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The Gene Knight Collection

Gene Knight was born in Los Angeles. He writes:

"At about age 2 or 3, my family moved to the NYC area. My parents gave me and my twin brother their old radio from the kitchen when they bought a new one. Up to that point, and we were in about 6th grade, all we knew about radio was what our parents listened to, MOR WNEW-AM. As we started down the dial from their 1130 dial position, we hit WMGM-1050, which was still top 40. We tuned a little farther and ran into 1010-WINS. Then we tuned around a little more and discovered WABC, which in those days was pretty much laden with lots of network news and even New York Mets baseball.

We kept tuning around and finally landed on 570 where The Good Guys were cooking away on WMCA. This station sounded great: it actually sounded like these DJs were having a party, and it just sounded so good that I knew I had to be in radio ever since that moment. That was when I was about 13.

A few years later the family moved back to the West Coast, and later I got my first radio job in Escondido, the town where we lived about 30 miles north of San Diego.

During my career, I've been lucky enough to work with people like Rich Brother Robin and Jack McCoy at KCBQ, and Bobby Rich at B-100. In 1996, I worked for Jacor's AC station in San Diego, KJQY, 102.9, K-JOY, formerly The Beach. I've been PM drive at "Kicksy" since Labor Day, 1999. KyXy is a mainstream AC station. The station celebrated 25 years as "KyXy" at the end of March, 2003.

I love the top 40 radio era. Reverb, jingles, tight formatics, it's the best radio I've ever heard, with my favorite era of music. I started airchecking stations so that I could trade aircheck tapes with friends across the country. I also collected top 40 radio surveys, because of my interest in the music and the jocks.

I'm just really glad I have found a place (The Reel Top 40 Radio Repository) where I can just click on the "play" button and hear great airchecks, and where I can share the airchecks I made as a kid with you. I hope you like them!"

- Gene Knight, 1996

The Repository thanks Gene for sharing!

[Descriptions by Gene Knight]

WAKE Presentation, Atlanta, 7/31/59 (23:41)

...Well, I don't know if he was or not unless it was just because that I left him - because he drank.

[Description by Gene Knight]

I was lucky enough to dub this from the original tape of WAKE from 1959, which I found at KCBQ when I worked there. From what I've read, KCBQ and WAKE were co-owned by Bartell in 1959, and both stations were Top 40. Lots of echo and production on this, and Bill Drake, one of the "WAKE HitParaders", worked there at this time.

WAKE, an original "Local" (Class IV) AM station, would have been 250 watts on 1340 in 1959, but was a ratings leader in Atlanta before more powerful stations like WQXI and WPLO adopted the Top 40 format.

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Phil Dee on WHYN, Springfield, MA. 4/18/61 (4:29)

. . . the crowd will go in a big way for these bright and bouncy platters . . .

[Description by Gene Knight]

My dad worked for a Radio/TV rep firm in NYC, and as a kid I was always hanging around the radio side of the office, looking for information on AM stations like coverage maps, ratings, one-sheets, etc. One of the stations the company represented was Top 40 WSPR in Springfield, Massachusetts. WSPR's major competition at the time was WHYN.

This is a short tape I found in WSPR's file — it is WHYN recorded by WSPR, and the note in the box reads

"This is a few minutes of WHYN programming starting shortly after 3PM on Tuesday April 18th - it is representative of their afternoon programming."
I especially like the live spot toward the end of the tape, where Phil Dee sounds like he's ready to totally lose it and laugh like crazy at the ludicrous copy about teenagers selling records that are "not available in stores." It even sounds like he turns the mike off for a moment to compose himself!

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FRESH G2 - remastered ORIGINALLY RA2 15.2Kbps (8 Khz), JULY 21, 1996
RE-ENCODED JULY 21, 2002 (G2) TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (14.5Khz)

Harry Harrison, WMCA, New York, 7/12/65 (13:18)

...I have a dozen beautiful roses for you in the Harry Harrison Housewife Hall of Fame!

[Description by Gene Knight]

Harry Harrison at WMCA
Harry Harrison at WMCA
I recorded this on one of those old mono Wollensaks, remember the silver metallic case with the white trim? No? That's OK. I recorded directly off my DX receiver. You'll notice the bass on WMCA, their audio was more limited than compressed and it sounded very good, lots of punch. This Harry Harrison tape is part of massive WMCA airchecking I did right before we moved from the NYC area back to Southern California. Lots of live copy, as was typical in most major markets in the 60's. The station had only had reverb on its chain for a month or two, and these jingles are from Joseph P. Cuff, the same Johnny Mann voices that were heard on the Drake jingles in 1965; WMCA's "sig" or "logo, though not acapella, is similar to the "93/KHJ" sig. Please note how tight the board ops were at WMCA, this station rocked!

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Rick Shaw, WQAM Miami 1966 (17:03)

. . . WQAM's Super Hit All American Survey of what's happening musically throughout the South Florida area . . .

[Description by Gene Knight]

RICK SHAW WQAM 1966 The first time I really got to listen to Rick Shaw was right here in the Reel Top 40 Radio Repository. It was an aircheck from 1963 that Bob Green shared. I was really impressed with the sound of Rick.

And here he is, three years later, still sounding as great as ever on a Friday night - High School Football night - in October of 1966. I actually got this aircheck from my friend George Greene of Akron, Ohio, who says it was originally taped by Dennis Waters (13-Q Pittsburgh in the '70's) on a trip to South Florida.

South Florida radio was very competitive all through the 60's, and this is an excellent example of just how great it was!

Rick Shaw passed away on September 22, 2017. He was 78.

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Mike Harvey, WFUN Miami 1966 (21:15)

. . . The Boss Ten from WFUN, only sixty-nine cents each . . .

[Description by Gene Knight]


You've probably heard Mike Harvey's satellite oldies show at one time or another... here's what qualifies him to play all those tunes from the 60's! He was the night jock on WFUN in 1966, and he's playing all those oldies as currents on this show.

This was recorded the same night as the WQAM Rick Shaw aircheck, so it's fair to compare these two stations. They were constantly battling it out all through the '60's. You'll hear that WFUN was attempting a "pseudo-Drake Boss Radio" format (with reverb!) during this period.

Also featured: Bill Hayes, from WFUN News Central, and memorable spots for Scripto Pussycat pens and Burger Castle!

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TOP STREAM 32Kbps (8.5Khz)
Roy Nilson, WLCY St. Petersburg-Tampa Bay, FL, 1966 (17:22)

. . . Still to go, Swangin' Swooney, Swooning Swank - Sweating Sweeny . . .

[Description by Gene Knight]

WLCY logo and lineup, 1966

I noticed there is nothing (as of Aug. 1999) on the RT40RR from the Tampa market, and this may be the largest metro in the U.S. not represented here.

So...... I dug up this WLCY aircheck that I received almost a year ago from my fellow aircheck collector George Greene. I believe George told me this was also recorded by Dennis Waters who rolled the tape on some of the WQAM and WFUN I've contributed. Thanks Dennis wherever you are!

From what I hear, Roy Nilson was a longtime afternoon drive jock on WLCY, and here he is complete with reverb, PAMS jingles, live traffic reports and some great music from the last week of 1966. Welcome to Tampa-St. Pete!

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Charlie Tuna, KHJ, 1969 (14:07)

...Charlie here, stay tunaed...

[Description by Gene Knight]

Charlie Tuna had to be the best midday jock in the country at this time. The first break with Charlie asking the rhetorical question "Does anybody play more hits than I do?" up to the vocal of "Nobody" by Three Dog Night is so typical of his style during this era. He "posts" practically every song on this aircheck!

I got this aircheck from my friend Issac Shane, but I do remember listening to Tuna in 1969 and he was every bit this good, every day.

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FRESH G2 - remastered ORIGINALLY RA2 15.2Kbps (8 Khz), JULY 21, 1996
RE-ENCODED JULY 21, 2002 (G2) TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10 Khz)

Bobby Ocean, KGB, San Diego, 6/7/69 (5:40)

..One good Bobby deserves another...

[Description by Gene Knight]

This aircheck was made from my DX receiver, this time set up in Escondido, CA, where my mom still lives. Bobby Ocean was one of the first jocks I heard that excelled in "on-air production," and it's no wonder he's a nationally respected production man to this day. His levels were always perfect, he was always rolling a song early to hit a post with the jingle, then he'd hit the vocal himself!

Although KGB had many great jocks in the Boss Radio era, The "Osh" was my favorite. You can hear that he's always having a good time on the air. Check it out, it's top 40 radio at its best.

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Ed Mitchell, CKLW, January 1970 (12:54)

... Ladies and Gentlemen, you're listening to Ed Mitchell...

[Description by Gene Knight]

This aircheck is from my friend Isaac Shane, who jocked in Canada in the 70's. Ever notice that any aircheck of CKLW (and WKNR for that matter) from this era contains tons of local hits, many of which weren't even heard on the radio in most other markets?

I had never heard Ed Mitchell before this, but this guy is really good. (Comments (BELOW) reveal he is better known as Marc Elliot.) And check out CNN's Bob Losure on CKLW 20/20 news.

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The Greaseman, WAXC, Rochester N.Y., 1972 (3:27)

..You could get the bends listening to this show...

[Description by Gene Knight]

I acquired this aircheck while I worked at KCBQ; apparently this tape was submitted to KCBQ while the Greaseman was working in Rochester. I was lucky to find it later floating around the Q production room. At this time WAXC was competing against top 40 WBBF... I can't remember if they ever surpassed WBBF in the ratings, but "Greasie" sounds real good here.

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FRESH G2 - remastered ORIGINALLY RA2 15.2Kbps (8 Khz), JULY 21, 1996
RE-ENCODED JULY 21, 2002 (G2) TOP STREAM 32.0Kbps (16 Khz)

Shotgun Tom Kelly Reverb Day KCBQ, 6/7/74 (10:21)

...I'm sorry, Boyd, I may have to do it again sometime, blow your mind...

[Description by Gene Knight]

Reverb in San Diego in 1974? Not normally. KCBQ had used reverb throughout the 60's as a traditional top 40 station, but somewhere in the late 60's or very early 70's reverb on the "chain" was taken out.

However, for some reason, Rich Brother Robin, the PD in 1974, reactivated the reverb on the "Q" for one day, and here it is featured on the Shotgun Tom Kelly show. As you listen, it's obvious that Shotgun grew up listening to jocks in the 60's using the "reverb-on-demand" button on the board; Tom has fun with that button, too, especially coming out of the newscast with Boyd R. Britton. Enjoy "Reverb Day" on the Q!

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The Gene Knight Collection has been part of REELRADIO since July 21 1996!
Reel Top 40 Radio Repository © 1996-2017 REELRADIO, INC.