Friday, July 13, 2007

CBS FM

#267 CBS FM

They should start a band called The Jerx.

And then, they should give ‘em the hook, as they used to say in vaudeville.

Well, actually they did that.

A little radio folklore here. Back in the days when AM radio dominated, WABC dominated the dominators. Then, after years of trying, the suits turned it into a talk station and all the listeners went away.

Around that time, WCBS FM was casting about for something to do. They tried an idiotic format called “The Young Sound,” which was anything but. It flopped. So they hired on a few of the deposed WABC disc jockeys and started playing what we now call “oldies” music.

Harry Harrison, Dan Daniel, Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and some others were hired for various shifts. The thing became a monster hit. People by the zillions listened. Program Director Joe McCoy ran a good ship. People loved it.

Then, after CBS got sold and re-sold, some imbecile with a tie decided it was time to pack it in and put on a totally stupid format called “Jack FM.” And nobody listened.

The imbecile with the tie got fired, and the Suit who took his place decided Oldies Rule and changed back to something akin to the original “oldies” format.

It’s not exactly the same, now. We won’t hear “Earth Angel” by The Penguins or “At the Hop” with Danny & the Juniors. But at least they’re playing 60s and 70s and 80s music and have live disc jockeys again (as opposed to “Jack” which had nothing live.

Will this be a hit, or a miss?

Probably a hit. The oldies fans were so loyal, they kept pelting CBS management with invective and begged without shame for the return.

The only major difference now is that there are none of those WABC types back at WCBS/FM. That’s too bad. They defined the genre.

Harry Harrison couldn’t do a talkup to save his life. But he still was fun (“mornin’ mom!”)

Cousin Brucie was a parody of himself. (Eeee-yew, cousins!)

Ron Lundy had nothing to say, but he said it with great enthusiasm and style.

Dan Ingram was master of the double entendre.

But the people who now fill the seats aren’t at all bad. In fact, by today’s standards, they’re major talents. Dan Taylor, Bob Shannon, Bill Lee and Bobby Jay.

Still… it’s not the same. Guess it can’t be. Shouldn’t be.

What it is: a good personality radio station in a sea of canned voice tracking.

It’s nice they have stopped the automated “Jack FM.”

Bill Paley no longer is rotating in his grave.

(Disclaimer: The columnist worked at WCBS FM periodically and remains friendly with some of the people mentioned in this item.)

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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