Last week, we did WQAM in Miami, but for some reason I kept seeing WMAQ, maybe because they were the radio home of Chicago White Sox baseball for part of the mid-to-late ’60’s and also the radio home of Loyola University Ramblers basketball around the same time. Or maybe it was because QAM spelled backwards is MAQ. Anyway…
WMAQ (which stands for "We Must Ask Questions") was mostly a news, sports, and talk station when I started listening in the late ’60’s, but music had always been a factor in the station. In the ’50’s, it played mostly adult contemporary music, and it would issue a Top 10 weekly. This survey is from October 10, 1953, meaning there’s no rock. Bear with me…
- The Ames Brothers, “You You You” The Ames Brothers became one of the biggest nightclub draws during the 1950’s, and had a number of a few radio hits among their records. This one reached #1 on the Hot 100 and the Cash Box survey. Ed Ames went on to fame and fortune as a singer, actor, and tomahawk thrower in the ’60’s.
- Les Paul & Mary Ford, “Vaya Con Dios” The most popular record in 1953, it spent 11 weeks at #1.
- Pee Wee Hunt, “Oh!” Almost sounds like he would be a country singer, but Pee Wee was a trombonist, vocalist, and orchestra leader from the 1950’s. This was his biggest-selling record, reaching #3.
- The Andrews Sisters, “You Too, You Too?” Not one of their best-selling records but still popular, at least in the Chicago area.
- June Valli, “Crying In The Chapel” Elvis has the more famous version, but June was one of the first to record it, and hers went to #4.
- Julius LaRosa, “Eh, Cumpari” This novelty record, sung in Italian, is similar in structure to “Alouette,” “Schnitzelbank,” or “Old McDonald Had A Farm,” where we start out with one instrument and end up with a whole orchestra. Even though one had to understand Italian to understand the lyrics, it was popular anyway, reaching #1 on the Cash Box chart and #2 on the Billboard chart.
- Eileen Barton, “Toys” Eileen had a long and somewhat successful career that started in Kansas City when she was under two years old, when she appeared with her parents, who were both vaudeville performers. She’s best-known for her 1949 hit, “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d’ve Baked A Cake,” which went to #1. This made it to #21 nationally.
- Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra, “Ebb Tide” From England, Chacksfield was a pianist, organist, composer and arranger. His recording of “Ebb Tide” is one of the better-known ones, reaching #2 in the US and #9 in the UK.
- Teresa Brewer, “Ricochet Romance” One of the most prolific and popular singers in the 1950’s, her songs were a mix of pop, country, R&B, jazz, show tunes and novelty songs. This reached #2 nationally.
- Stan Freberg, “St. George And The Dragonet” Freberg was a big name in comedy records, and this was clearly a takeoff on the old Dragnet radio and TV shows. Evidently, Stan played it for Jack Webb, creator and star of Dragnet, who thought it was funny and gave his approval to release the record. You might notice that it sounds like “Fractured Fairy Tales” from Rocky and Bullwinkle; that’s because June Foray, Daws Butler, and Hy Averback, who provided the voices for that show, provide them here, several years before the cartoon was even conceived.
WMAQ is now WSCR, a sports talk station that’s now home to the Chicago Cubs (baseball), Blackhawks (hockey), and Bulls (basketball).
That’s the Friday 5×2 for February 7, 2020.