Thursday, February 13, 2014

WOLFMAN JACK RECORD SURVEYS & AIR-CHECKS - GONNA BLOW YOUR MIND, BABY!


Hey welcome back to Kip Pullman's American Graffiti Blog. I trust everyone had a decent holiday and you're well rested and have already gotten back into the groove of the daily grind. This month were gonna get a small taste of some of the early sounds of Rhythm & Blues/ Soul radio that disc jockey, Wolfman Jack helped make popular in the mid-1960s and early-1970s.  We've got some record surveys and very rare air-checks you can't find anywhere else.  Gonna blow your mind, baby. Most pix & surveys on this page can be enlarged for your pleasure by clicking on them. Soooo... let's get this party started!!
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Wolfman burps on the telephone operator as he segues into "Gimme Shelter" by The Stones!!!
I Passed out seven times when I first heard this clip.


In the mid-1960s Bob Smith aka Wolfman Jack was working as the manger of a small daytime-only radio station, KUXL, 1570 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As manager, Smith helped station operator, Marvin Kosofsky change the programing from strictly religious to a more youth-oriented format: Rhythm & Blues.  The station broadcast continuous tapes of religious preachers during the mornings but from 1:00 in the afternoon until sundown KUXL played R & B records from the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, B.B. King, and The Four Tops.  The station also sponsored dances & concerts featuring performers such as The Temptations, Jimmy Reed, and Jr. Walker.  Even though he was the manager, Smith never broadcast from the Minneapolis station as Wolfman Jack during the time that that he was there.
KUXL R&B Hit List, November 1968

Here's a rare KUXL air-check with DJ, Admiral Richard E from 1967 (provided by Curt Lundgren)

KUXL Super Soul Thirty,  July 1972
 
HEY, LOS ANGELES, HERE COMES
THE WOLFMAN!




 
Opening of Wolfman's XERB show segues into "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin

Aware of  the immense popularity of the tiny station, Smith got dollar signs in his eyes and decided to apply the exact same format of paid-programming mixed with current R & B to take over the high-powered, 50, 000 watt Mexican station, XERB, 1090 AM. The transmitter sight for the station was located near the costal resort city of Rosarito Beach in the Mexican state of Baja California which is about 10 miles south of the California, U.S. border.  Helping with the new adventure were KUXL disc jockeys, Art Hoehn (a.k.a. Fat Daddy Washington) and Ralph Hull (a.k.a. Preacher Paul Anthony and The Nazz).  At first, beginning in late-1965, they operated the "Big X" from Minneapolis, then relocated to offices in Los Angeles, California in 1966.

A facsimile of the station's 1966 schedule. Turf Craft racing results & Glory Bound Train were (unannounced) paid advertising income for the station.

The station’s new format was a complete success. XERB had been a Country music radio station before Bob Smith & company took over.  The new "Super Soul" format was quite an exciting change, and on top of it all, they had the mysterious and outrageous, Wolfman Jack howlin’ and prowlin' over the airwaves for 6 hours every single night. Have mercy!!! 

 This faux air-check that I mixed is a good example of the diversity & craziness on XERB 1.) A frantic live version of "Ain't it Funky, Now," by James Brown, 2.) Phone Call, "Secret Agent Spy Scope" (original phone call which was later edited and used in the film, American Graffiti), segues into 3.) "Key to the Highway" by Freddie King (circa 1970).

XERB Record survey July 1967   Compare this "Soul Monster" record survey to that of KRLA's Top-40 survey also from July 1967 (further below)

Wolfman waxes poetically over "Let's Get it On" by Marvin Gaye (1973)
A March 1969 QSL post card from XERB engineers confirming that the recipient had indeed heard the station.  To get a QSL card from XERB (or any radio station) a listener would need to send a reception report to the station giving information about what they heard & the reception conditions.
XERB RECORD SURVEY, October 7, 1967. Although the XERB transmitter towers were in Rosarito Beach, in the Mexican state of Baja California, the station operated as though it were a local Los Angeles/Hollywood station and used many local L.A. sponsors. 


Radio ad for a free autograph picture of Wolfman & an XERB record survey (circa 1967)

XERB Super Soul-21 Survey, May 10, 1969
Wolfman gets heavy with "Hey Big Brother" by Rare Earth (1971)

While Wolfman's shows become more eclectic, XERB's "Soul" format became limited to specific shows by DJs such as Bill Harris as this 12/22/1969 survey shows.


By 1971 Wolfman had lost control of station XERB and had to hand the controls back over to the Mexican owners. With Wolfman's management out of the way, the station owners tried to duplicate his successful formula.  They changed the call letters to X-E-P-R-S and programmed soul music, calling the station “The Soul Express.” Wolfy still broadcast for a little while under the new ownership, but left soon afterwards.
Wolfman got to keep the call letters, X-E-R-B but the Mexican owners kept the station's frequency and facilities and renamed it X-E-P-R-S. This survey is from 8/20/1971.
 
 In the 1960s and early-'70s, the number-one radio station in the Los Angeles market was KRLA, 1110 AM. The station boasted a high-powered 50,000 watt signal during the day which was reduced to 10,000 watts in the evening. The popular station KRLA was blessed with some extremely talented on-air talent including: The "Real" Don Steele, Casey Kasem, Bob "Emperor" Hudson, Dave Hull "The Hullabalooer," and much later, Wolfman Jack (1984-87).

Here's a KRLA scoped (music removed) air-check from Sept.1965 featuring The Emperor, Bub Hudson. Incidentally, 2 yrs later, a film student at USC named George Lucas would feature Hudson in one of his student films titled, THE EMPEROR
KRLA MOST REQUESTED July 8, 1967
The primary local daytime competition for Wolfman's station XERB, with a similar R & B format, was the Los Angeles soul station, KGFJ 1230 AM, but in the evening only XERB, with it's far-reaching, 50,000 watt signal bouncing across the ionosphere, could be heard throughout most of North America, west of the Rocky Mountain range. After a couple of years XERB's R & B format eventually became more inclusive of Top-40 rock found on other LA stations such as KRLA.  For a little over five years XERB, with Wolfman Jack at the helm, was the hip station to listen to at night.
This KGFJ Top 25 Rhythm & Blues record survey from the beginning of 1967 shows "(I Know) I'm Losing You" by The Temptations holding fast at number one for the second week in a row. One of the station's DJs, Magnificent Montague later joined the lineup at XERB.

~ FINE ~
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3 comments:

  1. I recognize those pictures, Kip, from Wolfman's appearance on The Odd Couple

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ David Kruh: You are 100% correct David. You must have a good memory, That particular episode of the Odd Couple was first broadcast in 1973 the same yr. that Wolfman made his appearance in Graffiti.

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  2. Hello:
    Vengo siguiendo este apasionante blog desde hace unos meses. American Graffiti es mi película preferida y Woflman Jack mi Disc-Jockey predilecto.
    Saludos desde Spain.

    ReplyDelete