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AUTHOR INFORMATION & OBSERVATIONS

Author Background

Pete Battistini was born in Gary, Indiana in 1955.  Thirteen years later he picked up his first radio station record survey – a Top 40 listing of WLS’ (Chicago) Hit Parade.  This lead to a fascination with artist and music variety typically found in Top 40 radio and in Top 40 countdowns. 

In 1971, Battistini heard Casey Kasem's American Top 40 for the first time and was instantly captivated.  
Since then, he has accumulated one of the largest collections of American Top 40 memorabilia – and is always looking for more!

 

His enthusiasm for Casey Kasem’s radio show carried over into a desire to document AT40 program information, the 1970s in particular.  Much of that data is presented in the book.  Additions, changes or suggestions are welcomed by the author.

Contact Pete Battistini at
at40@aol.com



*************************************************************
INFORMATION ADDED/UPDATED 8-2-07

American Top 40-Related Observations

1. THE FIRST AT40 DEMONSTRATION TAPE
Prior to American Top 40's first show, which aired the weekend of July 4, 1970, efforts were made to secure radio station affiliates.  It's been documented (in Rob Durkee's book -- American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century) that there were seven stations that broadcasted the very first show.

In order to contract with stations, program directors typically sought some sort of sample, a demonstration, of the program.  The name "Casey Kasem" was well known within the radio broadcast industry in 1970, but a demonstration tape was an expectation to preview the program's sound and appeal.  The demo tape was then produced and distributed. 

The first demo tape -- containing what truly was Casey's first AT40 countdown -- used a Billboard Hot 100 chart from June 1970.  It is unknown if the demo showcased Billboard's Top 14, Top 13 or the Top 10, but it would've represented hour #3, and would've been scoped, i.e. edited where most music was removed.  Bill Hergonson -- AT40's first studio engineer -- was involved with its production.  And according to Bill, a Beatles song, The Long And Winding Road, was #1 in the demo presentation.  That song was at the top of the Hot 100 for two weeks -- June 13, 1970 and June 20, 1970.  Based on this information, it is unknown which of these two charts was used for the demo.

So where is this AT40 demo today?  To the best of the author's knowledge, it no longer exists.  But, if discovered, what a treasure it would be as further insight to the beginning of American Top 40!


2. HOUR #3 OF THE JULY 18, 1970 PROGRAM
Accessing the storage area that maintains the original AT40 master tapes has been relegated to a (very fortunate) chosen few.  Apparently, and without explanation, only two of the three tapes for the second AT40 program -- chart date July 18, 1970 -- were located.  Just like the first demo, to the best of the author's knowledge, the third hour of this program is lost.

What happened to it?  It's been Battistini's belief that the tape containing the third hour was edited (scoped) and used as an updated demonstration tape, a part of an AT40 show that was actually heard on the air.  He believes that the tape of the third hour of this show was physically edited down to a 10 or 12 minute demo, then copied as needed and sent to radio stations inquiring about the show.  Any excess tape would've contained only partial songs (no beginning, no end) and would've been thrown away.  Once the demo master served its purpose, it too was likely tossed.

However, there's the possibility that one of the four "fathers" of AT40 -- Casey Kasem, Don Busany, Tom Rounds, or Ron Jacobs -- may have placed the master reel of the final hour from July 18, 1970 into personal care.  But this, like the demo tape theory, has never been confirmed.

In any case, kudos to Shannon Lynn (from Charis Music Group -- AT40's official restoration authority) who produced a makeshift Hour #3 for this program.  It may be the closest we ever get to hearing a complete program from that week in AT40 history.


3. PROGRAM DISTRIBUTION (REEL-TO-REEL TAPES; LPS)
The author's book offers insight on how AT40 was distributed to radio stations during the 1970s.  It started with 10.5" reel-to-reel tapes -- three per week, representing all three hours -- and, in October 1971, changed to an LP format.  On vinyl, three LPs were boxed and shipped to stations.  The distributed tapes, by the way, were on gray-colored, plastic Scotch-brand reels and recorded at 7.5 i.p.s.

The uniqueness about the initial arrangement, stations were required to return the reels every week after airing the show.  Finally, after 15 months of shipping and receiving literally thousands of tape reels, the LP idea became obviously more practical.  In fact, the LPs were shipped out and were not required to be returned.

And thus a collector's item was born.  Each weekly show contained three LPs and a set of cue sheets, packaged in a specially-designed box with AT40's logo and chart date on the cover.  And containing Casey Kasem introducing every record in a particular week's Top 40.

But do any of the reel tapes sent to radio stations between July 1970 and October 1971 still exist?  Battistini, who can be contacted at the email address above, wants to hear from you if you possess any of these original reels.  There's a photograph in the book if you're interested in seeing what the original tapes looked like.


4. CANADIAN TOP 40
There's not too much known about a radio program titled Canadian Top 40.  The author's book contains a photograph of an LP from one of these shows.  And the author has 10-15 LPs of "CT40" in his personal collection.  When did it start?  When did it end production?  That's unknown information.  But Battistini's copies contain broadcast dates starting in August 1974 and ending in January 1975.  The host for this program was Vancouver-based disk jockey Michael Morgan.  If you have any other information or have copies of programs, contact Pete Battistini.

UPDATE -- Pete received an email from Michael Morgan in October 2009 with the following CT40 details:

"
Dear Pete,
Canadian Top 40 ran nationally from coast to coast for two years. In its most popular year 1976 it ran on 52 stations coast to coast, ran Johnny Mann Drake jingles and had a weekly cume of 200,00 listeners in the 15 – 25 demo 60/40 female. I was the host and the executive producer and lead writer; the producer CKLG’s Doug Price. My company went on to be the largest syndicated radio producer in Canada with titles like Discovery with David Suzuki, Celebrity Sports Report, The One Minute Manager with Dr. Ken Blanchard, in Session with David Foster and Terry Mulligan and Bruce Allen, The Psychic Investigator, The Money Specials and The Nissan Night Before Christmas.
Michael Morgan
"


5. RADIO STATION BROADCASTS AND RECORD SURVEYS
Battistini also collects original broadcasts -- as recorded on the air -- of AT40 shows from the 1970s.  His collection contains samples of AT40 as heard on radio stations in the United States and around the world.  A couple of treasured examples include an October 1973 AT40 show as heard on Radio Kanto in Japan, and a May 1975 program from radio station 6KY in Perth, Western Australia.  See the links page, and go to reelradio.com for other samples.

Equally collectible are radio station surveys -- local lists of a market's top selling records and songs -- that contain AT40 and/or Casey Kasem promotional information.  A few samples are illustrated in the book.  But the author is always looking for more!


6. AT40's APPEARANCE IN "SCARECROW" (A MOVIE RELEASED IN 1973)
Al Pacino and Gene Hackman starred in this Warner Brothers production which featured a brief cameo appearance (audio only) of Casey Kasem and American Top 40.  During a telephone conversation between Pacino and a former girlfriend, viewers heard the song "The House That Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin as it played on the radio in the background.  Here's a description/transcription of the AT40 broadcast:

At the end of the song, Casey was heard saying, "#17, and we're heading for a brand new #1.  This is Casey Kasem with American Top 40's national countdown."  The "Casey's Coast-to-Coast" jingle is played followed by a one-beat pause and then by the "American Top 40" jingle.  (These were jingles that were used in program production during 1973.)  Casey returns and says, "You know, we're getting close to our next American Top 40 special, in just two more weeks -- our exclusive countdown of the biggest hit makers of contemporary music -- the 40 top artists of the past five years.  Just two weeks away.  (slight pause)  And now let's get to that question sent in by a listener in Texas.  He wants to know who turned out more #1 songs.......his letter says, Dear Casey..."  At this point, it's difficult to follow any more of what Casey said, including the rest of the question and answer, due to the overriding audio in the telephone conversation.  The only audible portion remaining was Casey mentioning a couple of Elvis Presley song titles, "All Shook Up" and "Teddy Bear" which, apparently, were parts of the question's answers.

To the regular AT40 listener, it's obvious that this air sample was specifically recorded for the movie for a few reasons.  First, the Aretha Franklin song peaked in the Top 40 in September 1968 long before AT40's debut in July 1970.  In addition, it never ranked at position #17 while it was on the Hot 100, and was never played in any AT40 program.  Also, this AT40 production obviously broke the program's format.  In every AT40 show, Casey always introduced music following a commercial break, and has never gone directly into answering a listener question at the beginning of a segment.  Also worth noting, the special he promoted aired the weekend of April 7, 1973 so it's possible that this was recorded a few weeks earlier in March 1973.  And one last note -- it's ironic that this particular scene in the movie (circa 1973) took place in Detroit where AT40 was missing from the airwaves between 1971 and 1978.

And by the way, it was a good movie!


7. PLAYING 45 FLIPSIDES ON AT40
During the 60s and 70s, once in a while the flipside of a 45 would garner enough interest that it too became a hit record.  Up until the late 60s, Billboard ranked double-sided records separately.  For example, Aretha Franklin's "The House That Jack," the flipside to "I Say A Little Prayer," was listed separately on the Hot 100.  However, that procedure was changed in 1969 when The Beatles' "Come Together" and "Something" were ranked as one chart hit.

When AT40 debuted, there were two double-sided records within the Top 40 -- 45s by The Beatles and Elvis Presley.  Numerous singles during the early to mid 70s that reached the Top 40 listed both sides of the record.  Elvis and Creedence Clearwater Revival were artists who often accomplished this feat.
And when this happened, radio stations often latched onto one of the two songs (rarely playing both) to reserve precious air time for other artists.  By the late 70s, it was rare to see a double-sided single listed on the Hot 100.

Fortunately, during the early to mid 70s on AT40, flipsides were played from time to time, offering additional music variety to regular listeners.  In fact, it happened on AT40's second program when, instead of playing The Beatles' "The Long And Winding Road," Casey played its flipside, "For You Blue."  Due to production time restraints, rarely did he play both sides of a single within one program.  However, it did happen a few times in 1971 with records by CCR, Elvis, Carole King and Rod Stewart.

But there were a couple of examples where both sides of a 45 were receiving heavy radio airplay, but only one side of the single was heard on AT40.  During their regular chart runs, double-sided 45s by a Chicago record (released in 1971) and a Queen single (released in 1977) were never acknowledged.  The songs "Color My World" by Chicago and "We Will Rock You" by Queen received immense airplay by radio stations throughout the U.S. during their Top 40 peak popularity periods, but failed to get played on AT40.  Why?  One can only speculate.  Another AT40 mystery! 
 
Incidentally, during the April 15, 1972 program, and as part of an answer to a listener question, Casey explained AT40's policy about playing double-sided records.


8. SONGS PLAYED ON AT40 THAT SHOULDN'T HAVE

For a variety of reasons, mistakes were made when compiling the music during the production of “American Top 40” programs.  Here’s a partial list of songs that made it through production -- and to our radios -- but shouldn’t have.

 

*So Close – Jake Holmes

This song never reached Billboard’s Top 40 yet debuted at #39 on 12-19-70.  The song actually peaked at #49 a couple of weeks prior to its debut but through a mix-up in obtaining chart data from Billboard, it was introduced and played by Casey as a Top 40 hit.  In reality, it was gone from the Hot 100 the week it was played on AT40.

 

*The First Time – Glass Bottle

This song was actually played in error on AT40 two weeks in a row -- 9-18-71 and 9-25-71 -- before someone caught the mistake.  The flipside of the 45, “I Ain’t Got Time Anymore,” was the charted record and song that should’ve aired.  Fortunately, this slow chart climber lasted a third and final week in the Top 40, and AT40 listeners heard the correct record on 10-2-71.

 

*La Grange – ZZ Top

Like “So Close,” this song was played as a charted hit on AT40 (at #33) for the week of 6-29-74 but in reality never reached Billboard’s Top 40.  However, the circumstances for this one were a little different.  Because Casey Kasem was expected to be gone for a few weeks, in part, to make a guest appearance on an episode of Hawaii Five-0, the AT40 staff had to “estimate” the chart rankings for the 6-29-74 program.  And they needed to review “hit bound” records on the Hot 100 to determine the show’s debut songs.  (Once the list was compiled, Casey pre-recorded the show, days before Billboard published their list for this particular week.)  But ZZ Top’s song peaked on the Hot 100 at #41 and is now a footnote for the 6-29-74 program.  By the way, AT40’s staff correctly projected Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” as that show’s #1 record.

 

*Whoa Babe – The Ozzie Nelson Orchestra

If you’re asking how a song from 1938 (if you knew this song was from 1938!) could be mistakenly played in error on AT40, you’re not “off the chart.”  But it wasn’t part of a regular weekly countdown – it was a song from the AT40 special, “The Fourth of July’s Greatest Hits” played as a bicentennial tribute on July 4th, 1976.  Casey spotlighted, in chronological order, every song that was #1 on July 4th, starting with 1937 and finishing with 1976.  For 1938, however, the song “Says My Heart” performed by Ozzie Nelson’s orchestra and sung by (future Mrs. Ozzie Nelson) Harriet Hilliard, was at #1.  But a production error was made and now “Whoa Babe” is, for this AT40 special, forever incorrectly etched in and misidentified by Casey.  Regardless, because of this show's music variety reflecting generations of Americana, it truly is a Red, White and Blue special! 

 

*Other incorrectly played flipsides included in AT40 programs were by Rod Stewart, Bad Company and The Osmonds.  Additional details are provided in Battistini’s book.

 

 

9. THE “FLASH…ALERT…URGENT…BULLETIN” WRONG CHART PROGRAM

The producers of "American Top 40" always prided themselves because of the show's affiliation with Billboard magazine's Hot 100, the "most authorative chart" in the music industry.  But something unique happened to the June 9, 1973 AT40 program to temporarily shake the show's production.  The program, for that week, is truly a collector's item because the chart Casey used for the countdown didn't match Billboard's Top 40. 

At the time, Billboard was initiating a new computer system to better tabulate their record charts.  A problem arose with AT40 program production, however, when Billboard called Watermark and said they had configured a new Hot 100 list for June 9, 1973, negating the previous one given to AT40.  Indeed, this was a problem because the show had already been scripted, recorded and LPs plated and boxed, and ready for station distribution.  Action needed to be taken -- and fast.  Because it was nearly impossible to re-record the show due to shipping deadlines, executive producer Tom Rounds sent a memo to all stations with an explanation, along with the program as it was originally produced.  The memo and entire explanation is found in Battistini's book.

But there were certainly some discrepancies between the two charts.  Here are two of the most distinct.  
On Billboard’s adjusted Hot 100 chart, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Out Of The Question” fell to #93.  (It had fallen out of the Top 40 to #57 the previous week.)  But, on AT40, it re-debuted at #33.  And Jud Strunk’s “Daisy A Day” fell completely off of the Hot 100.  But on AT40, Casey played it as the #27 record.  This situation probably qualifies those two as “Songs Played on AT40 That Shouldn’t Have.” 



10. AT40 SAMPLE PROGRAM SUMMARIES
Similar to what's found in Battistini's book, here are two sample program summaries -- one from October 28, 1972 and the other from July 17, 1976:

122.) 10-28-72         Program #724-5

story: Leon Russell critic review

story: James Brown sleeps in

story: The Band’s Robbie Robertson hypnotized

story: Mac Davis’ method to ‘get girls’

story: Chuck Berry’s hairdressing desire

question: song with the most Top 40 versions

question: artist taking most weeks to reach #1

question: record chart jump to #1

odd chart stat: two debut records

 

316.) 07-17-76         Program #763-3

portion played: Rock And Roll Music - Chuck Berry

portion played: Rock And Roll Music - The Beatles

portion played: Little Darlin’ - The Diamonds

production note: an incomplete version of The Beach Boys’ “Rock And Roll Music”
                                        is
heard in order to create a medley of the song with other versions

question: biggest non-#1, #2 record

question: artists with biggest double-sided records

odd chart stat: seven duos in the Top 40

odd chart stat: Paul McCartney sings lead on two 
                                       back-to-back Top 40 records, p
erformed by different groups

odd chart stat: two brothers in separate duos (England Dan &  John Ford
                                       Coley; 
Seals & Crofts) on two separate records in the Top 40

story: Beethoven’s victory music

story: The Carpenters’ producer worked on Apollo I

story: The Rolling Stones are the loudest rock band in the world

program error: Casey’s outcue for Seals & Crofts’ “Get Closer” reads “....at
                                        #18.......”; actually, it was #16

program error: Casey’s introduction for Natalie Cole’s “Sophisticated Lady” 
                                        
indicated “...at #29, moving up three notches....”; and Casey’s outcue read 
                                       
“...moving up eight notches this week...”; actually, it moved from 
                                       #31 to #29

program error: Casey pointed out that Paul McCartney performed
                                        on three Top 40
records, and mentioned that Melanie “...back in 1964...” had
                                        three records in the 
Top 40; actually, Melanie’s three simultaneous Top 40
                                        records were in 1972;
there is no mention of Marvin Gaye’s three records in the
                                        Top 40 the week of
11-17-73

program error: in introducing The Manhattan’s “Kiss And Say Goodbye,” Casey
                                        pointed
out “...here’s the first Top 40 hit for The Manhattans...”; actually, it was
                                        their second

program error: Casey’s introduction to Aerosmith’s “Last Child” mentioned “Dream
                                        On” as their other hit record, with no mention of “Sweet Emotion”

program mention: “Misty Blue” was a country record

program note: in show closing, Casey provides no chart date

oldie played: Brown Sugar - Rolling Stones

 

11. "NUMBER" JINGLES USED IN THE FIRST AT40 PROGRAM
Once the book was published, author Pete Battistini lamented what else could've been added, changed, corrected and/or updated to make the book better.  A second printing someday?  Perhaps.

But one after-the fact idea was to review each program from the 70s (again!) and point out what "number" jingles were played.  For example, here's a list of the number jingles found in the very first program, in the order used: 40, 39 (a rarely used jingle), 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, "Billboard's #30," 29, 27, 26, 24, 23, 22, "Billboard's #20," 19, 18, 17, 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 2, and "Billboard's #1."  Because so many were used in the first program, it would've been easier to point out the jingles that weren't used: 28, 25, 21, 15, 7, and 3.


12. DISAPPEARING ACTS SPECIALS -- ONE FLAW
The two Disappearing Acts specials (7-7-73 and 4-5-75) were well-researched, well-documented, well-written and well-produced.  But there's still a possible flaw -- at least one recording act that should've been included.  It's the author's pure speculation here by pointing out the missing artist was either mistakenly overlooked or deliberately left out.  Unfortunately, we may never know.  

So who is this artist?  The song "Fire," as performed by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, reached Billboard's #2 position in October 1968 and was on the Hot 100 for 13 weeks.  The Beatles' "Hey Jude" maintained a stronghold at #1 then, preventing "Fire" from climbing to the top.  Numerous other songs featured within the two specials either didn't have the chart peak or the chart longevity and yet found their way into the Top 40.  Perhaps considered a novelty by some, Arthur Brown never reached the Hot 100 again.


13. THE NATIONAL ALBUM COUNTDOWN
Some music fans who recall listening to the emergence of FM radio in the late 60s and early 70s may argue that the popularity of rock LPs had no greater time period.  LP sales continued to rise as album-oriented rock stations became more numerous.  Artists such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Elton John and Janis Joplin became legendary almost instantaneously upon release of their LPs.

With a growing number of Top 40 radio stations adding non-45, LP tracks to their playlists in the early 70s, it was only logical that Watermark (AT40's parent company) consider the creation of another countdown show, an add-on to their catalog of syndicated programming.  And so the idea of sampling the Billboard LP chart one week with a "replacement" countdown on AT40 was pursued.  This was a test show.

There was no advance notice to AT40 listeners when the program dated August 5, 1972 hit the airwaves:

"Hello again, this is Casey Kasem welcoming you to another 'American Top 40.'  And today, a special edition of 'American Top 40.'  This week, you're hearing the National Album Countdown, our survey of the best selling LP records in the nation, taken right off the top of Billboard magazine's weekly album sales survey.  Now that doesn't mean that we're ignoring our weekly Top 40 single records.  No, sir.  We won't play them today.  But for each position from 40 through number one, we'll have the new rankings by title and artist, right along with our National Album Countdown -- which should give us a pretty interesting comparison step-by-step between the singles and the albums charts.  And the National Album Countdown begins right now..."

But developing this special into a regular, weekly program didn't happen.  Why?  Perhaps it was a marketing concern.  To sell an LP countdown radio show in 1972, the program would've likely been pitched to album-oriented rock stations.  And most of those stations were playing the music of the aforementioned and other rock artists.  But if you reviewed Billboard's Top 40 LPs each week at that time, you would've noticed a wide variety of music -- rock, country, soul, easy listening, gospel, etc.  The break in music continuity for LP rock stations may have been enough to prevent Watermark from pursuing this venture.  Regardless, it's a memorable program that captured the atmosphere of LP popularity for one week in music history.


14.  LISTENING TO "AMERICAN TOP 40" ON THE RADIO -- AGAIN.
WSAR-AM, Fall River, Massachusetts
September 5, 1971

Imagine being able to listen to an audio recording of a complete, unedited AT40 broadcast more than 35 years old.  Such recordings are rare, especially with quality.  But one exists of Casey counting down the Top 40 on September 5, 1971 on AT40-affiliate WSAR.  The recording contains the music, station jingles and station commercials, and is a great trip back to Labor Day weekend in 1971.  This, of course, was an AM broadcast so all audio is in mono.  But that's how the program was originally recorded as well.

Do you have a similar recording of an uninterrupted AT40 broadcast?  Let's trade!  Contact Pete at at40@aol.com.


15. Now available...American Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1980s).
http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000363106

  

Like the AT40 70s book, please know that due to publisher policy, it's available only via a print-on-demand basis.  That means the book must be ordered and will be shipped to you.  

If you're interested in placing your order through the publisher, you may use the web site above, or by calling a toll-free number, 1-888-280-7715.  And while the on-line ordering is set up for purchases 24/7, operators for phone orders are limited to Monday-Friday, 8:30am -- 5:00pm, eastern time. 

If you enjoyed AT40 during the 80s, you may find this book to be both entertaining and informative.





 

 

 








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