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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:

Chuck Brinkman

Chuck Brinkman was one of Pittsburgh’s most popular radio DJs and an influential music/program director from the 1960s to the 1980s on Pittsburgh radio stations KQV, WTAE, and WFFM / WMYG.

KQV-AM was the number 2 highest rated station in Pittsburgh through most of the 1960s. Chuck Brinkman was the mainstay of the KQV staff for 12 years during the station’s Top 40 glory days. He frequently ranked second to Clark Race in the 1960s radio ratings.

Adding new songs every week as the "Pick of the Week" KQV launched many hits by Motown artists. British Invasion bands, and Pittsburgh musicians. At KQV Brinkman was credited with breaking nationally the hit songs "Sitting In The Park" by Billy Stewart, "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry, "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' by the Crazy Elephant and several songs by the Vogues, and the Jaggerz.

Charles Brinkman was born in Pittsburgh in July of 1935. His family lived in Dormant until he was five. After several years in Cleveland Chuck's family returned to the Pittsburgh area where he attended high school at the Kiski Prep School. He attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and began working in radio at station WAND in Canton. He quit college after two and a half years to become an announcer on a Warren, Ohio station. He moved to station WELI in New Haven, Connecticut in 1956. He then worked at a station in Mt. Clemens, Michigan and station WJW in Cleveland.

He volunteered for the National Guard in 1958 and spent six months of active duty at Fort Knox. After his National Guard duty he worked at WCUE in Akron for a year and then went back to WELI for a few months.

Brinkman began at KQV in 1960 working the all night shift. He took over the 7 PM to midnight show in August of 1962 replacing the departed Larry Aiken. He became part of KQV-AM's "Fun Lovin' Five," in 1963 which included Hal Murray, Steve Rizen, Dave Scott and Dexter Allen. In 1964 Brinkman introduced the Beatles at their Civic Arena concert. He also hosted the WIIC-TV Chanel 11 "Come Alive” dance show in 1966. Brinkman also was the DJ at many Pittsburgh area teen dances durin the 1960s.

Beginning In 1967 Brinkman served as KQV’s music director and afternoon drive host. As music director he selected the stations playlist. The station played 5 new singles and two new album cuts every week. Brinkman received gold records for his work in breaking hits by Mungo Jerry and Crazy Elephant.

Brinkman moved to WTAE-AM in October of 1972 taking the mid day time slot. Chuck was appointed WTAE's music director by Bernie Armstrong in 1973. Chuck selected favorite Pittsburgh tunes for WTAE's "Solid Gold" TAE format.

Chuck left the Pittsburgh radio market in 1979 to work at KOGO in San Diego as a DJ and program director. While in San Diego he also served as a programming consultant to station WFFM 96.9 in Pittsburgh.

Brinkman returned to Pittsburgh in 1980 doing the morning drive time slot at WFFM 96.9 and also became the station's program director. The station changed its call letters to WMYG (Magic 97) in 1986. As program director of WMYG Brinkman signed Jimmy Roach and Steve Hanson to a multi-year contract and brought them back to Pittsburgh after their stint at WSHE in Flordia. Jimmy and Steve returned to the Pittsburgh airways on WMYG-FM Magic 97 on Sept 1, 1987 taking over Brinkman's morning time slot.

WMYG shifted its format from Adult Oriented hits to Classic Album Oriented Rock (AOR). Brinkman was replaced as the WMYG program director by Ron Reger in February of 1988 and became the station's operations manager.

Chuck Brinkman left WMYG in April of 1988 for a a job as program director and afternoon drive DJ at KLUV-FM in Dallas. Ironically the station was owned by John Tenaglia who had hired and fired Jimmy Roach and Steve Hanson at his station WSHE-FM in Fort Lauderdale. Brinkman spent the next 17 years playing oldies on KLUV. He left the station in December of 2005. He is now part owner of a Greenville, Texas rock oldies radio station KGVL-FM 1400 and does the afternoon drive show.
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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.”

The Summer of 1967

AM radio still reigns supreme. But the songs are suddenly longer, and edgier. No way of getting around the fact that The Doors’ Light My Fire is a huge hit; so huge in fact, that Elektra records made a special cut-down version to fit the two-minute Top-40 formula, but a lot of stations played the long version anyway. FM is just starting to get noticed – with more stations dropping the automated elevator music in favor of eclectic mixtures of Rock, Jazz and Folk – they can play entire sides of albums, and people like that. Besides, everyone who owns a Volkswagen or Volvo has a Blaupunkt FM radio installed in their cars.

Summer 1967 was definitely different. The Love-ins are a Sunday event every week at the Griffith Park Merry-go-round; the Bongo Kings hold court and the free peanut-butter-honey and Wonderbread sandwiches are everywhere, even though the sandwiches are mostly bread and a hint of the other stuff – Friday and Saturday night concerts at the Shrine Expo Hall, where there are no seats, $2.50 to get in and three bands, usually on rotation from The Fillmore up north – grab an orange from the 50 gallon drums dotting the auditorium and breathe in clouds of Acapulco Gold, wafting everywhere – and get stoned by just walking around. Or there was the Sunset Strip, and what was left of Pandora’s Box before the bulldozers came in August. But The Whiskey A go-go was open, and so was Dave Hull‘s Hulballoo further east on Sunset and the club scene was still thriving.

In short, that was Summer 1967 – despite the much-publicized Summer Of Love, it really wasn’t so much. Century City was just getting over being the site of billyclubs and teargas; where demonstrators against the Vietnam War clashed with police outside the Century Plaza hotel, during a visit by President Johnson. Protests to the Vietnam War were getting more frequent and more vocal, and even though there was a lot of love in the air, there was also a lot of uncertainty over the future.

And maybe the music reflected that – it was becoming more sophisticated and complex and somehow less innocent. But we still had B. Mitchel Reed – and for at least the next several months, it was three powerhouse Radio Stations, blasting out new and interesting music – and music was the most important thing.

Here’s a 45 minute extract featuring KFWB, along with KHJ’s Humble Harve and The Real Don Steele, along with ads for upcoming shows and a few eery slices of history. A sample from a period of time and a glimpse into an average day around July 1967. [ LISTEN ] (46:38)

Unfortunately the daily news in 1967 was far from average. More was going on than most care to remember. Here's how October 7th rolled as reported over ABC Radio’s News Around The World. [ LISTEN ] (15:04)