History Of DJ – Part 4: 40s & 50s American Radio

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American Radio 40’s – 50’s – American Rock ‘N’ Roll DJ’s – The DJ Payola scandal.

THE 1940’S radio style and the music of the big bands with singers like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were about to run into the world’s first teenage revolution.
Elvis Presley was making his first recordings with Sam Phillips at the Memphis Sun Studios with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison.
Blackboard Jungle was the catalyst for a new kind of music which DJ Alan Freed christened Rock ‘n’ Roll. Bill Hayley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” was the anthem which brought the teenagers out of their ‘seen and not heard’ years with a freedom bestowed on them by parents who had suffered a World War or two.
In Memphis high energy Dewey Phillips became the first DJ to play and interview Elvis the future King of Rock and Roll on WHBQ.
The Top 40 radio format developed at WINS in New York, just as the transistor radio was invented. Teenagers gathered around coffee shop jukeboxes listening to Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, whilst America’s radio stations responded to rock and roll’s popularity by releasing the coolest and wildest DJs they could find onto their airwaves.
Dick Biondi, Wolfman Jack, Casey Kasem, Jerry Blavet, Jocko, Murray the K, Dick Clark, The Real Don Steele each commanded enormous audience ratings on America’s top radio stations.

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This, the fourth episode in an exhaustive DMC production, is hosted once again by Tony Prince, the Daddy of the Modern DJ, founder of DMC (originally the Disco Mix Club) and promoter of the World DJ Championships.

Radio Luxembourg, the Pirate Radio stations of the UK, the BBC, the superstar music producing DJ’s of Ibiza and Vegas feature in future episodes. But all that followed the rock ‘n’ roll DJs, is founded on the American radio DJs of the 1950’s. These golden days and nights for radio ended with the DJ payola scandal in a Congressional Hearing which put paid to rock ‘n’ roll’s amazing era.
Waiting in the wings, were The Beatles, four rock ‘n’ roll fans about to kick-start another global teenage revolution of their own.
But that’s for the next episode.






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