Madison. The state capital building on the isthmus

Newspaper Radio Guide 1964

Madison, Wisconsin

The idea for the CWC format actually happened in 1966. Here’s the story.

My name is Rick Seifert. I grew up during the fifties and sixties in Madison, Wisconsin. The media landscape at the time consisted of two daily newspapers, four television stations, and four local AM radio stations. Local FM radio was in its infancy, with a religious station, a public station, and three easy listening/classical stations. There was no internet. No cell phones. Not even cable tv. It was before kilocycles became kilohertz. The big entertainment medium was AM radio. The major technological innovation of the time was the transisitor, and the resulting marvel of the “portable transistor radio”. Now, you could take your favorite AM station with you, instead of having to be tied to a AC powered plug in tube radio. That meant we could listen to our favorite stations anywhere.

1964

Teenagers in Madison had only one option for local “top 40” radio. That was WISM, 1480Kcs. The Big 89, WLS , and Super CFL (WCFL) in Chicago were other favorite channels. However, they could be difficult to receive at times. Similarly, WOKY, 920kcs in Milwaukee was also available, but difficult to receive. At night, AM radio came alive with Top 40 stations from across the midwest and east coast. WABC-New York, KOMA-Oklahoma City, and CKLW-Detroit-Windsor, Ontario to name a few. Then, news came that Madison would soon get another AM radio station. WMAD, 1550kcs signed on the spring of 1964. And, it was Top 40 radio. WISM and WMAD battled for ratings and listeners for two years. However, WMAD was a daytime only station, signing off at 430PM during the winter months. This proved to be too much of an obstacle for continued success as a top 40 station.

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WMAD Format Change and the CWC idea

I came home from school one fall afternoon in 1966. I turned on the radio to listen to WMAD (which was my choice for top 40 in Madison) before going out to play basketball. Instead of hearing the hits of that time, I heard George Jones. Then Merle Haggard. Then Conway Twitty. I thought, somebody made a mistake at the radio station. I’ll tune in later and the problem will have been fixed.

I tuned in later, and heard Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, and Waylon Jennings. Same thing the next day. And the day after that. This was no mistake at the radio station. WMAD had switched format to country and western! What were they thinking?

For some reason, I kept listening to WMAD, because it was different. Who were these artists? And the thing was, I kind of liked the music. Not all of it, but some of it. And, I still really liked the Beatles, Elvis and all the rest of the hit makers of the time. This was getting weird.

I remember thinking at the time, why doesn’t somebody play a mix of both genres. They both had great music. Talented musicians, and melodies that hooked you.

So, now it’s 2019. We take the internet for granted. Software exists that allows anyone to setup a radio station. So I’ve taken advantage of the tools available and created a radio station based on my experience in 1966!

If you wish, drop us a line in the “contact” page. And thanks for listening!