Sunday, November 30, 2008

R I P Bill Drake

1937-2008
Radio legend BILL DRAKE has died from lung cancer at age 71 in LOS ANGELES.

DRAKE, born PHILIP YARBROUGH chose his last name from among his relatives' surnames, because it rhymed with "WAKE", the station in ATLANTA, where he worked as a programmer and disc-jockey in the late 1950s, writes WIKIPEDIA. Later, BARTELL BROADCASTING, who owned WAKE -- that he had programmed to number one, transferred him to KYA in SAN FRANCISCO, which also became number one. It was later at KYNO in FRESNO that he met GENE CHENAULT, who became his business partner. Together, the pair developed highly influential radio programming strategies and tactics, as well as working with future "Boss Jocks."

DRAKE-CHENAULT perfected the Top 40 radio format, which had been created by TODD STORZ, GORDON MCCLENDON and other radio programmers in the late 1950s, which took a set list of popular songs and repeated them all day long, ensuring the widest possible audience for the station's music. Jingles, news updates, traffic, and other features were designed to make Top 40 radio particularly attractive to car listeners. By early 1964, the era of the BRITISH Invasion, Top 40 radio had become the dominant radio format for NORTH AMERICAN listeners and quickly swept much of the WESTERN world.

DRAKE streamlined the Top 40 format, using modern methods, such as market research and ratings demographics, to maximize the number of listeners. He believed in forward momentum, limiting the amount of disc jockey chatter, the number of advertisements and playing only the top hits, as opposed to less-organized programming methods of the past. DRAKE created concepts such as 20/20 News and counter programming, by playing music sweeps, while his competitors aired news. DRAKE-CHENAULT controlled everything from the specific DJs that were hired, to radio contests, visual logos, promotions and commercial policy. DRAKE essentially put radio back into the hands of programming, instead of sales. DRAKE hired the JOHNNY MANN SINGERS to produce the BOSS RADIO jingles, ensuring a bright, high-energy sound that engaged the listener, while providing a bridge from song to song, as well as a smooth transition from songs to commercials.

Most of the great things about radio in your childhood was fashioned after Mr. Drake in some way. Dude had one the best, booming voices ever.

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