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January 17, 2020 5:02 pm  #1


What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

The article on J Robert Wood reminded me of the glory days of Top 40 Radio.

I found this article/link from 2017 from Radio INK which posed the question, which station in your opinion was the greatest top 40 station of all time. Two programming professionals gave their opinions of the best and their criteria what they felt made for a great Top 40 station. You may agree or disagree with their list or even criteria.

Also they asked the readers, who they felt was the best Top 40 station of all time...you might be surprised.

Two Canadian stations are mentioned, and a few others in the comments after the article.

THE QUESTION- Who was the best/greatest Top 40 station in your opinion, and why.  And we would be talking the era when most of us were growing up and getting interested in radio, from 1960 until the early 80's, when AM Top 40 was still popular.  Doesn't even need to be within North America. I have talked to people that think that BBC Radio 1 or 2 were the best Top 40 stations. 

It is going to be a snowy weekend, so lets have some fun.  Here is the link,  story and results of the reader poll from 2017.  I will give my choice a little later, but let's see who you think.

https://radioink.com/2017/08/21/greatest-top-40-stations-time/

 

Last edited by paterson1 (January 17, 2020 8:49 pm)

 

January 17, 2020 5:21 pm  #2


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Why do I recall this article from before?  There was an American fellow who hosts a blog, and I think he linked to it.

I would have to say without question I am most fond of CKOC between 1977 and 1983.  They took Hamilton and Southern Ontario by storm, and gave me much of the soundtrack of my youth.

However .....

In terms of the BEST, most well executed CHR stations?
I would tie it between CFTR and WKBW.  Most of my frame of reference is late 70s and early 80s.

EDIT:  I was thinking of Dick Taylor's Blog.  I couldn't remember his name. ....lol

Last edited by Jody Thornton (January 17, 2020 5:36 pm)


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

January 17, 2020 5:47 pm  #3


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Thanks for kicking things off Jody!https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons3/smile.png
  No right or wrong answers here, it is all about your opinion on what station was the best!  As we used to say...the hitlines are open!!  Give us a call...

     Thread Starter
 

January 17, 2020 5:49 pm  #4


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

As much I admired CHUM and CKFH, as well as CFTR later on, I'm well aware no one will agree with my choice. Without question, it's WNBC New York around 1975. What a line-up! Imus in the Morning, Vernon with a V, Cousin Brucie and of course, my favourite of all, the late, great Oogie Pringle. 

I'm a big fan of personality radio and to my knowledge, no one ever did it like this. The station would do the wildest things, like present 'live' coverage of a parade down Broadway - when there wasn't one. They did a show long before SCTV that posited that Radio Moscow took over its airwaves and did a traffic report about a huge back-up on Moscow's main street - because the yak died. 

And then there was the day Oogie did the entire show on Halloween night in the voice of Dracula - including all the live spots!

One day he got carried away while ad libbing a live spot, telling listeners to "Go to Alexander's Department store," and then noted that their prices were so cheap they couldn't be too smart. It ended with him saying, "go in and steal from them - they're not very bright!" 

I don't think they ever advertised on the station again, but it was hilarious and all these years later, I still remember that spot.

Runner up: WGAR Cleveland, which was essentially run by the same PD, who mandated that every on air personality be a "morning man." They had equally great talent, including The Real Bob James, who I would later get to know and meet when he came to visit Toronto a few years ago. An amazing talent and I tried to never miss his evening show in the 70s. I'm proud to call him a friend but I was even happier to listen to him all those years ago. 

 

January 17, 2020 6:41 pm  #5


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

When you lived 60 miles north of Trawna, I have to say CHUM & CFTR for the music and personalities but late nights (mid-6a), when CHUM powered down, it would be WBZ (1030) out of Boston. I know it's not top 40 but Larry Glick (& I know there are Glicknicks still around) was an entertainer and personality who created theatre of the mind every time he was on the air. At least we can access airchecks to rekindle our love for these influencers on our life.

 

January 17, 2020 6:43 pm  #6


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

I'm not going to pick a favourite but I loved WCFL. I found WLS too corporate, and I didn't like their jingles.
As you know CFL stood for the Chicago Federation of Labor who owned the station and they referenced that in their TOH ID -- "This is the Voice of Labor... etc"  

The story is told of  some poor schmoe working for 50 bucks a week in Kapuskasing in to late 60's early 70's who had heard that ID and thought it was something cool they said at big city stations. You know, like "Boss Radio."  So, he stole it. And incorporated it into his own station ID. Today I picture the recurring pimply-faced character in the Simpsons declaring, "This is the Voice of Labour, CKAP Kapuskasing! 580!"

 

January 17, 2020 8:21 pm  #7


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Never was a big fan of CHUM Pre-Drake. I listened to WLS, WCFL, WABC, WOWO, WGAR, WKYC, CKFH and CKOC. But I still have a soft spot for the BIG 8 CKLW. Cool jingles, plenty of Motown hits and who could forget those legendary 20/20 newscasts.

 

January 17, 2020 8:31 pm  #8


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Was it the jocks? The great music? Contests? Fantastic News/Sports? Overall sound?    Was this the station that made you want to get into broadcasting?... WCFL, WNBC,CFTR,CKOC,WKBW  some of the favourites named so far, and maybe more to come!
 
What station in your opinion was the greatest Top 40 radio station of all time? And why do you think so?  There are no wrong answers because it is your favourite!!  See the link at the top of this thread to check out the picks from a couple of top radio programmers, and see who the readers chose in a three week poll.

You can pick any top 40 station you like, small market, big market, the station you grew up with, the station half way around the world that you could sometimes tune in at night. Just tell us what radio station you think was the best in the era of Top 40 Radio, and why was it your favourite?? OK to repeat any station already chosen, just tell us why it is the best!

The HITLINES ARE OPEN!!

     Thread Starter
 

January 17, 2020 10:52 pm  #9


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

I spent my adolescent years with my transistor under my pillow listening to Larry O'Brien on the Voice of Labor WCFL Chicago. Still my favorite time of radio. Early 70's. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAIsbxOMekA

 

January 18, 2020 1:30 am  #10


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

As a 13 year old my biggest influence would have been the amazing Dick Biondi. Had the opportunity to spend a week with him when the R&R Hall Of Fame thing happened. So I guess WLS Chicago would have been my fave. 

Locally CKSL in London - DJ Dick McFarland

About 17 years old and living in Ark. - John R at WLAC was the influence. Although he wasn't Top 40 - I sure learned a lot about The Blues from him. Never got to meet him. 

 

January 18, 2020 3:22 am  #11


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

WKBW during the Jeff Kaye era (1966-73).

CHUM until the summer of '68. CKFH from 1967 until they went country in '75, then CFTR after that until the end of the '70s. Some CHUM too post-'68 and lots of CKOC sprinkled in.

Though not really a Top 40 station, WGR from 1972 to 1985. Some WBEN too, especially when Stan Barron was on. And WYSL when I could get it.

Also not a Top 40 station: CHUM-FM in the early years of the progressive rock format and Pete and Geets every morning in the '70s. Also on the FM dial, WYSL-FM/WPHD in the '70s then WBUF in the early '80s.

Honorable mentions to WGAR, WABC, WLS, WNBC and even country-formatted CFGM and WYRK. And let's not forget about KEY-590 in the late '80s. Great station!

FM 108 for oldies in the late '70s and '80s.

Here's a nice montage of Top 40 radio in the early '70s:

http://rockradioscrapbook.ca/early70s-montage.mp3

 


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

January 18, 2020 7:51 am  #12


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

My late father (passed away unexpectedly last year at 70) used to talk about some of the great radio stations he would listen to as a teen/young adult living in Collingwood.  Among his favourites were WCFL, WABC, WOWO and CHUM, but I think WCFL was his top pick.

I'm only in my mid-thirties, so I really missed out on some legendary radio, aside from CHUM's later years and CFTR's final years as a music station.  As a child living in the Peterborough area in the late '80s/early '90s, I'd tune in CFTR... Tarzan Dan was and still is one of my favourite personalities from back then.

An honourable mention goes to one of my former stations, Belleville's Mix 97 during my time at Loyalist College in the early 2000s.  I was an overnight jock on Mix (as an intern) in April 2003, and it was just an awesome Hot AC/CHR station in those years, with a very good jock lineup... Sean Kelly & Ingrid Moore in the morning, Dan Mellon (best man at my 2012 wedding) on middays, Justin Anderson afternoons, and the late Joey Martin in the evening.

 

January 18, 2020 4:40 pm  #13


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Having grown up in Ottawa (Some may question if I have grown up...lol) I'd say  CFGO 1440  Or the Go14...and then I used to pull in 680 CFTR from Toronto and would listen to people like Big Jim Brady, and so many other great radio announcers on that station.

When I'd visit my cousins in Montreal, I'd listen to CKGM yes, Ralph Lockwood (who passed this past week) Marc Mes Oui Denis, Donny Burns  and some other great personalities.

So those would be my top 3 for sure! 




Here is a bit of sample of CFGO...you will hear Emmerson Phillips and friends mentioned...that was Peter Emmerson who became a weather man on Global TV... and you will hear Jim Johnston he of Corus fame and now a radio consultant...he used to biil himself as the "Soon to be famous- Jim Johnston"









 

Last edited by Muffaraw Joe (January 18, 2020 4:45 pm)


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

January 19, 2020 2:39 am  #14


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

radiodazewarrior wrote:

When you lived 60 miles north of Trawna, I have to say CHUM & CFTR for the music and personalities but late nights (mid-6a), when CHUM powered down, it would be WBZ (1030) out of Boston. I know it's not top 40 but Larry Glick (& I know there are Glicknicks still around) was an entertainer and personality who created theatre of the mind every time he was on the air. At least we can access airchecks to rekindle our love for these influencers on our life.

side note: boston's larry glick was indeed on a top 40 station, before making the switch to wbz. wmex in boston. they were top 40 most of the day however they switched to talk late in the evening and all night. larry did all nights. i had the plaesure of talking to larry on the air... and off the air (from his home, when he moved to florida... for about an hour)... and yes, i was the proud owner of a glick university t-shirt and i consider him to be one of the best/entertaining evening talk show hosts i've ever had the pleasure to have heard (due to wbz's signal, larry had many ontario fans).
getting back to my pick for greatest top 40 station, wmex - boston (it's what i grew up with, arnie "woo woo" ginsburg et al).
 

Last edited by the original hank (January 19, 2020 2:55 am)

 

January 19, 2020 12:01 pm  #15


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

CKEY; from the spring of 1959, when they dropped the Sensational Sixty and switched to the Fabulous Forty, until the spring of 1960 when they switched to an adult MOR music format, and again from the fall of 1960 when they switched back to a Top 40 format until mid 1965 when they switched back to adult MOR again. They had some terrific on air personalities, especially during the second period: people like Mel Miller (Melvin), Duff Roman, Jack Finnegan (later known as JP Finnegan), Glen "Big G" Walters.

Others: CHUM was pretty good during the mid 60's. Less boring than they had been during the early 60's and were again after the switch to the "Drake" format in the later 60's with less emphasis on personality. I especially liked Jay Nelson, Bob MacAdorey, Duff Roman, Bob Laine, and one of my earliest favourites - Phil Stone, one of the original deejays when CHUM went (almost) full time Top 50 in 1957 . In later years there was Tom Rivers, Terry Steele, Scott Carpenter, Gerry Forbes.  CFTR was also a good Top 40 station once they really got into it in the mid 70's. Over the years they too had some great on air personalities including  Jim Brady, Mike Marshall, Tarzan Dan, Bobby Day, Corey Kimm, Kris James (KJ), Tom Rivers, Steve Shannon, Dan Williamson, Mike Cooper. CKOC was another Top 40 I spent a lot of time listening to and CKFH which is where I first heard Chuck McCoy, who is one of my all time favourites. The American stations that came through loud and clear that I listened to were WABC (too much talk and ads and not enough music-often only 10 songs an hour and back then they were only 2 to 2 1/2 minutes long), WLS, WCFL, WBZ. Could not get WKBW where I lived but would listen to it when we visited my grandparents who lived east of Oshawa and again during 1963-64 when I worked in Port Colborne. American deejays I enjoyed included Jay Nelson, Dan Neaverth, Joey Reynolds, Dick Biondi, Art Roberts, Tom Shannon, Frank Benny, Jackson Armstrong (including his days at CHUM), Shane, Dan Ingram, Barney Pipp. 

Good times, back in the day.

 

January 19, 2020 12:14 pm  #16


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Storm wrote:

CKEY; from the spring of 1959, when they dropped the Sensational Sixty and switched to the Fabulous Forty, until the spring of 1960 when they switched to an adult MOR music format, and again from the fall of 1960 when they switched back to a Top 40 format until mid 1965 when they switched back to adult MOR again. They had some terrific on air personalities, especially during the second period: people like Mel Miller (Melvin), Duff Roman, Jack Finnegan (later known as JP Finnegan), Glen "Big G" Walters.

http://reelradio.com/haber/ckey1.jpg


The following are all courtesy of SOWNY contributor and producer extraordinaire Doug Thompson:

https://i.ibb.co/HHqTdcB/1963-CKEY-Toronto-subway-poster.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/DChzc28/1963-CKEY-Good-Guys-Bus-backboard.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/d0MYkVQ/CKEY-Good-Guys-photo-sheet-1964.jpg

 

January 19, 2020 12:23 pm  #17


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Dale Patterson wrote:

WKBW during the Jeff Kaye era (1966-73).

CHUM until the summer of '68. CKFH from 1967 until they went country in '75, then CFTR after that until the end of the '70s. Some CHUM too post-'68 and lots of CKOC sprinkled in.

Though not really a Top 40 station, WGR from 1972 to 1985. Some WBEN too, especially when Stan Barron was on. And WYSL when I could get it.

Also not a Top 40 station: CHUM-FM in the early years of the progressive rock format and Pete and Geets every morning in the '70s. Also on the FM dial, WYSL-FM/WPHD in the '70s then WBUF in the early '80s.

Honorable mentions to WGAR, WABC, WLS, WNBC and even country-formatted CFGM and WYRK. And let's not forget about KEY-590 in the late '80s. Great station!

FM 108 for oldies in the late '70s and '80s.

Here's a nice montage of Top 40 radio in the early '70s:

http://rockradioscrapbook.ca/early70s-montage.mp3

 

I'd also like to add a couple of stations I used to listen to in the early '70s that have been mostly forgotten. There was WHLD 1270 and WEBR 970. Both had a great A-C mix but didn't last long though the latter went to an interesting mix of news by day and jazz by night. Also a very short-lived oldies station, WACJ Buffalo, the forerunner of WHTT around the early '80s. Then there was WYSL-AM late-'60s-early '70s ... oh the list is endless.
 


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

January 19, 2020 1:24 pm  #18


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

I also recall an AM station from I think Rochester NY that used to play album tracks all day, then at 6 pm went totally Christian for the evening. I had a summer job in 1972 working at the town dock in Trenton Ontario and used to play that station all day , then changed to CBJQ Belleville for the evening. 

 

January 19, 2020 2:30 pm  #19


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

WNYS 104.1 Buffalo was an awesome CHR station in Buffalo from I believe late 1981 to 1986 (when it became WHTT).  PJ Foxx had a nice voice and I remember Bill Todd, who then migrated to Rock 102 post-Stereo Rock.
  


Cheers,
Jody Thornton
 
 

January 19, 2020 2:38 pm  #20


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Thanks everyone for taking part, and keep it coming. Who do you think was the best Top 40 radio station of all time?  And why do you think so? Lots of great stations so far, and a few surprises.

Here is my choice, and for me wasn't that hard.  Overall my choice would be 1050 CHUM. And my era would be about 1970's and up until about 1983.

CHUM wasn't  the best at everything, some other stations had a better technical quality sound , more memorable or funny announcers, more lavish contests etc. But CHUM was always good at everything. They always had a great news operation for a top 40 station, and the news, while contemporary was straight forward, never sensationalist.  "And here's how things look to Dick Smyth this morning"....classic.  Even their talk show with John Gilbert was about the best anywhere.

Contests, dynamite and creative production, great announcers, played and made the hits, presented hundreds of concerts, first top 40 station in Canada and one of only a few in North America in 1957, and always there to keep you up and happy, that was CHUM!   From this small single dusk to dawn radio station in downtown Toronto grew the CHUM radio and TV empire, which sold for $1.6 billion in 2006.

They always put the music first, and never forgot that it was music that made them popular in Toronto back in 1957. I respected CHUM when towards the end of summer 1979, they took a big gamble, dropped all disco/lighter pop, and went more to a new music, new wave format. As radical as this was (all other top 40 AM stations in North America were mellowing out) CHUM in fact was going back to it's roots of the late 50's and early 60's. Especially in this era, no other AM Top 40 station sounded like CHUM.

That was my choice.  A few other stations, I really enjoyed in the Top 40 era and in no particular order- WLS, WOWO, CFTR, CKGM, CFUN, LG73, WABC, WAPE, WNBC, CKSL, CKLW, KY58, CKPR, CFRA, WCFL. 

     Thread Starter
 

January 19, 2020 5:31 pm  #21


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

paterson1 wrote:

Thanks everyone for taking part, and keep it coming. Who do you think was the best Top 40 radio station of all time?  And why do you think so? Lots of great stations so far, and a few surprises.

Here is my choice, and for me wasn't that hard.  Overall my choice would be 1050 CHUM. And my era would be about 1970's and up until about 1983.

CHUM wasn't  the best at everything, some other stations had a better technical quality sound , more memorable or funny announcers, more lavish contests etc. But CHUM was always good at everything. They always had a great news operation for a top 40 station, and the news, while contemporary was straight forward, never sensationalist.  "And here's how things look to Dick Smyth this morning"....classic.  Even their talk show with John Gilbert was about the best anywhere.

Contests, dynamite and creative production, great announcers, played and made the hits, presented hundreds of concerts, first top 40 station in Canada and one of only a few in North America in 1957, and always there to keep you up and happy, that was CHUM!   From this small single dusk to dawn radio station in downtown Toronto grew the CHUM radio and TV empire, which sold for $1.6 billion in 2006.

They always put the music first, and never forgot that it was music that made them popular in Toronto back in 1957. I respected CHUM when towards the end of summer 1979, they took a big gamble, dropped all disco/lighter pop, and went more to a new music, new wave format. As radical as this was (all other top 40 AM stations in North America were mellowing out) CHUM in fact was going back to it's roots of the late 50's and early 60's. Especially in this era, no other AM Top 40 station sounded like CHUM.

That was my choice.  A few other stations, I really enjoyed in the Top 40 era and in no particular order- WLS, WOWO, CFTR, CKGM, CFUN, LG73, WABC, WAPE, WNBC, CKSL, CKLW, KY58, CKPR, CFRA, WCFL. 

I think CHUM had probably the best board ops in the business, but fans of CKLW might disagree. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons3/smile.png


Another station I'd like to mention is CHSC, which had some very good jocks including Ted Yates now at the Grand. Also there's CKFM - one of the classiest-sounding stations around with Don Daynard, Carl Banas, Russ Thompson et al - and CHFI-FM.
 


"Life without echo is really no life at all." - Dan Ingram
 

January 19, 2020 6:15 pm  #22


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

paterson1 wrote:

Thanks everyone for taking part, and keep it coming. Who do you think was the best Top 40 radio station of all time?  And why do you think so? Lots of great stations so far, and a few surprises.

"And here's how things look to Dick Smyth this morning"....classic.  

Agree and I felt the same way about Brian Henderson, who succeded Smyth.  Henny's comments (like Smyth's) were always a "cut above the usual fare".


 

 

January 19, 2020 9:00 pm  #23


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

Agree and I felt the same way about Brian Henderson, who succeded Smyth.  Henny's comments (like Smyth's) were always a "cut above the usual fare".

Strongly agree.   As I have said here before, Henny was one of the best writers that I ever had a chance to listen to.   News, Sports, commentaries, what a great writer.   Learned more from listening to him, and a few others including Mike Cleaver, Glen Cochrane just to name two than I ever did in College.    

 

 

January 19, 2020 10:04 pm  #24


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

For me, from where I grew up (in KW), it was CKOC which had the best signal in our parts and proudly proclaimed, the triple most listened to station of the next Hammer radio station. I recall CKOC had to null their nighttime signal to KW. Back at the time, my parents got me a GE Super Radio and recall picking up top 40 from KFI LA at night.  

 

January 20, 2020 10:27 am  #25


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

grilled.cheese wrote:

CFBN AM 1280

If that was Top 40, I'll eat my own shorts.
 

 

January 20, 2020 9:37 pm  #26


Re: What is Your Choice for the Greatest Top 40 Radio Station of All Time?

grilled.cheese wrote:

CFBN AM 1280

What about CHEV-1610 ?