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July 19, 2018 11:04 pm  #1

Friday Flashback: The Art Of The Chart, Part 2

This week, we continue looking at the art of the chart from radio stations across North America, including the one that was said to have been the inspiration for Allan Waters coming home from vacation and switching CHUM to a Top 40 format way back in 1957. And the legendary Boston outlet that kept printing and updating the look of their charts into the late 70s and even had an ad in the original 1969 Woodstock Music Festival official program.

You can see Part 1 here.
WKNR Detroit
Another legend on AM, it held its own for many years against powerhouse CKLW. And yes that IS future CHUM jock J. Michael Wilson featured on the chart. He won’t be there now, unless he speaks a different language. It’s currently a Spanish station.

Just two short years later, it’s interesting to see how the design of the chart had changed and been updated.

WDRQ Detroit
It was one of the biggest competitors to CKLW, but it had two advantages – it was on FM and it didn’t have Can Con. A few years after changing to a Top 40 format, it was the number one rock station in Detroit, and the Big 8’s days were waning. Today the once mighty Q is a country outlet.

WFIL Philadelphia 
Another rock radio legend, WFIL was once known as the Fabulous 56. Like most AM Top 40 leaders, it was later done in by FM. And talk about changing fortunes – it’s now an all Christian format.

By the way, notice the number one in their "One Year Ago" list. It's something called "Penalty Box" by the infamous Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Dave Schultz. I'm pretty sure this wasn't on a chart in any other city. You can listen to this monstrosity here, but be aware you can never unhear this!
WQAM Miami/WFUN Miami
WQAM was one of the original Top 40 stations in the U.S. and history records it as something else – the inspiration for CHUM in Toronto. Owner Allan Waters is said to have listened to it on a trip to Florida, and he didn’t especially like what he heard. But he was impressed by its ratings and faithful listenership, so he came home and turned CHUM into Toronto’s first full time rock and roll outlet.

WQAM’s biggest competitor was 790 WFUN, and both were in a knock-down drag-em-out fight for ratings. In the end WQAM lasted longer, but it eventually succumbed to FM-itis and is now a well known sports outlet. Most charts in the U.S. and Canada used their back cover for advertising, but WFUN is the only one I’ve come across that used its front to push something, too – in this case a Sly and The Family Stone concert. 
Ironically, those wonderful call letters are now in use at a station in Ohio – which happens to be at the reverse of the Miami outlet’s dial position - 970. But it gets stranger - what used to be WFUN is now called WAXY, the call letters of yet another former south Florida Top 40 station.

WGTO Cypress Gardens, Florida
Its biggest asset was a massive 50,000 watt signal on a clear channel – 540, at a time when there weren’t a lot of stations that high up on the dial. And no, I don’t know why their Happy New Year greeting is upside down. This “GTO” didn’t have anything to do with the sports car. Instead, it stood for Gulf To Ocean, a reflection of that amazing reach. It’s now a full time news station.

WING Dayton, Ohio
Not one of the great rock stations in America, but I always loved the call letters. Today, it broadcasts ESPN full time and burgers, like the one on its back cover, are no longer 59 cents.

WJET eked out amazing success as a Top 40 station despite a terrible signal on 1400 AM. Notice the now dated reference to “Housewife time” in the jock line-up.
WRIE was a direct competitor to WJET, which also did well. Both were close together on the AM dial, with WRIE at 1330 and WJET at 1400. And both now deal with the spoken word – JET is all talk while RIE is strictly sports – and is now at 1260.

WLOF Orlando
A great station in what would eventually become the home of Walt Disney World, its chart was nothing special – just a one sheet that looked like it was turned out in someone’s typewriter.  
And check out that pick hit of the week. “She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune” by Jesse Lee Kincaid. I’m guessing that wasn’t the only thing out of tune that week. But at least it’s appropriate. After years as Orlando’s #1 Top 40 station, it’s now religious and is known as WTLN. And the WLOF calls? They’re presently being used by a Catholic station at 101.7 FM near Buffalo.
WMBM Miami
A long running soul station on the southern tip of Florida. Notice the different colour schemes on the same chart, which is highly unusual.

A few years later, the chart would remain relatively unchanged, but the designation went from “Soul” to “Rhythm & Blues.”
But the beat goes on. It’s now true to its roots, with a gospel format.
WHYI Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
“Y100” has been Top 40 in one form or anther since about 1973 and is still one of Florida’s most successful radio stations. This chart from February 1976 shows how much work was put into it on a weekly basis.

WRBD Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
You gotta love a station whose call letters stood for “Rockin Big Daddy.” All soul all the time. Note the reference to their FM signal, as early as 1970.

They were still putting out a chart as late as 1980.
But now that soul is more like “sell.” The 1470 dial position is currently WWNN and sells brokered time for infomercials 24 hours a day.
WRKO Boston
A great radio station that became a smash in Beantown. Note how its chart look changed over the years. This first set is from 1971

Here’s the same station’s chart in 1975.
And in 1979.

As the call letters imply, WRKO was once owned by RKO, the same company that was forced to sell CKLW before being forced out of business. It also has the distinction of being the only Top 40 radio station with an ad in the original Woodstock program.
Like all good things, RKO’s time as a Top 40 trailblazer came to an end. It turned to talk in 1981 as FM lured its once massive audience away.
WVLK Lexington, Kentucky
A great signal and a wonderfully successful Top 40 station in its time, but like so many others, its time came to an end. Now the songs are over and it’s all talk, all the time.

WPTR Albany N.Y./WTRY Troy, N.Y.
Once one of the great Top 40 stations, along with competitor WTRY in the New York capital region, WPTR is now off the air, while WTRY’s old AM spot on the dial is occupied by an all sports format.

WSRF Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
What could be more appropriate for a Florida radio station than the call letters “Surf?” This was a simple chart, but I always loved the logo. WSRF has not only changed its tune, it’s also changed its language. It’s now primarily serving the Haitian community, mostly in Creole or French.

WXDJ Miami
Here’s one you don’t see every day – a Top 30 Jazz chart. It was put of by WXDJ, an FM station known as The Breeze. Owners eventually decided to shoot the Breeze, and it’s now an all Spanish outlet.

WOR-FM New York
WOR is a great AM station, but its FM counterpart wasn't quite as big a shining star. After a litany of call letter changes and formats ranging from free form album rock to Top 40 to Rhythm & Blues to disco, with some legendary Big Apple personalities involved, it's now an ESPN affiliate.

 WNIA Cheektowaga, N.Y
We’ll end it closer to home, with probably the most unlikely station of them all. Most radio outlets that published charts were in bigger cities with a larger pool of listeners. That certainly wasn’t the case for little WNIA in Cheektowaga, New York, near Buffalo. Despite its local signal at 1230 AM, they’ve managed to try just about everything from Top 40 to talk to Music of Your Life to, in this chart, a Soul format. You have to give them credit – they’ve recently re-emerged as WECK, featuring some of Buffalo’s best golden era disc jockeys. Plus they’ve added an FM transmitter making them a lot easier to get.



July 20, 2018 3:06 pm  #2

Re: Friday Flashback: The Art Of The Chart, Part 2

I never knew CFCH had a chart. That's very interesting. I deliberately left CHUM out of the feature, since all the charts are available online in Doug Thompson's excellent tribute site.

But here's an article from the Toronto Sun way back in August 1976 that highlighted a true milestone that I'm not sure any other radio station has ever managed - the 1000th CHUM Chart. (I'm not sure if WHB, mentioned in the story, managed to beat 1050, but it's still an incredible milestone.)

     Thread Starter

July 20, 2018 4:24 pm  #3

Re: Friday Flashback: The Art Of The Chart, Part 2

As Nevin Grant once pointed out to me, CKOC had the longest-running chart, 32 years from 1960 to 1992.

"The radio craze ... will soon fade." - Thomas Edison, 1922

July 20, 2018 4:30 pm  #4

Re: Friday Flashback: The Art Of The Chart, Part 2

You're probably right Dale. I didn't even think of CKOC. But not only were they there for most of CHUM's run, they actually survived them as a Top 40 station.

Sad to think of what both have become. (CHUM at 0.4 in the last book, TSN 1150 even worse at 0.1.)

     Thread Starter

July 21, 2018 8:19 pm  #5

Re: Friday Flashback: The Art Of The Chart, Part 2

This guy, among many other notable things, was the father of Peri Gilpin, perhaps better known as Roz on Frasier.

The first time I met him, his Texas drawl was apparent, and so was a rather hefty shillelagh. I asked him what the walking stick was all about and he said carrying it became a habit when riding alone on the subway in New York. I had to wonder about that: as a former college football player, he had the look of someone who could take out 5 or 6 guys with his bare hands.

Jim came to us (CKLW) from WOR-FM as our third Drake PD in three years and he was another good one, just like Paul Drew and Ted Atkins. He was the kind of guy that you'd go through a wall for. You knew if there was a hill to take, Jim would be leading the charge. I was sorry to see him go to KHJ as the PD there.
From LA, he went to WFIL in Philadelphia, jock for 6 years, then over to TV where he became a much-loved weatherman, game show host and all sorts of things.

If you don't know the story, O'Brien had two other hobbies he loved -- motorcycles and skydiving. The latter cost him his life (much too young 1983) but probably saved the life of a fellow jumper:

Hell of a guy.

Here's more on WOR-FM in a well-written piece by New York Radio Message Board guru, Allan Sniffen:

 Should mention, too, that Pat Holiday, at one time VP and GM of CKFM, CFRB and CJEZ, worked at WOR-FM, under the name, China Blue. That one and Walt "Baby" Love's do it for me!

Last edited by mike marshall (July 21, 2018 9:39 pm)


July 22, 2018 7:30 am  #6

Re: Friday Flashback: The Art Of The Chart, Part 2

This is fabulous work RA, thanks for doing this...It is amazing that back then, there were almost no women hosts/DJ' was a male dominated business...

Even though women are in the business, to me at least, I still think men get more of the focus and the limelight/ attention, men have the more of the big time slots  (mornings and drive home).

Yes, there are women co-hosts and news/traffic announcers, but it is rare to see a woman carry the big time slots by herself on most radio stations...


The world would be so good if it weren't for some people...