Jan/Feb Charts, With A Twist

As usual, a number of AT40s from the charting era got played these last couple of months. Here they are; there’s a one-of-a-kind among them.

1/19/80:
I must have had a peek at this week’s Hot 100 at Recordland in the Florence Mall, since those two Picks led off the following show.

Hello/Goodbye: Tom Johnston’s solo Top 40 career was super-brief, just two weeks long.

1/27/79:
I learned about many a tune from years past via AT40 Extras and Archived #1s. Sometimes, the impact was long-lasting. For instance, there is a direct line between hearing the song played right after “Somewhere in the Night” on this show and then six years later putting it on one of the tapes that indirectly led to starting this blog.

Hello/Goodbye: Nigel Olsson, come on down…

1/30/82:
In early 2013, Martha and I spent plenty of time clearing out her parents’ house to prepare it for sale. By the end of January, our efforts were largely concentrated in the basement, which over the decades had turned into a repository for everything they hadn’t wanted to discard (leaving it to us to address, of course). My re-connection with AT40 had begun the previous June, and I had recently learned how the TuneIn app could be used to listen to shows on stations around the world. One of my first go-to stations was KZOY, in Sioux Falls, SD (I still check them out occasionally). This show was the one playing that Saturday eight years ago we whiled away in the basement, organizing and tossing stuff–Casey played up the suspense about the new #1 pretty well.

Hello/Goodbye: Why yes, it’s the first appearance for Buckner and Garcia.

As for my rankings…well, I hadn’t quite gotten burned out on “Centerfold” yet.

2/4/78:
Thirteen weeks after I fell and broke my left wrist, I badly sprained my right one (time has dimmed the memory of what I did this time). It being a Saturday and all, I was suddenly desperate for assistance in writing down that week’s countdown. In stepped my mother.

I’m sure I coached her up on #27 and #21, at the least (the error on #37 slipped past me, though).

I look back on my youth and can see now how often my parents were there for my sister and me, supporting our interests as best they could. I can only hope I appreciated it enough at the time, and have paid it forward sufficiently with my son.

(I recovered pretty quickly, as you can tell from the way I was able to fill out the other stuff a few days later.)

Hello/Goodbye: LeBlanc and Carr finally come on board, in their 17th week on the chart. Debby Boone’s done all she can to state her case for being the biggest one-timer ever in the Top 40.

2/14/81:
I’d turned 17 the day before I wrote this down; can’t say I remember much about that weekend now at all. There are songs I still like here, but we’re a month or so away from the scene really beginning to turn much more to my satisfaction–“Living in a Fantasy” and “Ah! Leah!” are on the leading edge of that.

Hello/Goodbye: Nada this time.

On the personal ranking front: even if Andy Gibb was in the last throes of his solo career, “Time Is Time” has always been one of my favorites of his, certainly the best thing since “Shadow Dancing.”

2/23/80:
Five weeks since the 1980 chart above, and Captain and Tennille are still holding on at #2. You wonder sometimes how real those heart-tugging LDDs are, but I’ll cop to being moved when I heard the first one on this show a few weeks ago: a teen in Vermont thanking her community for raising money for a surgery needed after being in an accident.

Hello/Goodbye: We’re seeing the last of both Bonnie Pointer and Isaac Hayes.

November/December Charts of Yore

I’m in a pattern of putting these up after every two months’ worth of shows; why stop now?

11/15/80
For a fine blow-by-blow of this chart, you’ll want to check out Neck Pickup here. Just for the record, the missing LDD was “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

Hello/Goodbye: The first three songs on the show were by newbies.

As for my rankings, it’s great to see old pal Al Stewart on top. I’m disappointed in myself for not letting Boz get any higher than #13, though.

11/19/77
This comes from my lazy period, a couple of weeks after I’d broken my left wrist. It’s one of three lists on a single 8.5″ by 11″ sheet (the last three weeks of November are on it).

Hello/Goodbye: Player, High Inergy, and Bob Welch all bow in for the first time.

Next, a couple more of WKRQ’s lists. The 1977 chart is the second one in my collection; this may be just about been the time I began listening to them. Overall it feels like they’re a little behind the times–a lot of songs in the bottom half of the chart had already faded nationally. I hated that Kenny Loggins song back then. As for 1980, I’m not surprised to see the Stones so high, nor the Kansas and Seger cuts present.

And here are the backs. Don’t remember Bruce Ryan, but I doubt I was listening in the mornings in late 1977, anyway. Regarding the $1 million prize: Cincinnati radio had a huge promotion war in the second half of 1980. An upstart Top 40 station started it by giving away $500,000 to a listener in the late summer, followed by a like prize to a school. As you can tell, Q102’s owner upped the ante; hope Mary used the money wisely.

Bonus 1977 coverage! I re-discovered this putting this post together. It’s on the back side of the sheet with the above 1977 chart. I believe the correct chronological order is left-bottom-right, but don’t ask what the * and @ symbols mean, ’cause I don’t remember. Sorta like Q102, certain songs were hanging around for a loooong time: for instance, “Easy,” “Give a Little Bit,” and “Whatcha Gonna Do?” had been gone from AT40 for over a month by this point (I had all three 45s, though, and I’ll bet I played them a bunch). I guess maybe I’ve always been a chart maker…

Four more below the fold…

Continue reading “November/December Charts of Yore”

AT40’s Top 100 of 1984, Part 2

Here’s the second half of what I wrote down on the weekend of 12/29/84.

Only three peak position errors on this part of the show, and two involved Lionel Richie: #48 only reached 7, #40 made it to just 5, and #31 got to 3.

Even if I wasn’t right all the time about how high songs got, one thing that really stood out to me writing this chart down was how well year-end rank correlated overall with peak position, and how few non-Top 10 tunes even made the show. This was so different from what I’d seen in the late 70s, when songs that didn’t even crack the top 20 in real time could sneak onto the year’s Top 100, due to their longevity on the charts. According to this thread at one of the AT40 Fun & Games message boards, Casey’s staff had started using a ‘power point’ system in 1982, based only on top 50 performance (historically, Billboard used all of a song’s Hot 100 life–one need only also listen to the 1971 year-ender that Premiere provided to 70s affiliates this year to see that in action), awarding bonuses for weeks in the top 10 and big points for multiple weeks at the top. I also learned there that AT40 went back to using Billboard‘s rankings in 1985, which may explain in part why “Out of Touch,” “I Feel for You,” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” were so high at year’s end in both 1984 and 1985.

1980: My Top 100 (At The Time)

Regular readers are well aware that I kept a list of my own Top 50 for the better part of three years (from 3/29/80 to 12/25/82, to be precise). My primary rule was pretty simple: all songs on AT40 for the week prior had to be included (I usually made my chart very early in the week and relied on the show just broadcast for my baseline). That of course invariably led to a small lag. I pretty much modeled chart action on what I’d seen Billboard do all those years I’d been listening to Casey to that point: songs didn’t usually debut all that high, they’d climb fairly steadily, and would, with precious few exceptions, start to fall only after staying in the same spot for two (or more) weeks or maybe after rising just one position.

As 1980 drew to a close, it was natural to want to put together a Top 100 for the year based on my weekly rankings. The biggest issue was the incomplete data, a lack of information about almost a quarter of the year. What to do?

In the end, I wasn’t very scientific in constructing the year-end list. The Top 20 or so probably do reflect how I felt about the songs at the time; after that, it’s more impressionistic, crudely approximating where I thought things would shake out, informally incorporating peak position, length of chart run, and what I supposed January, February and March charts might have looked like. I think I was a little careful about discounting theoretical chart points for performance in 1979 by songs like “Escape,” “Better Love Next Time,” and “Cruisin’,” but that may be revisionist thinking on my part.

Anyway, without any further ado:

No doubt I’d make numerous changes to this forty years on, but many favorites then are still must-listens today. Oftentimes you like what you like, right?

I was much more rigorous in putting my 1981 Top 100 together; I’m planning on taking a look underneath the hood of that effort this time next year.

AT40’s Top 100 of 1984, Part 1

My chart for the 1984 year-ender follows the same straightforward format as that of the year before: three yellow legal sheets with rank, song, artist, and peak position. I’m pretty certain it was the only time I listened to Casey the entire year.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention to the ebb and flow of the charts. I went to record stores to check out their posted Hot 100 lists throughout my college years; that helped me with peak positions when Casey didn’t remind us. However, my memory was faulty several times by a spot or two: #97 only reached 14, #94 got to 12, #83 peaked at 10, #82 topped out at 9, #77 hit only 8, #72 reached 8, #66 finished at 7, #60 hit 4, #59 and #57 both had stopped at 5, and #55 made just #6.

The other half next weekend; hoping the number of mistakes will be smaller.

More September/October Charts

Between grappling with this hectic fall semester and deciding to play another Strat-o-Matic tourney these last three weeks, I’ve let putting up another Charts post slide down the priority list. It’s become time for me to get it together.

9/5/81
Another case where I missed the tail end of the show and used the Florence Mall Recordland as a backup. That third Archive song was “To Sir, with Love”–this, after Casey giving a career retrospective of Lulu in hour 2 before playing her current hit. It’s embarrassing I whiffed on both of Bobbie Gentry’s names.

Hello/Goodbye: Nobody bows in, but it’s never again for Point Blank, Robbie Patton, and John Schneider.

As for my rankings:

While 1981 has a (justified) soft rock/country-dominated reputation, I’ll defend my top 15 choices of the time, Oak Ridge Boys excepted. The song at #25 is one I’ve noted before, from Union, another Randy Bachman joint–it didn’t chart nationally.

9/25/76
This is during the six-week period that WSAI took Casey off the air. I woke up early on a few Sunday mornings to listen to WAKY out of Louisville (but not 6:00am early, apparently). I didn’t write down the Top 10, since I could get that out of the newspaper.

Hello/Goodbye: Didn’t know it at the time, but this week was the beginning for Firefall.

Continue reading “More September/October Charts”

Scads of July and August Charts

Catching up on the shows recently played on Premiere for which I have charts…

7/25/81
They last played this show three years ago, right after I started blogging (#37 was the song I featured, both praising and lamenting Steinman’s craft). Hadn’t started posting charts yet, though, so I get to right that wrong. Don’t know how quickly after I wrote this up that the grease stain appeared.

Hello/Goodbye: Even with just two debuts, there’s a newbie: it’s the first time on for Alabama. Eight songs fell off after this week, and half of the acts on the way out never appeared again: Carole Bayer Sager, A Taste of Honey, Climax Blues Band, and Rosanne Cash.

My sun-faded chart:

The Moodies start a four-week run at the top. “Bette Davis Eyes” is in the last of an eight-week stretch in the top three (only one of those had been at #1). Wish I’d ranked “Seven Year Ache” higher (it would peak at #16); it’s one of my absolute faves on this chart now.

7/29/78
Half of the sixteen songs that debuted on either 7/1 or 7/8 have moved into the top 20. Two of ’em are already top 10, but only three more would eventually join the Commodores and Pablo Cruise.

Hello/Goodbye: Last time I did a charts post, we bid adieu to the Village People. This time, it’s bon jour; we’re also seeing Chris Rea for the first time. On the flip side, that’s all for Love & Kisses.

8/6/77
How long did I try to draw an outline of the lower 48 at the top of the first page? I’d started the week prior. It lasted through the end of October; I guess my broken wrist on 11/5 is what sank the practice.

Hello/Goodbye: Both of the debuts come from cagey veterans. On the farewell side of things, we have Cat Stevens, Dean Friedman, and Hot.

Continue reading “Scads of July and August Charts”

AT40’s Book of Records Special

The only 80s American Top 40 that Casey hosted that hasn’t been rebroadcast to date by Premiere was the 7/5/80 Book of Records special (it features plenty of songs from the 50s and 60s). Yesterday, WTOJ, Magic 103.1 in Watertown, NY, played the show as part of its 50th birthday celebration. WTOJ’s programming director Ken Martin has helped engineer the mono-to-stereo conversion of many of the early shows in recent years; he’s also worked on some of the more obscure special shows and gets to play them on his station. As far as I know, this was the first time the 7/5/80 show has been aired again.

It’s also one of the few special shows between 1976 and 1982 I followed closely enough to track what Casey was laying down. The cue sheets at charismusicgroup.com indicate the songs on the show, but if you’re interested in the descriptions of the records they held, well, look no further, though it doesn’t appear I noted all of the drop pieces.

After writing this (but before publication), I stumbled upon My Favorite Decade’s four-part retrospective of the Book of Records show, written up just over three years ago. MFD catches all the drop pieces I missed.

Another Round of May and June Charts

Another two months’ worth of AT40 rebroadcasts have passed, so there are five more of my charts to share, along with a few other odds and ends.

5/16/81: Some fine 60s Archive tunes, sappy LDDs, and the final time I listed all the songs that Stars on 45 sang (it was simply “Medley” from here on out).

Hello/Goodbye: T. G. Sheppard, take a bow. Terri Gibbs, James Taylor, and J. D. Souther, have a seat. (I was a little surprised to find this was it for J. T.)

WKRQ’s list from the following Monday largely shuffled most of the songs on the show, but note they held on to Loverboy, April Wine, Journey, and even Abba longer than most of America had.

I was on to “Just Between You and Me” longer than America was, too, though. “Sweetheart” would have another go at #3 before spending four long weeks in the runner-up spot, locked out forever by the Climax Blues Band.

5/27/78: The 6/3 chart is one of the few I have written in red ink; must have made these predictions right before that show? The Saturday Night Fever reign on the charts is almost done, but Grease is just starting to ramp up.

Hello/Goodbye: Michael Johnson is gracing us with his presence for the first time. I’m sad to report that time was up for Warren Zevon.

Goodies from 1982, 1979, and 1980 lie over the fold…

Continue reading “Another Round of May and June Charts”

The Cincinnati AM Rock Radio Blues

After we moved close to Cincinnati in the summer of 1972, our cars’ AM radios, when they weren’t tuned to WLW (700) for Reds’ games, were set to WSAI (1360), through and through a Top 40 station. I was around ten when the music I was hearing began making a stronger impression. I discovered AT40 in the late winter of 1976; by then a transistor radio was an almost constant companion, and WSAI was almost always in my ear. I still recall several of the jocks’ names: most notably Jim Scott, but also John R. W. Whalen, Casey Piotrowski (who put out an album locally in 1975 that captured some of the humor on his shows), Ted McAllister (here’s a 1971 air check of McAllister’s). By early 1978, I had discovered FM radio and Top 40 powerhouse WKRQ. I wasn’t alone in transitioning away from the AM dial. That summer, WSAI began teasing a format change, to begin at 6:00 am on a Monday morning in August. I woke up early to tune in and discover: they were going country. Right or wrong, that was that for me. Top 40 radio on the AM side in Cincy went extinct, at least for the time being, that morning. Except for the Reds and listening to AT40 on WLAP out of Lexington, I pretty much became an FM-only listener.

But I guess I never quite stopped fidgeting with the dial on my portable radio. In the summer of 1982, weeks before I left for college, I found WCLU at 1320, which had at some point become a rock station with maybe a tilt toward breaking hits, especially if they had a New Wave flavor. It’s probably from them that I acquired my love for “Kids in America,” “Words,” and maybe even “Someday, Someway.” They were in on “Who Can It Be Now?” early, and were weeks ahead of the pack on “Rock This Town.” I have to believe WCLU would have been a regular listen for me going forward (even if they were daytime only) had I not moved away in September.

I don’t remember now if I tuned into them much the following summer, but they were still at it–I picked up three of their Top 60 playlists from record stores, one each in May, July, and August 1983. The first is dated thirty-seven years ago today.

There’s a much greater infusion of R&B music here than what I recall from listening in 1982, but I’d listen to this station now in a heartbeat. I imagine I’ll share the other two someday.

How long this format lasted for WCLU, I can’t tell you. The station changed its call letters to WCVG a few years later and made waves in 1988 by becoming the first station in the nation to adopt an all-Elvis format (which lasted a little more than a year). They are now known as The Voice and play a gospel format.

Both WCVG and WSAI have Wikipedia pages that attempt to capture some of their histories, if you’re interested. The station at 1360 once again has call letters WSAI (there’s a long, complicated story there that the Wiki article summarizes decently), but these days they go simply by Fox Sports 1360.