Classic Rock Bottom

WOR-FM, THE FIRST COMMERCIAL FM ROCK STATION PT.1

No theme, group or artist featured for the next few weeks- but a Radio Station!
A now-defunct Radio Station, WOR-FM, that had really only about 14 months of glory- and sadly, it's call letters no longer even exist.
But it was the FIRST FM to play Rock & Roll, and it laid the groundwork for what was later to be regarded as the best Rock station ever, WNEW-FM.
It debuted on July 30, 1966, 45 years ago...and I didn't even have an FM radio!
The year before, the FCC made perhaps the ONLY good ruling in their history, to make this extraordinary event possible.
And I will play the first song they played on that historic day.
After all the heat we've had and my brain being mush (surprised I could DO a show, lol!), I'll let Radio Authority Alan Sniffen tell some of the story:
 
WOR-FM: A Brief History
by Allan Sniffen
 
In 1965 the Federal Communications Commission ruled that major market FM radio stations could no longer simulcast their AM sister stations.  FM had to become separate with individual programming.  This was deemed necessary to allow FM to grow and develop its own audience.  The ruling put radio station owners in a bind.  They needed to come up with new formats for these weaker and less desirable stations. Since FM was more difficult to receive,  its universe of potential listeners was much smaller... and so was its billing.  The new formats therefore had to be both different and relatively inexpensive to program. 
 
It was in that environment that RKO General Broadcasting launched its new WOR-FM  (98.7Mhz) “Hot 100” format on July 30, 1966.  The name is deceiving because, in fact, it was the first Progressive Rock station in the country.  It marketed itself as stereo as a way to distinguish itself from AM radio.  The problem was that many of the records played by the station were not in stereo.  While it was true that most record albums were stereo, singles were not.  Since the singles came out before the albums, much of the new music it was breaking was in mono. 
 
The original WOR-FM disc jockeys were Scott Muni (formerly of WABC and WMCA), Murray “the K” Kaufman (formerly of WINS), Rosko (Bill Mercer) and Johnny Michaels.   Even though the format began on July 30, the disc jockeys did not.  There were union problems with AFTRA.  RKO did not want to pay FM disc jockeys the equivalent pay of their AM counterparts.  As a result, the station segued from one record to another (except for taped promotions by the DJ’s) until Saturday, October 8 1966. 
 
Thank you Alan, and more from you coming.
The words GROOVE, GROOVY,  and particularly HAPPENING will pop up frequently during these shows.
As usual, I don't know how long the series will go.
I just have a bunch of records, actual airchecks, and a desire to re-create what was the first vague inkling for me that I wanted to play music like THIS!
For oldsters and youngsters alike, I invite you to join me, because "The Sound Is WOR-FM...New York!"
 
And here's the groovy, happening link to those truly thrilling days of yesteryear, at WLSO.FM:
 

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Comment by Mike Pell on July 29, 2011 at 12:35pm
Oh jeez Scott, in that case 2065 should be celebrated for the Centennial of Your Birth, LOL!
I didn't understand the importance!
I wasn't aware of and never heard the Paul Carrack and Carlene Carter remake of Oh How Happy , but Carrack has a long proud history in Rock & Roll.
God bless Mom on her 80th birthday!
I wish mine had lived that long, so give her my best and joyest regards...and she'll say "Who's that?"
I don't remember either if the Alice Cooper is the same Talk Talk as the Music Machine one I played.
That IS funny if you thought HE wrote it...you always have a literal laugh-out-loud in your writing!
Stick around for this series and the songs you DON'T know will increase from half, lol!
You'll have to call your older brother.
It'll be fun for me though, songs I haven't thought about in years.
You are so right, it IS cool to learn about this time period and get the chance to hear what was going on.
It is all part of our history, and there was a time AM ruled the music world, as hard to believe as many today would find that.
Like I told RJ, I appreciate your open-mindedness.
And also glad you dug it because it is about a local station- I mean, as I said, how excited would I be about hearing old DJ's from Detroit or Chicago?
Thanks for listening and writing and going back in time with me,
The Professor, Mike lol
Comment by Mike Pell on July 29, 2011 at 12:13pm
RJ,
Hey man, you never said anything about the Mike Pell Shuffle in the Odds & Ends, LOL!
It's ok, I understand.
If you had anything like the 8 or 9 or so weeks I had, my heart goes out to you.
Mine was family, a brother, and from there it seemed to snowball into everything else- I was so depressed I didn't want to do anything, that's why all the encores.
It could be heard in that Odds & Ends show.
You were 5 months old? You kids, lol!
I wasn't listening either, 1966 I missed a lot of music, and I and my friends didn't have an FM radio anyway.
But in 1967, oh man did I make up for it!
I hardly had time for school & sports, but I managed- and I wanted to be just like those FM guys, play that music with no false hype, laid back, tell stories with the songs, play music in a smart way!
And the music was exploding, experimental, nothing was out of bounds.
So I have to say 60's music is my favorite- the period from about 1964 to 1974 (yes the 70's was still the sound of the 60's...music is no respecter of decades!).
I figured everyone would know Wild Thing.
2nd song was It's A Happening Thing by the Peanut Butter Conspiracy- even the names of the groups were cool!
Bernadette was by the Four Tops and was a hit on AM & FM.
But the best for me was the J.J. Jackson song, It's All Right- haven't heard it in years, and the first time I ever played it through headphones!
I haven't done the next show yet, but I know the most fun I will have will be playing songs that even I forgot about, lol!
Glad you enjoyed it, that good old open-mindedness of yours I appreciate so much.
I am concerned that the series will not appeal to everyone because it is about a local station- I mean, how excited would I be about hearing old DJ's from Detroit or Chicago?
But my concerns never seem to be enough to stop me once I get an idea, lol!
Hell, it's an anniversary of 45 years! The FIRST FM Rock station!
And no guarantee I am still doing this for their 50th!
Good to hear from you, hope things are better as they are getting for me,
Mike
Comment by Scott on July 29, 2011 at 10:52am

65 being the year of my birth, I'm sticking to my original statement about it being a fine year.  Though I would we dont mention the FCC and the year of my birth in the same context going forward  ...  hahahaha

 

Love this show, the Oh How Happy tune is really nice!  Paul Carrack and Carlene Carter did a remake thats quite good as well.  I have been putting together a smal picture show for my mothers 80th birthday and have used that remake in the soundtrack.

 

That TalkTalk song sounds really familiar, I think Alice Cooper did a remake on his Flush The Fashion album in 1980, pretty sure, but I need to confirm!  And I thought he was writing cool stuff!  hahahaha

 

Its funny that I am the youngest in my family and my oldest brother was into this style of music, but I sitll dont know half of these.  But its cool to think about this time period and get the chance to hear what was going on. 

 

Thanks Mike!

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on July 29, 2011 at 10:50am

Mike,

I've had one of those weeks like you've been talking about lately.  But I finally got to this.  I was 5 months old when this occurred.  How cool.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't listening on July 30, 1966. 

 

But this was a very cool show.  I love all the info you provided and although I've never claimed to be a fan of 60's music, I must say I'm very impressed here.  Of course I know Wild Thing, but that second song was really interesting.  The guitar and bass work really stood out to me.  And the song about Bernadette was probably my favorite here. 

 

I'll say it again, I really enjoyed this show and will catch part 2 soon.

Comment by Mike Pell on July 26, 2011 at 6:42am

Actually Scott, it was 1965 when the FCC made the ruling- FM stations had until January 1967 to provide their own programming for no less than 12 hours a day.

WOR-FM jumped on it July 30, 1966...an ever BETTER year than '65, LOL!

And for me, at my perfect impressionable age, 1967 was the BEST of them all.

Never been surpassed still for music!

Mike

Comment by Scott on July 26, 2011 at 5:45am
Cool idea!  I will make it a point to listen this in the next few days.  I knew 1965 was fine year!

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