Let’s get nostalgic! This aircheck is probably the highest fidelity recording of this era we’ve seen so far. You wouldn’t even know this was an AM station except it’s in mono, and there’s just a hint of background static… which we left in for authenticity.
This is from a tape donated to us by Tom Konard’s “Aircheck Factory“. Undoubtably, Tom used only the original master recording for his aircheck service.
This recording opens with a weather report… where it’s 17 degrees in St. Louis! It’s the tail end of KXOK news with Frank Linn. Get it? Frank-linn? Ok. Maybe it wasn’t.
After the Top Hour ID, it’s back to KXOK music with Jack Elliot. Once again, this had to be telescoped to comply with copyright law. We do apologize for that, but everything else including commercial breaks and every word spoken in this recording made from 5:00 to 6:00 PM is there.
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Here are a few little details you might miss if you don’t listen carefully. Among the many contests, there’s the “More Music Contest”, where listeners call in and list the names of the records played during the show. Then, there’s “News IQ” where listeners are asked a question about a story read in the news report. The winner wins $1.00. They call that “Cash in a Flash”! I guess that was a lot of money in 1961! Dan Tracy called into that contest and lost.
The jock here has a reverb-on-demand button so he can emphasize certain words or phrases. Modern listeners would probably consider this annoying but it was a gimmick in the radio stations’ toolbox. Another thing KXOK has… another gimmick… Tookie, the KXOK weather bird live from the Radio Park Weather Tower. Seems as if every hit music station in the early 60s had some sort of gimmick to keep listeners guessing.
Check out the music in rotation at KXOK. Half of the songs seem to be of the non-rock variety. Listen for titles from Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and more… along with many of the early Rock hits. Interestingly, there were no Elvis songs in rotation and it was way too early for the Beatles or any of the major hit songs that would personify the 1960s. And those commercials! Wow. Just listen for that 1961 Chevy commercial for the Corvair. Just… wow!
We noticed that many of the hits played in this, like Paul Anka’s “Story of my Love” really didn’t have much lasting power. Perhaps they would have, if not eclipsed by so many of the major artists later in the decade. This aircheck just reeks of 1950s, and most of the jingles, both of the radio station and most of the commercial products still have a big band sound or lots of keyboard stuff reminiscent of the 1950s era.
This is a very unique aircheck, in that the era this was recorded from, was in between what Top 40 radio started out as, and the two different major styles that became mainstream later on. Those being the Drake “Boss Radio” sound, used almost exclusively in the RKO General chain of stations, and the ABC chain of stations with their reverb and more personality approaches such as WABC, WLS, et al.
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