Born and Reborn

One of the taglines for this blog says “In my head, it’s still 1976.” So when I found a YouTube video that featured the countdown of the last minute of 1975 as heard on Chicago’s legendary WCFL, I knew I’d have to mention it, even if I’m the only person who’ll care about it. The audio quality is poor, and because there are way too many people in the studio, it’s impossible to identify any individual voice as 1975 ebbs away—although one of them may be the great Ron O’Brien, who had returned to ‘CFL earlier in 1975. But it’s that first moment of the new year that gets me—the marriage of the greatest station ID jingle in radio history with the words “It’s 1976 at the Voice of Labor,” and then the slam into the Number One song for all of 1975.

At that moment on December 31, 1975, I was listening to the countdown on WCFL’s great competitor, WLS, since ‘CFL was not audible at night in southern Wisconsin. (Within 2 1/2 months, ‘CFL as a rocker would not be audible anywhere. In March it would flip to beautiful music, bringing to an end one of the great radio duke-outs of all time.) I had no idea, of course, of the place 1976 would come to hold in my personal mythology, but it’s kind of cool to think that somewhere, there’s a radio record of the second that year began.

Recommended Reading: Since 2008, I have been a contributor to the website of WNEW, the legendary New York City classic rock station, now reborn on HD in the New York area and on the Internet. has gotten a spiffy upgrade from the people at CBS Interactive, and it looks great. (My usual features will continue to appear over there—Five Things About . . . on Tuesdays, This Week in Rock History on Wednesdays, and Rock Flashback on the weekends.) The fact that WNEW no longer broadcasts in the old-fashioned sense is not especially newsworthy, because what it means to be a radio station in the second decade of the new millennium has changed. Terrestrial radio, operating in real time, no longer competes only against other terrestrial radio stations operating in real time—it has to deal with Internet streams like WNEW’s, online services like Pandora, on-demand content, and even satellite radio. Clear Channel is about to take a major leap into the future by placing its IHeartRadio app, which was originally intended to easily stream Clear Channel content on smartphones, into automobile dashboards. Consultant Mark Ramsey explains what it means.

There will be a new post here on Super Bowl Sunday, so stop back then.


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