WOR-FM Personality Al Brady Comments
Al Brady was a DJ at 'OR-FM in 1969
Perhaps I can offer some input into several questions that have been raised about the inner workings at 'OR-FM:
First, the jocks had no input into what songs were included on the playlist however this was long before the day of pre-programmed music, so we did make the selections while we were on the air following some basic rules about repetition and making sure the more popular songs were played in a higher rotation. The playlist was done by Sebastian Stone and the music director Meridee Herman with input from Betty Breneman, who was Drake's National Music Director based in Los Angeles.
It's been commented that 'OR-FM played a lot of songs which were not hits. This was true of all Drake stations and was also true of most Top 40 stations nationwide. WABC was always the exception. It was Rick Sklar who insisted on the very tight current list, but most stations played about 30 chart songs with some hitbounds thrown in. It really didn't have anything to do with the commercial load. If you've listened to the 'OR-FM airchecks you can hear there is no shortage of spots. In hindsight the length of the playlist was a weakness in the Drake format and many other top 40 stations. Sklar got it right in that a very tight playlist drove a very high cume because with the high turnover of Top 40 it was the cume which drove the ratings, especially in those days.
As for the spots, the format was set up with twelve stops. Each could be no longer than 70 seconds and could not contain more than two commercial units, therefore you could have a 60 and a 10 or you could have two 30's. Some sets also included a PSA and/or weather. There really were not any long music sweeps unless the log was particularly light. There was a two record sweep built in at :15, :30 and the top of the hour, and maybe at :45. I don't recall.
As for the lack of "personality", that was certainly by design to counter the clutter that was on WABC and WMCA at that time. Interestingly, in 1970 we did a project to compare how much talk was on WABC vs. 'OR-FM and it turned out that in many cases the 'OR-FM jocks spent more time talking than the WABC jocks did. It was certainly true that by 1970, WABC had significantly tightened their format and had also added a lot more gold to its playlist.
You simply can't lose sight of the fact that during the late 60's and early 70's, FM penetration in New York was just over 50% and even lower in cars. My first FM car radio was an Audiovox unit that plugged into the AM radio and played back at 1600 kc. When you consider the lack of penetration, 'OR-FM's success is truly astounding.
One other point. It's been asked why the jock turnover was so high at 'OR-FM. While it's true that many of the original jocks were from California and didn't take to New York, I think the real reason was money. It was hard to live in New York on the kind of money RKO was paying most of us. For example, I left 'OR-FM to go to WINZ in Miami as program director and made considerably more in Miami than I did in New York. When I returned to New York at WWDJ, I was making almost double what I had been paid just a year before at 'OR-FM.
Nevertheless, I think most of the people who worked there would agree that it was an honor to be involved with what was, essentially, the first successful FM station and the real treat was to be able to learn under Sebastian Stone who was without a doubt the finest "format" PD I ever ran across. Ron Jacobs at KHJ was a totally different kind of PD who encouraged much more personality, and he was a true genius but when it came to execution, Sebastian had no peer.
I hope this clears up some of the questions that have been asked about 'OR-FM. It's been great fun hearing many of my old friends on the airchecks.
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