ON THE TURNTABLE: In November of 1967 I was purchasing mostly albums, having drifted away from single (45rpm) releases.This change in my purchasing, as well as the purchases of like minded teens listening to the same current music, was due in part, a large part, by one singular event; that being the change in FM radio broadcasting.
(A brief history thanks to Allen Sniffen) In 1966 the Federal Communications Commission ruled that major market FM radio stations could no longer simulcast their AM sister stations. FM had to become separate with individual programming. This was deemed necessary to allow FM to grow and develop its own audience. The ruling put radio station owners in a bind. They needed to come up with new formats for these weaker and less desirable stations. Since FM was more difficult to receive, its universe of potential listeners was much smaller… and so was its billing. The new formats therefore had to be both different and relatively inexpensive to program. It was in that environment that RKO General Broadcasting launched its new WOR-FM (98.7Mhz) “Hot 100” format on July 30, 1966. The name is deceiving because, in fact, it was the first progressive rock station in the country. It marketed itself as stereo as a way to distinguish itself from AM radio. The problem was that many of the records played by the station were not in stereo. While it was true that most record albums were stereo, singles were not. Since the singles came out before the albums, much of the new music it was breaking was in mono.
So to me as a 14 year old, my listening experience changed overnight, well actually after purchasing an AM-FM radio which did not exist in my house.The newly staffed WOR-FM hired some of NYC’s hottest “Top Ten” dj’s, specifically MURRAY“The K”(Kaufman) from 1010 WINS, SCOTT MUNI from 570 WMCA and later 770 WABC, and ROSKO, the coolest sounding person on the radio, anywhere. Murray The K appeared to be the draw for WOR-FM and the “new” MURRAY was a 180 degree departure from what I was familiar with while listening to him on 1010 WINS (AM). This was not “Top 40” jive talking any longer, as a matter of fact it was a “cool” MURRAY, one who it has been claimed broke the song “Society’s Child” in the Summer of 67 (because it should be heard), as well as PROCOL HARUM’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” simply because HE “liked it”.AND Murray was famous in the area for his holiday stage show extravaganzas, the last which brought THE WHO and (as billed) THE CREAM to NYC for the first time, Easter of 1967. My buddy went and raved about those two bands.
But WOR-FM was a short lived experiment as program directors tried to rein in the playlist, to the chagrin of the radio hosts. Murray was fired in September of 67 despite having the highest rated FM program in NY, even higher than most AM shows. During his short tenure at WOR-FM “The K” attracted not only a large audience but in the audience advertisers found a different demographic, a newer demographic,that being a more mature college aged kid and with this newer, older audience the station drew in record companies as their advertisers. Record companies had found the station (WOR-FM) was highly valuable at influencing sales of rock albums especially new artists and groups like Cream, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, acts which were having their records played and /or being introduced.
At WOR-FM (October 1967)with a new tighter playlist ROSKO quit while “on the air”. He was soon found (October 30,1967) hosting the 7PM to midnight program at the “all girls dj’s” of WNEW-FM 102.7 FM. WNEW-FM was at that time a MOR station with an entire staff of female Dj’s, a unique experiment at the time. But at the 7PM hour Rosko had a free hand to “do his thing”. JONATHAN SCHWARTZ (10AM- 2PM) was added on November19, and a few days later SCOTT MUNI (2-6PM) joined the staff. ALLISON STEELE later dubbed “The Nightbird” (2AM-6AM) was held over from the formerly “all girl” staff and WNEW-FM took off.
Note: a few years later the line up included John Zacherle and Pete Fornatale with Vince Scelsa added on weekends.
So all this AM/FM babble is the background to my “new” listening experiences which in turn changed my record purchases from TOP 40 hits (45RPM) to albums.
During that November I purchased “Love Forever Changes”, my first LOVE lp, their third and final collection. I picked up CREAM’s “Disraeli Gears” (did not have “Fresh Cream”) and spent hours looking at the cover while trying to decipher the meaning of “SWLABR”. Incidentally, the album was recorded (May 1967) following the nine days of CREAM being part of MURRAY THE K’S “Music In The Fifth Dimension” series.
Murray The K’s Music In The 5th Dimension | RKO 58 St Theater (28 shows over nine days and nights) featuring:
Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels, Wilson Pickett, The Who, Hardly-Worthit Players, Cream, Blues Magoos, The Blues Project, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Jim & Jean, Mandala, The Chicago Loop, Phil Ochs, Simon & Garfunkel, The Young Rascals
(udiscovermusic.com)When both The Who and Cream made their live debut in America, it could hardly have been any less auspicious. It happened for both of them on 25 March 1967 at the RKO Keith Theater on 58th and 3rd Ave in New York City. The shows were redolent of the old 1940s variety shows with a bill packed with artists that actually began at 10 o’clock in the morning and ran all day with a movie thrown in for good measure. All the artists on the bill played five shows a day and it was grueling; the whole thing was promoted by New York’s legendary DJ, Murray the K.
The Who and Cream, or The Cream as they were billed, were well down the bill. Headlining were Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Wilson Pickett, with Buddy Miles was on drums, The Hardly Worthit Players, The Mandala, the Chicago Loop, Simon & Garfunkel, Jim & Jean, Phil Ochs, The Young Rascals and The Blues Project, Al Kooper’s band.
My next album was “Buffalo Springfield Again” their second album (my first) followed by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE’s “After Bathing at Baxters”. “Surrelistic Pillow” was a man stay on my turntable before this collection was released on November 30,1967. This was departure and I loved that band. By the end of the CHRISTMAS release season I also had Hendrix’s “Axis As Bold As Love”, Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” and an album I still love “The Who Sell Out”. Times surely had changed and so did my record collection.
Recently, I checked the files for purchases I made when I was 16 years old in 1968. Not surprisingly, those discs were all receiving heavy rotation on WNEW-FM: “Super Session”-Bloomfield,Kooper and Stills, The Airplane’s “Crown of Creation”, Jeff Beck’s amazing “Truth”, Big Brother and The Holding Company’s “Cheap Thrills”, Traffic’s second album, The Doors “Waiting For The Sun” and a fav of mine The Small Faces “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake”. Also included were:Dance To The Music,We’re Only In It For The Money, The Notorious Byrds Brothers, Anthem of The Sun, Child Is The Father To The Man, Odessey and Oracle, SweetHeart of The Rodeo, The Village Green Preservation Society, Wheels of Fire, Dr John’s GRIS GRIS, Electric Ladyland, Beggar’s Banquet, Music From Big Pink and of course THE BEATLES akaThe White Album.