Monday, April 2, 2012

Top-40 Radio

Not the way it is now...
             ...I'm talking about the Top-40 radio of the sixties.

I know radio back in the 1960s was gimmickry and sophomoric (being "teen-themed"), and the disc-jockeys were essentially the adolescent-themed incarnation of all the hosts of late-afternoon dinnertime/pre-prime-time children's cartoon shows, but instead of being "clowns" "sailors" and "farmers" these record-spinning radio hosts were slick shades-wearing "cool guys" all out to one-up each other to see who could "win over" the most listeners.

Okay, so like any other corporate venture the underlying motive was essentially to "make money"
---but yet there was enough egoism amongst those in the business that it also became a "contest" to see who's station could put together the best programming, who among the on-air personalities has the most charisma and can "woo in" the most loyal following of steady radio listeners, who's jingles are the catchiest, who's station can assemble the most interesting "program patterns" so as to give that particular station the "edge"---and other such crafty trickeries.
And it worked!
And that's why this time-frame of the-history-of-the-media has attained such a legacy status in the annals of history.

What made it work?
It was the merging of both corporate and creative elements and the way so many crafty mindsets willingly and enthusiastically went out of their way to figure out the best ways to synergize both the commercial and the clever-and-catchy to create that smooth harmonious blend of both which seemed to just "flow" out of one's radios so effortlessly and almost always so on-cue as well.

The concepts of "credibility" and "professionalism" were important during that period of time, so everyone's egos were on-the-line---resulting in all these efforts at on-air perfectionism.
Attracting more listeners=more revenue for the station and/or it's parent company.
But I'm willing to bet there was also a certain amount of pride they took in "a job well-done".

Of course let us not forget about the music itself.
Back then ANYBODY could have a "hit record":
be it The Beatles, The Supremes...or Louie Armstrong, Bobby Daren...or The Kinks, or Rita Pavone...
or The Righteous Brothers, The Four Tops, The Four Seasons, or Julie Rodgers...Richard Harris or Steppenwolf...The Beach Boys or The Doors...Leslie Gore or Martha & the Vandellas...The 5th Dimension or Cream...The Cowsills or Bob Dylan...Petula Clark or Wilson Pickett...Procol Harum or Tom Jones...even the "easy-listening" sounds of Henry Mancini and Paul Mauriat...
there was definitely the "variety" factor.

These days radio is too "robotic" with "pre-rigged" playlists which all seem way-too-redundant to be captivating enough to hold one's interest.
Certainly not in the way it could some 45 (give-or-take) years ago.

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