#atozchallenge 2021: A Reflection

Well, that was fun: another A to Z Challenge done and dusted! This was my tenth Challenge, and it won’t be my last, barring unforeseen circumstances.

This year, I chose a more ambitious theme: in the spirit of Top Ten Tuesday, my weekly exercise where I take a radio station survey from the past and recreate it, I decided to do a survey for each day of the A to Z Challenge, using the radio station call letters (or, in several cases, the name of the radio station) to select a station for the day. Everyone seemed to like the results, and I have to say it’s given me a sense of accomplishment.

I did very little preparation ahead of time, meaning that I wrote a lot of the posts during the month (sometimes the day before) rather than getting all of them done before April 1. This left me less time than I would have liked to go explore new blogs. Even after deciding to put several of my regular features on hiatus during the month, I felt rushed, as though I had so much to do and not enough time to do it in. Looks like I’ll be taking the road trip again, starting in my own backyard, i.e. the people whose blogs I read regularly anyway.

I enjoy being a member of the "team" that puts on the challenge every year:

Looking forward to working with y’all again next year!

So, my goals for next year:

  1. Choose a simpler theme. Maybe no theme…
  2. Get everything finished before April 1.
  3. Do much more visiting and exploring.

Thanks to everybody who participated in the Challenge this year. See you in the funny papers!

#atozchallenge Top ten: WZGC (92.1 FM Atlanta GA), 4/20/84

Almost done with this year’s A to Z Challenge, and I wanted to do a station from home. WZGC has had those call letters since 1971, when General Cinema Corporation bought a local classical outlet and changed its format to Top 40. They’re now a sports-talk station, but still have the same call letters. Anyway, here’s their Top Ten from Mary’s birthday in 1984.

#10 – The Cars, You Might Think": From 1984’s Heartbeat City, a song written by Ric Ocasek. It peaked at #7 in the US and #8 in Canada.

#9 – Thompson Twins, "Hold Me Now": The first single from their fourth album, Into The Gap. It reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #4 in the UK.

#8 – John Cougar Mellencamp, "Authority Song": From his 1983 album Uh Huh, his seventh album overall and the first credited to John Cougar Mellencamp. It was the third single from the album and reached #15.

#7 – Rick Springfield, "Love Somebody": From the soundtrack of Hard To Hold (1984), this reached #5 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the Hot Rock Tracks survey.

#6 – Julio Iglesias & Willie Nelson, "To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before": A duet that worked better than you would think. The lyrics are by Hal David and the music is by Albert Hammond ("It Never Rains In Southern California"), who recorded it on his 1975 album 99 Miles From LA. The duet went to #5 on the Hot 100.

#5 – Culture Club, "Miss Me Blind": The third single from their album Colour By Numbers, it reached #5 on the Hot 100, their sixth consecutive (and, so far, last) Top Ten hit.

#4 – Tracey Ullman, "They Don’t Know": A cover of Kirsty MacColl’s 1979 song that was Tracey’s follow-up to "Breakaway." It reached #2 in the UK and #8 in the US.

#3 – Lionel Richie, "Hello": The third single from his second solo album, Can’t Slow Down. It ended up topping three different charts: the Hot 100, the R&B chart, and the Adult contemporary chart for 2, 3, and 6 weeks, respectively.

#2 – Phil Collins, "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)": Theme song for the 1983 movie starring Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges and James Woods, it was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It reached #1 in the US and Canada and #2 in the UK. It was #5 on the year-end Hot 100.

#1 – Kenny Loggins, "Footloose": Another movie theme, this one by Kenny Loggins, who wrote a few songs for the movies in the ’80’s and ’90’s. It spent three weeks atop the Hot 100 and was #4 on the year-end Hot 100.

So that’s it! This year’s A to Z Challenge is OVAH! Thanks to all of you who visited and left comments or "like"s. I have quite a bit of catching up to do in return visits, so I promise I’ll be around to see you.

#atozchallenge Top Ten: KYME (740 AM Boise ID), 7/16/66

KYME went on the air in Boise, Idaho in 1955 and stayed until 1984, when it became KTOX and moved to 730 AM. It’s now KDBI, broadcasting a regional Mexican format. Let’s see what they were playing on July 16, 1966.

#10 – The Mamas & The Papas, "I saw Her Again": Released in June, when it was the most-played single on WLS. Came in at #1 in Canada, #11 in the UK, and #2 in the US.

#9 – The Mind Benders, "Groovy Kind Of Love": Based on a melody by Muzio Clementi, with lyrics by Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager. This was The Mindbenders’ first single after the departure of Wayne Fontana, and reached #1 in the US, Canada and the UK.

#8 – B. J. Thomas, "Billy & Sue": Teenaged tragedy with the Vietnam war thrown in for good measure. Reached #34 in the US and #23 in Canada.

#7 – Tommy Roe, "Sweet Pea": Tommy’s been unfairly branded as a bubblegum pop artist because of songs like this and "Dizzy"; he’s done some great rockers in his time as well. Went to #1 in Canada, #7 in Australia, and #8 in the US.

#6 – Paul Revere & The Raiders, "Hungry": The pride of Boise, this followup to "Kicks" reached #6 in the US and #3 in Canada.

#5 – Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs, "Li’l Red Riding Hood": Sam Samudio, a/k/a Sam The Sham, was known for his turban and robe and for his two major hits, "Wooly Bully" and "Li’l Red Riding Hood," both of which reached #2 in the US and Canada.

#4 – The Happenings, "See You In September": A remake of the Tempos’ recording from 1959, which reached #34. The Happenings sped it up and added some Four Seasons-esque harmonies and took it all the way to #3.

#3 – The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"/"Rain": "Paperback Writer" was the de facto A side of this record, though many stations gave both songs equal airplay and treated it as a double A side. The record reached #1 in the US, UK and Canada.

#2 – Tommy James & The Shondells, "Hanky Panky": A song by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who wrote it for their group, The Raindrops, in 1963 as the B side to their record "That Boy John." The Shondells recorded it in 1964, and it went nowhere, then reissued it under the name "Tommy James & The Shondells" in 1966, and it hit #1 for a couple of weeks.

#1 – The Troggs, "Wild Thing": Some great British garage rock by The Troggs, who had one more Top Ten hit in the US, "Love Is All Around." Reached #1 in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, while only making it to #2 in the UK.

We wrap up the A to Z Challenge tomorrow with Z!

#atozchallenge Top Ten: XEROK (800 AM Ciudad Juarez, Mexico), 8/2/74

Across the US-Mexican border near El Paso, Texas is Ciudad Juarez, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It’s the home of radio station XEROK, "Radio Cañon," "The Cannon." At one time the station had a 150 kW transmitter, a "border blaster" that could be heard throughout the southwestern US. They’ve since lowered the power to 50 kW, the standard for "clear-channel" stations in the US, which is still sufficient to carry the signal all over the Southwest. The Mexican government regulated how much foreign-language programming the station could broadcast, and still does, but in the ’70’s XEROK had the highest Arbitron rating of any station that could be heard in the US. Here’s their Top Ten from August 2, 1974.

#10 – ABBA, "Waterloo": Winner of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest (the video is of the contest), it was the title track from their 1974 album and the first single from it. It only reached #6 in the US, but was a #1 single in many countries, including the Scandinavian countries, except for Sweden, where the Swedish version reached #2 and the English version #3.

#9 – Rufus and Chaka Khan, "Tell Me Something Good": The Chicago band that had been The American Breed ("Bend Me, Shape Me") became Rufus in the mid-’70’s, featuring the lovely and talented Chaka Khan on lead vocals. "Tell Me Something Good" was written by Stevie Wonder ("a rare instance of an artist like Stevie Wonder giving away a tune that he could have had a big hit with himself," according to one critic) and reached #3 on the Hot 100 and the R&B charts and #1 on the Cash Box Top Singles chart.

#8 – Billy Preston, "Nothing From Nothing": From Billy’s 1975 album The Kids & Me, a song that reached #1 on the Hot 100, the Cash Box Top Singles, and the Record World Singles chart.

#7 – Fancy, "Wild Thing": Fancy was a group of session musicians fronted by former Penthouse Pet Helen Caunt and later by Annie Cavanaugh. Not sure who’s singing here, but regardless, the record peaked at #14 on the Hot 100.

#6 – Chicago, "Call On Me": From Chicago VII, it was the first song written for Chicago by trumpeter Lee Loughnane. It reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #6 on the Hot 100.

#5 – Herb Ohta, "Song For Anna": Ohta-san is from Hawai’i and learned his first three chords on the ukulele from his mother. "Song For Anna" was the title track from his 1973 album, and reached #12 in Australia.

#4 – Paper Lace, "The Night Chicago Died": I always have to point out that "the east side of Chicago," where the narrator’s daddy was a cop, is Lake Michigan (while technically everything east of State Street is the "east side," no one calls it that.) Paper Lace had three hits in their native UK, but only this was a hit here ("Billy, Don’t Be A Hero" would have been had Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods not beaten them to it), reaching #1 on the Hot 100 and earning a Gold record.

#3 – Elton John, "Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me": Recorded for Elton’s 1974 album Caribou, it peaked at #2 in the US and #16 in the UK.

#2 – Donny & Marie Osmond, "I’m Leaving It Up To You": Popularized by the duo Dale & Grace in 1963, Donny & Marie took it to #4 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

#1 – Blue Magic, "Sideshow": A Philadelphia soul quintet (that I seem to have forgotten), Blue Magic took this to #1 on the R&B chart and #6 on the Hot 100, and it was the #19 song for the year.

See you tomorrow with Y!

#atozchallenge Top Ten: WWGO (1450 AM, Erie, PA), 4/27/64

1450 AM in Erie, Pennsylvania is now WPSE (styled as WP$E), a business news-talk station that simulcasts on 107.1 FM. The call letters now belong to a classic rock station, "92.1 The Axe" in Charleston, Illinois. I wasn’t able to find much of anything about the old WWGO, so if anyone has any information, please share! Here’s their Top Ten from April 27, 1964.

#10 – The Beatles, "Roll Over Beethoven": One of three songs by The Fab Four on WWGO’s chart this week. A cover of a Chuck Berry tune, it was the opening track on the Capitol LP The Beatles’ Second Album (which was actually their third US release; the first was on Vee Jay), and was on the British LP With The Beatles.

#9 – The Four Seasons, "Ronnie": A song by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, from their album Rag Doll. It reached #6 on the Hot 100.

#8 – Bernadette Carroll, "Party Girl": Bernadette was a member of the New Jersey-based girl group The Angels, best known for 1963’s "My Boyfriend’s Back." I wasn’t familiar with this song or the lovely Ms. Carroll before now.

#7 – Brenda Lee, "Think": "Little Miss Dynamite" scored a #4 hit on the Adult Contemporary chart with this, though it only reached #25 on the Hot 100.

#6 – The Beatles, "Do You Want To Know A Secret": From their first album, 1963’s Please Please Me in the UK, Introducing… The Beatles! in the US. Written by John, sung by George, it was their first Top Ten hit with George as lead singer. It reached #2 in the US.

#5 – Betty Everett, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)": Another song on Vee Jay Records. It reached #6 on the Hot 100, and #1 on the Cash Box R&B chart (Billboard wasn’t printing an R&B chart at the time).

#4 – The Beatles, "Can’t Buy Me Love": The final Beatles song on this survey, it was written by Paul, who wanted to see if he could write a 12-bar blues. George Martin suggested the parts at the begining, end, and middle, and they had a hit. It was on the British A Hard Day’s Night album, but not on the US version, and was eventually released on Capitol as a single.

#3 – Lesley Gore, "That’s The Way Boys Are": After four straight Top Ten hits in 1963, Lesley never reached the Top Ten again. In fact, this is as close as she ever got, coming in at #12.

#2 – Louis Armstrong, "Hello, Dolly": It took Louis Armstrong to break The Beatles’ hold on the #1 spot in the charts, and his version of "Hello, Dolly" is iconic. I chose an extended version of him in concert just to show how people loved this guy, and he loved them right back.

#1 – The Dave Clark 5, "Bits And Pieces": The DC5 were the second British Invasion band to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show after The Beatles had made several visits, and seemed to make as great of an impression on the US audience. The fan magazines hinted at some blood feud between the two bands, but really they were completely different.

We’re taking a trip south of the border tomorrow for X!