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The Birth of Top 40 Radio...

The term "Top 40" for a radio format first appeared in 1960.

At his radio station KOWH in Omaha, Nebraska. Todd Storz invented the format by using what he saw from the repetition of plays on the jukebox to develop his platform.

The format was commercially successful, and Storz and his father Robert, under the name of the Storz Broadcasting Company, subsequently acquired other stations to use the new Top 40.

The Top 40 became a survey of the popularity of 45 rpm singles and their airplay on the radio. Some nationally syndicated radio shows featured a countdown of the 40 highest ranked songs on a particular music or entertainment publication.

Although such publications often listed more than 40 charted hits, such as the Billboard Hot 100, time constraints allowed for the airing of only 40 songs, hence, the term "top 40" gradually became part of the vernacular associated with popular music. And it remains in play today.

   A N D  R E C E N T L Y  A D D E D:

Don Bleu

Don Bleu (real name Rick Kelleher) was one of the most popular personalities in Bay Area radio, but Twin Cities listeners remember him as "True Don Bleu" from KDWB in the glory days of Top 40 AM radio. A native of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, Bleu began his career in 1966 when his University of North Dakota classmate Shadoe Stevens encouraged him to try radio.

He signed on at KILO in Grand Forks, and soon became the night-time disc jockey. After a term at KQWB Fargo, he moved to the Twin Cities and KDWB in 1968, where for the next ten years he was one of the top jocks in the region, even touring the state with his own group, True Don Bleu and the Upper Division Back to the '50s Rock and Roll Revue.
A KDWB cartoon flyer depicts DJs True Don Bleu, Smokin' Joe Hager, and Brian the Cosmic Phoenix.


It's January 28, 1974 and it's cold in the Twin Cities. But Don is warm and playing records in the KDWB studio. [ LISTEN ]
This scoped aircheck starts with the Secret Sound contest and the contestant fails to guess the sound. Don does his Norwegian accent. It's St. Paul Winter Carnival Days, and also "KDWB, the New Music Explosion." True Don is being attacked on the air by the Winter Carnival Vulcan and is painted black. This causes him to interupt the playing of Elton John "Daniel." TDB does a live spot for a book "Dust On The Sea." News is done by Gary Johnson (edited). There is the trademark "Hi Twin Cities, How're You", and a promo spot on the KDWB super shooters, with a John Wayne character.

His Minnesota success earned him a spot at KHJ Radio in Los Angeles. In 1980 he moved to San Francisco, where he became a star in the adult contemporary format, twice named National Adult Contemporary Air Personality of the Year by Radio & Records Magazine. He's also enjoyed success in television, having hosted "The Gong Show" for a season, as well as shows for the Discovery Channel and Home and Garden TV.

Emmy Award 1982
In later years, he hosted the Don Bleu Show on KOSF, a music station in San Francisco, California. He was named to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting's Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2005, and inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2007. Bleu initially worked at KIOI until 2011, when he moved to KOSF. He was let go from KOSF, doing his last broadcast on June 26, 2015.


Some materials found on this page were originally published by the following: Twin Cities Radio Airchecks.
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...and In Rode the Disc Jockeys

“DJs” have had a key role in shaping radio listener's musical tastes since the 1950s. They reflected national and local musical trends, exposed audiences to new music, and in some cases produced records and managed artists. Many DJs became celebrities, actively engaged and influential in the national music scene.

DJs came into being as a result of changes in the radio industry after the advent of television in the 1950s. In the earlier years of radio broadcasting, programming featured mainly live entertainment such as dramas, comedy acts, and studio orchestras and singers. When television came into widespread use, the audience for this type of programming largely abandoned radio for the new medium. In response, radio stations began offering a new type of entertainment by having their announcers play records on the air.

Thus was born the “disc jockey” or “DJ.”