who took payola?

It was the hot scandal of the AM era. But was taking money to play records illegal? Deejays who were there, tell all.

the payola hearings

In 1960, a Congressional Committee decided to make a Federal case of Payola. DId justice prevail?


Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball, considered by some to be the first rock concert, took place on March 21, 1952, but police shut it down after more than 20,000 people stormed the 10,000 person capacity Cleveland Arena. Freed went on the air the next night to apologize.

boss radio

Boss Radio was a format developed by programming pioneers Bill Drake and Gene Chenault. The best known station was KHJ. Thanks to Boss jocks including Robert. W. Morgan, The Real Don Steele and legendary program director Ron Jacob, it Los…make that Boss Angeles by storm in the 60’s.

the day the music died

February 3, 1959 is a day that shook the music world. In the early morning hours, a plane carrying three>of rock’s biggest stars, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. ”The Big Bopper Richardson, crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, following their appearance at the Surf Ballroom’s Winter Dance Party. Everyone remembers that date, thanks in part to Don McLean’s tribute song, “American Pie”. But no one remembers it better than Bob Hale, who was the local deejay picked to emcee the event that night. 

Bob went on to  to become one of the original Swinging Seven who launched Chicago’s legendary WLS. His career also included decades as a Chicago TV personality, but he will always be associated with that fateful night. Bob shared his memories at this year’s Winter Dance Party, an annual event that began in 1979.


In 1966, John Lennon said that Christianity was in decline and the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”. When the interview was printed in the U.S. it caused controversy and angry reactions. Tommy Charles and Doug Layton, deejays at Birmingham, Alabama station WAQY, reacted by refusing to play Beatles records. They also encouraged listeners to burn their Beatles records, at a bonfire scheduled the night of the Fab Four’s appearance in Memphis.

PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center)

In 1984, the music industry was challenged by a group of political wives, led by Tipper Gore, wife of the former Vice-President. Shocked andhorrified by what they deemed unacceptable lyrics and cover art in rock music, they advocated warning stickers for content that included sex, drugs, violence or anything that would make them want to cover their children’s ears. This led to a Congressional hearing that pitted the Washington Wives, as they were called, against musicians Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), John Denver and Frank Zappa. (Zappa later released an album Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention that included a “guarantee” that the lyrics wouldn’t “cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts business”.) Representing radio’s interests was Zappa’s friend, DC deejay Cerphe Colwell, who had been at the forefront of the freeform radio revolution. He shares his memories of Zappa and the PMRC.

96X: The End of an Era

February 15, 1981 was the end of an era for South Florida radio station 96X (WMJX)  A victim of fraudulent practices by a previous owner, it was signed off by General Manager Bob Allen and an emotional  Stuart (Boy Wonder) Elliott. Thirty-five years later, Stuart can be heard on online station

WABC And The Strike of 1967

In the spring of 1967, members of AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) went on strike. For almost two weeks, the deejays were on the picket line while management and supervisors took turns behind the mic. The strike made instant stars out of some, including chief engineer Bernie (”Bernie the K”) Koval and ABC publicist Martin Grove, whose Cousin Brucie impression earned him an “A” for effort. Program Director Rick Sklar even found a way to make the strike fun….and a promotion opportunity.