Broadcasting Oct 18 1965

A WJJD AM 1160 ad from Broadcasting, October 18, 1965. Clever commentary on Goldberg’s corn cob-shaped Marina Towers (also new to Chicago at the time)?

On February 15, 1965, Buck Owens’ hit “Tiger by the Tail” roared to life just as WJJD AM 1160 deejay Chris Lane concluded his weather report. All-country music radio in Chicago had arrived. Thanks to the Bensman Radio Archive at the University of Memphis, we can relive one of the first hours of WJJD’s format switch: I received a cassette tape copy of three hour-long WJJD air checks, then digitized the audio via Audacity. Over the next several weeks, I will be rolling out a blog dedicated to exploring these selections from February and May 1965, specifically placing the broadcasts in spatial and cultural context. 1

The air checks are basically a recording of the entire broadcast as it was heard over air, as required by the FCC. Therefore, the deejay, music, advertisements, and public service announcements make for prime fodder for historians. The format switch was a smashing success for WJJD, and part of a national trend of new all-country stations from Seattle to New York City. The playlist was a mix of smooth ‘countrypolitan’ and songs that leaned more towards the honky-tonk, such as Owens’ hit and George Jones’ “White Lightin'”. Lane’s voice is stripped of any harsh southern accent, and his banter is mostly devoid of corn-pone. Between hits, he headlined his news updates with Nat King Cole’s death and large protests in Indonesia on America’s growing presence in Vietnam.

Turn off your TV, close all other browser windows, pour your favorite drink, click below, close your eyes…and journey back to Chicago of February 1965.

 

 

 

 

Billboard, October 16, 1965.

Billboard, October 16, 1965.

17 Comments

  1. At the time of this historic event. Lee Wilder was V.P. Natl. Pgrm. For Plough Broadcasting,Co. It was his total concept to switch WJJD-AM 1160 to become an all Contry AM Radio.Station. With this one inspired Programming decision,Lee Wilder changed the direction AM Radio in The United States.

  2. It is wonderful to hear the first broadcast of WJJD country!!!!! I started listening to WJJD in 1970, and have many cassettes recorded off the radio starting in ’70 up until they ended their country run (approx 250 cassettes). Chris Lane was gone by 1970 then replaced by the likes of Art Nelson, Ted Clark, Rich Osborn, Mark Edwards, Roy Stingley, Mike Larsen, Stan Scott and others. Unfortunately in my youth, I did not realize the future value of unedited recordings and often paused the recording when commercials came on. “The Home of the Western Gentlemen” was a constant on my radio back then. The 70’s in ‘JD country did not sound much different than 1965, with the exact same jingles and terminology. They added some features like the WJJD jackpot call and country classic weekends (usually on holidays) Years later I discovered that a man named Alan McCall in Tallahassee FL started a WJJD tribute station and I often listened to his station on line. He is still in radio but has went on to develop his own station now. In 2010 he sent me a CD with 50 of the original WJJD station jingles for the weather, station ID and the individual jingles for morning, afternoon and evening (of course I still have it).I would love to get a copy of the segment you posted from 1965, is that possible to obtain? If you are interested I could send you copies of broadcasts from the 70’s and 80’s and a copy of the jingle CD. Looking forward hearing back from you!.

  3. As a child growing up in southwest virginia /Rose Hill a small town i remember listening to wjjd on my old battery radio,i could never understand how i coul
    d hear a voice that far away,

  4. The weather reports at the beginning and end of this aircheck (as well as the newscast at the end) were voiced by veteran WJJD newsman Fred Barton. It also sounds like Chris Lane voiced several of the commercials heard here (e.g St. Joseph aspirin, etc.). Chris Lane was the local WJJD Program Director at the time, and is sometimes credited with the switch to the Country format. Whoever was responsible, the format switch was a successful one for WJJD for a number of years thereafter.

  5. I worked at WJJD in the late 70’s as a part timer while attending Northwestern University. I used the air name “Jay Stevens”. Bill Hart and Craig Scott gave me that first gig in a major market, for which I will be forever grateful.

  6. Joel, I sure remember you (as Jay Stevens, and Bill Hart). There was also a DJ named Stan Scott there I’m sure. I still have cassettes from original broadcasts some on which you are on!

  7. WOW – would love to hear those cassettes from ’77-78. Thanks so much for the note. It’s nice that someone remembers my work on that historic station.

    • Joel, last week I mailed some cassettes to you that you may enjoy listening to at the address you provided. Keep an eye out for them. They are in a small box via USPS. – Walt Marcis

  8. Gentlemen! Thank you all so much for commenting. I’m glad that this post served as something of a space for these conversations. I will be in touch with each of you soon, as I look to write more about the early days of all-country WJJD.

  9. I lived about a mile from WJJD’s studios. When I was in sixth grade, 1965 or 66, a friend of mine from the neighborhood managed to worm his way into the studio and got to be friendly with some of the DJs. Shortly after, I got in on the action and was soon hanging out in the booth with Stan Scott and Roy Stingley while they were on the air!! I have lots of memories from those days if anyone would be interested. Cheers!

  10. I knew Stan Scott – he used to come on after me (airname Jay Stevens) on WJEZ (104.3) in the late 70’s – that was WJJD’s FM sister station. He was a heckuva nice guy.

  11. We have a lot of “J’s” in our conversations. Could you tell me what the name of the DJ whose on air name was “J-Bird” who was there pretty much until they changed format in 1982? I remember he had a weekly Saturday show called “Saturday Afternoon Oldies” that spanned from the origins of country music to the 60’s. He would even play some Jimmy Rodgers songs going back to the late 20’s and everything in between. I still have some of those shows on cassette. I remember it was pretty low budget, no promos, jingles, etc; I think he was alone in the studio, or even the building!

  12. Joel – from your previous post, I’ll try to find some of those cassettes from ’77 and ’78. If I do I will post here and we can determine how to get them to you.

  13. His name may have been Jay Martin or Marvin.

  14. When I was on that station in the evening, I would get calls from North Carolina, Tennessee and many other stations.

  15. Joel, well I’ve been meandering through my hundreds of cassettes and sure enough today I found an hour of a Jay Stevens broadcast on 1/1/78, you were counting down the top hits of 1977. I’d be glad to copy it and send it to you, only drawback is that I am in the technology middle ages, the best I could do is copy from cassette to cassette if you still have one of those antiquated machines! I may find more as I look through additional tapes. Drop me a line with your address at walt.marcis@att.net

    • I used to record WJJD from the radio on January 1 of every year, the first year I did it was 1971.

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