Monday, December 1, 2008
Radio: Number One then....Number one NOW!
There’s not much I can add to the many fitting tributes I read today about the late, great radio programmer Bill Drake.
I never met him, never worked for him – but I knew him well. Most of what I learned about radio programming came from listening to endless hours of top 40 radio in the sixties - especially my hometown Drake station, WRKO in Boston.
The secret to Bill Drake’s format was that it wasn’t complex. It was, quite unmistakably, logical. Play the hits in a structured format that refined one’s air personality. The fewer words one uses makes each word more important. He perfected top 40’s forward motion.
Drake ran one contest at a time, one giveaway at a time.
Drake stations weren’t conservative. On the contrary, they broke a lot of hits.
Drake stations played fewer commercials than the competition and charged appropriately for the exclusivity.
Drake stations weren’t impersonal. They respected the listener.
Drake’s stations weren’t like McDonald’s franchises. WRKO was Boston, KHJ was Boss Angeles, CKLW was the Motor City. The music, the personalities, the promotions all spoke the language of their city of license.
Drake’s stations didn’t employ just liner card readers. They were genuine personalities whose names and dayparts we can immediately recall forty years later.
Radio & Records reprinted an interview they did with Bill Drake in December, 2007. It’s a must read - here. (link is fixed.) I hope someone's able to dig up that great story on Drake done by Cheetah Magazine in 1967.
Bill Drake…..Number one then, number one NOW!