Personality Radio was everywhere in the 1960s. You couldn’t spend more than five minutes in any town in the country where you weren’t introduced to the be-all-end-all DJ on the favorite local Radio Station.
In Chicago, WLS was celebrating it’s third year as a Rock Station, and had as one of the big personalities Dick Biondi. Affectionately known as “The Wild Eye-Tralian” Dick Biondi was typical of the larger-than-life personality most DJ’s had at the time. He had his followers, his legion of fans.
And on this May 2nd in 1963, Biondi was not only celebrating his third year with WLS, but it was also his last show with them. Because very shortly, he would become a mainstay in the pop Culture stream of Los Angeles Radio by doing for KRLA what he did for WLS; inject some high-octane personality between records to the legions of teenagers, hanging on for the next record.
For those of you born a long time after this broadcast, let me explain a couple things. Before the days of streaming, limited playlists and music stashed somewhere in between commercials, Top-40 radio, as it was known then, was the place you got all your information and music – it was the place you heard most new records that were released, and you grew to trust a favorite disc jockey because you depended on them to have their ears to the ground, searching for the new releases you were going to like. Maybe not all the stuff you heard you were crazy about – the thing about radio in those dim-distant days, is there were sort-of formats, but the music ran the gamut from Rock to Country to Easy Listening to Jazz – sometimes all in the space of one hour. You got an education in music appreciation whether you realized it or not. All you knew, is that you heard what you liked and you stuck around to hear more just like it, and maybe hear something else completely different, but that you liked just as much.
That was the nice part about radio then; you got to hear a lot. And besides, this was 1963. By the end of the year a lot would change, including much of the music you were about to hear. You got a glimpse of it from The Beach Boys with Surfin’ U.S.A. – but that was the tip of the iceberg.
The best was yet to come (although some disagree).
Here’s an hour of Dick Biondi from May 2, 1963.