Saturday, May 3, 2014

Saturday Aircheck: Top40 WHBQ Memphis From 1977

Dewey Phillips
WHBQ 560 AM was once owned by RKO General. Its legend was made by Dewey Phillips played rhythm and blues music on his night-time show, Red, Hot and Blue. In 1954, Phillips played a recording of "That's Alright Mama" by a young truck driver by the name of Elvis Presley, marking the first time an Elvis recording was played on air.

For many years, WHBQ was considered a "farm club" for RKO.

WHBQ promotional drink coaster
Young, aspiring DJs, such as Rick Dees and game show host Wink Martindale worked there with hopes of being moved up to RKO's bigger markets, like Boston, New York, San Francisco, or the holy grail, KHJ in Los Angeles.

In the 1960s, under the guidance of Bill Drake, WHBQ became Boss Radio. By the late 70s, the once-mighty music station could no longer compete with the increasing popularity of FM-band musical stations. They tried an oldies oriented format from 1981 to 1983 before switching to News/Talk. In 1988, RKO sold WHBQ to Flinn Broadcasting who tried oldies again, country and even heavy metal late at night, Today its focus has shifted to sports.

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