Ed Note: I told my doctor that I feel much better, so I’m slowing down on my writing. He told me that I’m worse than when I walked into his office the first time and that I need to write more, so….
I remember going to a Record World in the 80s and picking up a brochure from radio station, WHTZ, known more popularly as Z-100. They put a weekly countdown of their ‘hot 100’ songs. I read it and after 10 seconds thought, ‘I haven’t heard at least 80 of these songs on this station’. Yes, Top 40 radio stations were perfecting a playlist system that had in place since the 50s, maybe even further than that. They would play the Top 10 songs ad nauseam and sprinkle in tunes from 11-20 with a few recent hits from the last year tossed in as ‘classics’. So why is it called Top 40 radio?
My thinking is that depending on which market you were in, New York or Sioux City, your station’s Top 20 may be pulled from different upcoming songs. I would say this probably lasted into the early 90s, or until every radio station was gobbled up by Clear Channel. And because the Billboard Top 40 was also based on sales (and payola) there were tracks that didn’t get much airplay, but climbed the charts due to the strength of how many 45s they moved. The average of those factors boiled down to a Top 40 chart, of which almost no station played all of those 40 songs in a given week. If you can prove me wrong, please do.
So I would like to focus on some of the tunes that made that coveted Top 40 chart, had their name and obscure story told my Casey Kasem on his weekly show and then disappeared from any regular airplay or popularity. I’ll feature 3 small bits on those that hit #21-#40. Consider them sliders and my other posts, Whoppers. You’ll get full nonetheless.