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All-New Weekly ''History Of Rock 'n' Roll'' to Debut


History of Rock 'n' Roll
History of Rock 'n' Roll

The all-new two-hour weekly "History Of Rock 'n' Roll" barter radio series hosted by Wink Martindale will debut nationally (and internationally) on the weekend of June 5-6. Each episode includes artist interviews and revelations from host and legendary broadcaster Wink Martindale. Among the affiliates on board for the June 5 debut is WMPS in Memphis -- where Wink Martindale got his start on radio.

The original "History of Rock 'n' Roll" was a highly ambitious 48-hour production assembled in 1969 at and for KHJ in Los Angeles. Hosted by Robert W. Morgan, the "rockumentary" aired locally and was later syndicated around the country to stations like WLS in Chicago.

"When I heard that WLS was about to air 'The History of Rock 'n' Roll,' said then teenager Gary Theroux, "I raced down to Radio Shack to buy enough seven-inch reels of quarter-inch tape to aircheck the whole thing." Enchanted by the special, at WGLT, Illinois State's campus radio station, Gary wrote and narrated his own multi-part take of the concept, which he dubbed "The Evolution of Rock."

Once in Los Angeles, Theroux worked for a succession of key radio stations, including KIIS, KDAY, KSRF and KRLA. It was during his KIIS tenure that Gary was invited by legendary programmer Bill Drake to bring "The History of Rock 'N' Roll" back to life.

"His original idea was to simply tack a few update hours onto the 1969 production," recalled Theroux, "and to that end I was handed a copy of the original script. I was writing a rock history book at the time and had interviewed hundreds of hitmakers. Once I read the script, I was struck by two things. First was how chaotic the 1969 programming was. Making things worse, the script was packed with factual errors and miscalls. That was entirely understandable, as at the time (1968-69) "rock journalism' consisted mainly of fan magazines filled with bogus 'facts.' Rolling Stone was less than two years old and mostly focused on Bay Area music."

Gary asked Bill for permission to completely reformat, reprogram and rewrite "The History of Rock 'N' Roll" from scratch - and, to his surprise, got it. Theroux chose to break down the history into themed hour or half hour blocks -- which could be broadcast in succession at a 52 hour marathon or broken out into standalone themed episodes. As much as possible, Gary had the stories behind the songs told by the hitmakers themselves -- with other narration minimized to simply link elements together. He made sure every minute was compelling -- studding each script with "wow-I-didn't-know-that"-type fun facts which illuminated both the songs and the stars.

"Music is a way of painting portraits of human emotion using sound," said Theroux. "Paint, for example, has no emotion - but when carefully arranged on a canvas by a gifted artist, it will create an emotional reaction in the viewer. Carefully crafted music does exactly the same thing - speaking to and for your heart. The tracks which most eloquently do that become your all-time favorites - kind of like old friends. What we do is tell you things about your old friends which you never knew before and only more deeply endear them to you."

Theroux's 1978 production of "The History of Rock 'N' Roll" aired on more than 800 stations worldwide -- and was named Billboard's "Top Special Program of The Year." Gary went on to teach music at UCLA before becoming Reader's Digest's Music & Entertainment Editor in New York. Over the next 20 years, Theroux compiled and annotated hundreds of multi-disc CD box sets, with cumulative sales topping 39 million copies. Some were single artist sets but most were themed collections aimed at a wide variety of specifically targeted demographic groups.

"It was like creating a multitude of different 60 or 80 track mini radio formats," Theroux recalled. His biggest seller, "Christmas Through The Years," sold over eleven million copies. Concurrently Gary remained on New York radio, co-hosting (with now Fox Radio news anchor Kerin McCue) "The Saturday Night Special," a free-wheeling five-hour oldies and comedy celebration.

While serving with Bill Drake on the board of The Hit Parade Hall of Fame, Theroux got a call one day from founder John Rook. Wink Martindale was looking for a project and could Gary think of anything? Theroux immediately suggesting turning his "Christmas Through The Years" concept into a ten hour radio countdown entitled "The 100 Greatest Christmas Hits of All Time." With Wink's approval, Gary worked with engineer Peter Gould to build the countdown, working in not only 100+ Yuletide gems but 100+ Christmas themed celebrity interview clips. "The 100 Greatest Christmas Hits of All Time" debuted over KRTH in Los Angeles and has been annually updated. Last year's edition was heard in more than 175 countries worldwide.

One day Wink said, "Say, Gary. You own the trademark name 'History of Rock 'N' Roll' but you're not really doing much with it." Actually, Gary had recorded nearly 200 "History of Rock 'N' Roll" 2-1/2 minute features but only placed them in limited release. Wink continued. "Let's try reviving the 'History of Rock 'n' Roll' concept as two-hour weekly series -- and I'd love to host it." And that's exactly what's happened -- via Gary Theroux's Reserve Productions in association with Wink Martindale Enterprises and master engineer Peter Gould's Intervale Group.

The all-new two-hour weekly "History of Rock 'n' Roll" is much more than just the full-length versions of '60s, '70s and '80s gold. The series answers key music fan questions, such as "What's that song? Who's the performer? How did they get that name? What inspired those words? Why does this music touch my heart...make me smile... make me cry... make me want to dance, romance and fall in love? Whatever happened to the great songs I grew up with?"

Each episode is built around a theme spotlighting yet another aspect of rock and pop history. For more information, e-mail winkhrr@gmail.com.

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WJBR-FM/Wilmington: WJBR-FM's 12th annual Nemours Children's Hospital Help Our Kids Radiothon raised a total of $332,648 to benefit the hospital's Child Life Programs. The two-day radiothon took place on September 22-23 from 6am to 6pm on the grounds at the hospital. (L-R): WJBR's Mike Rossi (middays), Deanna Marie (mornings), Justin Franiak (mornings) and Brett Radler (part-time on air).

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