I returned home to Chicago...around 1960-61.
I was Program Director of a 50,000 watt Chicago radio station at 25 years of age. And I was already well seasoned in the profession to make a go of it in the Windy. (Tough luck WMAY in Springfield!)
Rock music was just catching on and the teens and college-age kids were going crazy over it.
At this time there were basically two Chicago radio stations “playing the hits” from CASHBOX not Billboard magazine...and WJJD was one of them. The other was...no...not WLS...WLS was not a factor yet...like they would be in the coming years.
The other station was WIND with their top personality Howard Miller.
As the new PD at WJJD I had to make some decisions that would reflect the music...more than the personalities.
As a result I fired Jack Spector.
That’s right...THE Jack Spector who wasn’t a big name yet....but who would return to New York City and become one of the WMCA “Good Guys”. He’d be working for a long time. And he never thanked me for canning him!
WJJD was pretty popular.
We had a problem with the Chicago police...as about a thousand unhappy concert fans who couldn’t get into see a station sponsored show featuring (I think) Johnny Rivers became unhappy. Rivers had the number one record at the time and we booked a “too small” arena and couldn’t handle the crowd.
There was a riot....and the swat team was called in. The big bosses in Memphis and local management came down on me but I just shrugged as it was great publicity for us. And it showed the impact we were having in the city.
Then...there was “Stan Major’s mystery girl” or something like that.
I was shopping at Marshall Fields Department store in the loop and I noticed this really beautiful girl doing the same.
So I went on my show the next day and out of the blue...started challenging her to call in. I described what she looked like..what she was wearing and the time and place I spotted her. I punched it between records for about an hour.
She called! It WAS her (I had not revealed a couple of things and she confirmed them.) How’s that for impact. Out of the millions of females in Chicagoland this one actually heard the show and called to confirm.
Wow. We were riding high.
Then I began another experiment.
I had about a half dozen friends at big stations around the country. I got a box of records from an artist named Troy Shondell...and as an experiment to see if I could make this crummy record a hit just by asking my buddies across the country to play it. I sent it to them...
They did play it...and you can check to see that THIS TIME was one of the top ten records in 1960. This would be one of three records I had a hand in “making”.
end “My Kind a Town” part 1