In the 70's, what did the music formats "AM" vs "FM" mean?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Omega, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    Was that Wild Bill? You must remember KREO then? Signed on just before 1980 in Healdsburg?
     
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  2. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Thank You Great Spirit! Silver Supporting Member

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    but my high school gf could take an AM song like Afternoon Delight and twist it into something deliciously naughty that complimented her gold bikini really well.

    Our big liking for fm revolved around hearing full album cuts. Really pissed us off when we noticed am stations playing edited cuts, and what got cut was almost always the guitar solo.

    FM was also a criteria for buying a car. If it didn't have fm on that radio it wasn't a car we could use to impress the party animal girls.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  3. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I’m sure this has been covered already, haven’t read through but...
    My experience, there was one AM radio program out of Little Rock Arkansas I could pull in on my transistor radio in the sixties on cloudy days at my grandfathers cabin in northern Wisconsin. It was basically an FM style station before FM started getting cool. Man...low key djs who were mellow, played whole album sides, also had the most esoteric music.
    A little while after I heard FM where we lived in a northern suburb of Chicago. I was lucky, in my teen and even a little after, FM was king. The best sound quality, the best music, again, low key, mellow, I spent evening after evening listening to it, all of us got little FM radios installed in our cars. It was just the heyday.

    I’ve been missing it since it went away. I think late seventies the difference became smaller and smaller. I’ve always been amazed that none survived with the format. Not one. Everyone I knew my age and ten years younger or older loved that...there was a market, I don’t know what happened.
     
  4. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    I think there are a few jazz and classical stations operating similar in the old rocknroll FM manner, but the rock ones vanished into classic rock or top 40. They all went for the flash and cash.
     
  5. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    If you saw American Grafitti you remember Wolfman Jack broadcasted AM radio from Tijuana so he could push his signal past our FCC regulations to be heard almost all the way to Oklahoma on a good night.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  6. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    In Phoenix we had KCAC on AM run by a local DJ named Bill Compton. When FM became commercial (per the FCC rule change) he started an FM station KDKB broadcasting in stereo. Compton was a well-known guy who died driving into a big water runoff channel near 48th Street by Indian School Rd. The local rock promoter there built a new arena and called in "Compton Stadium" in his honor.

    In LA the best FM station ever as KROQ (IMO), especially when they started the "Rock of the '80s" - there had always been rock FM stations in LA, but KROQ (in the 80s) was SO different that they were able to create a completely different "new wave" format that was copied nationwide. The funny thing was that their playlist was so different that many regions just didn't have it, and so they never heard of bands like Berlin, Missing Persons, etc. Places like AZ and Texas got switched onto shoegaze music in the 80s instead, the Smiths and Christopher Cross etc. I really missed KROQ when I moved away from L.A.
     
  7. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    As deregulation allowed everyone and their uncle with $100k to obtain an FCC license to operate, markets quickly became saturated with "cheap" radio programming, doubling down on formats and competing for every ad dollar, the sole lifeblood of a radio station. Gone were most live shows in favor of satellite carried syndications, allowing for recording local drop-ins to give them the appearance of live broadcasting. We'd hear the exact same playlist no matter where you traveled to, indeed the same announcer back selling the songs. Radio hit the skids, at least in most smaller US markets.
     
  8. EL69

    EL69 Member

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    Not only did people commonly think of AM and FM in terms of musical formats in the 70s, but SNL even did a skit with the premise of a small town radio station having the same guy be the AM DJ and the FM DJ. The audience seemed to get it...
     
  9. EL69

    EL69 Member

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    If it makes you feel any better, KROQ's days as a freeform station were pretty much over by the mid-80s, a victim of the success of that same New Wave format. The quality of the music they played was still better than most of the dinosaur rock that KMET and KLOS pumped out at the time, but by the 90s it was pretty much a corporate top 40 station for whichever bubblepunk or "alternative" bands the record labels were pushing. In other words, they went down the same road that the freeform-turned-AOR stations did, but with different musical genres.
     
  10. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    I remember Kratz she was coolbut WMMR had been doing the underground thing since 1967 started as the late night Marconi experiment, MMR was not a fulltime counter culture station.
    Then in 82 WMMR hired John Debella and what was fading was stabbed through the heart. Cool DJ's who were taste makers got replaced with Buffoons. Then even got rid of Ed Scaiky the guy who broke Bruce and Yes in philly ...talk about wide taste range
     
  11. sixty2strat

    sixty2strat Member

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    This is how much it changed by 83. Freshman year in college I saw the radio station had a sign up meeting. I went and some dork ass D-bag of a senior is in change ( figuring he was a jr. Andy Travis). So he spends 20 minutes telling us he is running it like a professional station WE WILL follow FFC rules. So I figure bit of a jerk but rules is rules. Then he goes you will follw the top 40 play list and only play what your told to play and begins to berate any one who had different plans. Wow this was a college station, the ones by me made FM look like AM. I'm thinking I was going to play all sorts of stuff I loved and believed in and maybe piss off some or hip people to something new. So walked out. 3 years latter I buddy was doing a blues show and I came by to play and he soon tired of it and gave me the spot. The airwaves of WV were soon filled with Zappa's Pajama people,Floyd' Careful with that Axe Blind Lemmon Jefferson U2 bootlegs or Tangerine Dream and any song that said DO NOT EVER PLAY IT.
     
  12. urizen

    urizen Silver Supporting Member

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    What he said... in general AM was mainstream/commercial/"safe"in the mid '60s, a gated and relatively small yard if you will, FM wasn't: on FM stations (KPPC for my region) lots of genres were mix-mastered so "underground"/experimental bands-du-jour (usually West Coast or East Coast) would be followed by some sarod virtuoso followed by The Yardbirds (ca. "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago"*) seguing into The Byrds ( ca."I See You"**, not the cross-over "hits") followed by The Fugs followed by some Sun Ra followed Screamin' Jay Hawkins followed by some authentic less-well-known Brecht-Weill followed by Hohvaness followed by Steve Reich followed by Quicksilver Messenger Service followed by Ornette Coleman followed by a whole side (or both sides) of Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing At Baxter's followed by some obscure indigenous Peruvian music (indigenous pipes and ocarina-like instruments) then perhaps a Firesign Theater interlude and so forth. THAT was real and enriching entertainment (and thus it made a lot of folks' ears bigger).

    *thinking of that made me want to hear it again (1966):


    ** ditto (also '66)
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  13. urizen

    urizen Silver Supporting Member

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    XERB, baby!
     
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  14. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    I lived in a northern suburb of Chicago. Though we also had chicago FM stations, of the very cool kind, but in addition there was some very local FM radio station, and I mean a couple of the suburbs was the range, that were just as good. All their ads were for local businesses, and that seemed viable, but must not have been or else regulations closed them down.

    maybe I just haven’t found it, but it sure seems like podcasting could emulate an old FM station streaming. I haven’t found any that do seem like the old Fm though.
     
  15. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    The changes I spoke of were very time sensitive. I don't know how to interpret your last comment, other than possibly sarcastic. Be that as it may, deregulation changed the way radio operated in the US forever.

    Maybe I should be more clear about deregulation. Prior to approximately 1980, a radio station had to be able to support their full operation for at least 3 years, not counting income during that time. Restrictions and regulations were stiff, and a company could own and operate just 1 AM and 1 FM per market. After deregulation, licenses were granted to just about anyone, usually a few lawyers and other business types, even with zero broadcasting knowledge or background. That changed the emphasis from programing to ad sells as top priority. "Cheap" automated and syndicated programming eventually took over, though that didn't happen overnight. I could go on about the disintegration of credibility which followed, but most listeners during that time span know what I'm talking about, and those who have worked in the business definitely know.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  16. Suave Eddie

    Suave Eddie Member

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    Ask your doctor if lobotomy is for you.

    Here's a treat for you. Remember the Persuasions doing all the spots for KPPC? Here's one of them.

     
  17. NotWesYet

    NotWesYet Supporting Member

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    Up until about ten years ago there was a service, Live 365, that would permit you to stream your own station. The only limitation was that you could not repeat the same artist more than four times an hour. It was less than $100 a month.

    I set up an internet radio station for the kids at the college and they preproduced everything which was then placed in music playlist in iTunes on a separate Apple computer, an old eMac. It ran 24/7 for a few years.

    I taught them the basics of production using Garageband and got them some equipment. They did everything from shows on Jazz and Blues to Psychedelia even talk shows on sex and world events. All sort of laid back 60's FM radio style as Fagen's line in the Nightfly "Jazz and conversation...." They had listeners form Japan to Iceland in no time. I got laid off and without a sponsor the station closed shortly thereafter.

    The service is no longer available, but I am sure there are other technical means.
     
  18. Cactus Bob

    Cactus Bob Supporting Member

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    Chicago had one of the greatest FM Underground stations ever with Triad Radio (1969-1977)!

    Hawkwind, Crimson, Mahavishnu, ELP, Floyd, Krautrock . . .

    Anyone here ever listen to it back then?

     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  19. DYNA BILL

    DYNA BILL Member

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    1953 to 1980
     
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  20. Scafeets

    Scafeets Member

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    It implied singles (hits) on AM vs. album cuts on FM. AM = program and music directors pick the music. FM = DJs pick their own music. That lasted until about 1976 when most FM stations transitioned to more formatted, researched music selection, with a few holdouts still allowing the DJs to play what they wanted.
     

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