AM Radio 1964 — Be There!

Wednesday, April 17 at 8:00 am we’ll be jumping back 60 years. Ken Nail and I will be hosting “AM Radio 1964.” We’ll be sampling hits from the top 100 of that year — and what a year it was!

1964 was one of the final years a truly eclectic mix of artists charted. Going forward, rock — powered by Boomer teenagers — would come to define Top 40 radio. Stations playing other genres (and softer rock) would florish. But after 1964, you were unlikely to hear Perry Como and the Dave Clark Five back-to-back on any station.

The British are coming!

1964 marked the year the Beatles arrived in the States. And sparked the subsequent British Invasion of UK recording artists. The Beatles had nine songs in the Top 100. In one month they occupied the top 5 slots in the Top 40 charts.

The Dave Clark Five had five songs in the top 100 that year. The Honeycombs, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, the Searchers, and the Animals all had chart success. You’ll hear a few of their songs.

American pop

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons had three songs in the Top 100. There was still a market for American pop, and plenty of artists to provide it. Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney were still viable artists. The Kingsmen released the quintessential garage band classic “Louie, Louie.” And followed it with “Money (That’s What I Want).” You’ll hear a few of these artists as well.

Girl Groups

1964 was also a banner year for girl groups, like the Shangri-las. The Jelly Beans and the Dixie Cups also charted, each for the first and last time.

Leslie Gore continued her rise in popularity. Dionne Warwick began her successful collaboration with Burt Bacharach and Hal David. We’ll have some of these artists, too.

Ain’t No Place Like Motown

No one Motown artist could compete with the Beatles. But collectively the Motown sound gave them a run for the money in 1964. The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Temptations were all represented. (As they will be on our show.)

Surf’s Up!

Surf music had enjoyed chart success in previous years. The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean were established names. In 1964 the genre added more artists to the Top 100. Some sang about surfing, others about hot rods. But the sound was distinctive — and popular.

We’ll have a set of surfing songs (Beach Boys, Trashmen, the Ventures). And a set of hotrod songs (Ronny and the Daytonas, the Rip Cords, the Hondells).

All that jazz

New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt had two instrumentals on the 1964 charts. You’ll hear one of them. And Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto scored with “The Girl from Ipanema.” Nancy Wilson also charted that year.

Folk and beyond

The folk craze peaked in the late 1950s. But a few artists still got airplay in 1964. You’ll hear hits from The New Christie Minstrels and the Serendipity Singers. And of course, we can’t leave out Gail Garnett’s self-written number one.

Musicals and more

Two songs from Broadway musicals made the Top 100 that year. We’ll share both. Dean Martin released his signature “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.” Fellow Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. also charted that year.

Mellow artists like Bobby Vinton, Al Martino, and Andy Williams provided older listeners respite from the Fab Four. We’ll have a few of these gems for your listening pleasure.

Keep the hits coming!

In 1964, Top 40 AM radio stations were eclectic for a very practical reason. The charts were eclectic. They played the most popular songs in the country to attract the biggest audiences. Large audiences meant the stations could charge big bucks to advertisers.

In 2024, WTJU is eclectic for a higher purpose. Our four departments — Classical, Jazz, Folk, and Rock — have the same goal. We present the music that deserves to be heard. That’s often despite its absence from the charts.

And the majority of our support comes directly from the listener — you. In 1964 the songs you would have heard were there because advertisers funded the station. In 2024 we’re bringing you these songs because our underwriters and our listeners fund the station.

So make sure to listen and make sure to pledge next week. Ken and I are looking to be #1 on the fundraising charts for the 2024 Rock Marathon! And we can do it with your help!

One more thing

To really give you the flavor of AM radio, we’ll be slipping some vintage ads and radio sounders into the mix. We’re going to have a lot of fun. Help make us number 1!

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