FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio

By Richard Neer

"It was once all so sincere, earlier than the top of our collective innocence. best 40 jocks screamed and yelled and sounded mightier than God on thousands of transistor radios. yet on FM radio it used to be all spun out for under you. On a golden net via a grasp weaver pushed by way of fifty thousand magical watts of crystal transparent energy . . . ahead of the times of trashy, hedonistic dumbspeak and disposable three-minute ditties . . . within the days the place rock lived at many addresses in lots of cities."
–from FM

As a tender guy, Richard Neer dreamed of touchdown a task at WNEW in New York–one of the progressive FM stations around the nation that have been altering the face of radio by way of rejecting strict formatting and letting disc jockeys play no matter what they sought after. He felt that after he received there, he’d have made the large time. Little did he comprehend he’d have formed rock heritage as well.

FM: the increase and Fall of Rock Radio chronicles the start, progress, and dying of free-form rock-and-roll radio throughout the tales of the movement’s flagship stations. within the overdue sixties and early seventies–at stations like KSAN in San Francisco, WBCN in Boston, WMMR in Philadelphia, KMET in l. a., WNEW, and others–disc jockeys turned the gatekeepers, critics, and authorities of recent track. Jocks like Scott Muni, Vin Scelsa, Jonathan Schwartz, and Neer built dependable followings and had impressive impact on their listeners and at the early careers of artists reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, the automobiles, and plenty of others.

Full of attention-grabbing firsthand tales, FM files the commodification of an iconoclastic phenomenon, revealing how counterculture was once coopted and fed on through the mainstream. Richard Neer was once an eyewitness to, and player in, this background. FM is the story of his exhilarating trip.

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From reside bulletins to ads, a moment or of silence. One advertisement to the next—dead air. Then got here the topper. WLIR broadcast in stereo, yet each one channel used to be managed by means of a separate knob or fader. All 4 turntables have been at the similar faders, as have been the tape decks and notice tapes. to head from one list to the subsequent, you needed to flip either knobs right down to 0, hit the change to move from the left turntable to definitely the right, begin definitely the right turntable, after which flip either knobs again up concurrently because the song began. yet this needed to be kept away from cueing the checklist beforehand—just losing the needle within the house among tracks and guessing how lengthy it'll take ahead of the tune begun. stable good fortune! Oh, incidentally, the switches to move from one turntable to the following have been outdated and had lengthy considering misplaced their click on stops. So, like with the spot tape, chances are you'll imagine you have been on turntable one should you have been particularly on turntable 3. and because they have been domestic machines, no longer specialist devices, they didn’t wake up to hurry instantly, taking revolutions to accomplish 331⁄3 rpm. in the event you anticipated the beginning time incorrectly, the checklist might “wow” in. In different phrases, it'll commence slowly and progressively speed up until eventually it reached the correct pace. As Webb defined those eccentricities to me, I broke right into a chilly sweat. That evening, I lay wakeful, unable to sleep in any respect, awaiting the catastrophe that was once to be my specialist broadcast most well known. lucky Son For invoice “Rosko” Mercer, the top of unfastened shape on WOR-FM within the early autumn of 1967 was once a dream dashed. He stumbled on himself out of labor back, and used to be confronted with the disagreeable prospect of returning to a layout he despised or discovering an alternative technique to make a dwelling. Muni was once given the chance to maintain his shift, and Drake advised him that he may possibly proceed to play what he sought after. yet Scott’s adventure taught him that he wouldn’t stay an island for lengthy and his oasis of freedom might quickly perish within the harsh wilderness of strict formatics. It was once lucky for either one of them that the preliminary luck at WOR-FM had no longer long gone ignored. WNEW-AM were one of many best stations in manhattan for many years. Boasting such expertise as William B. Williams, Gene Klavan and Dee Finch, Jim Lowe, Julius l. a. Rosa, and Ted Brown, it used to be the city’s favourite position to listen to the entire nice criteria. They broadcast Giants soccer on Sundays and had a full-service information and activities operation. A Metromedia station, they have been owned by means of John Kluge, who has on the grounds that develop into one of many richest males in the USA. yr after 12 months, gains elevated and advertisements profit surpassed rankings simply because Madison street enjoyed the prosperous viewers WNEW attracted. yet WNEW-FM used to be a unique tale. The station used to be initially centered at 565 5th street, sandwiched right into a small sector subsequent to the big AM complicated. Like most homeowners, Kluge used to be content material to simulcast his AM sign on FM until eventually the FCC’s duopoly ruling in 1964. Given no selection by means of the fee, Jack Sullivan, head of Metromedia’s radio department, charged George Duncan with the activity of inventing a brand new structure for the FM stations.

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