Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I love the Windy!

        ...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.
WJJD was successful and unusually so because it’s broadcast hours were limited...just like the station I was at in Washington DC.
Here comes a little tech talk...but it’s something  strange in the history of radio.  WJJD  like WPGC(am) was what you called in the business “a daytimer”.  Those stations signed on the air at sunup and had to sign off the air at sundown.  
But the FCC...Federal Communications Commission had allowed  some extra broadcast hours for WJJD...probably based on pleas from the owners that they had to serve the needs of the millions of farmers who lived within earshot of the station’s signal.  Those kind of things generally work well with Washington decision makers.
So we didn’t have to wait for sun up.  We had a set 4 am Chicago time sign on 7 days a week.  But there was a catch and this is really weird.
Because of the huge power generated by our station’s transmitter...(we covered about forty states even during the day) the Commission ordered us to shut it off at 7AM every day for 15 minutes.
This would allow a Salt Lake City station on our same frequency to go on the air and establish it’s signal which then blocked ours in their area when we went back on in fifteen minutes.
Like I said...unusual and I believe the ONLY mandate of it’s kind in radio history.  But don’t hold me to that.
As you can imagine we had a lot of fun explaining this each day to our listeners.  But we had to because there was nothing for them to do but switch to another station at 7AM and we didn’t want that.  Howard Miller over on WIND didn’t have to shut down for fifteen minutes each day!
We were also allowed a couple of hours extra in the evening even AFTER sundown.  I remember we had regular listeners in Boston to our programs.
(end part 1)

No comments:

Post a Comment