Mr. Tom Konard?

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The World's Best Cassette Radio

Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory

Tom Konard, longtime Production Manager at WCFL, got hooked on the magic of radio when he was a boy, and he started saving tapes in 1962 when he got his first tape recorder in grammar school. He would send blank tapes to engineers around the country and ask them to run airchecks. Initially, he never suspected his love of airchecks would lead to a career.

But it did. While working at WCFL, he built a small studio at home, collected airchecks of jocks from different markets and sold them to programmers with a popular service called "Around the Dial". He also published Aircheck Factory Monthly and the Aircheck Factory Newsletter.

In 1981, Tom moved his business to a barn, on the farm he called Aircheck Acres in Wild Rose, Wisconsin. On a quiet country road, far removed from big city radio, Tom collected thousands of airchecks. His mail-order aircheck business provided him with a comfortable living.

Tom got on the Internet in December 2000. He orginally heard about the Repository from our friend, the late Tim Benko at "Windy City" Airchecks. Some of Tom's airchecks have previously been featured in Tim's Collection, but his contributions have grown so numerous that Uncle Ricky insisted The Aircheck Factory have a Collection, too.

Tom closed The Aircheck Factory in 2006 and moved to Belgium with his wife. We hear they are both well. And, you can still order airchecks from Tom at http://sites.google.com/site/yesterdial/.

To Tom, who has unselfishly shared some fabulous treasures with the Repository, we say, THANK YOU, TOM!

[Descriptions by Uncle Ricky]

G2 5.0 compatible
PLAY Dewey Phillips, WHBQ Memphis, December 1953 (07:23)

. . . for that Omegle recipe book, Dub ya H bah-be-que heah in Memphis . . .

Dewey Phillips, WHBQ
Dewey Phillips at WHBQ
(Photo courtesy "And the Hits Just Keep On Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio" by Ben Fong-Torres)
Perhaps preceding pioneers like Alan Freed and Murray the K, Dewey Phillips may have been the first DJ to play "black" or "R&B" music primarily for a "white" audience.

Dewey became so popular that competitor WMPS stopped scheduling an announcer when Phillips was on WHBQ. While WMPS played the "safe" popular hits of the day with an automatic record changer, Phillips would pitch cornmeal in his drawling shotgun rap between records by Laverne Baker and Muddy Waters.

Following the release of a yellow Sun record titled "That's All Right", a nervous Elvis Presley told Phillips he didn't know anything about being interviewed. Phillips replied, "Just don't say nothin' dirty, son." Dewey Phillip's enthusiasm launched the careers of Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and many others.

Like his proudest discovery, Elvis Presley, Dewey Phillips died at the age of 42 in September, 1968.

[Description and Aircheck from YESTERDIAL #11, © 1987,1998 The Aircheck Factory.]

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PLAY Gene Weed, WQAM Miami, July 23, 1957 (15:44)

. . . the rage of the atomic age, Patti Page . . .

It was RADIO ONE, the NEW WQAM, (560) "the perfect spot for top pop music and the latest and greatest in up-to-the-second news". It was the newest Storz Station, and it becomes the Repository's earliest recording of Storz Top 40 radio.

It's 5:60 PM and Gene Weed hosts the "Top 40 Show". In this segment, Gene is counting down the current hits from #14 to #8 (Short Fat Fanny by Larry Williams). If you can't even imagine a time when "standards" like So Rare and Old Cape Cod dominated the nation's popular music charts, you probably won't be excited about the transistor radio that is "so small you can put it under your hat." But you can bet - this was incredibly hot stuff in 1957 when your yet-to-be Fab 40 uncle was 6 years old.

Gene Weed went on to KFWB in 1958, and is featured in Don Barretts' Los Angeles Radio People. Weed passed away at the age of 64, on August 5, 1999, a victim of lung cancer.

More Gene Weed Airchecks

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PLAY Bill Wright, WIBG Philadelphia, September 6, 1960 (01:01:49)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (36:31)

. . . WIBG Temperature Certified Correct and Official . . .

On February 15, 1998, when this aircheck first went online, we didn't know much about Bill Wright. Since then, our honored guests have supplemented our limited knowledge via their COMMENTS, (below.) Mr. Wright himself actually left several comments. The original exhibit was 'scoped and featured only the first half-hour. On October 14, 2012, we upgraded this exhibit to include the entire 8-9AM hour, unscoped.

Contributor Tom Konard says this tape came from the Radio-TV Department at the University of Tennesee. Plough Broadcasting had donated the tapes, but the University didn't want them! So, UT's loss was Tom's gain and it's now our good fortune to listen. This early off-the-monitor aircheck is like traveling back 52 years for sixty rare and wonderful minutes.

No question that the competition was listening to the Number One Station - listen as Bill awards a prize to an employee of WFIL! The "time tone" is about the "sweetest" I've ever heard; there are two WIBG jingles that I've never heard before. The scratches on that classic L&M cigarette spot were common in the days when spots were played from "electrical transcriptions." If you can make it all the way to the Wibbage Weather Sound, you will have heard a remarkable piece of early 1960's Philly Top 40 — and now, there's another thirty minutes after that! Perhaps you will agree that this one is an exceptional exhibit - even if the University of Tennessee didn't think so.

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Tom Wynn, WDGY Minneapolis-St. Paul January 6, 1961 (15:40)

. . . It's the wonderful sound of money . . .

At 10.4 seconds into this one, you'll hear the famous Storz Automatic Time Tone. It doesn't seem to bother Connie Francis, who finishes her rendition of Many Tears Ago. Shortly after, Tom Wynn introduces The Bill Black Combo.

On this morning, Wynn played 3 records, did time and temp, hit the reverb, plugged the news, sold a Pepsi, and announced two contest winners all before 6 minutes after the hour.

Like other Storz stations, WDGY had a bunch of cool gadgets: The reverb, the filter (for the Weather Tower), a free-form time/attention tone (in addition to the automatic hourly one), a great news bug, and a few really nice PAMS jingles with the traditional WHB Yours Truly logo are included.

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Bob Robin, WHB Kansas City February 3, 1961 (30:43)

. . . WHB means World's Happiest Broadcasters . . .

Play Scoped The original RA 3.0 Exhibit 'SCOPED (16:58)

The 'scoped version of this aircheck was published here January 18, 1998. The full, unscoped contribution was published January 15, 2012. Thanks again to Tom Konard.

Bob Robin has been identified as Bob Sticht, who passed away January 11, 2012. (see COMMENT, below). This rare aircheck would merit many listens regardless of the featured personality, though Bob went on to a long career in radio, retiring in Nashville in 2007.

WHB's format was all the rage at the time, as it was on all of the Storz stations of the late '50's and early '60's. The verbose production, the jingles, the grandiose stagings for every format element, and the outrageous newscasts - they're all here! "Yours Truly WHB" - where Variety is Life - was a HOT radio station, and very reflective of the energy and attitudes of the era.

Speaking of hot, don't miss the "HOT CAR" report, the "Musical Countdown" contest, and what's bowling night without an ice cold Falstaff - America's Premium Quality Beer? Any classic Top 40 aircheck of this period MUST include a newscast that celebrates form over substance. The one included here (a headline report) kicks butt!

This aircheck hooks me within the first 45 seconds - the top of the hour news closer with the rising electronic effect is SO good ... I just hope they got a ton of money for the "Mennen's Skin Bracer" spot before the "WHB World Wide Instant Time Check" - because that would be the only excuse for not blasting out of the news with music.

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Bobby Mitchell, KYA, San Francisco, 12/15/61 (36:07)

. . . a Boss Sound on the Swingin' Sixty Survey . . .

Mellow voiced, fast-rappin' Bobby Mitchell hosted afternoon drive on KYA in December, 1961. Our friend Ken Levine offered much-appreciated information about Bobby via his COMMENT, below.

Most of us know a lot about the other 1260 Men. Morning drive was handled by the yet-to-be Mega-Merchant of Boss, Bill Drake. The Noon to 4 shift belonged to the yet-to-be Father of Underground, Big Daddy Tom Donahue. And the 9 to noon talent was veteran Peter Tripp, freshly released (with the help of the Justice Department) from New York's WMGM.

This soft-scoped aircheck of the entire 5-6pm hour includes authentic DX noise, two "Newswatch" reports, complete with newsbugs; a promo by Big Daddy Tom, and what sounds like Mel Blanc with a 10-second spot for Red's Tamales. Unfortunately, this remarkable window to the past closes unexpectedly in the middle of the second "Newswatch" ending.

"America's Number One Popular Music Station", aka: The Boss of the Bay featured an acapella jingle, "Boss Sounds", and "Constant Music" almost 4 years BEFORE the advent of KHJ Boss Radio in L.A! This pre-boss KYA was a laboratory in which American pop-music radio DNA was forever enhanced. Consider the odds of so much pioneering talent - all concentrated in one place at one time!

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G2/5.0 compatibleTOP STREAM 20.7 (14Khz)
Murphy and Harrigan, KLIF Dallas, March 7 1962 (30:43)

. . . with so much more since '54, in Dallas, Texas . . .

This unscoped contribution from Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory features PAMS Series 18, a Ben Grauer spot for Plymouth, and a complete newscast from Joe Long. With the exception of a few milliseconds of noise (removed, sounds like it skipped) it's a great sample of the long-running Murphy and Harrigan morning show on March 7, 1962. By September of 1962, Murphy was out and Charlie was in.

And there's a great "inside" joke here: Pierce Allman worked at WFAA.

The best description we can offer for this exhibit comes from Steve Eberhart and his History of KLIF Website:

" One idea that Gordon McLendon had become fascinated with for morning programming was a two-man disc jockey team. He and (Program Director) Don Keyes had picked up the idea from listening to air checks of a morning show on New York's WNEW featuring a two-man team. Gordon wanted to copy the show on KLIF. So, with disc jockey Ron Chapman donning the name Irving Harrigan, and Tom Murphy, the "Murphy & Harrigan" show was launched. The date was sometime in 1959.

In order to fashion precisely what it was that "Murphy & Harrigan" should be, Gordon required that Don Keyes record the program every morning. As soon as Chapman's and Murphy's shift ended at 9 A.M., both of them, along with Keyes, listened to the recording and critiqued what they heard — "polishing, honing, distilling the show down to the ultimate". The result, said Keyes, "was a dynamite two man morning show. It just owned the market". Others attempted to copy the program, but the chemistry that developed between them and the wry, topical humor around which your last words can be overlapped by the "Murphy & Harrigan" show ... was not easily transferred to other markets.

Later, Jack Woods took over the co-host role on mornings and the show became "Charlie & Harrigan". Jack Woods played the role of Charlie Brown and Chapman continued with Irving Harrigan. Other Charlie & Harrigans came and went as the years went by. "

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Paul Purtan, WSAI Cincinnati Ohio, 4-20-64 (21:05)

. . . Gene and Dean, now wait a minute . . . Jan and Dan . . . what is it? . . . Jan and Jean . . .

Paul Purtan, who became better known as Dick Purtan when he joined CKLW, is heard here on another legendary mid-American Top 40 pioneer - WSAI. This is Cincinnati in April, circa 1964.

The fidelity of this one is somewhat gritty, (though well-matched to narrow-band Real Audio) but not so offensive that we can't marvel at some of the rarities within. Included: one jingle we recognize as Futursonic, and several more we don't! Check out the $5.00 tickets to the upcoming Beatles concert at the Cincinnati Gardens. And, for 25 cents and 25 words, handwriting analyst "Andre" can tell your "likes, dislikes, attitudes, ambitions and shortcomings" - all without ever meeting you! (And this was a station promotion, too!)

As far as we know, Andre did not end up Wanted by the FBI but that feature and the PSA reminding us to read the labels on insecticide were part of the payoff to own the license in those days. It's been a very long time since the NAB Lively Companion jingle, too, and there's more in this genuine Top 40 treat.

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Roger Christian, KHJ Los Angeles April 29, 1965 (30:09)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (12:46)



. . . You can choose the champs on the KHJ Million Dollar Battle, starting at 7 tonight . . .

Roger Christian, (d. 1991) one of the original Boss Jocks, is featured here during the KHJ Sneak Preview in April, 1965. Christian produced The Beatles Story in 1964, and wrote Deadman's Curve and The Little Old Lady from Pasadena for Jan and Dean. He left KHJ for KFWB in 1966, made an appearance at K-100 in 1974, and appeared in 17 movies, according to 440: Satisfaction.

This unscoped 30 minutes is like being in Los Angeles that morning. The amazing thing about Top 40 viewed from the "diverse" perspective of the 90's is that many will hear only the Rolling Stones and Them and The Beatles, others will marvel at Smokey Robinson and the The Falcons from 1959 with So Fine. Others will appreciate the historical value of the comments from California Governor Pat Brown during 20/20 news, where newsman Allan Mall reads the sponsor's tag. And gosh, George Washington eats "Mexican" food. Here are many of the things that made the era of Top 40 radio such a cultural marvel, compared to the uptight "diversity" of today. This was real American Variety Radio in L.A., 30-something years ago.

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Gary Mack, KHJ Los Angeles August 10, 1966 (30:00)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (09:56)

. . . Now, let's dig that story about the non-deductible castle cat wiped out by the taxman . . .

Gary Mack (McDowell), one of the original Boss Jocks, was already a Top 40 vet by the birth of Boss radio, with prior big-time Top 40 experience at KBOX, KLIF and KYNO. He has retired as Director of News-Talk Operations at WSB, Atlanta, where according to 440:Satisfaction, Gary built the largest radio network in Major League Baseball for The Atlanta Braves.

Again, this unscoped 30 minutes is like lazin' on a Sunny Afternoon in Boss Angeles, August, 1966. Extra: Original radio spot featuring Alfred Hitchcock for Torn Curtain.

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Fred Winston, WKYC Cleveland, Summer 1968 (32:34)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (10:46)

. . . sounds like a freaky version of the NBC chimes, man . . .

This somewhat off-the-beaten-track treasure features a young and hyper Fred Winston subbing for vacationing Chuck Dunaway ( thanks to Jay Marks for his comment) on WKYC, (once WWWE, WTAM, KYW) Cleveland, Ohio.

This time around, WKYC is Power Radio, despite the "gavel to gavel" coverage of a convention announced by NBC Radio's Tom Carson in the few closing seconds of a local newscast. The expected NBC network newscast, and any associated production elements at the top of the hour, is missing from this aircheck. Power Radio lasted 367 days. NBC wasn't fully committed to the format.

Sure sounded like PAMS jingles, but according to a comment, they're early TM. Another comment confirms that it IS Lou Rawls selling Cold Power detergent.

Now, freshly encoded for 2012, two songs have been restored and the rest is unscoped, with the exception of the missing 3PM newscast. Great playlist, but the board-op was so intent on "tight" that jingles were clipped a few times.

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Pete McNeal, KYA San Francisco, June 6, 1970 (6:46)

. . . Soft drinks taste great in a bottle . . .

This aircheck begins with true Top 40 promise, but quickly drifts into oblivion. Despite the genuine PAMS jingles, KYA, a pioneering San Francisco Top 40, had real trouble projecting a desirable brand name just ten years after their initial success as a Bay Area Top 40. This (scoped) half-hour creates the impression that all the genius of their initial direction had been lost.

Yes, we have hot PAMS jingles, but we don't play them often. Yes, we play Top 40, but even though it is 1970, we never play two records back to back. Sometimes, we identify the station when we play a record, and we play everything from the Marvelettes to Leon Russell, ("Future Heavies") and we play Preparation H spots directly into "Hitchin' A Ride". It's not necessarily the music or content, or the talent that is disappointing - it's the presentation. There is no sense of station.

The GOOD news (I think) is that Pete McNeal went on to KHJ, from 1970 to 1972, so he survived this uncomfortable experience in the "Mysterious World of KYA".

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Larry Lujack and Lyle Dean, WLS, 10/70 (15:54)

. . . Last Call to Breakfast . . .

Despite the high quality of this offering, it will not be the best aircheck of Larry Lujack or WLS, circa 1970, that you will ever hear. But it is an interesting aircheck for several reasons.

First, nobody does Lujack like Lujack. Plus - we get almost an entire newscast from legendary supervoice Lyle Dean. Orson Welles sells square donuts for the Wings of Man. We learn that computers are the thing of the future. And analytical listeners will note the nearly "Adult Contemporary" music selection in this half-hour, proving again that classic, big-signal AM Top 40 was as much an "adult" format as a "teen" format.

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps
Buddy Carr & Harley Drew, WBBQ Augusta GA 1970 (01:01:26)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (28:16)
. . . Number One since who knows when . . .
Handsome Harley Drew, for years the Program Director of WBBQ Augusta, Georgia, is featured here with Buddy Carr in this hour taped directly from the transmitter feed on November 18, 1970.

In this aircheck, the Famous 1340 is simulcasting with its FM sister, but WBBQ was one of those "Class IV" (1KW day, 250 watts night) Top 40's that dominated smaller and medium markets in the 60's and into the 70's. You'll note that Harley did quadruple duty as Program Director, PM drive host, PM newscaster and is heard on most of the station's production!

You'll also hear a few cuts from PAMS Series 40, the wonderful old Mutual Network news intro, and the complete details of a traffic accident caused by a "soft drink truck with no brakes" during ON THE SCENE NEWS (sponsored by a place that sells guns). Isn't it nice to hear the Robert Hall Christmas jingle again? And check the pronounciation of "Datsun"! (Sounds like home to a south'ner...)

WBBQ was one of the pioneering Top 40 stations in the Southeastern United States, and an important station to record promoters and trade publications at the time of this aircheck.

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TOP STREAM 44.1Kbps (20Khz)
Dex Card, WCFL Chicago, September 1971 (28:57)

. . . both of the tickets I got were dismissed in court today, and I now believe in justice . . .

It sounds like contributor Tom Konard pulled this unscoped, nearly hi-fi half-hour right off the WCFL air chain on September 8, 1971, from approximately 2PM until 2:30 PM.

The first voice on this aircheck is Robert E. Lee, and that's followed by the only aircheck of Dex Card we have ever received. (Dex was filling in for Jerry Kay.) We believe that Card was at WCFL for many years, but he's not listed at 440:Satisfaction. Those in the know are invited to COMMENT, below.

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Don Imus, WNBC New York, 11/11/72 (11:20)

. . . Right on, right on, Right on, right on . . .

A generous serving of early Don Imus, including a letter supposedly from Murray the K, Crazy Bob, Lily Tomlin, two full-length live spots, Charles McCord with news and the Dan Ingram jingle on the fade.

[Aircheck from YESTERDIAL #11, © 1987,1998 The Aircheck Factory.]

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Chuck Knapp, WCFL Chicago, March 1973 (7:07)

. . . I work better in the dark . . .

Comments offered about Chuck Knapp from his first Repository appearance (in the Jim Stewart Collection) reveal that he is now the Acting Area Manager of Promise Keepers in Minneapolis.

Knapp's radio career included WRKO, KSTP, WCFL and KSTP-FM (Minneapolis).

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 TOP STREAM 32Kbps (10Khz)
Larry Lujack Farewell Address, WCFL Chicago 3-15-76 (11:59)

. . . so we'll just say 'so long' for now, because lovers never say goodbye . . .

Larry Lujack
4:51 PM, Monday, March 15, 1976: Larry 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.

Superjock croons "The Day the Music Died" and laments "the end of an era" as he pans rock 'n' roll in general and attempts to convince WCFL listeners to remain with the station. The next day, Lujack was playing "Chicago's most beautiful music".

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TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (16 Khz)

Larry Lujack's Last Show, Part 1, WLS 8-28-87 (55:14)

. . . It's this interview, Linda - and this guy in my head . . .

Larry Lujack had signed a 12 year contract with WLS in 1984, but owner Capital Cities made no statement on the decision to buy out Superjock's contract in August of 1987.

During his heyday in mornings at WLS, Lujack's audience was estimated at over one million. After a decade in mornings, Lujack exercised a contract option and moved to afternoon drive in January, 1986.

This scoped aircheck includes two TV interviews (for Chicago Channels 2 and 5).

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TOP STREAM 20 Kbps (10 Khz)

Larry Lujack, WLS Farewell, Chicago 8-28-87 (25:54)

. . . I would have bet anything that I could do this . . .

Larry Lujack is heard in his last hour on WLS, August 28, 1987.

Included: A clip from April 19, 1985, in which Superjock quits cigarettes and coffee; and Uncle Lar's ad-libbed and emotional Last Address to the Nation.

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...enjoy these additional exhibits from
Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory
Portions of the Tom Konard biography adapted from an article
by Dennis McCann, ©1996 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

More to Come from Tom Konard's Aircheck Factory / Yesterdial Collection!
Reel Top 40 Radio Repository ©1996-2015 REELRADIO, INC.