The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 June 2004

The hits just keep on coming

One of the "Inspirations" listed on the front page of this site is one Todd Storz. I've explained why before, and now Rich Appel, through the invaluable Hz So Good newsletter, has tossed a timely reminder my way:

A week or so before Elvis made history in Memphis, another sort of history was being made not that far away, in Kansas City. On June 15th, the Cook Paint and Varnish Company sold WHB radio in Kansas City to the Storz group. As you're probably well aware, Storz, as in Todd, was already operating successful radio stations in Omaha (KOWH) and New Orleans (WTIX), which were as legend has it the first two stations to feature the most popular songs played all day, as opposed to the block programming heard on many other stations at that time. Having heard another New Orleans station feature music between two network shows and calling it "the top 20," Storz thought featuring forty current songs vs. twenty would be twice as nice, and it was on WHB in late June of 1954 that listeners first heard a program which not only played the "top 40" but actually reviewed them in reverse order, beginning with the number 40 song in the area and ending at number one. Storz would take this same "Top 40" radio format to Minneapolis in 1955 on WDGY and to Miami in '56 on WQAM (on which Burger King would have been foolish not to advertise). Looking back, it's a good thing Storz made everything up to date in Kansas City and took over WHB fifty years ago today, or millions of us might now be listening to "Paint and Varnish" radio, and who knows what that might sound like.

The very first Top 40 countdown, before Casey Kasem, before anybody, fifty years ago this week.

(Long Distance Dedication: This goes out to Dawn in New Jersey.)

Posted at 6:32 AM to Overmodulation , Tongue and Groove