#atozchallenge Top Ten: WCFL (1000 AM Chicago IL), 2/21/76

I’ll be honest, I have a certain affection for radio stations in the Chicago and Atlanta markets. This is the first of the four Chicago stations I’ll profile, and it has an interesting history.

WCFL was run by the Chicago Federation of Labor and had been on the air since 1925, primarily focusing on union news and views while playing some popular music and, for a time, Chicago White Sox baseball games. In 1965, seeing that WLS was the only Top 40 station in Chicago (WJJD, the original Top 40 station, had switched to adult standards around 1962), WCFL decided to go into the Top 40 business itself. Competition between the two stations was fierce between 1966 and 1976, when WCFL, which had been losing market share, decided to go with a "beautiful music" format, the change occurring on March 15, 1976. Since September 1993, it has been WMVP, affiliated with ESPN and broadcasting a sports talk format.

The last survey WCFL issued was on February 21, 1976. Here’s the Top Ten from that survey.

  1. Rhythm Heritage, “Theme From S.W.A.T.“: A group of studio musicians, led by keyboardist Michael Omartian. Besides this theme, they provided music for other ABC shows, most notably “Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow” for the show Baretta (sung by Sammy Davis Jr.). It reached #1 in the US and Canada and earned a Gold disc.

  2. The Who, “Squeeze Box”: Pete Townshend, who wrote the song, called it “a poorly-aimed dirty joke” and was surprised it did as well as it did. It reached #1 in Canada and #16 in the US.

  3. Fleetwood Mac, “Over My Head”: Written and sung by Christine McVie, the band was surprised that this was chosen as the lead single for their eponymous 1975 album. It reached #20 on the Hot 100 and #9 in Canada

  4. The Bee Gees, “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)”: The third single from their 1975 album Main Course. Maurice Gibb said that Quincy Jones told him it was one of his favorite R&B songs of all time. It reached #12 on the Hot 100, #9 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, #2 in Canada, and #1 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.

  5. Eric Carmen, “All By Myself”: This is the full album version from Eric’s eponymous 1975 solo debut. The verses are based on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 in C minor, while the chorus is based on The Raspberries’ song “Let’s Pretend.” It reached #1 on both the US and Canadian Adult Contemporary charts, #2 on the Hot 100, #3 on the Canadian singles chart, and #12 in the UK.

  6. Kiss, “Rock And Roll All Nite”: Was recorded in the studio and released on the album Dressed To Kill, where it peaked at #69. It ws released on their live album Alive! and the live version eventually made it to #12.

  7. Electric Light Orchestra, “Evil Woman”: From ELO’s fifth album Face The Music. It reached #10 in the US and UK and #6 in Canada.

  8. Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”: Written by Bob Gaudio and sung by drummer Gerry Polci, this reached #1 in the US, UK and Canada.

  9. Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”: A remake of his 1962 hit, slowed down and given the lounge treatment, and it reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the US and Canada, #1 on the Canadian Top 100 Singles chart, and #8 on the Hot 100.

  10. Paul Simon, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”: The second single from Rhymin’ Simon’s fourth solo album, 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years, it reached #1 on the Hot 100, the US Easy Listening chart, and the Canadian Pop Music Playlist. Paul earned a Gold disc for this one.

Back with "D" on Monday!

37 thoughts on “#atozchallenge Top Ten: WCFL (1000 AM Chicago IL), 2/21/76

  1. AM 1000 is now WMVP an ESPN affiliate and the White Sox are back on that station this year. They are probably on as I type (with 2 hands) playing a late game in Seattle.

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  2. So many memories! I had forgotten the theme from SWAT which is unusual for me, but it came right back. When “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” came out, I didn’t like it, because I didn’t want to be left. Years later, when I needed to leave a relationship, it was more helpful. I love the nostalgia of these posts!

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  3. Great selection of songs – I’d heard of most of them! Thanks for your visit. Root canal doesn’t sound fun even if it did get you out of the house. Hope you’re painfree now.

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    1. The root canal was done a couple of years ago, so all he did was pop the old crown off, clean up the decay underneath, made me a new crown (they’re cubic zirconium these days, and he had a machine where he can make it right there) and put it on. Not much pain at all, actually, and it was more from having to hold my mouth open for over an hour…

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  4. I was reading down the list thinking, oh yeah, Fleetwood Mac – fabulous and the Bee Gees – awesome, but then I got to Frankie Valli and Oh What a Night. I love that song with a passion so that has to be the winner for me from the list 🙂

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    1. The Four Seasons have been around forever, it seems, certainly as long as I’ve had my ear on music. That was a huge hit during my college years…

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  5. We saw ELO. They put on a great show. Lots of lights. Thanks for providing the background music to my A to Z reading. Between you and Mary at JJJ I’m set!

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  6. I never listened to this station, but we moved from Chicago in 1966. My radio in my bedroom was always set to WLS and most likely that’s mostly what my mother had on her car radio most of the time.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  7. I was hoping you’d include WCFL. 🙂 I had already moved to the DC area by this time, but the 70s was “my” decade of mainstream music.

    I really like the background you give for each song. I was intrigued by “All By Myself”, so I had Alexa play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 in C minor. Lisa said it sounded familiar, and reminded her of a sad song. The next song it played reminded me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. 🙂 All the ways we used to listen to classical music without realizing it.

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  8. Love the theme from SWAT plus Evil Woman. I love ELO and so wanted to see them in concert along with ABBA. A nice array of songs to listen to.

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  9. Hi John – I’m loving listening to these … so thank you for putting them here … all the best over the weekend – Hilary

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