Airchecks: 1960


Station: WMGM New York

Dates: January 1, 1960
Time: 40:04 (unscoped)
             18:03 (scoped)

Peter Tripp ushers in a new decade with a countdown of the top hits of 1959.

Tripp - who gained fame a year earlier by staying on the air for a world record 201 hours and 10 minutes - plays songs 18 to 11 from the previous year in New Year's Day show.

John Connally is heard with the news in this rare full-length aircheck of this short-lived Top 40 station, which became WHN with an easy-listening format in 1962.

Enjoy Peter Tripp on WMGM from New Year's Day 1960 (Pt. 1, UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy Peter Tripp on WMGM from New Year's Day 1960 (Pt. 1, SCOPED) here.

(The Don Shuttleworth Collection)

Station: WMGM New York
Date: January 11, 1960
Time: 42:20 (unscoped)
            20:26 (scoped)

It was a stunt gone bad, very bad.

In January 1959, WMGM DJ Peter Tripp attempted a world record of eight days and nights (201 hours and 10 minutes) without sleep for charity. He broadcast three hours a day from a glass booth in Times Square, his progress monitored by doctors.

Tripp reached his goal, but at great personal cost. He began experiencing hallucinations by the fourth day of the wake-a-thon, imaging spiders in his shoes and mice at his feet. By the eighth and final day, he was unable to differentiate between hallucinations and reality, and thought his doctors were conspiring against him. He was carried to bed after ending his wake-a-thon and slept for more than half a day.

Tripp resumed his radio job at WMGM but continued to have psychotic events on the air. He lost his job, divorced his wife (his first of four divorces) and got caught up in the payola scandal after it was discovered he had accepted $36,500 in bribes to play certain records. He received a six-month suspended sentence and a $500 fine.

Left almost penniless after departing WMGM in 1960, Tripp eventually resurfaced at KYA San Francisco. He then moved down the coast to KGFJ Los Angeles before his final radio stop at WOHO Toledo. He left radio in 1967, then did motivational speaking, sales, marketing, writing and stock-brokering before retiring to Palm Springs, California. The native of Port Chester, New York, died of a stroke in 2000, aged 73.

Tripp began his radio career in 1947 at WEXL Royal Oak, Michigan. He moved to KUDL Kansas City in 1953, before moving cross-town to WHB. He landed at WMGM in 1955 where he did his show "Your Hits of The Week."

This aircheck was recorded about a year after his stunt.

Enjoy Peter Tripp on WMGM (UNSCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Peter Tripp on WMGM (SCOPED) here. 

(The Joe Fazio Collection)

Station: WHB Kansas City
Date: April 29, 1960
Time: Part 1 - 30:05 (unscoped)
           Part 2 - 28:03 (unscoped)

Top 40 radio pre-dates the rock era.

Long before Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were rocketing up the charts, businessman Todd Stortz introduced the first Top 40 format at KOHW in his hometown of Omaha in 1951. As one account goes (and there are many), Stortz and program director Bill Stewart noticed customers at a bar in Omaha playing the same songs over and over on the jukebox. They took that idea to radio and it worked: KOHW's market share went from four per cent to 45 per cent in 1951.

Bolstered by that success, Stortz brought his format to WTIX New Orleans in 1953 and a year later took it to WHB Kansas City. WHB was a huge success, garnering a 52 per cent market share, leaving Kansas City's three other radio stations to split the rest. The World's Happiest Broadcasters had arrived and would be a dominant force for a long time.

WHB's share remained in the double digits until the early '80s, but competition from FM eventually overwhelmed it. In 1985, the legendary station dropped Top 40 after 31 years for oldies. Continuing to be buttressed by FM, the once-mighty WHB dropped to a 1.2 share in 1990. It switched to a country format in 1993 and went all-sports in 1999.

This April 29, 1960 aircheck captures WHB during its glory years. You're "Bobbin' With Robin" - Bob Robin - as he counts down the big hits of the day on "The Top 40 Show." Robin - whose real name was Robert Sticht - died in 2012 at the age of 83 having retired from radio just five years earlier. The Mississippi native also worked in Memphis, Louisville and New Orleans before jocking in Nashville at WLAC, WSIX and WAMB.

Hear Bob Robin on WHB, Part 1 (UNSCOPED) here.

Hear Bob Robin on WHB, Part 2 (UNSCOPED) here.

(The Don Shuttleworth Collection)

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
online streaming fees to the
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (License 22-F)

Station: WLAC Nashville
Date: 1960
 30:41/33:34 (unscoped)
33:34/14:52 (scoped)

Gene Nobles was born to sell and be on the radio - not necessary in that order.

A former carnival barker and bingo caller, Nobles was perfect to be a radio announcer and salesman. In fact, he was WLAC's sales manager for a while, but Nobles really made his mark as one of the first white disc jockeys in the U.S. to play African-American "race" music - as they called it at the time. Nobles joined the station in 1943 and three years later began the then unheard-of practice of playing African-American music on a white station. He would be joined on the WLAC air staff by three other white jocks - John R. (Richbourg), Bill "Hoss" Allen and Herman Grizzard - also playing the African American music that many other stations were ignoring.  Together, they were known as "The 50,000-Watt Quartet", and that monster WLAC signal could be heard all over the eastern U.S. at night, also getting into Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

(l-r) John R, Gene Nobles, Don Whitehead, Hoss Allen, Herman Grizzard, circa 1970

Nobles and the three other members of "The 50,000-Watt Quartet" did much to introduce African-American music to white audiences during the '50s, '60s and early '70s. They played R&B, blues and gospel music. Nobles and Richbourg left the station in the '70s (Grizzard died in 1971 and John R. in 1986), leaving Allen as the final remaining member still at WLAC. He did a gospel show at WLAC until 1993, four years before his death.

Nobles - a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas - was known for his snappy repartee and colourful "slamguage" radiospeak.

His expressions included:

"Jerks/fillies" boys/girls.
"From the heart of my bottom" a suggestive inversion of the traditional testimony to sincerity.
"That's G-A-double L-A-T-I-N, folks", spelling the name of the town where Randy's Record Shop was located.

 Gene Nobles died September 21, 1989 at the age of 76.

Enjoy Gene Nobles on WLAC (Pt. 1, UNSCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Gene Nobles on WLAC (Pt. 2, SCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Gene Nobles on WLAC (Pt. 2, UNSCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Gene Nobles on WLAC (Pt. 2, SCOPED) here. 

 (The John Harrison Collection)

Station: WLAC Nashville
Date: 1960
 3:45 (unscoped)
  1:16 (scoped)

Herman Grizzard, born in 1900, was the eldest of WLAC's "The 50,000-Watt Quartet." Grizzard joined the station in the early 1930s. He did a variety of shows in his early years at the station, but by 1950 had started to play African-American music in the late night hours. Grizzard's show was sponsored for many years by a trio of local record shops who gained national fame thanks to WLAC's powerful night-time signal. Grizzard was also an early baseball broadcaster, announcing play-by-play of minor league teams in Nashville.

Herman Grizzard died in 1971 in Nashville.

Enjoy Herman Grizzard on WLAC (UNSCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Herman Grizzard on WLAC (SCOPED) here. 

 (The John Harrison Collection)

Talent: BOB HALE
Station: WLS Chicago
Date: June 8, 1960
Time: 10:06

"Mid-America's Bright New Sound!"

It's not rock 'n' roll, but we still like it.

The Ames Brothers, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone ... even Artie Shaw (!) are featured on this aircheck of Bob Hale's all-night show just a month into the Top 40 format at WLS. Where's the rock? Evidently playing in other day parts. We guess they figured the kids would be in bed at that hour, and it would be best to program to adults.

Hale had his place in history before coming to WLS in May 1960 as one of its original Top 40 jocks. On February 2, 1959, he was the Master of Ceremonies at the infamous last concert of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in Clear Lake, Iowa, just hours before the trio died in a plane crash. Hale moved to WMAQ Chicago in 1964 and continued to work in radio and television, mostly in Chicago, until his retirement in 1996.

Hear Bob Hale on WLS here.

(The Don Shuttleworth Collection)

Station: KDEO San Diego
Date: July 13, 1960
 36:12 (unscoped)

KDEO holds a special place in Top 40 radio history. On July 3, 1970, the San Diego outlet became the first station to broadcast Casey Kasem's new show American Top 40. It was one of seven AT-40 affiliates that first weekend - American Top 40 went on to become an American institution and re-broadcasts are still heard to this day.

This aircheck of KDEO, from 10 years earlier, showcases a jock who became a legend in London, Ontario, radio. Dick Williams started in radio in 1956 at CKCR Kitchener, Ontario, then jocked south of the border before returning to Canada in 1961 at CFPL London. One of the U.S. stations he appeared on was KDEO San Diego and thanks to Dick Williams and contributor Charlie Ritenburg we have a rare aircheck of The Tall One on Radio K-Deo.

This is a fabulous time capsule of early '60s Top 40 with all the bells and whistles of the era. Not only does Williams entertain as a jock, he also does the news (hear a very sensational newscast with The Tall One at the 26:55 mark.) If you love early '60s Top 40 radio, this aircheck should be a real treat.

Enjoy Dick Williams on KDEO here.

(The Charlie Ritenburg Collection via Dick Williams)

RESTORATION by Charlie Ritenburg

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
online streaming fees to the
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (License 22-F)

Station: WIBG Philadelphia
Date: September 6, 1960
Time: 30:22 (unscoped)
            16:34 (scoped)

A childhood illness led to Bill Wright, Sr.'s, spectacular radio career.

In 1938 at age 10, Wright suffered an inflammation in his legs that lasted five years, and left him dependent on wheelchairs, canes, crutches and a prosthetic boot for the rest of his life. His mother gave him a bedside radio during his convalescence and he listened to it constantly. By 1943 he was on the radio as part of a youth choir in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. He joined WSGN in 1950 and spent six years at the Birmingham outlet.

Wright's biggest break came in 1957 when he joined the staff at WIBG Philadelphia. "The Rebel Wright" established his legend at WIBBAGE doing the morning show for 11 years as part of a legendary lineup that included Jerry Stevens, Hi Lit, Joe Niagara and Frank X. Feller. At one time it was estimated half of Philadelphia listened to Wright's folksy morning drive show.

Wright left WIBG in 1968 and established broadcasting schools in Providence, Rhode Island and Philadelphia, while also doing public relations work. But you can't keep a radio guy away from the mic forever - in 1986 he joined standards-formatted WPEN in a part-time role, rejoining WIBG alumni like Joe Niagara and Jerry Stevens.

Wright was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2005. He died August 8, 2021 at the age of 92.

Hear Bill Wright, Sr., on WIBG (UNSCOPED) here. 

Hear Bill Wright, Sr., on WIBG (SCOPED) here. 

(Bill Wright, Sr. & Bill Wright Jr., 1955)

(The Don Shuttleworth Collection)

Station: KXOL Fort Worth, Tex.
Date: September 8, 1960
 59:31 (unscoped)
             35:54 (scoped)

 A funny thing happened on the way to KXOL.

TWO funny things actually - George Carlin and Jack Burns. Both are former KXOL jocks who became famous as comedians. They were part of an ever-changing cast of characters who graced the KXIOL mic during its 38 years (1947-85) of existence, including 20 (1956-76) as a Top 40 station. Other famous KXOL alumni include former CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, game show hostsRod Roddy and Jimmy Kaye and singer Kenny Sargent, a featured singer with Glenn Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra.

Jim Tucker was part of the crew in 1960 where we hear him handling afternoon drive.

Enjoy Jim Tucker on KXOL (UNSCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Jim Tucker on KXOL (SCOPED) here. 

The Joe Fazio Collection)

Station: KDAY Los Angeles
Date: November, 1960
Time: 9:05

Alan Freed's radio career didn't end with the payola scandals of the late '50s. After leaving his last New York radio gig at WABC in 1959, Freed travelled west and wound up at one of L.A.'s legendary radio stations, KDAY. Holding down the 3-7 p.m. shift there in November 1960, Freed really didn't sound much different than he did in his heyday at WINS New York and WJW Cleveland in the '50s. In fact, the station went from number-22 in a 24-station market to number-three while Freed was there. However, Freed was eventually let go from KDAY for promoting local concerts in conflict with station policy.

After his KDAY gig ended, Freed moved to WQAM Miami in 1962 where spent two months. In 1964 Freed worked briefly as an all-night deejay at KNOB, an FM jazz station in Los Angeles.

Freed died January 20, 1965 in Palm Springs, California, officially of uremia, some say of a broken heart. He was 43.

Freed was part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's first class of inductees in 1986. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.

Enjoy Alan Freed here.

(Scrapbook archives)

WIP Philadelphia
Date: December 2, 1960
Time: 29:37 (unscoped)
18:57 (scoped)

For 26 years, Joe McCauley either kept Philadelphians up or woke them up.

The Philly native joined WIP-FM (forerunner of WMMR) in 1941 after beginning his broadcast career at another Philadelphia station, WHAT. Within a year, McCauley was promoted to WIP-AM to host the all-night Dawn Patrol, a post he held for a dozen years until 1954. He then moved to mornings, waking up the City of Brotherly Love for 14 years until his death in the summer of 1968.

McCauley's trademark was his playing of "Bluebird of Happiness", which he originally aired without credit as the singer on the recording was unknown. Station executives eventually tracked down the singer as Jan Peerce. She re-recorded the song and had a hit with it in 1948.

McCauley had a famous granddaughter who never knew him. Anne Hathaway was born 14 years after his death and went on to become of the world's leading actresses.

Enjoy Joe McCauley on WIP (UNSCOPED) here.

Enjoy Joe McCauley on WIP (SCOPED) here.


(The Don Shuttleworth Collection)

Station: WMGM New York
Date: December 14, 1960
 18:14 (unscoped)
               7:54 (scoped)

When people think about the great New York AM rock stations, WABC and WMCA quickly come to mind. But there was another largely forgotten station that played the hits of the day in the late '50s and early '60s. It was known as WMGM.

WMGM started playing rock 'n roll music in May of 1956, just as Elvis was going mainstream. They played a wide variety of music, including R&B and country, plus easy listening. Jocks included Ted Brown and the Redhead (his then-wife Rhonda), Jerry Marshall, Dick Shepherd, Bob Lewis, Ed Stokes and Bob Callen.

The rock 'n roll party on WMGM ended in 1962, when the station switched to easy-listening as WHN.

Enjoy Gordy Baker filling in for Norm Stevens (UNSCOPED) here. 

Enjoy Gordy Baker filling in for Norm Stevens (SCOPED) here. 


(The Joe Fazio Collection)

WMCA New York
December 21, 1960
Various (unscoped)

(The first WMCA "Good Guys," circa 1963)

It was Christmas 1960 and radio's exciting new team was at WMCA.

WMCA began a Top 40 format in 1958 but the "team concept" for its deejays didn't come about until late 1960. The team concept - highlighted by use of the term Good Guys beginning in 1963 - had been used before but WMCA program director Ruth Meyer perfected it and made it a success. Everything at WMCA was about "team" - the jocks had the same haircuts, wore the same suits and did record hops and other personal appearances. They even recorded a record album, The Good Guys Sing, and the WMCA theme song We're The Good Guys was sung by the jocks themselves.

In late 1960, the WMCA "team" consisted of Joe O'Brien (6-10 a.m.), Harry Harrison (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), Don Davis (1-4 p.m.), Johnny Dark (4-7 p.m.), Bob Callan (7-10:30 p.m.) and Burt Sherwood (1-6 a.m.) with Barry Gray doing a talk show from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.  The morning show was especially a delight - a mixture of information, easy chatter and the top hits of the day tied together by the personable O'Brien, with help from his sidekick Benny.

Hear Part 1 of Joe O'Brien on WMCA from December 21, 1960 (UNSCOPED) here. (1:01:13)

Hear Part 2 of Joe O'Brien on WMCA from December 21, 1960 (UNSCOPED) here. (1:01:09)

Hear Part 3 of Joe O'Brien on WMCA from December 21, 1960 (UNSCOPED) here. (1:00:39)

(The Sam Ward and Don Shuttleworth Collections)

Rock Radio Scrapbook pays
online streaming fees to the
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (License 22-F)

Station: Various
Dates: N/A
Time: 4:57

Commercials in radio's heyday did more than sell - they entertained.

This montage of Toronto radio commercials includes unforgettable ads for such long-defunct companies as Knob Hill Farms, Eaton's, Power Supermarkets, Dominion Stores and Ted Davy used cars, and many other for firms and products that are still around. Some national commercials are also included. See how many you remember (our favourite is the one for Honest Ed's).

0:00 - Household Finance
0:17 - Power Supermarkets
0:26 - Wrigley's Chewing Gum
0:35 - Alka-Seltzer
0:42 - Bad Boy
0:46 - Steak & Burger
0:56 - Old Port
1:12 - Knob Hill Farms
1:20 - Eaton's
1:26 - Carnation Instant Breakfast
1:41 - Jello Pudding Pops
1:56 - Dominion Stores
2:01 - Vic Tanny
2:12 - Coorsh Smoked Meat
2:18 - Roy Orbison for Coca-Cola
2:33 - Honest Ed's
4:40 - Ted Davy


Enjoy Mark Elliot's Old Toronto Radio Commercials here.

(The Mark Elliot Collection)