WOR-FM Rocks

WOR-FM Rocks

Sunday 31 July 1966
[The audio is NOT July 31, but Oct 8, 1966, the first day of DJs]

WOR-FM Rocks

Federal intervention

In July 1964, the federal government, via the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), adopted a non-duplication rule prohibiting FM radio stations in cities of more than 100,000 people from merely running a simulcast of the programming from their AM counterparts. Stations fought the rule and delayed implementation. 

Writing on the wall

Station owners did not succeed in their fight and many decided to experiment with the still new but growing rock genre. Soon rock FM stations dotted the land.

WOR-FM Rocks

WOR-FM rocks

And so on July 31, 1966 New York City's WOR-FM began running a freeform-based progressive rock format for most of its broadcast day. Management was unable to come to an agreement with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (the union that represented on air talent). As a result, the DJ's did not start until October 8.

Not quite underground

Listening to the sample above from the first day of DJs playing (not particularly different from the previous months' playlists), the listener will realize that the playlist was not particularly different from the AM pop radio playlists.

That difference would not happen until the FM DJs began to experiment play more album cuts of their own choice.

It was that difference, the question of choice versus the handing down from on high of a playlist, that soon separated FM "pop" stations using the Drake method of programming from the stations like WNEW-FM (also in NYC). WNEW-FM gave its DJs much more leeway when choosing what to play.

Short-lived

After hardly more than a year of the new format with DJs, many of the original group left. Bill Mercer, or simply Rosko, was one of the more popular of WOR's DJs. He brought a unique free style he brought to his shows. Fans loved him and it, but he realized that management did not want that style. 

On October 2, 1967, less than a year after starting, Rosko announced his departure on the air. Click below to listen to a piece of it...
Rosko joined WNEW-FM shortly afterwards and the rest is another much more enjoyable history.
NYT article
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David Sanborn

David Sanborn

Happy birthday
July 30, 1945

Not Woodstock

He always seems to be around. When I hear the name David Sanborn, my first thought is when he sat in with Paul Shaffer on the Letterman Show. Then I remember taping his show on NBC, " Night Music" (1988 to 1990) and watching musicians like Sanborn, talented but rarely seen on TV: Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Sample, Pharoah Sanders, and many others.

Really? Woodstock?

When I first started to volunteer at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts one of the projects I worked on was creating a list of all the performers at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Who should appear with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band? David Sanborn, of course. Not sure why his appearance there surprised me, but it did. Here's a video of the band that Monday morning (before Sha Na Na). Paul Butterfield is the main feature, but the movie's producers snuck in Mr Sanborn about a minute into the video.

Much more

The list all of the music David Sanborn has made or helped make is a very long one. Luckily, All Music had taken care of that. Impressive as it is long.

You'll need a Snickers.

And…

Who were some of these people Sanborn played with?  Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Todd Rundgren, Bobby Charles, Roger Waters, Esther Phillips, James Brown, Ween, and over a hundred more.

As it says at his site, "In his three-and-a-half decade career, Dave has released 24 albums, won six Grammy Awards, and has had eight Gold albums and one Platinum album."

David Sanborn

David Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida, but raised in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Contracting polio at the age of three, he struggled with the disease for eight years. In its aftermath, he began to play saxophone on the advice of a doctor, who thought it would aid him in strengthening his chest muscles.

Not bad David. I guess your practice paid off. Nice job!
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John Lennon Opines

John Lennon Opines

July 29, 1966

August 1966 interview about his March opinion 

Looking for trouble

By 1966, the whole world seemingly knew who Beatles were and that most of the world liked their music and them, too. That is only a somewhat accurate statement. Of course there were many who did not like the Beatles's music nor the Beatles themselves. Critics made wise cracks about them needing a haircut, looking like girls, or their looks in general.

Rock and Roll was just a teenager and there were plenty of people who were suspicious of the music and anyone associated with it. The Red Scare and McCarthyism of the 1950s still echoed in the early 60s, the Soviet Union was still our arch nemesis, and the re-invigorated civil rights movement threatened the status quo, however unjust that status quo was. 

Parents warned their teenagers, "If you go looking for trouble, you'll find it." Teenagers knew, "If you want to find a reason to dislike my music, you'll find a reason."

John Lennon Opines

Journalists knew that a Beatle interview was money in the bank.  Maureen Cleave, of the London Evening Standard, ran a series of interviews called "How does a Beatle Live?" 

On  March 4, 1966, Maureen Cleave interviewed John Lennon for the series.

During the interview, Lennon, who had been reading about various religions said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

John Lennon opines

The article appeared and that was that.   No outrage by the British.

US reaction

Tony Barrow was the Beatles press officer. He offered the rights to all four interviews to US teen magazine, Datebook, the rights to all four interviews.

John Lennon Opines

On July 29, 1966 the article appeared with a headline featuring the Lennon Christianity quote, which was only a small part of the entire interview.

John Lennon opines

It became national news on August 4. A NY Times article lead sentence read: "Dozens of radio stations throughout the United States are banning music by the Beatles because of a statement by one of the rock 'n' roll singers that his group is more popular than Jesus." The article's last sentence read: "Several radio stations scheduled bonfires for the burning of Beatle records and pictures."

Some support

The US negative reaction was not universal. A Kentucky radio station declared that it would give the Beatles' music airplay to show its "contempt for hypocrisy personified", and the Jesuit magazine America wrote: "Lennon was simply stating what many a Christian educator would readily admit." 

Aftermath

The Beatles toured that summer, but it was their last. While the Christianity comment alone did not cause that cessation, it was a part of it. 

And in 2008, the Vatican issued the following statement: "The remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation, mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a 'boast' by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll. The fact remains that 38 years after breaking up, the songs of the Lennon-McCartney brand have shown an extraordinary resistance to the passage of time, becoming a source of inspiration for more than one generation of pop musicians."

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