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REEL TOP 40 RADIO REPOSITORY

John Celarek, #1 Super CFL Fan
John Celarek is a very serious Super CFL fan!
The John Celarek Collection

John Celarek has been a big fan of WCFL since the 1970's. He's also been a Certified Public Accountant since 1985 and a Certified Management Accountant since 1993.

He spends his spare time listening to top 40 music from the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's.

John has been married to his wife Carol for over 29 years and has three kids, Adam, Laura and Graham. He resides in north suburban Chicago with his vast supply of WCFL memorabilia and airchecks.

Some of the exhibits in this collection were previously featured as Golden Gifts. You are also invited to visit WCFLbook.com, where you can purchase John's new book, consisting of WCFL surveys from 1965-1976, for $29.95. You can also contact John Celarek by email.

The Repository thanks John Celarek for sharing!

[Descriptions by Uncle Ricky for John Celarek, unless otherwise listed]

G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (11KHz)
PLAY Jimmy P Stagg, WCFL Chicago March 1970 (01:44:45)

. . . Plays The Hits Time . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Jimmy P. Stagg is the star, TM jingles and all, in this ultra-expanded super-long uncut unscoped studio sample of Big Ten WCFL, that once-giant VERY first-class radio station operated by The Chicago Federation of Labor. It's March of 1970. Remember? Does it take a Union to make a radio station this good? Well, it did then. This is exceptionally professional radio, with the exception of a turntable that accidentally stops turning in the first few minutes. (At least it happens to a deserving song.)

Jim Stagg was silenced by cancer in November of 2007. His friend Sam Hale wrote:

Jim was among the select few who traveled with the Beatles on their American tours. In fact, I was surprised to see him at the Atlanta concert in August, 1965; not knowing he was traveling with them. At that time, Jim was with WCFL. He later was at WMAQ, but on the Friday when the jocks were called together for a meeting and informed that on the following Monday the station was going country, and each one could apply for a position with that format, Jim decided he had enough of the politics of radio. It was then that he opened a record store in the Northern suburbs of Chicago and later added more stores, including one in Orlando. Prior to Chicago, Jim was afternoon drive jock at KYW and, earlier he had been at KYA, WIBG and, where I first met him, WYDE - Birmingham. Jim had a marvelous voice and during his college years was the featured soloist with the Crimson Tide orchestra at the University of Alabama.
Our thanks to Sam for his comments, and to John Celarek for this full-length exhibit.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Larry O'Brien, WCFL Chicago, April 8, 1970 (01:00:37)
Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (20:54)

. . . Over there, Officer, the one who thinks he's a vehicle. Take him downtown . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky, contributed by John Celarek]

Larry O'Brien is actually hosting a nightly 7PM-8PM Big Ten Countdown here, but he plays some songs that aren't in the countdown, too. It's all rather casual, and he doesn't necessarily make it clear when he's playing something that is not in the countdown - he just doesn't say it is. Mr. O'Brien's low-key humor is also featured, along with all those great TM jingles. The fidelity is not the best, though this recording started (several dubs back) as a studio recording. One song that was incomplete due to a tape flip was restored.

The Fred W. Barton newscast and the Tammy Wynette jingle for Pepsi is just all too 1970. In fact, it is exactly 1970, and that's the way it was.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Dick Biondi, WCFL Chicago, June 4, 1970 (01:00:33)

. . . great shirts for playing golf and shooting in the low 60's like I do . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky, contributed by John Celarek]

Shades of the forthcoming iPod format are heard in this June 4, 1970 pre-recorded hour of Dick Biondi on WCFL. Why anyone would go directly from music to spots back then is a mystery, but maybe not if you consider that the program was pre-recorded, and the air version needed last-minute adjustments. We know for sure an entire 10-minute newscast is missing. This was not recorded off-the-air. Like so many airchecks of WCFL, Production Director Tom Konard of Aircheck Factory was the originator of this one.

Biondi is very much on format here otherwise — organized and flawless, respecting the music, as do all the airchecks of his amazing career. The advantage of pre-recorded material is generally high fidelity. This one is a bit unpredictable. Some of the contributed recording is fluttery, and most of this recording is a bit hissy (even after some gentle redux.) One song was replaced (from vinyl). There's also some "tape travel" causing the high-end to swish in and out. (But not as much as the pale guy on the electric shaver spot...)

Overall, this is a pleasant hour with great spots, fabulous TM jingles, a few musical surprises and one of the original Top 40 jocks on a great American Top 40 radio station owned by a labor union!

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Gary Gears, WCFL Chicago, October 6, 1970 (58:16)

. . . don't tell anybody, but the hitline is in love with you . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

The late Gary Gears (and his incredible voice) is featured in this slightly distorted studio recording of WCFL from October 6, 1970. It's the 4PM hour, and there's another one of those outstanding multi-reporter WCFL newscasts. And sadly, there's some upper-mid frequency splatter that gets more unpleasant toward the end of this otherwise delightful hour.

The Voice Of Labor was on top of the radio station album craze, with WCFL's MUSIC EXPLOSION Double Album featuring thirty stone smashes.

Also included is a true delight for the Top 40 traditionalist — a long music sweep with a TM Sound 70 jingle before every record. Those were the good old days, for sure.

Gary Gears died in 1991 from cancer. He was 46.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Jerry Kay, WCFL Chicago, March 4, 1971 (01:02:24)

Picture, courtesy of The John Rook Collection
Jerry Kay,
WLS, 1969
. . . Can't Find The Time - need a course in remedial clock reading . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Jerry Kay started his radio career in Yakima Washington, worked at both KOL and KJR in Seattle, served as Program Director at KNEW in Spokane, and was part of John Rook's top-rated WLS, Chicago, in 1969. Following Chicago, he returned to Seattle and remained in the Northwest U.S. for the remainder of his career.
playThis Exhibit 'SCOPED (18:57)

SCOPEDIf all you want is the jings and the jock and the news and the spots, this version's for you!

This aircheck demonstrates Jerry's casual, easy-going midday show on WCFL from March 4, 1971. Also included: a first-rate newscast, typical of the effort the Chicago Federation of Labor felt was necessary to compete with ABC O&O WLS.

Jerry Kay passed away September 25, 2005 in Seaside, Oregon. He was 67.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (13KHz)
PLAY Paul Christy, WCFL Chicago March 15, 1971 (55:05)

. . . and from now until 6, the biggest little show in radio!
Where have I heard that before? . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

This hour was never broadcast! It was recorded to be presented following weekly transmitter maintenance, and it was intended to air from 5AM On Monday, March 15, 1971 until 6AM, when Clark Weber would begin the morning show. It opens with the National Anthem of The United States of America, since the station was re-starting after 5 hours of NO CARRIER. This, of course, was the thing to do, back when broadcasters respected the privilege of a federally-granted license to operate a really big radio transmitter.

Paul Christides
Paul Christides
courtesy
dcrtv.com
But, unlike many similar recordings, this one never aired. Contributor John Celarek says he received it from Tom Konard way back when. It's a studio recording, all ready (with a 3-minute break for news) to be cued and played by a Chicago Federation of Labor Engineer, but on the Ides of March, they never got to it. According to COMMENTS (below), Christy was terminated after recording this show on Thursday, March 11.

Paul Christy was Program/Operations Manager at WCFL until this show - which was a fine show, nothing wrong with it. Christy's real name was Paul Christides. He lost his life to Parkinson's Disease at age 69, on June 4, 2007. Here, he sounds like a very sharp young jock - a programmer at heart who loved to get it right every time.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Clark Weber, WCFL Chicago May 5, 1971 (63:32)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (29:10)

. . . Do you remember back in the days when air was invisible? . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Clark Weber had years of Chicago Top 40 history on WLS before he joined WCFL in 1969. This recording features Mr. Weber in morning drive, Wednesday May 5, 1971, and YES, this was your father's Top 40.

This studio recording had serious traveling alignment problems. The voice stuff was OK, but anything with music was slushy. So, all the music was restored. Thanks to Stormy Hunter for help with three original titles that have been re-mixed for a revised Version 2 of this restoration.

The REEL treasure here are the incredible Voice of Labor Newscasts. Howie Roberts anchors a couple of first-class news broadcasts featuring pre-recorded special reports and an entire staff of reporters. As we have noted before, WCFL put extra effort into their news because there was actual competition in the market from WLS, with all the resources of the ABC news organization.

There's also a custom promo by Lily Tomlin for the Hike for Hunger.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Ted Anthony, WCFL Chicago June 14, 1971 (56:41)

. . . the following is mechanically reproduced . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Who remembers those "Mechnical Reproduction Announcements?" They were intended to inform the listener that what might otherwise be interpreted as a "live" broadcast be properly identified as "recorded." I'm not sure why this was important (particularly when the music and commercials on all Top 40 stations of the era were recorded anyway) but it tells us that this is another of those Monday morning sign-on tapes. Of course, The National Anthem, which begins the hour, is another clue. (Good Americans should stand when they start this one!)

Best we can determine, Ted Anthony was the "swing" guy at WCFL about this time. In any event, he ended up getting the "sign on hour" after Paul Christy (above) was terminated. There are some musical surprises in this hour, and the inclusion of Freda Payne and Johnny Cash reflects the national weariness with the Vietnam war. Like so many great WCFL airchecks, this one originated with Tom Konard.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Dick Biondi, WCFL Chicago June 25, 1971 (57:16)
Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (26:22)

. . . How 'bout those White Sox yesterday defeating the Cubs, boy if they can keep that up, the south side will rise again . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Here's Chicago Top 40 legend Dick Biondi in the 4PM hour at Big 10 WCFL. It's a humid Friday, June 25 of 1971, and 'CFL has a heavy spot load (nearly all national buys with great production!)

We're also treated to another excellent WCFL Newscast, introduced by Fred Barton.

WCFL always had great production values, and after listening to this hour, it's difficult to believe that such a great station didn't survive the decade.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Dick Biondi, WCFL Chicago August 1, 1971 (01:01:44)

. . . I'm happy to be workin' at 'CFL, got my health, it's a great day, and I Just Want To Celebrate . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Dick Biondi demonstrates his mastery of a decade of "show biz" music radio in this unscoped hour of WCFL from Sunday, August 1, 1971. The instant you hear Biondi's voice, you know this will be precision, professional Top 40 musicradio.

TM jings, spots for funny cars, Adventure Land and a great Larry Lujack spot for Chicagoland concerts (at 34:31) highlight this exhibit, but what about Larry O'Brien and that casual "young dude" promo (at 21:09)? The Men From Ten promo (at 29:05) leaves no doubt that they were all out and about.

WCFL worked really hard on their news presentation, because their competitor was ABC (WLS). And this exhibit includes an outstanding WCFL newscast (at 38:50) featuring Fred Barton, Jim Frank, John Ganas, Howie Roberts, and a People Talk - Chicago Speaks public affairs feature. Just amazing - was the entire news department featured on this newscast? It is the precursor of the short-attention-span personality-driven television newscasts of today.

Some musical segments were restored: The opening jingle (improvised) and song, and all of the music on the second half.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Steve York, WCFL Chicago, January 14, 1971 (59:50)
Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (14:04)

. . . here's a record that's gonna get inside your head . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Steve York was heard overnights on Big 10 WCFL during 1971 and 1972. This recording features Steve's show from January 14, 1971, between 2 and 3AM.

There is not one single commercial announcement in this entire hour, but there are lots of Public Service Announcements, two of those impressive multiple-reporter newscasts, and a Public Affairs feature. As was common in those days, WCFL cleared much of their required community service programming in the overnight time slot. The frequently featured jingles include some Phase II and other cuts from TM of Dallas.

Unlike many of the WCFL personalities who sounded bigger than life, York sounds unexpectedly young and casual here. We wonder where he went after the Voice of Labor?

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Bob Dearborn, WCFL Chicago, November 25, 1971 (59:48)
Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (20:52)

. . . Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Bob Dearborn has always been a favorite of the many super WCFL jocks. Smooth and stylish, Bob fit the format and he was a "class act" all the way. There are some great TM jingles in this hour, too.

This is most of the last hour of Bob's show from November 24, 1971 - ending at 1AM on November 25, 1971 - Thanksgiving! Certainly, we can be thankful for this bounty in 2008 (and beyond.) It hasn't spoiled 37 years later.

[Original Aircheck from Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory]

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Ron O'Brien, WCFL Chicago June 7, 1972 (57:58)

. . . Someday never comes - Art Roberts is here, though! . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Ron O'Brien was at Chicago's WCFL twice in the '70's. Here's a great hour of The Voice of Labor and Big Ron from June of 1972, during his first tour of the Windy City. A few musical oddities, those BIG TM jingles and Big Ron make for a slick and super sample of a legendary Top 40 radio station.

As we have noted previously with airchecks from this era, WCFL was serious about competing with cross-town WLS and their ABC Radio News affiliation. How many voices in the newscast here? I lost count. Listen for some familiar names and exceptional production. Hey, these guys *deserved* a strong Union. They did exceptionally good work. Today, the professionalism heard in this hour exists only where there are experienced radio vets to pass it on.

And, to delight all of today's Sales Managers who are looking for one more opportunity to get their sponsors into the limited local programming available - consider the "whistling" McDonalds theme background during the People Speak segment. Coincidence? We observe - you ignore. Meanwhile, run out and get your sponsors to buy MUSICAL SIGNATURES & JINGLES for their business. And look, there's Art Roberts with a PSA!

Big Ron O'Brien died of complications from pneumonia on April 27, 2008.

[Original Aircheck from Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory]

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (12KHz)
PLAY Wolfman Jack, WCFL Chicago, September 15, 1973 (Pt.4) (53:51)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (09:59)

. . . I think she was happier with the leaves than she would have been with the flowers . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

This pre-recorded hour of Wolfman Jack was originally broadcast by WCFL on September 15, 1973 at 1AM. It was presented as Part 4 of our October 31, 2008 REELRADIO Howloween Special.

Two jingles were replaced and one song was restored for production and technical considerations.

[Original Recording from Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory]
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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Tom Murphy, Bob Dearborn, WCFL Chicago November 21, 1973 (01:01:26)
Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (25:18)

. . .
Win the prize package of your choice in the Last Contest, Phase Three
. . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

This hour-long exhibit features a half-hour each of two great Super CFL jocks on the day before Thanksgiving, 1973. This is the most we've heard of "World Famous" Tom Murphy in mornings at The Voice of Labor. His half-hour is followed by a half-hour of the ultra-smooth Bob Dearborn.

There's also a newscast in each half-hour, featuring Jim Frank and Wanda Wells.

The Last Contest, Phase Three is underway, but exactly how it works is confusing. The familiar "Prize Packages" are there, but contestants must guess two randomly-selected digits to win the opportunity to select a package. Also, WCFL called the contestant, not the other way around.

Music was restored for fidelity considerations.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (12KHz)
PLAY Johnny Driscoll, WCFL Chicago July 2, 1975 (01:00:22)

Picture of Johnny Driscoll, WCFL, 1974
. . . help us paint the canvas of the New 'CFL . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Johnny Driscoll is all over this aircheck, and why not? It's him and his show. It's him before and after the records, and during the commercial sets, mooning and laughing and belching and encouraging his engineer to drop it in the background there and wherever with 50 kilowatts at his command. Listen!

Casual and competent, it's hot and happening Top 40 from The Voice of Labor, 1975, less than a year before it was all over. Driscoll was a practiced rebel - and he played it all the way out.

Notice that CFL's special version of Kung Fu Fighting (at least on this aircheck) doesn't include the verse referencing Chinamen - this is, after all, offensive to people of Chinese origin. Was political correctness already influencing what was broadcast in 1975?

[Original Aircheck from Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory]

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (8KHz)
PLAY Ron O'Brien, WCFL Chicago, July 7, 1975 (01:26:13)

. . . I don't care how dark it is outside, at seven o'clock, it WILL be The Night Time . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Here's almost 90 minutes of Big Ron O'Brien beginning his second tour at Chicago's WCFL, from July 7, 1975.

Big Ron is excited to be back, getting "Stoned" and giving away tickets to see The Rolling Stones, and promising a One Thousand Dollar Bill before the night is over. He also jokes about the real test of his first hour - a live read over a commercial jingle - which he nails, perfectly. But later, pushing to hit the post with the weather, he falls out of his chair!

This 1975 aircheck features Big Ron at his exuberant best in the last summer of a legendary Top 40 radio station. (Two songs were restored.) Ron O'Brien passed away on April 27, 2008.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Ron O'Brien, WCFL Chicago, July 7, 1975, Part Two (01:18:42)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (12:06)
. . . The destiny of CFL, is in your control . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Here's the final 78 minutes of Big Ron O'Brien on the first show of his second tour at Chicago's WCFL, from July 7, 1975. This is another terrific aircheck from the last Summer of a legendary Top 40 station.

This recording begins about 2 hours and 45 minutes after the first recording from this date, so the "A" list hits are starting to repeat. Big Ron is still getting "stoned" as the NEW CFL Stones Chicago with Rolling Stones concert tickets and copies of their latest LP. He also claims to have given away $1000, but we don't hear the winner.

Ron O'Brien passed away on April 27, 2008.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Dick Sainte, Doug Dahlgren, WCFL Chicago, July 17, 1975 (56:21)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (31:00)
. . . I just dropped the microphone in my lap . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Picture of
Doug Dahlgren & Dick Sainte
Dick Sainte and Doug Dahlgren are comfortable together early in the morning at Super CFL from July 17, 1975. Jim Frank is featured with news, and it sounds like he really enjoys talking up the songs that follow his newscast.

Dick and Doug offer TV listings, and get lucky with a call to a pay phone at O'Hare's Gate F3. And a technical observation: the spots time OK, but it would seem 'CFL was applying velocity adjustment to selected tunes.

Dick Sainte passed away at the age of 67 on December 10, 2005.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Larry Lujack, WCFL Chicago, March 15, 1976, Part One (57:56)

. . . Hey Fred - stick it in your ear! . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Here's Part One of the Three Part "Day The Music Died" - the first hour (minus a few spots) of Larry Lujack's last show on Super CFL, March 15, 1976.

SuperJock probably wasn't that thrilled about this show, but since he always sounded curmudgeonly, how could you tell? He's obviously the perfect jock to do a last show anywhere for that reason.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Larry Lujack, WCFL Chicago, March 15, 1976, Part Two (53:41)

. . . Gosh, he plays good songs. Yer outta sight, Lar' . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Here's Part Two of the Three Part "Day The Music Died" - the second hour (minus minutes shifted to the other parts) of Larry Lujack's last show on Super CFL, March 15, 1976.

Lots of political advertisements in this hour. Is anything more frightening than Chicago politics? Perhaps only Superjock with live copy!

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10KHz)
PLAY Larry Lujack, WCFL Chicago, March 15, 1976, Part Three (58:14)

. . . I love you . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

Here's the last hour of Top 40 on WCFL/Chicago. It's Part Three of the Three Part "Day The Music Died" - the last hour of Larry Lujack's last show on Super CFL, March 15, 1976.

Lujack's coveted endorsement of a station to replace Super 'CFL is included in his final Address to the Nation from the Voice of Labor.

A 'scoped version of a portion of this broadcast was published in The Aircheck Factory Collection on March 14, 1999.

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John Celarek's first Super CFL Golden Gift was HITBOUND on October 9, 2005.
John's contributions first appeared in his Collection on July 27, 2007.
There is More to Come from The John Celarek Collection!
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