From Radio Buddy Scott Fybush , we get news about the passing of one of the key players in Radio duing my time in that business:
Bill Drake spent most of his career out west, but the wizard of streamlined top-40 radio had a huge influence on the sound of the MASSACHUSETTS airwaves, where his corporate consulting work for RKO General made the early WRKO-FM (98.5 Boston) a mid-sixties cult favorite before the company pulled the trigger in 1967 and put Drake’s top-40 format on WRKO (680), creating one of the Hub’s legendary radio stations.
Drake, who died Saturday in California at 71, was criticized almost as often as he was imitated – his creation, a format that emphasized tight segues and shotgun jingles over lengthy DJ patter, was viewed at the time (and is still seen by some) as removing personality from the airwaves
But in other venues, including WRKO in its heyday, Drake’s tight formatics allowed talented “Boss Jocks” to shine in a fast-paced environment of hit music, killer jingles, and must-listen specials such as Drake’s masterpiece, “The History of Rock & Roll,” setting a standard for music radio that remains unmatched forty years later.
And even if the northeast was never as fertile a territory for Drake as were the midwest (CKLW) and the west (KHJ, KFRC, and the list goes on), there’s still no question that Drake’s influence lives on here, as close as the nearest oldies station, where the Drake sound lived on (thanks, in part, to his Drake-Chenault music automation systems) long after its inventor had retreated to California, where he all but disappeared from public view in the decades before his death.
Yes, indeed; I learned a lot about handing a control board by simply listening to tapes of those operations… KHJ, particularly on tape, and back in the day before CJBQ’s power increase, listening directly to CKLW. at night. CKLW was one of the stations I listened to with regularity. “The Big 8” was ‘the sound’ back in the day, and was representitive of the only kind of radio I ever realy wanted to do. I happened to hear CKLW a few nights ago when I was well west of CJBQ’s night patterm. How the mighty have fallen, is all I can say.
By the way, if you want to keep up on Radio happenings in the Northeast… along with a load of great station tours from all over the country, Scott’s NERW and Site Of the Week postings are a great way to do that.