(With this post, we’re on hiatus. Back during the week of January 3. Go watch football.)
Sooner or later, many small-market radio stations get this brilliant idea: People in our town like lots of different kinds of music, so if we play it all, everybody will listen. Within limits, this isn’t a terrible idea—block programming could and did work just fine for lots of stations in lots of places. But without limits, or absent a degree of common sense, it can lead to some awful radio. In small-town Iowa, the other station in our town had the we’ll-attract-everybody philosophy. But—and here goes common sense straight out the window—they let each jock pick whatever he or she wanted. The morning guy played MOR, the afternoon jock played contemporary pop with a distinct R&B flavor, and the 17-year-olds they hired for nights played Motley Crue. (The station’s management maintained that all the kids in town listened to them after school, which may have been true in 1957, but this was the early 90s.)
A better plan was to categorize carefully and daypart intelligently. Thirty years ago at KDTH, pop-sounding country songs—Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbitt, etc.—got played all day. Straight pop—Barry Manilow, for example—was limited to daytime only. Hard country—Hank Williams Jr., say—was limited to nights. There were exceptions, and the all-day category eventually got pretty broad, but in general, it was the best possible way to appeal to a lot of people. I worked at another station that did this, although more ambitiously. They really did want to attract the kids at night, and as a result, the straight pop was replaced by country-flavored rock, such as “Jesus Is Just Alright” by the Doobie Brothers. (This particular record, and several others that mentioned Jesus, were labeled “never on Sunday,” which struck me odd. If not then, when?)
I mention all of this by way of introduction to this survey from KACI in The Dalles, Oregon, dated December 28, 1968. The station lists 40 “super hits,” 20 “album hits,” and 20 country songs. How they were playing them, I can’t say—whether they were sprinkled into the regular rotation or limited to a specific segment of the day, as many stations would have done back then. The top seven country hits were also on the pop chart at the time, which would have helped them fit in. Five tracks of interest, and a couple of mp3s, are on the flip.
1. “I Love How You Love Me”/Bobby Vinton (super hits chart). Although it seems weird to imagine this housewifey pop ballad on the radio in the same season with “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” (which is not on the KACI chart this week), it did make the Billboard Top 10 in mid-December.
2. “The Ballad of Two Brothers”/Autry Inman (country chart). “The Ballad of Two Brothers” is American polarization over the Vietnam War compressed to 3 1/2 minutes: in the first part, the steady, stolid son writes home from Vietnam; in the second, his brother, a college war protester with a Gomer-Pyle accent, shits all over everything his brother is fighting for. But after the third verse explains his brother’s death in the ‘Nam, he abandons his un-American ways and waves the flag to the fade-out.
9. “That’s All I Really Need”/Springfield Rifle (super hits chart). The Springfield Rifle was a band from Seattle that appears to have been fronted by a pair of brothers, and appears to have made but one album, containing pop covers and a few originals, in 1968. “That’s All I Really Need” is a well-done bit of soft rock along the lines of the New Colony 6 (who also appear on the KACI chart).
10. “Any Way You Want Me”/Morning Reign (super hits chart). This band was from Salem, Oregon, and should not be confused with Mourning Reign, a California band of similar vintage. In the summer of 1968, Morning Reign had appeared on the TV show Happening ’68, produced by Dick Clark and hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders, as part of an amateur band contest.
33. “No Not Much”/Smoke Ring (super hits chart). This is the old 1950s song by the Four Lads, given a soft-rock update by this band from Norfolk, Nebraska, a place known being the childhood home of Johnny Carson. The Smoke Ring was combined from two other successful Nebraska bands and scored this hit after expanding to an eight-piece group with a horn section, perhaps inspired by the likes of BS&T. But it’s the organ fills that turn their version of “No Not Much” into a forgotten classic.
(Over at Echoes in the Wind, whiteray has an entirely different take on this same week.)