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The Hits Just Keep on Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio Paperback – December 1, 2001
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"Ben Fong-Torres, of Rolling Stone magazine and Gavin Report fame, has managed to capture the essence of the golden age of Top 40 radio, a phenomenon that, as Ben points out, 'has gone through 45 revolutions per minute for 45 years.' It's a fast-paced book, just like the format, rich in historical detail and anecdotes about how the Top 40 format has managed to 'stay forever young.'...You feel like you're in direct contact with the way many of Top 40's philosophical roots were formed (and why they've spilled over into other formats today.)" -- Programmer's Digest, December 1998
"Perfect for those interested in radio, rock 'n' roll, and good times." -- The Citizens' Voice, December 12, 1998
"Tops the charts as one of the most user-friendly and colorful accounts....Recommended for anyone interested in the history of radio, this is certainly an excellent supplementary volume for courses focusing on broadcast programming and its role in culture." -- Communication Booknotes Quarterly, Spring 1999
"You'll listen to radio with new ears and new appreciation when you're done with this one." --"Cosmik Debris" webzine, February 1999
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If the book has a West Coast slant on personalities, perhaps that's only because Torres grew up in the Bay Area. However, he does not give short shrift to anyone. He also goes into great detail about the people who helped create this format: Chuck Blore of "Color Radio" fame, Bill Drake and Ron Jacobs of "Boss Radio" fame, Gordon McLendon and Tod Storz, among others. It's ironic in a way that Torres' claim to fame came later as first a journalist for Rolling Stone and as a DJ on KSAN in San Francisco (one of those "underground" FM stations that loved to poke fun at the Top 40 stations).
The book traces the beginnings, development, and "growing pains" of this format. How at one time it was hip, then became "square" when the underground FM stations hit the airwaves, and how it now seems to have emerged again. And funny how the underground stations developed as a kind of "antidote" to very restrictive Top 40 formats, just as the Top 40 stations developed as something different to the standard fare of that time.
Amazing stories abound in this book, and being an ex DJ myself I could relate to them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I agree with another reviewer that this book is must reading for any past or present DJ, or any student of the media.
Ben Fong-Torres has his favorite DJ's and almost all of them are from the late '50's and involved with promoting R&B. While that's definitely a substantial basis for the eventual wild success of Top 40 playlists. Frankly, while many many singers and groups were black, I lived through that era in the south, picking up WABC or WLS and the songs were NOT R&B as would be heard on R&B stations, almost never in quantity and quality.
However, Ben drones on and on and on about this, perhaps for PC reasons. Even when he doesn't, most of his readers wanted to hear about the DJ's and power-house stations from 1964 to the beginning of the 1980's, NOT occult DJ's who moved between owners featured as innovators.
This book is a good effort, just too dry and factual in it's interests on station management and the "crazy" DJ's of the mid fifties.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fun and feel-good book about an era which will never come this way again.Published 19 months ago by James E. Duvall
Great book for those of us who loved Top 40 radio in the 60s and 70s. The enclosed CD of Top 40 jocks's airchecks is a nice bonus, as it includes a nice aircheck from Casey Kasem,... Read morePublished on June 30, 2014 by D. GRADY
If you grew up in the second half of the 20th century, Top 40 Radio was important to you. It was your friend--intimate, human, entertaining--and a means of connecting with youth... Read morePublished on March 22, 2014 by Ricardo Mio
I want to really like this book. I am a huge radio fan. I write a blog [...] on radio and faith issues. Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by Scott W. Talbert
Have to say I was a little letdown by this book. Not sure what I was expecting but it just didn't really do much for me. Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by Music Lover
BFT not only captures the essence of radio from the roots to the trailing end, but he lived some of this, both as fan and fixture. Read morePublished on May 28, 2013 by jovac
This was a throughly enjoyable book. I was a Major Market jock, on-the-air in the 60's, and this book brought back many memories. Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by J.T.