The Birth of Top 40 Radio

The Storz Stations’ Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s


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About the Book

“Top 40” was the preeminent American radio format of the 1950s and 1960s. Although several radio station group owners offered their own versions of the format, the AM stations owned by Todd Storz and his father were acknowledged as the principal developers of Top 40 radio, and the prime movers in making it a nationwide ratings and revenue success.
The Storz Stations in St. Louis, Omaha, New Orleans, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Miami are profiled in this book, as are various Storz air personalities and executives. A detailed chapter examines the unique “Storz Station sound,” revealing the complexity of what detractors portrayed as a simplistic format. Another covers Storz advertising in radio trade magazines, which cemented the company’s image as the format’s most successful station group and Top 40 as the dominant programming of the day. There are extensive quotations from the memoirs of several of the founders of the format.

About the Author(s)

The late Richard W. Fatherley, was a production director and air personality at KXOK in St. Louis, and later was program director of WHB in Kansas City.
David T. MacFarland is the author of three other books on radio programming practices. He lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

Bibliographic Details

Richard W. Fatherley and David T. MacFarland
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7630-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0575-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Dedication v
Acknowledgments viii
Foreword by Deane Johnson 1
Foreword by Bud Connell 3
Preface by David T. MacFarland 5
One • From Stowaways to Society, from Beer to Broadcasting 7
Two • The Incubator: KOWH, Omaha 19
Three • Forty Favorites in the Big Easy: WTIX, New Orleans 37
Four • Building the Flagship: WHB, Kansas City 55
Five • Signals from the Frozen North, the F.C.C. and the Sunny South: WDGY and WQAM 70
Six • Programming Conventions I: Learning the Basics 89
Seven • Programming Conventions II: Tarnishing the Top 40, and Touting “Talk” 106
Eight • The Air War in Oklahoma City: KOMA VS. WKY 114
Nine • The Last Hurrah: KXOK, St. Louis 124
Ten • Elements of the Storz Station “Sound” 136
Eleven • Four Sages at Four Stages 154
Twelve • The Decline, Sale and Legacy of Storz Broadcasting 178
Appendix: A Storz Broadcasting Timeline by Bud Connell 193
Chapter Notes 198
A Bibliographic Note 200
Index 201

Book Reviews & Awards

“exceptionally well written and informative…a fascinating and informative read that is strongly recommended”—Midwest Book Review; “well-researched”—Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal; “a comprehensive guide to everything you could possibly wonder about the history of audio broadcasting a most prominent escape route as the Golden Age ebbed. It supplies a lot we didn’t know about the Top 40 craze that swept America in the 50s and 60s”—Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club Newsletter.