Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Howlin' with Wolfman Jack

Back in the 70s, a lot of famous radio personalities (that's "deejay" to those of you what ain't got no respect) were recruited (no pun intended) by the US Armed Forces to do radio programs, playing current popular music, which were provided, free, to radio stations around the nation. These were used to help fulfill a station's "public service" programming commitment. Back in the day, you see, radio stations had to state that they would air a certain number of hours of news, community service and community access programming as a condition of their operators' continued licensing by the FCC to operate the station.

The programs were anywhere from a half-hour to an hour long, and contained no commercials except those for the branch of the Service they were produced for. For years, KHJ's Robert W. Morgan hosted "Robert W. Morgan For Today's Army"; the Navy had a show called "Navy Hoedown" hosted by a rotating cast of Country artists like Bobby Bare and Mickey Gilley; and the Air Force had Wolfman Jack. (I don't recall the Marines having a show, but it could just be faulty memory.)

The Wolf hosted these half-hour shows throughout the 70s, lending a touch of his howling madness to the Top 40 hits that were current at the time. Each box had 2 Lps, containing a total of 4 shows. This particular set hails from 1976, and features Wolf introducing songs like "Afternoon Delight" and "Heavy Makes You Happy", interspersed with hip Air Force spots selling the advantages of learning computer technology by joining the flyboys.

These are great time capsules. Thousands of them were pressed over the years and sent to radio stations around the country (your tax dollars at work!); if you find one at a swap meet, buy it and drift back in time for a couple of hours, courtesy of Uncle Sam. And if you don't want to keep it, send it to me - I'll gladly cover the postage ;)

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