genre is Chattanooga’s WFLI-AM 1070 aka “The Big Jet FLI.”

Back in the 1990s, I worked for with several stations that did variations of the Classic Hits/Classic Top 40/70s Oldies format. Each had some of the necessary elements, but none had the full package.

One of these stations was Star 104.7 (WSSS-FM) in Charlotte. We had a full 100,000 watt FM signal, great facilities, and some very talented people. Unfortunately, our hands were tied by corporate ownership, consultants, and focus groups. The same “carefully selected and researched” 300 songs were played over and over again. Very little personality was allowed beyond the liner cards. After the first few books, the ratings tanked. No surprise.

In Orlando, we had the opposite problem. WOTS-AM 1220 did an authentic recreation of 1970s AM Top 40 radio. Terry Mason (my boss) was a big believer in personality radio. He gave us the freedom to have fun on the air. The problem was that we were licensed for just 1,000 watts days and a ridiculous 110 watts at night. If you were more than a few miles from the WOTS transmitter, XEB in Mexico City would clobber us with their 100,000 watts!

When I jocked in Minneapolis, I hosted a Saturday night 70s show on WTCX-FM 105.1. This was 1993, just as the 70s format was starting to catch hold. At this time, nobody else in the market was playing those songs. It worked! We had callers. We had sponsors. Just as it was taking off, our owner decided to sell the place. Everyone got the boot and the frequency became home to Alternative REV 105 aka Revolution Radio. Game over.

Licensed to Lookout Mountain, WFLI has the whole enchilada. They use their original calls. They operate on their original frequency. They even broadcast from the original building where it all began in February, 1961! I love their sweepers which include actual aircheck clips from the original FLI jocks! One of these talented folks is still there today, doing afternoons. Congratulations, Gene Lovin! It’s obvious from the first listen that these guys absolutely LOVE what they do! In an age of satellite delivery and voice-tracked stations, you just don’t hear this very often anymore.

The Big Jet FLI’s music is dead-on. All hits. No filler. Not the same burned out songs that everyone else plays. Their processing is perfect for this format. When you listen to the online stream, you get the actual AM air signal. Not a lifeless, hollow sound from the output of a computer. Their engineers have done an amazing job recreating that authentic Top 40 “sound” of the era. To anyone who doesn’t believe AM radio can sound great, lend your ears to this station’s feed!

Of course, having a 50,000 watt signal doesn’t hurt, either! In recent months, WFLI has added FM translator W249BR on 97.7 which covers the immediate Chattanooga metro area.

If that’s not enough, they have turned the entire facility into a museum! The National Top 40 Hall of Fame & Radio Museum offers tours to the public on a regular basis. It’s a great way to get the full experience of how Tennessee radio was back in the golden age of Top 40.

WFLI has become my go-to station, owning the first preset on my phone. If you own or manage an automated jukebox, this should be your inspiration. It is the best example around of what a great Classic Top 40 station can and should sound like. Give them a listen on TuneIn when you have a chance. Thank you, Big Jet FLI, for doing justice to this format!

Jeanne Andersen’s Twin Cities Music Highlights

April 9, 2020

I wanted to give a shoutout to my friend Jeanne Andersen and her most excellent Twin Cities Music Highlights website. Jeanne covers the history of live music acts and venues in Minneapolis/St. Paul up to 1974. Special emphasis is given to her hometown of St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Of particular interest to Drew’s Radio Site readers is her extensive section on Twin Cities radio stations and disc-jockeys. As you would expect, the powerhouse stations are included here: KDWB-AM 630 and FM-101.3, WCCO-AM 830 and FM-102.9, WDGY-AM 1130, KSTP-AM 1500 and FM-94.5. As you might not expect, history of the market’s smaller stations are also provided. Even long-defunct operations like KDAN-AM 1370 and WJSW-AM 1010 are covered here.

If you ever wondered what happened to the Request Radio format on KRSI or Polka Power on WMIN, this is the place to find out! Lots of rare photos and original newspaper ads are also included. Check out Jeanne’s site when you have a chance.

Happy 72nd Birthday to KXXX in Colby, Kansas

April 9, 2020

Drew’s Radio Site would like to wish a Happy 72nd Birthday to KXXX-AM 790 in Colby, Kansas. KXXX was the original radio station in northwest Kansas, signing on for the first time July 13, 1947. KXXX-FM 100.3 (later KQLS and then KRDQ) was added in 1970. Both stations are currently owned by Rocking M Media, LLC.

KXXX enjoys a huge daytime coverage area. I have personally received them on my car radio in Colorado Springs, Wichita, Topeka, and Lincoln. Those 5,000 watts on 790 travel a long way because the tower is anchored in some of the most conductive soil in the world! Country music, farm news, and agricultural information has been their format for as long as I can remember. “The Mighty 7-90” is one of few remaining heritage AM stations that’s still playing music and making money in 2019. Happy Birthday, KXXX!

Rewound Radio Dan Ingram 4th of July Weekend Special

April 9, 2020

What are you listening to this 4th of July Weekend? If you’re surfing the streams (the modern day equivalent of “scanning the dial”), don’t forget about the Dan Ingram Electric Radio Theater on Allen Sniffen’s Rewound Radio.

Dan is probably the greatest DJ that I never got to hear live. Because I grew up in Minneapolis, there was no way I could hear WABC-AM 770 during the afternoon hours. By the time it got dark enough at my location, it was already after 6PM New York City time and Dan’s show was over. Needless to say, it’s great to be able to hear him all these years later on Rewound Radio.

Besides WABC, Dan’s years on WCBS-FM 101.1 are also featured here. These are not scoped airchecks. All of the original music and commercials are included. You will hear Dan Ingram’s shows just as they originally aired. In cases where the source audio is an aircheck that had originally been scoped down, Allen has added the music back in. No doubt, this took a lot of time to do correctly. Definitely a labor of love, much appreciated by us radio geeks!

Whatever you’re doing this July 4th weekend, make sure you give a listen to this annual broadcasting extravaganza. The Dan Ingram Electric Radio Theater, airing Thursday, July 4th through Sunday, July 7, 2019 on Allen Sniffen’s Rewound Radio.

American Top 40 1970s 1980s Affiliate Station List

April 9, 2020

Did you grow up listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem? So did I! Each week, I’d listen to the entire countdown. I’d write down each song, it’s current chart position, and it’s change from last week’s chart position.

A few years later, I began recording and archiving these shows. In the 1990s, I worked at radio stations which ran a “Greatest Hits of the 70s” format. Since I still had all my tapes, I wanted to rebroadcast these shows. They would have fit our format perfectly. Unfortunately, this was impossible due to contractual and copyright laws. In 2006, my prayers were answered when these shows were rescued from the vaults and aired once again: first on XM Satellite Radio, then distributed by Premiere Radio Networks for broadcast on terrestrial stations.

Thanks to the Internet and online streaming, you don’t need a local station to hear these classic American Top 40 with Casey Kasem shows. You can listen whenever you like, to whichever station you prefer. Here are the most complete station lists I know of:

American Top 40, the 70s

American Top 40, the 80s

Both of these lists are updated frequently. This is important since radio stations are constantly changing formats and programming. The exact time and day of broadcast is listed. Also included are notations on whether or not a station plays the “extra” songs at the end of each hour which were not included in the original 1970s/80s broadcasts. Typically, these are songs which were on Billboard’s Hot 100 and moving up during the week of the show but had not yet debuted on the Top 40. Most would go on to become Top 10 hits. Not all stations broadcast these extras, however. If the station has a heavy local commercial load, the extra song will be deleted to meet time constraints. This is why they are called “extras.”

To me, these classic American Top 40 shows are as great today as they were 25+ years ago! Truly a treasure that has (luckily) been preserved through the years. Kudos to Shannon Lynn for taking the time to remaster these shows from their original reel-to-reel master tapes. Shannon does it right. His commitment to quality is evident in every show. Be sure to check ’em out this weekend when you have time. Until then, as Casey says: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Columbia House Record & Tape Club

April 9, 2020

Many of us loved buying music when we were kids. Problem was, our allowance money didn’t buy much. An occasional 45 or two for 88 cents each (remember the “Tops in Pops?”), but that’s about all.

Enter Columbia House: 11 records or tapes for just $1.00. It sounded too good to be true. But you did it anyway because, what the heck, it was worth gambling for a dollar. (And later, just a penny!) So, you filled out the form, put it in envelope with your dollar, and sent it off to 1400 North Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute, Indiana.

A few weeks later, a LARGE box arrived from the previously-mentioned address. THIS WAS PURE MAGIC! It was true! You didn’t get ripped off after all! Excitedly, you tore open the box and there was the mother lode: 11 brand new albums of your choice! (Or 8-tracks, or cassettes.) Unbelievable! Time to lock yourself in your room, turn on the stereo, and not be seen for days!

Later, you realized those “8 more selections” you agreed to buy came at a grossly inflated price. But for today, you were on top of the world. You were in Record Geek Heaven and enjoying every minute of it!

Bonus points if you can remember all 11 of your introductory selections. In the spring of 1977, these were mine:

1) Boston – Boston
2) Chicago – Chicago IX (Greatest Hits)
3) KISS – Alive!
4) KISS – Destroyer
5) KISS – Rock and Roll Over
6) Barry Manilow – Barry Manilow (I)
7) Barry Manilow – Barry Manilow II
8) Barry Manilow – Tryin’ to Get the Feeling
9) Barry Manilow – This One’s for You
10) Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle
11) Boz Scaggs – Silk Degrees

In a world filled with instant .mp3 downloads (legal and otherwise), kids will never know the sheer ecstasy of coming home from school, seeing that big brown box on the kitchen table, and ripping it open. Cheers, Columbia House!

The First Radio Firing & Unemployment Benefits

April 9, 2020

One of my radio friends contacted me yesterday. She had just been fired and needed advice as to what she should do next. Those of us who are seasoned vets know that being fired is just a regular part of the business. As one of my favorite PDs in Iowa told me, “You ain’t no real broadcaster until you’ve been fired at least 3 times!” My friend is new to this business, however. She’s only been in radio for a few years. This is her first termination. Naturally, she’s panicked, emotional, and wondering what she did wrong.

Because this is radio, the station is contesting her eligibility for unemployment benefits. This also comes with the territory. Out of all the times I was fired in radio (there were several), I can only think of two times when management didn’t attempt to deny my claim. In one case, the station had been sold and the entire airstaff was let go. There were zero grounds for contention there, especially since the owner apparently failed to pay state unemployment taxes on my behalf. I learned about this when I went to apply for benefits. That was a fun day. In the other case, management didn’t bother to contest because the program director who had fired me was himself terminated for cause shortly thereafter. Trying to explain that to the Division of Labor might have become a bit messy.

In every other instance, the station attempted to deny my benefits. Some would stretch the truth while others would outright lie in order to stop me from collecting what was rightfully mine. My favorite was a Florida entity which claimed “theft of station equipment” as grounds for my dismissal. The item in question was a frequency spectrum analyzer which the chief engineer had reported missing. It was later returned, but damaged. I had no use for this piece of equipment. However, our weekend jock who just happened to be operating a pirate FM station in his spare time found it a very useful tool in the calibration of his illicit transmitter. It was my word against theirs. My benefits were denied.

Why do radio station owners/managers routinely contest legitimate unemployment benefit claims by their former employees? The first reason is money. In most states, the employer’s unemployment insurance premium is determined in part by their claims history. The more claims, the more they pay. So there is an incentive to contest all claims against the station, valid or otherwise. The other reason is ego. The radio industry is full of egomaniacs. Some of them eventually end up in the GM chair. If the disgruntled former employee has an axe to grind, it becomes a grudge match. Management/ownership knows the unemployment benefit process better than the average jock who has just been terminated. Within the state system, there are a limited number of appeals available for denial of benefits. Once the appeals process is exhausted, the ex-employee has 2 options: drop their claim or hire an attorney and pursue civil litigation against the company. How many unemployed radio folks have the resources to do this? Very few. Management/ownership knows this, so they use the process to their advantage.

Back to my newly-fired friend: I told her to hang in there. “It’s not you, it’s the business.” She’s quite talented as well as extremely good at asserting and promoting herself. Despite the extremely tight job market for air talent today, I don’t think she’ll have any problem finding another job. Consider it a blessing to be out of a bad situation. I’ve always said “Why would you want to work for someone who doesn’t want you working for them?” She’ll be fine. If you’re reading this and happen to be in the same situation, things will work out for you also. Again, “It’s not you. It’s the business.”

The Cars “Candy-O” Released 40 Years Ago Today

April 9, 2020

On Wednesday, June 13, 1979, the Cars’ second album was released. “Candy-O” was my most eagerly awaited album of that summer. When “Just What I Needed” became popular a year earlier, I bought their first album. Actually, I bought the 8-track tape so that I could play it in Mom’s car as well as at home. Played it so much that I wore all the high end off of the tape!

Candy-O was even better. It was more of that New Wave/Top 40 crossover sound that everyone seemed to love at the time. As a bonus, the album cover was absolutely PERFECT for a 15-year-old boy. Within days of its release, I pestered Mom to drive me to the local Musicland so that I could buy a copy. Also on 8-track and also worn out within a few months. Mom was happy when I turned 16 the following year and got my driver’s license. One big reason was that she didn’t have to listen to the Cars anymore!

Radio loved this album. Immediately, Top 40 stations began playing “Let’s Go.” Album Rock radio concentrated on “Dangerous Type” and the 3 song medley of “Double Life”, “Shoo Bee Doo”, and “Candy-O.” Whereas the first Cars album only made it to #18 on the charts, Candy-O reached #3. This ties 1984’s “Heartbeat City” as their most successful release. The chart performance of Candy-O’s 3 singles was somewhat disappointing, however. “Let’s Go” only made it to #14. The followup “It’s All I Can Do” failed to even crack the Top 40, peaking at #41. “Double Life” (the final single release) didn’t even make Billboard’s Hot 100.

Speaking of the Candy-O 8-track, that format contains an extended version of “Dangerous Type.” I’m guessing Elektra Records did this so that Program 4 would time out correctly without blank tape at the end. This version is not included on the record, cassette, or CD.

7/12 Television KCMT Alexandria KNMT Walker

April 9, 2020

Back in the day, if you had a cabin in central or northern Minnesota, KCMT and KNMT were what you watched. Before the advent of satellite TV, you could receive just one channel. Actually, if you happened to be located between the two transmitters, you could receive two channels, but both aired identical programming. Channel 7 and/or Channel 12 was what you watched. Hence, the name “7/12 Television.”

KCMT Channel 7 was licensed to Alexandria with transmitter near Westport. KNMT Channel 12 was licensed to Walker with transmitter near Hackensack. Originally NBC affiliates, they switched to CBS in 1982. Five years later, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis purchased the stations, changing the call letters to KCCO (7) and KCCW (12.) In 2002, both stations ceased local programming to become 100% rebroadcasters of WCCO. This was the beginning of the end of 7/12 Television. Here is their final local newscast:

KCCO fell silent in 2017. On April 18, 2019, the 1,000 foot transmission tower and 138 foot antenna were taken down by Controlled Demolition, Inc. It was truly the end of an era. Strangely enough, KCCW Channel 12 (originally a satellite of KCMT) continues to serve northern Minnesota as a satellite rebroadcaster of WCCO.

I should mention that KCMT also had an FM station. KCMT-FM 100.7’s transmitter was co-located on the same tall tower. It was a full Class C with 100,000 watts of effective radiated power. Before the FM band became junked up with drop-in stations and translators, you could carry KCMT-FM on a car radio from the northwest Twin Cities suburbs to Fargo! Today, this station is KIKV, owned by Hubbard Broadcasting and transmitting from the KSAX-TV 42 tower which Hubbard also owns. At 876 feet above average terrain, the signal contour is not quite as large as it was previously. Furthermore, fringe coverage is limited by KLDQ-FM 100.7 north of Fargo, the KUOM 100.7 FM translator in Minneapolis, and the KPRM 100.5 FM translator at Park Rapids. Still, KIKV provides an impressive signal across most of central Minnesota.

Farewell, Channel 7. Thank you for being our “TV lifeline” to all of us at the cabin or when we were camping in the area. Even though we now have over 200 channels on our portable satellite dish, it’s just not the same. I’ll always miss watching “Adam 12”, “Jeopardy”, “Sanford and Son”, and the 7/12 News on my 9″ Wards Airline black & white portable.

You May Have Worked in Twin Cities Radio

April 9, 2020

1. If you know who did his show “stone blind and out of my mind”, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

2. If you knew “The Catman” before he became one of the premier morning and voice talents in the nation, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

3. If you were aware that “The Catman” was NOT a black man, but rather, a young white dude from North Minneapolis, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

4. If you remember 93X from when the place was owned by Entercom, not ABC>Disney>Citadel>Cumulus, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

5. If you know who “THE CHUCKER” is, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

6. If you still tell stories about how WDGY used to cause the lights on a Bloomington baseball field to flicker in time to the music, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

7. If you remember when WDGY was on 1130 and their subsequent frequency (630) was owned by arch-rival KDWB, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

8. If you have can name all the formats which have graced the 104.1 frequency over the years, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

9. If you know what Ruth Koscielak is doing these days, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

10. If you know why KUXL-AM 1570 had to sign off at local sunset, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

11. If you can still hear the RF bleedthrough of WLOL-AM 1330 underneath John Hines and Bob Berglund, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

12. If you’re aware that the Stereo 101 audio was sent from the Woodbury studios to the transmitter on the IDS via telephone lines, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

13. If you know what the Shoreview Combiner Project is, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

14. If you can recall the date, time, and place where “U100” was born, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

15. If you “get” the inside joke where WYOO’s Rob Sherwood gives a Minnesota State Fair shoutout to Rick Kelleher shortly before the birth of U100, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

16. If you ever listened through the static and co-channel interference to hear KDAN and/or WJSW, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

17. If you knew who “Boogie Dave” was in 1975 and why he later became famous, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

18. If you used to switch back and forth between Bobby Wilde and Alan Kabel, trying to aircheck both of them, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

19. If you still own a “U100 Grabs Me” T-shirt or a KDWB “The Rock and Roll Bich” patch, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

20. If you realize that KTCR-FM 97.1 played country on FM long before K102 coined the phrase “The FM Country”, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

21. If you can remember request line numbers from before the ‘989’ common exchange was allocated, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

22. If you know which FM stations do NOT transmit from Shoreview and the reasons why, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

23. If you recall which station Rod Trongard worked for before coming to KSTP-AM, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

24. If you remember the station which branded it’s midday show as “Wifeline” and it’s evening program as “Nightline”, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

25. If you can name the TWO stations which shared ONE AM frequency for many years, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

26. If you knew from the beginning that Ma Linger, Morgan Mundane, and Backlash LaRue were not real people, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

27. If you have fond memories of the times and situations described in this article, you may have worked in Twin Cities radio.

Album Rock WXYG The Goat A to Z Celebration

April 9, 2020

If you’re a fan of progressive rock and “deep cuts”, you don’t want to miss The Goat’s A to Z presentation. Every year at this time, WXYG in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota plays their entire music library in alphabetical order. Sure, lots of stations do ‘A to Z’ specials. The difference is that The Goat has literally thousands of songs in their archives. Once a year, it all gets played back for us to enjoy.

This year, The Goat A to Z also celebrates the life of Minnesota broadcaster and owner Herb Hoppe. As WXYG posted earlier today on their Facebook page, “Herb passed away last year, but his “life force” permeates every part of our radio stations, that he built from the ground up, starting almost 60 years ago.”

WXYG’s AM signal on 540 serves a significant portion of central Minnesota. Their FM translator on 107.3 covers the immediate St. Cloud metropolitan area. In addition, The Goat is available worldwide via high quality audio stream. Album Rock WXYG’s “The Goat A to Z” began at 4:00PM local time on Friday, June 7, 2019. It usually wraps up just before the 4th of July. Now THAT’S a broad playlist! Be sure to give them a listen. I guarantee you’ll be exposed some great tunes that you have never heard before.