are your memories of WLS . . .
Some of my best memories were from about 1969 thru 1973 going to bed with a small transistor radio with an ear plug listening to WLS. As a kid growing up in Alexander City, Alabama (approx. halfway between Birmingham and Montgomery), I felt somewhat isolated. That little transistor radio made me feel like I was in touch with a whole different world and fortunately it was at a time when there was a bounty of great music on top 40. I can't listen to many of those songs today without thinking about WLS. In the winter it would be a bonus if I could pick you up during the early afternoon. Many nights I dozed off with the earplug in only to wake up to the early morning farm report (if I remember correctly there were lots of farm noises). John "Records is truly my middle name" Landecker was my favorite along with Larry Lujak. The music changed quite a bit about 1973 and I drifted over to album oriented rock on FM, but I still listened when AM was all that I had. I just want all of you involved to know that you were very much appreciated by an impressionable early teen back then and are still one of my fondest memories. Hell, I was so impressed that I own my own record store now that specializes in 60's -&- 70's music. I will always think that 1969-73 was the golden era of top 40 and WLS was the pinnacle. One question that still haunts me: were you guys saying currently its 18 degrees in "Duluth" or "the Loop"?
Ahhhh! What Have U Done!!!!
Sorry! ... an avid listener since the mid-60's ... Larry ... Jeff ... & my favorite, Kris Erik Stevens! I was totally impressed. Became a "disc jockey" in 1975. Three failed marriages & three kids later, I realize, I should have listened to Uncle Lar! Happy to say....still in the biz. Got the voice tracks & image thing down & I don't work for Clear C !
Geeeeee , Thanx Guys!
Rick Gorman 12/22/01)
I am looking to trade or buy WLS surveys. If you are interested, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I can send you a list of what I am looking for. I do not need any from Feb '64 to Nov. 88. I am looking for mint to very good condition, no writing or tears. I have a complete set but am looking to replace Xerox copies and bad quality originals. I also have a large amount of surveys for sale. I also am looking for a few WCFL's. Check your basements!!
I was just thinking about and old WLS ID and looked on your site, but, alas, did not see it. Perhaps you have it somewhere or know someone who might.
The ID said "From Chicago...to the North American Continent". I forget what followed that...might have been a jingle. I think it was Charles Scott that did the voiceover. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Not some little city or county ... not some small state ... not even a country ... a friggin' CONTINENT!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyhow, if you have it or know where I can get a copy, I'd appreciate your passing the info my way.
Regards, Kris Earl Phillips (11/25/01) *** Kris runs a great website devoted to Philadelphia Radio legends, WIBG & WFIL *** Jeff
I remember growing up in the middle 60's in Michigan and listening to WLS, and WCFL. Your web page brought back some nice memories. Thanks for your efforts.
Jim Walrod Baltimore, MD (11/03/01)
Thought you might be interested in the book I just had published. It does for the WLS Silver Dollar Surveys of the 60s what Joel Whitburn's books do for the Billboard Hot 100-- it lists every song to reach the chart alphabetically by title and by artist, along with debut and peak dates, peak position reached and weeks on the survey.
For more information and sample pages, go to: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/chartbook.htm
I'm also planning a 70s volume for the beginning of next year.
Let me know what you think.
Ron Smith (9/27/01) *** All 3 volumes 1, 2 & 3 are now available, they are great... Jeff ***
I just happened to wander onto your site.
was making reservations for a train trip through Italy, so please don't
ask how I could wander so far...
So I-- at 25 years of age-- was hired away from my job as National News Director for the Star Stations (WIRE, Indianapolis; KOIL, Omaha; KISN, Portland, Oregon)-- to run the new department of the Big 89.
It might be hard for a modern programmer to believe, but in 1968, WLS carried news 12.5% of the time. That included ABC Contemporary Network Newscasts with broadcasters such as Don Gardiner, Paul Harvey in both morning and mid-day ( "The Rest of the Story" had not yet been invented), and locally-originated newscasts twice per hour in drive times. I hosted a weekly hour-long interview program which gave the first wide audience to a young Chicagoan named Jesse Jackson.
I enjoyed my two-year tenure at WLS, during which we added such wonderful news people as Lyle Dean, Jim Johnson, Jeffrey Hendrix and Lon Dyson. Other important contributors were people like Chuck Scott, Bud Miller, Dick Harley, Jerry Golden and Stan Dale.
There were many other people who served the WLS news department behind the scenes and went on to make major contributions to the broadcast industry. For example, Jerry Johnson worked as a part-time newswriter, and went on to program KGO in San Francisco, one of America's greatest radio stations.
WLS fans might enjoy the viewpoint of a staff member from the late sixties. These were the last years during which on-air talent were not highly-paid. I was an executive (Junior grade), but it was expected that I would make more than the people who worked for me. Gene Taylor was the GM, and we all knew that he made more than anybody who worked at the station. Gene had been a jock in the early days of WLS, so all of us who built the product were proud that we worked for somebody who came from the programming side. We understood that the Sales Manager made the next-highest salary, but we knew that he was on the bubble every quarter, so we gave him a pass. Any given quarter, the top billing salesman (there were only six back them) might make as much as a top jock. We accepted that, knowing that people on the programming side had a lot more fun than the salesmen.
The top peddlers were Ed Doody, Ralph Atlas, Don Carrell, Mike Lee and a couple of other talented fellows (all men) who worked with them. Their post-work headquarters was the downstairs lounge at the Executive House, just down Wacker Drive from the station. If you walked straight downstairs from the station, you entered the London House, where the best jazz in America was featured every night. When there wasn't a great band playing, Ramsey Lewis was the house band. His trio was pretty great in itself. But a beer at the London House was about $3.00. At the Executive House, a cool brew was $.85. So we only went to the London House when the network brass was in town. When Wally Schwarz, President of the ABC Radio Networks came in, he would buy a drink at the London House. Same for Hal Neal, President of the ABC Radio Division, our General Council Chuck DeBare, or the really big cheeses in the company, President Elton Rule or Board Chairman Leonard Goldenson.
Our little conference room at WLS hosted Mr. Goldenson in early 1968 when he told us how he was trying to fend off a hostile takeover of the company by Hughes Tool Company. Television was a "2 and a half" network economy, and ABC was the "1/2." Leonard had great hopes for a new series called "Batman" that fall. He told us in radio-- and especially at WLS-- that he appreciated our efforts, and he promised that when the TV side started paying off, it would be because the ABC Radio Division had kept the company afloat during the tough times. We would have killed for him. Leonard and ABC's late treasurer Simon Siegel were the type of people who motivate management teams to build great companies.
People who left the company during those years did some wonderful things. Program Director John Rook became a legend for his ideas with a lot of companies. Jocks like Larry Lujack, Kris Eric Stevens, Fred Winston, Gary Gears, Jerry King, and Chuck Buell made history as jocks and voice-over people.
In addition, WLS made itself an important radio station in the second largest market in the US by promoting itself as a major part of the Chicago community. Most Top 40 stations of the time were "teeny-bopper" stations and were forced to live with the revenue that reputation could produce. WLS always presented itself as a major broadcast contributor to the Chicago community-- in news, in editorials (the station had a full-time editorial director, researching and writing position papers which were delivered by the GM), and in it promotional posture. When Gene Taylor left WLS, the station took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune showing him walking off through Grant Park, and thanking the Chicago advertising community for its support. This was a class radio station.
left WLS in 1970 to join ABC's KGO in San Francisco. I remember thinking,
as I walked across the Michigan Avenue Bridge away from WLS' studios in
the Stone Container Building at Michigan and Wacker, that I might be making
a huge mistake. In retrospect, I made the right decision. I
left behind one of America's great radio stations at the height of it's
financial success. I have never left behind my positive feelings
for the people who make it a broadcasting legend.
I grew up in Delavan, WI, (about 45 min SW of Milwaukee). My high school days were 64-69, and my radios might as well have been a single station set. Milwaukee had a GREAT station as well, WOKY (home of Bob Barry, 'the' 5th Beatle) but so far as I (and nearly all my friends) were concerned it didn't even exist. 95% of the kids in town listed to WLS or WCFL, and of those most were HUGE WLS fans.....certainly anyone who was cool! Larry Lujack got me thru more afternoons than I can remember, and to this day I recall (tho certainly not word for word) the spiel he delivered the day Janis Joplin died. I even forgave him for not making a scheduled appearance at our Post Prom party (Lake Lawn Lodge, 1969). He and the rest of the crew inspired me to try radio.. I did a couple of years in college.. but my path has taken me to doing mobile and now club DJ work instead. THANKS to everyone who has made this a truly great site and preserved all those great memories.
Dave Klawes (7/21/01)
Really enjoy your WLS site. The only thing missing is access to an aircheck of Steve Lundy. Would really like to hear Steve again on the Big 89. Do you know anyway or anybody who may have Lundy tape on WLS.
Please let me know of any ideas you may have. I Can't find anyone, anywhere with an aircheck of Steve Lundy on WLS -- I have LOTS of airchecks to trade with anyone who can help me.
Thanx...Wayne McAteer (7/11/01)
Back in the early 70's, I lived in a small town close to Sheboygan, WI. I was in Jr. High. We didn't have alot of
material things, nor had anything like today's phenominal electonic gadgets been in existence. My treasures then were a small stereo record player,(wasn't that little plastic thing, that alowed you to play LPs AND 45s, the greatest???) and my mom's little General Electric radio that still had tubes inside. After it had been on a long time, the tubes really glowed. I used to sit up in my room very late at night and listen to WLS on that little G.E. It came in crystal-clear. I heard some of the greatest Top 10 Tunes of the day, if not of all time, doing my thinking, writing and reading to the strains of Elton John, Wings, Raspberries, Olivia Newton-John, 10CC, Gary Wright, America and lots of other great 70's groups too numerous to mention. There wasn't another radio station around like it. I will always remember those late nights listening to the radio. Today, however, I have replaced the old stereo with
new sophisticated stereo components, carefully picked out by my husband, who loves the music of the 70's as much as I do. My mom's litle radio, long gone now, has given way to a modern CD player, but my late night memories of WLS will live on in my mind forever!
Emma Lee (6/11/01)
I grew up in N. Michigan in the late 50's ... We could receiveWLS loud and clear most nights ... came right up the lake! Dick Biondi made it possible for me to "get close" on more than one occasion, if you know what I mean? I always wanted to thank him for all his help over the years. Without him I couldn't have been so "lucky"! I'm sure a lot of people "owe" him!
Here's to you, Dick, wherever you are!
I could pick up WLS very well in southern West Virginia in the late pm hours. One of my favorite memories from the summer of 1976 was listening in early July to one of John Landecker's "Boogie Checks" . All evening long kids were calling in about the new KC and the Sunshine Band song and continually asking, "... what's a booty?" I don't recall if he actually answered, but he did make some really off the wall comments. Classic:)
Sandy M. (5/30/01)
I've expanded my "Radio History and Lore" section of www.radiodailynews.com and included a link to your site under WLS 2. Hope it brings a few clicks your way.
Larry Shannon (5/28/01) Thanks Larry
Was surfing the net late one night and found your web site ... very impressed with your extensive collection of memories. Back in the sixties my father was the late- night man for WLS radio.. his name was "Dimple" Donnie Phillips. I remember not really knowing what my father did for a living at that early age because when I was going to school he was coming home from work. He would sleep alot during the day but would be up by the time we came home from school. It was an interesting childhood to say the least...some of my earliest recollections are of teenage girls always knocking on our door to see my father..while others gave candy we handed out records for Holloween...some pretty interesting folks coming over to the house for dinner or my folks having dinner with the likes of Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, The Monkees, Chad and Jeremy and others. I remember because my older brother was a jazz pianist one time having a large group of people in our living room one day after school ... a couple guys with horns and some electric guitars ... it was CTA that is it was the band Chicago just before they hit it big and from what I remember they were looking for a manager and wondered if my dad would be interested. Well ... as I've been sitting here writing so many memories are coming back ... it was really a special time ... another one
is my mom taking me to school in a Suped up Dodge that my dad got as a promo for doing Dodge commercials...you know the one that had the rear wing you could dry your laundry off of. My request is to any of your site readers that might have taped my dad's shows ... because he was "East of Midnight" I remember hearing that he had fans in Canada and all over the US and someone even said he could even be picked up in the islands, do you think anyone has any of his shows on tape. Because of the time of his show ... I always tried to stay up with my transiter radio tucked under my pillow so my mom wouldn't see it and I would always try to stay up to listen to his show ... always to no avail. He really doesn't talk about his radio career much and he only has photos of himself with
certain entertainers (which are really fantastic by the way) but not much in the way of tapes. If you could put out the request that would be great... I would like to surprise him with some of them and would pay what ever it costs to get my hands on some. *** Can anyone lend a hand ? ***
Brian Phillips (5/27/01)
I always found it amusing that WCFL - owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor,a Mutual affiliate, AND WLS's top-40 competitor -- cleared Edward P. Morgan & the News (sponsored by the ILGWU), allowing WLS to get back into music 15 minutes earlier. I listened to Mr. Morgan's news & commentary on WABC, New York and enjoyed it. But the WLS jocks must have loved seeing WLS giving up a network show and having its rival pick it up!!
P.S. I'm not related to E.P.
Terry Morgan (5/18/01)
In the late 60s and early 70s on the farm in west central Ohio, I frequented 89WLS when 1410 WING out of Dayton occasionally faded out and later back in after local sundown. As a teenager at that time it frustrated me,especially when CKLW "The Big 8" from Windsor turned down its power and/or swicthed its direction
pattern at night. This left me only a few other options ... WABC New York,WLS and its competitor WCFL. WLS'air talent I admired greatly with Chris Eric Stevens in the evening who was later relplaced by John Landecker..and of course the epitome of Chicago super-jockdom Larry Lujack in the morning on my way to classes at Lehman High School. In the mid 70s I tried looking for Lujack's book "Superjock" at B.Dalton and Waldenbooks but to no avail and eventually gave up the search. The first time I heard Olivia Newton-John's 1971 cover version of Bob Dylan's "If Not For You"was on 89 WLS which made me a huge fan of her from the very start of her pop music carreer.The single was just shy of making the Top 10 but came back a couple of years later with "Let Me Be There" her first Top 10 hit and the rest is history.
Wish I could have visited the station back then. It would have been pop radio heaven for me beyond the slightest doubt. My wife and I have visited Chicago several times over the years but never got to see that operation in its Top 40 heyday. If only AM Stereo came much sooner it would have saved CHR on AM radio and would have remained a staple to this day.
Jim Lithicum (4/16/01)
Just a note to let you know I was a listener from Southern Illinois (Fairfield, 35 miles east of Mt. Vernon) as a teenager. It was the cool thing to listen to John "RECORDS" Landecker . I now live in Ottawa, IL. and now I am a daily listener on talk radio. We listened before FM and before fm converters! I was a teenager in 1973.
Steve Griswold (3/07/01)
Hi. I am not originally from Chicago either. I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, but I would listen to WLS most nights -- particularly from 1966-68. Actually, I would move between WLS and WCFL as well as WABC, WBZ, WOWO, and others. That was certainly a golden time for radio! Thanks for your great work on this site!
Got on your website today for the first time. Loved it! Listening to Wolfman Jack's WLS aircheck right now. I'm from NW Indiana and grew up with WLS & WCFL. Question: I'm looking for a WLS Fantastic Plastic Card. I lost mine years ago. Any suggestions?? Thanks.
Bill Fick (1/15/01)
I grew up listening to WLS and collected the weekly "hit parade" surveys from wls. These started out as top 40 lists, then later changed to top 30. I saved them each week, and just recently dug through some of my old things in my mother's upstairs and found them. I enjoy looking at them remembering the old dj's and the ads are also quite interesting, and humorous! Just wondering if anyone else used to collect these?
Jeff Lobdell (1/14/01)
I was a WLS fan who actually got into radio because of them. Don't forget Jerry Kaye. "Music to music with Jerry Kaye" and "Fun & Games with Jerry Kaye" were a couple of his verbal segues.
I moved from Chicago in 1970 but still was able to listen in Florida on clear winter nights. I'll be watching your site develop!
Bob Helewski (12/22/2000)
I just found your WLS site this weekend(12-17-00)while doing a search for stations that play 70's music. I was(and still am to a lesser extent)a WLS fan. I grew up in Liberal, KS, which is SW Kansas in the 70's, and the local stations at that time -there were only 2-went off the air at sundown. So while you were out cruising main and if you thought you were even remotley cool, you either listened to KOMA 1520 in Oklahoma City, or the BIG 89 WLS in Chicago. I mostly listened to WLS because of John"Records" Landecker because you couln't pick up the signal till after dark, but sometimes if I had to be up early in the morning before sunup before I went to school, or after I graduated from school, I would tune in WLS so I could hear Uncle Lar and animal stories because I didn't get to hear him that often. Later on in my professional life-I'm a over the road truck driver-whenever I was close enough to Chicago to hear WLS, that's what I would tune in to. I got to listen on a regular basis Fred wWnston with Catherine Johns and Jim Johnson in the mornings, Don and Roma middays( remember name that tune, the game show where you won "ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING" and the MARY GAY cosmetics truck driver?)
Then Uncle Lar in the afternoons when he switched time slots, John Landecker in the evenings, and Chuck Britton overnights. I also remember Landecker in the evenings in the 70's with the BOOGIE CHECK. That was a fun time in my tennage years. WLS has probablly always been my favorite AM Top 40 station. When they changed formats to the current one, I was disapointed, but continued to listen and came to like the new format with the news/talk and some on the syndicated shows, but I do miss the glory days of the AM powerhouse stations such as WLS. This sire you have put together has brought back great memories of my high school days-I graduated in 1978-and of days since when I was able to hear my BIG89 WLS.Keep up the great work and I will be coming back to this site on a regular basis. I've already put it in my favorites category. Thanks again.
Kelly Hogan, Broken Arrow, OK (12/18/00)
Is my memory playing tricks or were there ads for shows on the back of some of the Silver Dollar Surveys around 1966, '67? I seem to recall "ads' for shows at The Arie Crown and Majestic Theatre, Lake Geneva, Wi.
Does anybody else remember this? Any info would be great, thanks.
Joe McMichael (12/13/00) Cohill@aol.com
I stumbled across your site & was floored! I grew up listening to WLS in the late 60s thru the late 80s. This site brought back some great memories. I am now in Arizona, & most of the people here never had the opportunity to hear "great" radio. I also enjoyed looking thru the old memorabilia, it was neat!
I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas in the mid 60's and was able to listen to WLS during the evening hours. Such as a great station for great disc jockeys. I also remember listening to KOMA and WKY in Oklahoma City and a rock and roll station in Little Rock.
Those stations made the 60's....
Rob Johnson (11/27/00)
Does anyone know where i can get a copy of the songs listed below that were played on WLS?
Press my conference Make a date with watergate
Charles Short (11/22/00) You can download them right off of this site !
WOW! what a great webb site! Where do I begin. Well John Landecker was my radio DJ Idol. I remember listening on my AM radio, with the static, in southern missouri. The static did not seem to matter back then. I loved the boogie checks and the songs Press my conference and Make a date with watergate!!!!!
I also took DJ lessons thru the mail from WLS and i think that was from John Landecker, and guess what!? I am a DJ now as well. I have mentioned Mr Landecker on my webb site http://mobile.dj.net/charlie.html
Once again what a webb site, the jingles just bring shivers up my spine!!!!
Sherwood, Arkansas (11/22/00)
Being a native Chicagoan, I am VERY psyched to discover a WLS page. Today I co-own a music PR company with national clients, but my whole interest in music started with WLS under my pillow with an 8 Transistor radio. That's when Top 40 was Top 40...and regional hits were still possible. WLS gave the world the Buckinghams, Cryan Shames, Shadows of Knight, New Colony Six and so many other great artists. I will always be indebted to it for subverting me onto a lifelong addiction to music.
Cary Baker , Encino, Ca (11/17/00)
Born and raised just southwest of Chicago, I "cut my teeth" on WLS. My brother called me his "transistor sister" because he never saw me without my transistor radio. I started my day with Dick Biondi, the "Wild I-tralian," and later with Clark Webber. Evenings were spent listening to Ron Riley, and I wouldn't go to sleep until I had heard Art Roberts' Bedtime Story. Thanks for the great memories!
Chris Westman (11/17/00)
I was a 14 year old growing up in Memphis in 1970 when I first found WLS on a small transistor radio. While Memphis Top 40 radio was very good, there was something special about waiting for the sun to set and allow the WLS signal to begin bouncing off the ionosphere into my radio. I remember later in the 70's a group of friends and I would drive overnight from Memphis to Chicago to go shoot railroad pictures in the Windy City (they had different railroads than Memphis) and listen to WLS all night. I can so vividly remember hearing Yvonne Daniels over the car radio playing all that great music. Thank you for letting the WLS glory days live on via this web site.
Steve Forrest (11/05/00)
Just found your site, and it sure brings back the memories! I grew up in the greater Chicago area and listened to WLS almost exclusively from about 1960 through the mid-70's.
I have a question...I have been searching for a list of WLS' Silver Dollar Surveys and I have been unable to find them anywhere. I'm not looking to collect the real things, but just get a listing of their top 40 from week to week. Any suggestions?
Glenn Pearson, Boulder, CO (email@example.com) (10/19/00)
I stumbled across your WLS page while searching for Mancow information. WOW, what memories! Remember "boogie checks?" Uncle Lar and Little Tommy--I had forgotten about them. Larry Lujack. I used to listen to them all day. I wasn't from Chicago either, and listen to them opened up a mysterious world to me, from the advertisements for places I'd never been or heard of, to the traffic reports, etc. Your site really brightened my day. I'm going to have to read through it to relive some memories. Btw, I always listened to them from Dubuque IA in the early 70s, and from Rockford IL in the 80s. What a great station that was.
Love your tribute sites to WLS and ABC radio! Scott Childers, of which you have a link to his site, is looking for the Big 89 of l972 list. I was able to help him with some other missing years, but don' thave l972. If you, or someone you know, has the Big 89 of l972, I'm sure he would appreciate hearing from you.
Tim Brown (10/10/00)
Hi, Does anyone know what happened to Bob Sirott who was on Chicago's "Fox Thing in the Morning"? He hasn't been on lately and they even call it "Fox News in the Morning" now. I have not heard a word about it. I miss waking up to his news program.
Over the past 38 years, I've often wonder what happened to Dex Card. One day I asked a local disc jockey if he ever heard of Dex Card. He replied immeadiately "hell yes he's on a Chicago radio station. He wondered why I asked? I told him I used to cut his hair in Cleveland, Ohio at Macaluso's Barbershop on Van Aiken Blvd. Well I just thought I say Hello Keep up the good Music.
Dano Lopresti (10/03/00)
This site has brought me back 25 years! I'm a police officer and remember, as a rookie, listening to WLS at night in my patrol car. "Records" Lendeker, Evonne Daniels and all the rest who used to entertain me at night. I still work nights and REALLY miss hearing REAL top 40 radio. The kids today have NO idea what radio entertainment and fun is! Again, thank you - thank you - thank you !!!!
Jeff Howe (9/10/00)
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