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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!