WFLI AM-1070 Chattanooga “The Big Jet FLI”

July 16, 2019

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

July 15, 2019

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

July 13, 2019

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

July 6, 2019

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

June 29, 2019

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.”