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.

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.

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