One Day in Your Life: April 16, 1967

April 16, 1967, is a Sunday. The top story in the Sunday newspapers regards the massive anti-Vietnam protests held in New York and San Francisco yesterday; in New York, over 300,000 were said to have attended. More mass protests are scheduled for tomorrow, including Washington, D.C. The current edition of Look magazine features an article called “The Student Revolt,” but its cover features Britain’s Prince Philip and Prince Charles. Students are not the only ones angry. In an interview with reporters, civil rights leader Martin Luther King warns that at least 10 cities “could explode in racial violence this summer.” King also delivers a sermon titled, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.” Preparations continue for Monday’s launch of the unmanned Surveyor III spacecraft, which will land on the moon, take photos, and sample the lunar soil. Future pro football player Chuck Evans is born. The Cincinnati Nature Center opens.

Led by center Wilt Chamberlain’s 38 rebounds, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the San Francisco Warriors 126-95 to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals; one week from tomorrow, the 76ers will win the championship. The Chicago White Sox sweep a doubleheader from the Washington Senators; the second game goes 16 innings. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox play 18 innings, with the Yankees finally winning the six-hour game 7-6. The Grateful Dead plays the Kaleidoscope in Los Angeles, Pink Floyd plays Bethnal Green in London, the Buffalo Springfield plays San Francisco, the Yardbirds play Lolland, Denmark, the Duke Ellington Orchestra plays Cleveland, the Beach Boys and Tommy James play Pittsburgh, and the Electric Prunes appear on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Other shows on TV tonight include Lassie, Bonanza, Hey Landlord, and The FBI.

At WLS in Chicago, three Midwestern acts are in the Top 10 of the current Silver Dollar Survey: the Buckinghams and the Cryan’ Shames from Chicago with “Don’t You Care” and “Mr. Unreliable” at Numbers 6 and 7 respectively, and 2 of Clubs from Cincinnati with “Walk Tall” at Number 9. The top song belongs to the Monkees, however, with “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” which knocked last week’s Number-One song, “Happy Together” by the Turtles, to Number Two. “Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank and Nancy Sinatra is at Number Three; “On a Carousel” by the Hollies leaps into the Top Ten at Number Four. Also hot: “You Got What It Takes” by the Dave Clark Five, “The Happening” by the Supremes, and “Somebody to Love” by the Jefferson Airplane.  A seven-year-old in Wisconsin hears none of this. One day this spring—perhaps in April—his first-grade teacher, fighting off laryngitis, decides to turn over parts of her lessons to some of her students. He teaches a math lesson that involves addition with the number nine. It’s the first teaching he’s ever done, but it won’t be the last.

We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet

Those of us who loved the old radio duke-outs of yore—two or more stations in a market going head-to-head with exactly the same format and the devil take the hindmost—don’t get to enjoy the spectacle much anymore. Nowadays, with many markets dominated by two or three ownership groups controlling the majority of the stations, competition means something different. In a market with two stations sharing a format, the goal for Station B might not be to beat Station A straight up—it might be to take away just enough of Station A’s listeners so that Station C, one of Station B’s sister stations, can pass Station A in some desirable ratings category. In other words, competition consists of guerrilla actions that inflict cumulative damage, instead of an old-fashioned battle that ends up with one army defeated in detail.

I have always believed—although I may never have said it here, I don’t remember—that maximizing your demographic reach is not the same thing as taking on all comers and playing to win. It may lead to higher ad revenues and more money for everybody, but it’s not as romantic. (I say that knowing that I have the luxury of being in radio for the romance of it.) Which is why I’m fascinated with the Chicago rivalry between WLS and WCFL, which was played out over the decade between 1965 and 1976. Within that span, both stations tweaked, both stations maximized—but at the same time, they were eyeball to eyeball and going for the gold.

So here are the top 10s from WLS and WCFL for the same week in February 1967. First ‘CFL, chart date February 2, 1967 (which you can hear in montage form below):

1. “Georgy Girl”/Seekers (up from 2)
2. “I’m A Believer”/Monkees (down from 1)
3. “Pushin’ Too Hard”/Seeds (up from 8)
4. “I Love You So Much”/New Colony Six (holding at 4)
5. “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet”/Blues Magoos (holding at 5)
6. “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”/Royal Guardsmen (down from 3)
7. “I Had Too Much To Dream”/Electric Prunes (up from 11)
8. “Ruby Tuesday”/Rolling Stones (up from 17)
9. “Kind Of A Drag”/Buckinghams (down from 7)
10. “Tell It Like It Is”/Aaron Neville (up from 12)

And WLS, chart date February 3, 1967:

1. “I’m a Believer”-“I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone”/Monkees (holding at 1)
2. “Georgy Girl”/Seekers (up from 3)
3. “Pushin’ Too Hard”/Seeds (up from 5)
4. “Ruby Tuesday”/Rolling Stones (up from 11)
5. “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet”/Blues Magoos (up from 6)
6. “I Love You So Much”/New Colony Six (down from 2)
7. “I Had Too Much to Dream”/Electric Prunes (up from 9)
8. “Kind of a Drag”/Buckinghams (down from 7)
9. “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”/Royal Guardsmen (down from 4)
10. “Gimme Some Lovin'”/Spencer Davis Group (up from 12)

Amazingly—or perhaps not amazingly—there’s not much to choose from here. Both stations were likely gathering sales information from similar sources, although radio station charts were rarely based solely on sales. The top nine songs are the same on both stations, albeit in a different order; WLS charts the B-side of “I’m a Believer,” and I’d be willing to bet they WCFL played it some. Only Number 10 differs: “Tell It Like It Is” is on WLS at Number 16, down from 11; “Gimme Some Lovin'” is on WCFL at Number 11, up from 15. That the winter of 1967 was part of the golden age of garage psychedelia is not in dispute, with the Seeds, the Blues Magoos, and the Electric Prunes all blasting from Chicago’s AM radios. The New Colony Six were a Chicago group whose local profile extended far beyond “Things I’d Like to Say” and “I Will Always Think About You,” which were both major national hits; the Buckinghams were from Chicago as well. The novelty “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” was an absolute rage across the country that winter, the Stones were the Stones and the Monkees were the Monkees, and “Georgy Girl” fit in the pocket between Swinging London and the birth of the hippie.

Further down, each station charts its share of housewife music (Bobby Darin, Petula Clark, Tom Jones) and its share of records that became obscure. WCFL seems to have a bit less of the latter, but they also chart only 33 records in all as opposed to 40 on WLS. Each station was likely playing more than that, however—a 1967 WLS publication says that the station chose about 65 records for airplay each week. With little appreciable difference between the stations based on the music they chose, the difference between them was likely defined by their personalities, several of whom went from one side of the street to the other and back again during the decade-long war, Clark Weber, Ron Riley, Joel Sebastian, Dick Biondi, and Larry Lujack among them. WCFL was market leader in 1967, but by the end of the decade, that would change–and that’s a subject for another time.

Programming Note: Watch for a special Super Bowl weekend post, either tomorrow or Sunday.

WCFL Capsule Countdown/February 2, 1967