The Friday 5×2: WSBC 1240 AM Chicago, October 16, 1948

I’m writing this yesterday (well, Thursday for Friday). Instead of choosing a survey from today, I’ll be sharing ARSA’s oldest survey, that of radio station WSBC from Chicago all the way back on October 16, 1948, six years to the day before my parents got married.

Why did I choose this one? First, as I mentioned, it’s the oldest actual survey at ARSA. There’s an older one that just appears to be a list of songs that the station plays. Second, until 1998, WSBC (the call letters stand for “World Storage Battery Company,” the original owners of the station) shared the frequency with two other stations, WCRW and WEDC. (When I was in high school, WEDC played Latin music after midnight on Sundays (i.e. early Monday morning), when WCFL was off the air and WLS aired a very dull talk show.) All three stations were brokered; that is, they sold blocks of time to various ethnic and other groups, and WSBC has continued to do so. According to their web page, “AM-1240 presently offers air-time to more than 40 different programmers and has a line-up that includes Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Italian, Latvian, Hindi, Urdu, Irish, English, and other ethnic, religious, and niche programming.” They also have a Facebook page.

In 1929, WSBC hired the nation’s first African-American disk jockey, Jack Cooper. He’s the person who compiled this Top 10 list. Note that there are only 9 songs in the playlist. I’ll explain more when I get there.

  1. Floyd Smith Combo, “Floyd’s Guitar Blues” Supposedly, this is the first hit record to feature a blues guitar solo. Sounds like he’s doing it on slide guitar or maybe a lap steel.
  2. Fat Man Hamilton, “House Rent Blues” This looks like it was the only record Fat Man recorded. Wasn’t able to find anything else about him.
  3. Billy Eckstine, “Blue Moon” Possibly the best-known of any of the artists featured here. He’s accompanied by Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra.
  4. Lonnie Johnson, “Tomorrow Night” Johnson was a singer and guitarist who also played the violin, and might have been the first person to have amplified the violin. This was a big record for him, which topped the Billboard Race Records chart for 6 weeks and was #19 on the Pop chart.
  5. Memphis Slim, “Cheatin’ Around” An early name in Chicago blues, he’s better known for a song he wrote called “Nobody Loves Me,” which has been rechristened “Every Day I’ve Got The Blues” and recorded many times, most notably by B. B. King.
  6. Marion Abernathy, “Honey, Honey, Honey” Wasn’t able to find much on Marion. AllMusic tells us she was advertised as “The Blues Woman” in Los Angeles and that she did the majority of her recording from 1945-1948, then never went back into the studio until 1961.
  7. T. S. Mims Combo, “T. S. Jumps” This was the song I couldn’t find on YouTube or anywhere else. I did find this list of songs on Chicago’s Hy-Tone Records label, where it was the A side of record #35 (the B side was “Dreamy Days” with vocals by Dorothy Washington). It appears to have been their only record.
  8. The Ravens, “Bye Bye Baby Blues” The Ravens were a very successful vocal quartet who had a few hits in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s, and who were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.
  9. Nellie Lutcher and Her Rhythm, “Chi-Chi-Chicago” Nellie was an R&B and jazz singer and pianist who Nina Simone credits as an influence. Her trademark was her perfect diction. She was a friend of Nat “King” Cole and sang with him on a few records.
  10. Sunnyland Slim, “Jivin’ Boogie” A big name in Chicago blues, he played piano with some of the biggest stars, including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

And that’s the Friday 5×2 for July 20, 2018.

7 thoughts on “The Friday 5×2: WSBC 1240 AM Chicago, October 16, 1948

    1. There’s a good chance that many of the songs never made it out of Chicago. Billy Eckstine was the only national act in that list, I think, and a few of them recorded on local Chicago labels that had no distrribution outside the city. I hadn’t heard most of these.

      Liked by 1 person

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