I’m pretty sure I’ve brought this up before, but I don’t seem to mind repeating myself: on 10/18/75, Casey welcomed WSAI (AM 1360) to the AT40 family of stations. As best as I can tell, it’s the first time a Cincinnati station carried the show. Sometime around the following February I became aware of it, almost certainly while we were going somewhere in Dad’s car on Sunday evenings. Eventually I sussed out that the starting time was 6pm, and as the weeks moved toward spring, I began tuning in on my transistor radio pretty much weekly. The first Sunday of June 76–the day after my cousin Diane’s wedding, as it happens–the legendary chart-keeping began.
I have quite a number of distinct memories of chart placement and/or chart action from March-May 76. Many are about noting the highest debuting song of the week, especially if that song came in above #30 (“Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” “Welcome Back,” “Love Hangover,” and “Fool To Cry” all fit in this category). I tried to discern patterns: one that seemed to crop up more than once was the song that took a big leap in its second week on the show but would fall short of the very upper reaches of the chart (both “Show Me the Way” and “Tryin’ To Get the Feeling Again” went 37-25 initially before stalling at #6 and #10, respectively; something similar happened to “Year of the Cat” in early 77). For quite a while I could recite the week-by-week travails of “Silly Love Songs” as it ascended to the top.
The song sitting at #40 was also something that lodged itself into my long-term memory on a fairly regular basis. The earliest of these I can clearly recall is “Action,” by Sweet, which opened the 3/6/76 show. I followed its progress pretty closely over the course of a seven-week run that ended at #20 (we’re hearing it at #23 on this show); it’s also among the first songs I know only because of AT40. I never heard it on WSAI (or any radio station for that matter, outside of the show, and it would be sometime late in college before I came across a used copy of the single to listen to it again). Nonetheless, the line “So you think you’ll take another piece of me to satisfy your intellectual needs” stayed planted in my brain. “Action” is completely under-appreciated now, at least here in the States–maybe it gets more love elsewhere, since it went Top 10 in about a dozen countries. Great, great pop song, and the vid below is pretty darn cool for a lip-synched performance piece from the mid-70s (I just wish it included the full intro)–I especially love the bass guitar we see.
Having had the chance now to listen to numerous shows from across the eighteen years of the Classic Casey AT40 era, I can safely say those from 76 are the most enjoyable to me. Casey’s definitely got a routine in this period. He tells the stories and answers the questions in an efficient manner, but he seems very much at ease. The bumpers and jingles are bright and maybe even optimistic-sounding. There can be no doubt my opinion is totally influenced by nostalgia; these shows take me back to those first moments of discovering something that became an enormous part of my teen years.