The STATIONary 100, part 1

Also: That #$&*in' censor-buster Cee-Lo

Hz S Gd

 “Fighting to stay free”                                                                                 #149..November-December 2010



And now, ladies and gentlemen

  …another reminder of how perceptive kids – well, really, everybody – are, er, is. Mine always seem to come up with things I never thought of – like how if you're wrong or a loser on a TV game show, that noise you hear ( is always louder than what you hear when you're correct or a winner ( What's more, you'll see dozens of “game show stupid answers” on YouTube, but no clips of correct ones.

  So, why is it we emphasize – and love – losing, and losers, so much? Because winning is, how do I say this, boring - or because so few of us get to do it? Or because so often, there's such a fine line between winning and losing?

  Being on the radio these days is like that. When you're playing to an audience you can't see – and, more often than not lately, can't hear, or hear from – how do you know if you're winning or losing? How do you know if that line you just said was a or a How do you know if you're good? And, what is good?

  Let's face it, the bar has been considerably lowered over the past decade: it's not as easy as it once was to tell the winners from the losers. Dare I say, there's a lot of mediocrity on the airwaves. In fact, there's a lot of no-talking on the airwaves – something which, in an environment where it'd be naturally smart to counterprogram thousands of jockless jukebox sites, services and apps, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If ever there was time for personality to return to radio, it's right now. And if you're gonna tell me that listeners want more music and less talk, well, then, why are they listening to you when they can go open that magic Pandora's box? My sense is, you'd better start talking between those songs, because listeners just might like what they ain't never had.

  Right? Wrong? Tell me. The way I see it, the more interesting and different the content between the music, the more likely you are to get this:



And nowthe greatest music (and non-music) services of all order...

The STATIONary 100

  With few exceptions (and they're here), great radio stations have been built with great air talent. That appears to be the overriding theme of Hz So Good's first STATIONary 100, based on your votes. Bullet-wise, here's what you get.

·                     Ws, Ks, a few Cs, one X and one syndie.

·                     Loads of Top 40s, Oldies, a few album rockers, R&Bs, Countrys, one Standards, one non-commercial, one talker, one all-news and one all-sports.

·                     Key eras almost always 1960s-1970s, although some 50s, 80s and 90s do slip in. Those years in parens represent the 'dominant era' of that particular sound, based on the votes, allowing for some stations to chart more than once.

·                     Hang onto your headphones: at least one station that was never live.

·                     For most pains, these are stations you listened to first-hand (first ear?) or discovered by aircheck. And many have tribute websites. 

  So here are #s 100 to 51 (the cream of the crop at the top, #s 50-1, will follow in the holiday-edition Hz). Special thanks to's Ross On Radio, Sean Ross, for his commentary throughout (on stations many of which I've never heard), and of course to so many of you for yours. Where no comments were submitted, I've done my best.


XERB-AM Tijuana (1966-1971)/R&B The “Aaaaaah-oooohhhh” heard 'round the world. The Mighty 1090, home of the Wolfman. I might have gone for the earlier Graffiti-era XERF myself – that sounded like a lot more fun.



WMJI-FM Cleveland (1990s)/Oldies John Gorman put as much energy to finding Oldies as he did into finding new music at WMMS and, in defiance of radio law, it worked. (Sean Ross)



WKLO-AM Louisville/Top 40 (1970-1975) If only for introducing “Kentuckiana” into my vocab. Where Big Bill “Brother” Love, Mark Elliot, Lee Gray, J.J. Wright and a host of others played the hits.



WLUP-AM Chicago (1983-1990)/Talk Steve Dahl was the first I’d ever heard making something out of nothing, breaking the rules with dead air and hung-over shows. It was different and compelling. I came to discover it was part of a plan to draw younger listeners to AM talk, and included Kevin Mathews, Jonathon Brandmeier and later, Chet Coppock’s bizarre sports show. The experiment didn’t work, but the Loop AM was a good time. (John Mehno)



KEYN-FM Wichita(1969-1975)/Rock  My intro to great FM Top 40-meets-Underground. Alan McKay, Old Weird Dave Biondi and the great PAMS "From the air Capital City" jingles made it magic. (Clark Besch)



WFAN-AM New York (1988-present)/Sports  Essentially, Top 40 talk: hard-driving jingles and backdrops, and of course, 20/20 Sports. Personalities who jump out of the speakers, like Imus and the Mad Dog did when they was there, as Boomer & Carton and “Mike'd Up” do today. And somewhere in there, Steve Somers, who, as Marion G reminds us, “is patient and respectful with callers, unlike other talk hosts.”



WRKO-FM Boston (1966-1968)/Top 40  Totally automated with a robotic-like voice intoning, "This is Arko, your automated all-day FM DJ." Music, music, music. I don't think at first it even ran commercials! (Harvey Solomon)



KRTH-FM Los Angeles (1977-1986)/AC-Oldies  A nod to California's sense of heritage preservation. (MJ Rosenbluth)



KZZP-FM Phoenix (1985-1990)/Top 40  Good sound, programmed by Clarke Ingram. (John Quayle)



CFWM-FM Winnipeg (1985-1990)/Variety From the cradle of Canadian rock, the station that started it all and maybe still the best of the bunch. (Ross)



WCGY-FM Lawrence, MA (1980-1984)/Oldies A wide playlist including Evil Woman by the Crows, Will You Be Staying After Sunday by the Peppermint Rainbow, and other low-charting but outstanding songs. (Lee Gartenberg)



KFMB-AM San Diego (1974-1976)/AC Early Adult Contemporary stations tended to play it safe. Not KFMB, and certainly not when Bobby Rich (fresh from KHJ Los Angeles and WAVZ New Haven) was programming it. The music had more life in it: pace, production values and processing were clearly from Top 40. And the talent - Charlie and Harrigan, Clark Anthony, Perry Allen, Charlie Ryder, Hoyt Smith and Rich himself - was far stronger than most other stations in markets this size.

  And then the magic ingredient: irreverence. The airstaff was allowed to be themselves and that meant they were loaded for bear, breaking conventions and format, skewering long-held taboos about how personalities on "adult" radio stations were supposed to behave. Bobby himself took that philosophy to its illogical extreme every Monday night at 8 with The Turkey Hour, "an entire hour of songs you don't hardly hear anymore anyhow no how no way no time....because....they're TURKEYS!"

  Today, "Adult Contemporary" is synonymous with "Continuous Soft Hits" or "The Best of the 80s, 90s and Today." But KFMB drew the blueprint differently, and it was brilliant.

(Michael Hagerty)



KOOL Gold  Syndicated/Phoenix (1985-1990)/Oldies For depth on Rock's first decade, no one did it better.



KRBE-FM Houston (1974-1980)/Top 40  Another great curator in Clay Gish. A station that kept its energy level high even as other screaming '70s Top 40s were suddenly trying to chill out.  (Ross)



KOIL-AM Omaha (1959-1972)/Top 40 They came in to take Top 40 originator KOWH out, and that they did. Became a training ground for great voices like Gary Owens, Fred Winston, Lyle Dean, Dave Diamond, Johnny Dark, Joe Light, Roger W. Morgan, Bill Young, The Real Don Steele, Dr. Don Rose as well as KOWH transfer and close friend, Sandy Jackson. (Besch)



WFUV-FM Fordham University New York (1988-present)/AAA Yes, that's Pete Fornatale, who did his first show on FUV as a student in 1964, and remains on air there today. When's this kid gonna graduate already?




WTAE-AM Pittsburgh (1973-1976)/Oldies Pittsburgh never had a Drake station, so Ted Atkins delivered one when he was hired in 1973 and given two years to fix WTAE. He brought in his  Drake playbook and transformed a sludgy MOR into tight Oldies. Chuck Brinkman transitioned from KQV to steal listeners who found 13Q too juvenile. Larry O’Brien and John Garry were already there, working opposite ends of the day, along with local Top 40 alumni Mike McGann and Tom Lyons. The station rolled 20/20 news, the Thanksgiving Big 300 and Christmas Wish. It might have been passe in Los Angeles by '73, but it was fresh to Pittsburgh. The station also had the good fortune to have Steelers rights when the team was starting its Super Bowl run, which also made Myron Cope’s nightly hour of sports talk must-listening. (Mehno)



WNCI-FM Columbus OH (1983-1998)/Top 40-Hot AC  Programmed by Hot-rockin' Dave Robbins (a genius!) and had an outstanding sound! (Quayle)



KKBQ-FM Houston (1991-1998)/Country The late Dene Hallam’s shining moment and the most musically inventive Country station of its time. (Ross)



WICE-AM Providence (1959-1967)/Top 40 No longer broadcasting ice hockey, as the calls suggested, but rather great Top 40: Bill Corsair, "It's Davey Jones, in the locker," Pat Patterson for a time. (Solomon)



WINS-AM New York (1965-present)/News ”You give us 22 minutes...” And that's the beauty of it. I don't have to tell you the rest, you already know.



CKOC-AM Hamilton, Ontario (1970-1989)/Top 40 Loved 1050 CHUM, too. But these were the scrappy underdogs from the industrial city nearby, and I liked the music better. (Ross)



WLIR-FM  Long Island NY (1977-1987)/AOR-New Wave  The station that Dared us to Shriek and Scream(er) each week. Just catching the “Dare 10” while in NYC in 1984 was a crash course in ultra-hip.



KLMS-AM  Lincoln NE (1959-1975)/Top 40 Lee Thomas worked his butt off to help make it a great listen in a minor market. Lincoln never had better and probably never will. J Marshall Stewart, Chris Abercrombie and Citizen Bill made it hop. (Besch)



WQHT-FM  New York  (1994-1997)/R&B  Blazed the trail for Hip-Hop in the land where it all began.



KKBQ-AM/FM  Houston  (1982-1991)/Top 40  Another station that was the antidote to the wimpy top 40 of the time — and somehow they did it while playing “Seasons In The Sun” as a bringback. One of the keystone stations in my programming education. (Ross)



WLNG-AM/FM  Sag Harbor NY  (1963-present)/Oldies  Then, now, forever, treat radio on wheels, on any trip to the East End and New England (during the Bridgeport-New Haven segment). Rusty Potts + Bob & Connie T. on the same airwaves and 'net-stream = Cloud Nine. (Rosenbluth)



WGAR-AM  Cleveland  (1975-1979)/AC  A triumph of format and engineering - a great mix of AC hits and gold, and a signal that cut through the night like it had 100,000 watts. Great “Music and More” jingles. (Mehno)



WDVE-FM  Pittsburgh  (1975-2000)/AOR  Why? Playing the coolest AOR tunes and a very funny morning show, featuring Scott Paulsen. Paulsen replaced "Jimmy & Steve," an iconic Pittsburgh morning radio experience. They went to WSHE-FM in Miami and promptly bombed.(Quayle)



WIBG-AM  Philadelphia (1957-1977)/Top 40   Although it went through a half-dozen format adjustments after Famous 56 came to town, what a list of legends who stopped in for awhile (Joe Niagara, Hy Lit, Bills Wright Sr. and Gardner, Jerrys Blavat and Stevens, Joey Reynolds, John Landecker, Dick Clayton, Don Cannon, Chuck Knapp, Tom Kent).



WVBF-FM  Framingham MA (1971-1974)/Rock-Top 40  While the “EEEEEEE-lec-tronic mama” was surely not  the first hits 'n cuts hybrid on FM, it was one of the best, with former Wimmex Good Guys Ron Robin and the late great Bud Ballou, along with Charlie Kendall and the must-hear “TNT, Top 9 Tonight.” And those jingles.



KYW-AM Cleveland (1963-1965)/Top 40  Leading up to the switch to WKYC, it featured many of the jocks that would turn up at WCFL/Chicago a year later: Jims Stagg and Runyon, and Jerry G playing his guitar and singing on the air. (Besch)



KTNQ-AM Los Angeles (1976-1979)/Top 40  A high-energy version of KHJ, and the only local AM to play the Sex Pistols. Hired The Real Don Steele away from KHJ to do afternoons. (Steve Thompson)


WWDC-FM Washington (1980-1996)/AOR  The station that replaced the great Howard Stern with "The Greaseman" (Doug Tracht). 'Nuff said! (Quayle)



KOMA-AM Oklahoma City (1960-1968)/Top 40  Charlie, Chuck, “Viva” and the 50,000-watt kissing tone. And speaking of which...



WXKS-FM Medford/Boston (1979-1994)/Top 40  Long before the Bob- and Jack-FMs, they were “playing everything” and “playing what we want.” And they somehow had the authority to get away with all of it. More than that, they got a deeply divided city to at least agree on music. (Ross)



KXOK-AM St. Louis (1965-1972)/Top 40  Like KOMA, another in the Storz chain.



WKTQ-AM Pittsburgh (1973-1978)/Top 40  The Q format, the Buzzes (Bennett and Brindle), Jackson Armstrong, the Batt-man, Don Bombard, Jim Quinn, Cary Pall and Cash Call. What more do you need to know?



WAVA-FM Washington (1985-1991)/Top 40  When Donny met Mikey.



WHN-AM New York (1973-1980)/Country  The beginning of the modern era of Country radio (along with WMZQ, WMAQ and a handful of contemporaries). Now, hoping we live to see it again in NYC. (Ross)



KIIS-FM Los Angeles (1975-2004)/Top 40 Pretty much the next-generation KHJ, at least during the Dees era.



WNEW-AM New York (1955-1998)/MOR The blueprint for the format, where personality reigned supreme, from Klavan to Willie B. to Ted Brown to Jazzbo.



WBZZ-FM Pittsburgh (1981-1991)/Top 40  Great music and outstanding talent like Quinn & Banana (mornings), Scott Alexander, John Cline, Rich Anton and Clarke Ingram. (Quayle) Another gutsy station for a sucky era. (Ross)



WSM-AM Nashville (1925-present)/Country 50,000 watts of Opry, Barn Dance, Ralph Emery overnights. These days, the last surviving full-time music station on clear channel AM. Does it get any more Country than this?



WKNR-AM Dearborn, MI (1963-1972)/Top 40  An airstaff that included Bob Green, J. Michael Wilson, Scott Regan, Gary Stevens, Frank "Swingin'" Sweeney, Robin Seymour and Ted Clark. Remains the single biggest inspiration in what I do. (Michael McDowell)



WKBW-AM Buffalo (1956-1961)/Top 40  The Biondi-”Moose”-Perry Allen-Jim Taylor-Tommy “Wild Weekend” Shannon era.




WMMS-FM Cleveland  (1974-1987)/AOR  So huge at its peak that I recall one of the frat houses at Penn paying to receive the signal through cable lines. During that era, one could say it was due to longtime hosts Kid Leo, Matt the Cat, Jeff & Flash and BLF Bash that “Cleveland Rocks.”



WPGC-AM-FM Morningside, MD  (1973-1990)/Top 40  Good sound, great talent like the legendary Scott Shannon, Don Geronimo and Bruce Kelly.(Quayle)



WCAU-FM Philadelphia (1981-1986)/Top 40  All it did was save the CHR format. And when you hear about the need for radio to throw out everything it ever did to reinvent itself, consider just how retro this was in 1981. (Ross)



WHTZ-FM New York (1983-1989)/Top 40  The cure for no WABC: personality Top 40 for a new generation, with totally not-New York jocks like Shannon, Shadow and Jack Da Wack. Worst to first, baby.


  Now you can ponder which stations fill out the Top 50, for the next few weeks. I'm confident you'll figure most of them out.



And the hits

AN A FOR F-FORT   The mainstreaming of Cee-Lo's “F&$@ You” has been fun to watch because this is not like other bleepin' hits in recent history. Curses have played, with few exceptions, supporting as opposed to main roles in hit songs: always for effect, but, as we've seen, the expletives-deleted versions work just as well. But not this time.

  Once, the only way to find out those missing words – or at least to hear them and then experience what the artist intended – was to buy the music (or, for a time in the '70s, locate a hip, low-profile FM, before the rise of the super-owner and the expanded role of the FCC changed all that). But terrestrial radio can't handle the uncut Cee-Lo, and the clean substitute “Forget You” robs the song of its recurring punchline. I'm not sure it worked even when Gwyneth Paltrow sang it on Glee.

  So, “F&$@ You” is a victory, arguably the first in hit song history, for non-radio – the iPod, the phone, the Internet - where the song plays as Cee-Lo intended it. In fact, the more conventional media gets in the act, the sillier it looks for not being able to tell the story, whether on The Colbert Report (where Cee-Lo sang rewritten verses as “Fox News”), Lopez Tonight (where William Shatner gave it his best “Mr. Tambourine Man” treatment) or the aforementioned Glee. And, arguably, never has conventional radio, for 40+ years the main source of hit music for listeners, lost one as big as “F&$@ You.” 


FLO RIDER   One of the few constants of terrestrial radio over those 40+ years has been jingles. So it's interesting hearing radio make fun of itself on the spot for Progressive insurance where the jingle singers repeat everything Flo says (and, of course, in the payoff, she calls them on it). And I'm sure my high school cassette-recording partner in crime and I weren't the only ones to have thought up that same bit in the '70s, only on our recorded version, fictitious DJ “Cousin Moosey” is continuously interrupted by PAMS jingles until he finally silences the singers with a baseball bat or such.


THE NEXT KEY ELECTION   Voting for the 13th annual Top 77 is underway. Put your favorite songs ever up there at


ONE FINAL POINT   Ok, you don't need me to tell you that Saturday indeed represents the rest of the week (for many of us, both definitions of “rest” apply). It's also when you can catch The Rest of the Week with Rich Appel, 9am-1pm ET at

Yes, that phone behind me does work during the show; dial 908.852.1234 and see for yourself. I'll pick up, honest, I won't -







Click Also, the 2012 edition of the I.R.S. (It Really Shoulda been a Top 10 hit) appears in April-May 2012 edition of Hz So Good.