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Analog Automated Radio 

Analog Automated Radio

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The History of Radio Automation

When local AM radio stations began to add FM service to their operation, most were simply rebroadcasting the signal of their AM station on their newly acquired FM station. During the late 1960s, the FCC determined that local stations in more highly populated markets should separate the AM/FM combos to offer alternative programming on their FM station.

Many took on “beautiful music” formats, which would require a minimum of attention from existing staff members while hoping to bring in more “dignified or distinguished” listeners to their stations in the hope of appealing to “luxury-based upper-end” advertisers also called the "snooty set."


More importantly, it created another revenue stream with a second radio station and virtually no additional staff. It actually began to work, at least in major markets, but there were quality control issues like periods of dead air, repetition of music segments, and so on, all because of the lack of supervision by operators.

The manufacturers of broadcast equipment had already pitched automation of radio stations as a way to reduce labor costs, but now, they saw a growing market of newly separated FM stations that could benefit from radio automation. That's when the prospects of using radio station automation exploded on the scene. Manufactures like ATC (Gates, Harris/Gates), IGM, and other pioneers got in early even as far back as the late 1950s with simple automation systems with at least simple short-term sequential operations, but others came on board with more complex systems which could run for hours or days without much attention other than music reel changes and commercial cartridge reloads. More manufacturers entered into the radio automation market from names like SMC, ITC, Schafer, and Broadcast Electronics.

It's interesting to note that many of these manufacturers had roots right here in mid-Illinois. Several of these companies had operations in Quincy and Bloomington, Illinois. Note the addresses of the companies from the ads shown here.


Even the best automation system needed program material. Even though stations could actually program their own music, most didn't have the resources or material to bring a well-thought-out format to air, and a way to maintain and update the material. That's where the format syndicators come in. There would be quite a few of these companies each marketing their own brand of alternative music formats, pretty much based on the beautiful music genre.

Then, in the late 1960s, a company called Drake-Chenault formed by Top 40 DJ/programmer Bill Drake and broadcast owner Gene Chenault began to develop automated formats with a more contemporary sound. By the early 1970s, formats like “Hit Parade” which included more MOR standards with chosen contemporary songs that fit the tastes of those up to 50 years old came to be. Later “Solid Gold” was created to mix contemporary top 40 with more “oldies” from the late 1950s through the current day. It seems that every mid-market in the country had a “Solid Gold” FM station, along with some in central Illinois. WDBR in Springfield, WBNQ in Bloomington, and WTWO in Peoria are three examples.

Even a broadcast executive from Peoria, Ed Peters who had a history at WIRL/WSWT in Peoria became a production house for an automated beautiful music format, “Music Just for the Two of Us” and later a top 40 format “Love Rock.” Peters Productions was based in San Diego.


Below you'll see profiles of ones I remember and have found over the years of research. For many, the background information has been sparse, with the companies I profile having gone out of business many years ago. I have though, added information volunteered by former employees or executives of those companies, or just radio listener fans of those formats who have collected demo recordings of how they operate. I continue to welcome any and all information you might have to help document an almost-forgotten part of broadcast history.

The Schafer 1200 Radio Automation System
Let's go back to the late 1950s for this sales presentation of automated station operation to radio station owners. It was called "Sylvia" and could program a quarter-hour with options of repeating the quarter-hour format.  

Australia's 6KY Radio Automation Feature 1976
The station used the Schafer Radio Automation System that could automate a station for up to 3 days in advance. It used cart machines and TEAC reel-to-reel tape machines. It was used by 6KY, a Western Australian radio station in 1976.

Radio Automation Systems at Work

SMC was in fact the "Systems Marketing Corporation" of Bloomington, Illinois.  My experience with SMC was in the purchase of an automation system for use by WDNL in about 1991.  Even though it was based on the analog use of reel-to-reel tape players and the SMC carousel random select units, it also included some more modern technology.   The control box was connected via fiber-optic lines and in fact, the control unit was all digital.  I described it as a "Checker" cab....the use of a vehicle that looked like it came from the mid-1950s, with all of the modern amenities of the present.  When our crew visited the SMC plant in west Bloomington the company was toying with using a "CD juke-box" system in their systems.  Their main business was manufacturing change machines for car washes and other coin and bill-based businesses. 
Here are two ads both from 1973 with the SMC systems of the day. To see the one used by WDNL go to the History of WDNL.

(from Broadcasting magazine)

Check out the Systems Marketing Corporation (SMC) 1975 Catalog of Automated Radio equipment by clicking here.

See this Systems Marketing Corporation (SMC) catalog for the 80s, by clicking here.

WJBR 99.5FM Stereo
Beautiful Music Format 

This is a great example of one of the most popular radio formats of the 1960s and 70s. Unfortunately, it's virtually extinct today. The first radio station I was a part of had this format, and many stations that you may know today as adult contemporary, lite rock, etc, may have started this way. 

Across mid-Illinois, many AM radio stations were applying for FM licenses to broadcast on the new static-free set of frequencies. The times were changing and many broadcast owners were being told that sooner or later the FM band would be where most listeners would gravitate to over time. Plus, it created another revenue stream for the ownership with the airing of additional advertising during the entire broadcast day/night.

In the case of my first radio job at WTIM-FM in Taylorville, the AM station was a daytime-only station meaning that WTIM(AM) would sign off at what was designated as legal sunset. In July, it was 8:30 pm, but in December it was 4:30 pm. Many other AM stations could operate 24/7, but at reduced power at night after legal sunset, which limited the range of those local stations to less than 10 miles in many cases.

The live broadcasting of local high school football and basketball games was impossible with that kind of broadcast license. Meanwhile, all of the FM stations could operate 24/7.  So, AM stations applied for and received an FM license that would be used to broadcast local high school sports and even regional major league baseball games. 

The FM stations were required to broadcast a certain percentage of their broadcast day separate from their AM stations. So, to do so, with a minimum of cost, stations would use automated systems to broadcast an easy listening format, much different that anything broadcast on their AM stations. It was a bit of "snob appeal" to attract those listeners who wanted everything from classical music, and traditional jazz to easy-listening instrumentals. 


Beautiful Music was such a format, with music produced by professional musicians and orchestra leaders expressly for use by broadcasters (meaning not available on LP for the average consumer), mixed with songs from a few of the popular instrumental artists of the era. There were many popular songs rearranged and produced for use in the format. 

In many major radio markets, the beautiful music format would end up as one of the highest-rated stations in the market. Stations were mostly music, with very limited commercial content, no personalities, and no clutter. Most commercials were low-key with copy read by a single announcer, and no music or jingles so as not to contrast with the overall mood of the music. 

If you ever stumble across a beautiful music-formatted radio station, probably it'll be from a streaming service like AccuRadio or "Escape" on SiriusXM. The number of such full-time broadcast radio stations that are still programming beautiful music you can probably count on one hand.


If you listen, though, for an extended time, you'll hear many instrumental versions of pop songs from the late 1960s through 1980 when the format dried up, and very little new material was produced after the format was discontinued.

Across central Illinois, beautiful music stations included: WVEM-FM, 100.9FM Springfield; WSWT-FM, 106.9FM Peoria; WDWS-FM; 97.5FM Champaign; WLRW 94.5FM; WSOY-FM 101.9 FM Decatur; WTIM-FM 92.7FM Taylorville. There were probably more, drop me a comment if you know of any others in the area.

This video contains an excellent example of the music of the format, taken from WJBR, 99.5FM Wilmington, Deleware.  Try as I have to find any local postings of airchecks from beautiful music stations from mid-Illinois, I haven't located any.


If by chance you have one, perhaps on a reel to reel, or cassette, let me know, and I can digitize it for you to CD or simply as an mp3 file. I'll then return your original recording back to you, with the new file/recording.

Analog Automated Radio Program Suppliers 

Drake-Chenault Enterprises

There were a number of stations during the ’70s and 80’s which were using the Drake-Chenault formats, including  the AC “Hit Parade”(later called “Contempo 300”) the Gold/Current Mix “Solid Gold”(later called Contempo 200”), the CHR “XT-40”, the Country “Great American Country”, the Oldies “Classic Gold”, the AOR XT-100.” 


As far as I can remember here is a grouping of stations in Central Illinois and a few from surrounding areas using each of the Drake formats. Not many of them continued with Drake-Chenault formats past the early to mid-1980s, having changed to live programming or to satellite networks.


Drake-Chenault was sold to Wagontrain Enterprises in 1986 and the operation was moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  In 1989  it was purchased by Jones Radio Networks 1990 and moved to Denver. 


It operates today as part of the Jones Radio Network which along with other music services, formats an array of radio station formats via satellite which is broadcast by stations across the country, under the guise of being a local station.

Above left is a picture of a typical Drake-Chenault furnished 10-inch reel, which probably contained current selections.  It was not unusual to have a partially filled reel of tape which could have held as few as 6 songs, or as many as 15.  The planned rotation of current music was very tightly controlled by Drake, although it was up to the individual station to maintain the format.  This particular reel was from the "Solid Gold" format, which would feature current selections, although the main theme of the format was oldies from the '50s, '60s and '70s. 

Drake-Chenault was based from 8399 Topanga Canyon Road, Canoga Park, CA 92304.  Their phone number was (213) 883-7400.  Sales material from them stated their "formats are designed to be run on standard automation equipment readily available from several manufacturers.  A basic system sufficient to run the complete formats, 24-hours a day, can be purchased for as little as $18,000 or leased for as little as $425 a month."

Drake-Chenault explanation

with Hank Landsberg
He discusses how the legendary Drake-Chenault company put together multiple popular formats of pre-recorded music as broadcasters moved to automation for programming their FM stations.

Drake-Chenault's "Hit Parade" 

later called "Contempo 300"  "bright contemporary easy listening/MOR for today's 18-49-year-old" on 50 AM and FM stations
voiced by Charlie Van Dyke and Jim Carson

WLRW-Champaign(early 70's)
WHTT-Quad Cities(late 70's)

WDAN-Danville, IL(1978-79)

Drake-Chenault's "XT-40"
"proven Bill Drake approach to top-40, a fast-paced contemporary-a winner on either AM or FM the clean uncluttered sound of today!"
voiced by John Leader, Billy Mitchell

WBNQ-Bloomington(mid-late 70's)
KGRS-Burlington, Iowa(mid-late 70's)

Drake-Chenault's "Classic Gold"

"the greatest hits of all time...all the time!  Flexible, evolving... Classic Gold covers the years 1955 to 1972 in phases, linked to your market needs!"

WFYR-Chicago(early 70's)
WLBC-Muncie, Indiana(mid 70's)

Drake-Chenault's "Solid Gold"

later called "Contempo 200" "best of the oldies along with today's top contemporary hits, selected by Bill Drake and his programming staff.  It's a heavy gold modified top 40 formats which zeros in on the crucial 18-34 demographic" voiced by John Leader, Billy Mitchell

WLRW-Champaign(mid 70's)
WBNQ-Bloomington(mid to late 70's)
WWTO-Peoria(early-mid 70's)

Drake-Chenault's "Great American Country" 

"the best country music ever recorded appealing to the 25-49-year-old." voiced by Bob Kingsley

WIL-FM-St. Louis(mid 70's)

WDAN-Danville, IL(1979-83)

Drake-Chenault's "Super Soul"
"The Drake-Chenault format for Urban Contemporary listeners"

Drake-Chenault also produced the long-form program "The History of Rock and Roll."  The special was a 52-hour program narrated by Bill Drake and researched, written, and co-produced(with Bill Drake) by Gary Theroux.  I heard from Gary, who told of his experiences at Drake-Chenault.  He explained that "The History of Rock and Roll" debuted on more than 400 stations in the U.S. and over 400 stations overseas and won Billboard's "Top Special Program of the Year" award.  He also explained how the 52-hour program was broken down into "modules, each designed to focus on and spotlight a particular genre, or in some cases, a key artist in rock history."  The "modules were presented, more or less chronologically, starting in the early ' the 50s(prior to "Rock Around the Clock") and running through to what was current in the year the program was produced: 1978."  Gary also designed each hour of the show to stand on its own which would allow stations to strip the show throughout the week, and use any number of hours each day.  Gary went on to describe the show as taking the approach of a "reporter" not a critic and tried to have the individual artists tell their story as much as possible, using the narrator Bill Drake to tie each story or item together.  It was Gary who did choose to end the series with the Number One montage of all of the number one hits of the rock era.  

Gary also told of the situation of his leaving the company, not by his choice, but by the choice of a former GM of Drake-Chenault.  Gary's leaving the company angered Bill Drake and Drake made a move to bring Gary back into the fold.  By then, though, Gary accepted an offer to teach music and entertainment history at UCLA.   He later co-hosted a long-running Saturday night oldies radio show in New York and was Music and Entertainment Editor for Reader's Digest, where he created over 300 multi-box sets of music featuring nearly every style and era of 20th Century music.  He's also the author of "The Top Ten" which tells the story of each of the top 10 biggest hits of each year.

I remember "The History of Rock and Roll" as being a holiday tradition at WDNL when I was there in the early years.  The show debuted on Memorial Day Weekend in 1978 on D-102 where it was an instant hit.  I remember one advertising client whom I tried to persuade to advertise on the show, has turned me down, was upset that I didn't persuade him more.  The next time we ran the show....on Labor Day weekend in 1978, he was the first to sign up for sponsorship!

I also remember the "Silver Anniversary" edition of the 52-hour special, which was released in the early 1980s.  I felt at the time the show was not of the quality of the original presentation of 1978.  Gary Theroux explained that a new staff came in and "hacked the hell out of" the original show, adding elements featuring then-current artists even though they had no historical significance or should not have been included because they didn't fit the genre as rock artists.  For example, producing a full hour on the "legendary rocker, Dionne Warwick."  Gary goes on to explain that Ms. Warwick was a pop balladeer, and one of the all-time best, but didn't warrant being included in the program.  The new version also cut the history of the 1950's down to just one hour of the 52-hour series!

Reel Radio also features a demo of "Solid Gold Rock and Roll" an all-oldies format from 1970.  It appears to be the second format after "Hit Parade" developed for automation by Drake-Chenault.  It contains many of the same types of elements of the later formats, but the style of voice-overs for the music was considerably different from later examples.  The jingles read, "Solid Gold-Rock and Roll."   This was probably replaced by "Classic Gold" and "Solid Gold" evolved into a mix of oldies and currents.  Many, if not all of the jingles from the early period were produced by the  Johnny Mann Singers.   You'll still hear the style of many of the Johnny Mann Singer's jingles on many oldie stations today.

It appears that, and it has been confirmed by contributors, that Drake-Chenault ownership and management failed to ride the changing tide of technology and re-direct the format services from being a reel to reel format supplier to that of being a satellite format programming supplier, of which there are several operating today.  What was left of the original company's assets were ultimately absorbed by the Jones Radio Networks.


It's unknown if the original "History of Rock and Roll" would be available today.....but I would suggest perhaps a CD set???

To hear an aircheck of "Solid Gold" go to the CHR History page and look under WWTO and WBNQ.

Drake-Chenault's "THE GOLDEN YEARS"

hosted by Robert W. Morgan. This demo was "lost" for a special music/history radio program that would highlight an individual year is unearthed for you to check out.  This sample demo includes a segment from the year 1965.....

Drake Chenault From the Inside   Here's a wealth of information about "how they did it!" as described by the Director of Engineering at Drake Chenault from 1974 to 1988.  Henry "Hank" Landsburg's narrative of the technical aspect of supplying over 300 radio stations with formats is featured on this site.  There's more to be added including pictures and audio, so check back often for updates!!!  Be sure and return here!

It was great to get more information by e-mail from Denny Adkins, who was the "original"  PD of WBNQ when it went with the "Olde Golde"(from Draper-Blore) format in August of 1972 and left to work for Drake Chenault in 1976.  He was President of Drake-Chenault when he left the syndication company in 1987.

thanks to

Denny Adkins, former PD of WBNQ in Bloomington, Illinois, and a former President of Drake-Chenault for his contribution!!
Tim Brown from KGRS in Burlington, Iowa, former D-C station for his contribution.
Jon Rohrer for his contribution to more D-C demos from the 1970s!
Gary Theroux for his contribution to "The History of Rock and Roll"!!
Cliff Rogers for his contribution of music reels from Drake Chenault's "Solid Gold!"
George Nicholas for details on Billy Moore's voiceovers of the XT-40 format.

Many thanks to Hank Landsberg, former Director of Engineering at Drake-Chenault Enterprises, Inc. 1974-1988 for sharing his incredible experiences!

Here are some links I have found about the Drake-Chenault Enterprise

Hank Landsberg filed a story for Radio World Magazine about the recording process that allowed the company to produce around 1,000 tapes each week for subscribing radio stations!  Click here to go to the Hank Landsberg story.

Radio World also published a story about analog automated radio in 2022 by Tom Vernon. Click here for the Tom Vernon story.

Here is the story of the life and work of Bill Drake. Click here for the obit/story.

Here is the story of the life and work of Gene Chenault. Click here for the obit/story.

Bill Drake, KHJ, and "The History of Rock and Roll" story, click here.

Drake Chenault

Peters Productions

The San Diego-based Peters Production’s formats included the CHR format, “The Love Rock” and the beautiful music format “Music Just for the Two of Us.”  Below is a demo for "Love Rock".  "Love Rock" was very similar to Drake-Chenault in sound....basically formatted reel to reels with announcer intros and outros, jingles, position statements, id's, buffers and etc..  I can only assume that the methodology was very similar to that of Drake-Chenault with dead rolls, "EOM" placement, and formatics.  "Music Just for the Two of Us" was a beautiful music format with voiced buffers, no song identification was done.  

Peters Productions "Love Rock"

The fictional call letters of KPPI were used in the demo, standing for Peters Productions Inc. This automated music service included the top hits of the day mixed with recurrents and oldies, great production elements with local elements. 

WSOY-FM Decatur, IL(early 1980's)

Peters Productions "Music Just for the Two of Us"
This was a beautiful music automated format which included a selection of instrumental and select easy-listening vocals.

WSOY-FM Decatur(1970's)
WSWT-FM Peoria(1970's)
WMDH-FM Muncie, IN(1970's)

thanks to

Jon Roher for the "Love Rock" demo
Dave Bickford for the "Music Just for the Two of Us" demo

Peters Productions

TM Productions

According to Scott Davis, whose father was a jock with WGY(AM) in Schenectady, New York, he discovered the format as it was on the station's FM sister station WGFM.   He says, "As a music lover, it was great to be able to listen to ALL parts of a song uninterrupted, including the intro."  He goes on the describe the format as containing 15-minute segments of music consisting of 2 currents, one oldie, and 1 recurrent.   The first stations using the "Stereo Rock" format included KXXY, Oklahoma City, and WMAQ-FM, Chicago.  Others included WFBQ, Indianapolis, WSAI-FM, Cincinnati.

The format was conceived for TM Programming by George Burns, of Burns Media Consultants as an "adult alternative" to screaming DJs, teenage contests, bubblegum music, etc..   The style of the format was one that was more in the "FM tradition" style of presentation, as opposed to the "AM style" of Drake-Chenault and other syndicators.  The "voiceovers" were done by long-time Dallas area DJ, John Borders.   At its peak, TM had this format in over 100 markets.

Some of the jingles used were from the TM SR-1, SR-2, and SR-3 series from the mid-'70s.   According to Scott, there were different series of tapes, that would change or flavor the format to be more album-oriented.  The album-oriented tapes would include back announcements with mention of the album the cut was from.

In the 1980s TM Productions merged with Century 21 Programming to form TM-Century.  For a look at TM-Century Productions now visit

thanks to Scott Davis, A TM Productions radio format expert for his contribution!

TM "Beautiful Rock" 

This automated contemporary music format included a complete package of music, production elements, and jingles allowing for the use of local elements. This format used a beautiful music style of presentation with complete fadeouts of songs, periods of silence between songs, and other program elements, and was very low-key.  The music featured was from the original pop artists instead of using instrumental versions of the hits by cover artists.

TM "Stereo Rock" 

This automated contemporary music format included a complete package of music, production elements, and jingles allowing for the use of local elements.  This was a much lower energy presentation of contemporary music, a more adult approach, and very much unlike what was heard on many AM Top 40 stations at the time.

WHBF-FM, Moline, IL(mid-1970's)
WMBD-FM, Peoria, IL(mid-1970's)
WFBQ-FM, Indianapolis, IN(mid-1970's)

radio automation_format_TM stereo rock.j
radio automation_format_TM Disco

TM Stereo Rock ad from 1979 and New TM Pure Disco Format ads from 1979. Click on each to see larger picture. (Broadcast Magazine)

thanks to

Jon Roher of WeB Video for his TM "Stereo Rock" demo.

Scott Davis, A TM Productions radio format expert for his contribution!


TM Productions

More Music Programming

Facts about More Music Programming are difficult to find.  The only information I have comes from around 1975 with a demo of a recording of an automated format called "The Performers" which featured a "live like" sound with four different announcers used each day.   Each jock would have a shift at your station which would run 6-10 am, 10 am-3 pm, 3-7 pm, and 7 pm to midnight.  It was called a "progressive MOR" format and featured contemporary easy listening songs from the 1960s and '70s.  It would be comparable to the "light rock" format of today.

The format seemed to be similar to TM's Stereo Rock, in that, the current music selections would be grouped in pairs and voice tracked right on the reels.  There seemed to be more than one way to announce the current two-song sets, some were announced during the segue, others would drop in a custom station ID slogan line, but each set would end with a back announcement of the two songs.  Each announcer would have him (no hers at the time, it was 1975), set of reels, probably day-parted as to time slot.  Oldies were back announced and would lead into spot sets.  Each jock also did a series of local PSA's which were inserted into spot sets, and custom weather intros, which would lead to local announcers with the weather, news, or whatever local programming elements programmed.  There were also customized drops with station IDs for music segues. 

It was really not a bad-sounding format and sounded somewhat "live" although it would have been impossible to react to any local issue which would have come along that would have been normally mentioned with a real live announcer.  Local issues like bad weather, local news events, etc. would have been totally ignored by the on-air announcer.

I'm not familiar with any station using the format within central Illinois, or at least within my listening area.  The station on the demo was KASK. 

Another format offered by More Music Productions was called "The Great Hits" and was a more contemporary format, similar to what Drake-Chenault was offering with "XT-40" or "Solid Gold."  The voice-overs seemed more energetic and less robotic than the Drake-Chenault formats.  Once again, I'm not familiar with any local central Illinois stations airing the format.  The station used on the demo was KIOQ in Bishop, California.

More Music Productions also syndicated along with a long-form program called "The Chronology of American Music" and was a direct competitor to Drake-Chenault History of Rock and Roll.  This long-form program also included a musical montage that included a segment of every number one song from 1955 to the present, which was then 1972.  The demo was distributed on a 7" single which would have been played at 33 1/3 rpm.   An actual demo was contributed by Randy and Michelle Middleton to and the audio is available above.  The audio includes typical record noise of pops and clicks which we no longer experience with digital audio....ah the good ole days.

If anyone has any information on these formats or any others offered by More Music Programming, I would like to include it here.  Please e-mail me.

thanks to Randy and Michelle Middleton for the More Music Production demo for "The Chronology of American Hits"

More Music Programming, "The Chronology of American Music"
This long-form program traced the history of contemporary music from the mid-1950's to today(which was 1972). 

More Music Programming, "The Chronology of American Music"
This is a much-shortened version of the mid-1950s to 1972 montage of all of the number one hits throughout the era.

thanks to

Randy and Michelle Middleton for the More Music Production demo for "The Chronology of American Hits"

More Music Programming

Century 21 Programming

To see a Century 21 Sales Brochure from 1980 along with a complete description of each of the Century 21 formats click here.

Thanks to World Radio History

for the link to the

Century 21 brochure above.

Century 21 Programming, was located in Dallas, Texas, and was a producer of radio station jingles, commercial jingles, and eventually automated radio formats.  Sometime in the 1980's Century, 21 Programming merged with TM Productions to form TM-Century Productions.  They continue to offer radio station imagery packages, as well as commercial jingles.  For a look at TM-Century Productions now visit

More information was received about the automated formats offered by Century 21 Programming and Productions from Chip Douglas Mosley.  He was an employee during the 1970s for about a year and tells that Dave Scott Blythe was the Operations Director of the company at the time.  Chip supervised the country and "E-Z" formats as well as tape mastering and duplication processes.

The "Z-Format" was created by Dave Scott and Mike Rice for KFMZ in Colombia, Missouri after Mike had a falling out with Drake-Chenault.  (I assume that Mike was a former employee of the D-C??).  Chip worked at KFMZ, and later at KIRL in St. Louis, then at Century 21 in Dallas.

If anyone has any more information about the company...the format....or any Illinois/Indiana radio stations which programmed any of their formats....please e-mail me.

Century 21 offered several formats, including "The Z Format" which was a relatively "soft" album format.  It included songs from Seals and Crofts, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Yes, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Steely Dan.  Pictured above is what Century 21 would feature on the cover of each reel of tape, inside a music list with information about each song, time, intro(for live formats and talk over), licensing information for BMI/ASCAP reports, etc.  It also included recording information for quality control.  The reels were coded and numbered and scheduled for format control.  Many times, reels from other formats would be intermixed with others in order to daypart the station as to available audience at certain times of day.

thanks to

Jon Roher of We B Video for his Century 21 "Z Format" demo.

Chip Douglas Mosley for his information about Century 21!!
Cliff Rogers for his contribution of music reels from Century 21's "Z Format" and "AC" format.

World Radio History website

Broadcasting Magazine

Century 21 Programming "Z-Format"
The Z-Format was an automated contemporary format that included the top hits of the era, mixed with recurrents and oldies.  The format included production elements as well as jingles.


Century 21

Radio Arts

Radio Arts was yet another of the radio syndicators which supplied various formats and programs to radio stations.  The company produced the formats: "American Rock," "Sound 10," "Bright and Easy Country," "Encore" and "The Entertainers."  Radio Arts also produced several weekend features including "Your Hit Parade" which starred Andre Baruch(the original announcer for "Your Hit Parade") and Bea Wain(Andre's wife and former Big-Band era singer) and "The Polka Parade."  Former client services employee of Radio Arts, Chris Edwards worked there for around a year and said it was a treat to have them in the studio for their taping sessions every few days, how much history they both represented in the music business and they were "both the nicest people you could imagine."


Chris Edwards also described the radio formats produced by Radio Arts.  "American Rock" included a 2-thousand cut library, "Sound 10" was the adult contemporary format, "Encore" was similar to the "Music of Your Life" format with MOR standards,  and "The Entertainers" contained several variations which could range from MOR standards to a MOR/soft rock format."  The voice of "The Entertainers" was Ron Russ who was also working at KBIG.  Brian Bierne was the voice of "American Rock" while working at KRTH, Jerry Bishop of KFI/KGIL was the voice of "Sound 10" and Dick Sinclair who also hosted the "Polka Parade" Show was the voice of "The Bright and Easy Country" format.  The company also offered unannounced versions of their music reels but also offered custom promos, time announcements, and other custom production elements for their clients.

The studios were located in Burbank, California at the end of the southbound Pass Avenue off-ramp on the 134 Freeway.   Chris admits the company joke about some drunk failing to break and wind up as part of the furniture in Studio B. 

It's unknown how many stations the company serviced or for how long during the era, or what happened to the company.  As far as I know, there were no central Illinois format clients, although local Danville, Illinois  AM station WITY ran the "Your Hit Parade" program during the 1980s.

thanks to Chris Edwards, Client Services of Radio Arts for his information about the company!!

thanks to

Jon Roher of We B Video for his Radio Arts "American Rock" demo.

Chris Edwards, Client Services of Radio Arts for his information about the company!!

Radio Arts-"American Rock"
this was another syndicator getting into the business, but delivering a less than a first class product.  This is a partially scoped version of the original demo.

Radio Arts

BPI-Broadcast Programming International

radio automation_format_BPI.jpg

BPI was the successor of IGM's "International Good Music."  IGM sold the equipment and the formats to BPI.  See History of WTIM-in particular WTIM-FM for more on the IGM formats and how it operated.  IGM was known for "Concie's Carousel" and "Music with McMaster."

Very little else is known about this company. Pictured is a demo produced by the company called "Classic Rock" but it just contained snippets of a few older Top 40 selections and a few which weren't hits.  The sample did not present a "format" demo.

At left is an ad from Broadcasting Magazine from 1979 promoting the various formats that were then available through BPI. Click on the ad for a larger view.

The address was listed as:
Broadcast Progamming International, Inc.
PO Box 2027
Bellevue, Washington 98009
(206) 454-5010 Toll-Free 1-800-426-9082

thanks to Fred Cantu  for additional information

BPI Broadcast

Draper-Blore Radio

Chuck Blore, was a former radio programmer from the L.A. area and was part of the development of live and automated radio formats.  Other than that, I've been unable to find any other information about this one-time popular radio format company.  This format was under consideration at WDBR in Springfield, but the kick-off automated format ultimately became Drake-Chenault.

This wasn't the case with WDZ and WBNQ.  Both central Illinois stations utilized the "Olde Golde" format for a time.   It's unknown when WBNQ began its experience with contemporary music automated formats, even though even then it was an "oldie" format.   WDZ began around 1970 airing "Olde Golde."   I was totally new to automated radio at the time, and even though it got my attention with its "canned" sound, the music selection that was on WDZ included quite a few 50's songs that were unfamiliar to me. 


I liked the consistent, jock-less sound of the formatics and the custom jingles, as I had never heard anything like it before.  The format was later replaced by one of local origination which ultimately was better than any automated format in central Illinois for quite a few years.  Check out details on WDZ section of  Area CHR Stations.

WBNQ, on the other hand, left Draper-Blore in either 1973 or early 1974 and went with Drake-Chenault.  Former WBNQ P.D. Denny Adkins, years later, said the format change was made because of quality issues and problems in getting programming updates on time.  When and where Draper-Blore appeared and disappeared is unknown.  If anyone knows anything about this once prominent radio programming company please e-mail me.

Draper-Blore Radio "Olde Golde" and others

WBNQ-Bloomington(early-mid 1970's)
WDZ-Decatur, IL(early 1970's)

Thanks to: John Fortmeyer

Draper-Blore Radi

FM 100

radio automation_format_FM100_1979.jpg

The FM 100 Plan to program beautiful music. Click on the picture to enlarge it.  This company was not listed in the 

1975 list of syndicators below.

(Broadcast Magazine)


Kala Music

radio automation_format_Kala Music 1979.

Kala Music from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Click on picture to enlarge. 

(Broadcast Magazine)

Bonneville Music

Thanks to World Radio History

for the link to the

Bonneville brochure here.


      World Radio History website

      Broadcasting Magazine

Automated Format Providers
List of Automated Syndicated Program Providers-
from "Billboard Magazine" February 22, 1975

Bonneville Broadcast Consultants
PO Box 640
274 Country Road
Tenafly, NJ 07670
    Martin Taylor President


Broadcast Programming International
Pacific National Bank Bldg.
Bellevue, WA 98004
    Kemper Freeman, Jr. President
    Hugh Feltis, Station Relations
    Cal Vandegrift, GM
    BPI is an outgrowth of International Bood Music, founded in the 1960s


Burns Media Consultants, Inc.
3054 Dona Marta Drive
Studio City, CA 91604
    Creates the "Stereo Rock" syndication package sold by TM Programming, syndication of "The History of British Rock," "Those Golden Times."


CaVox Stereo Productions
502 S. Isis
Inglewood, CA 90301
    Lee Tate, Executive Director
    Bob Mayfield, National Sales
syndicator of 6 different versions of a MOR music programming service, trending toward beautifull music.

Century 21 Productions
7263 Envoy Court
Dallas, TX 75247
217 638-3222
    Mike Eisier, President
    Dick Starr, OM
syndicator of jingles, radio programs and is branching out into music services and production libraries


Creative Programming Services
7925 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90046
    Harve Miller and Bill Wade
programming services for automated stations including "Country Love" and packages to come for MOR, soul, and oldie formats each to be used to augment live programming, using 3-reel systems.


Drake-Chenault Enterprises, Inc.
8399 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Canoga Park, CA 91304
213 883-7400
    Bill Drake and Gene Chenault owners
    Bert Kleinman GM
    Lee Bayley programming
syndicates 6 full-time programming services, "Hit Parade" "Great American Country" "Supersoul" and "Solid Gold." Also the radio documentary "The History of Rock and Roll"


Industrial State Bank Bldg.
Suite 334
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
    Steve Trivers President
beautiful music programming service


More Music Enterprises
5315 Laurel Canon Blvd, Suite 200
North Hollywood, CA 91607
213 985-3300
    Ron Lewis GM
    Jay Stevens, President
Syndicates "The Great Hits" for MOR stations and another for Top 40 stations also a radio documentary "A Chronology of American Music."


Peters Productions
8228 Mercury Court
San Diego, CA 92111
    Ed Peters, President
Syndicates "The Great Ones" a MOR programming service produced by Mike Button; "Country Lovin" produced by Mike Larson; "The Loving Rock" produced by Dave Conley and"Music for the Two of Us" 70 stations total


75 Castilian Drive
Goleta, CA 93107

syndicates programming service "Touch of Velvet"

Stereo Radio Productions
36 E. 61st Street
New York, NY 10021
    Jim Schulke, President
    Phil Stout, Producer
produces and syndicates the most successful beautiful music programming service


TM Programming Inc.
1349 Regal Row
Dallas, TX 75247
    Tom Merriman, President
    Jim Long, CEO
    Ron Nickell, VP Sales
syndicates two versions of a beautiful music format and "Stereo Rock" a Top 40 package produced by George Burns


United Tapes of America
Box 1193
Grand Junction, CO 81501
    Steve Schmidt, President
custom produces radio programming for radio stations. formats include contemporary, MOR, country and beautiful music


Universal Media, Inc.
International Bldg
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
    Mike Alger, President
syndicates "The History of Country Music"

WIDQ Story

Analog Radio Automation with Todd Edwards
A former DJ with a love of Analog Radio Automation has become a collector of "antique" equipment.  This includes the use of audio cartridges for music commercials and program elements and reel-to-reel tape for music.

Here is my friend, Todd Edward's YouTube Channel which includes videos of his equipment and his broadcast experiences.  

Like and Subscribe to Todd's YouTube Channels at

WIDQ Channel 1.1. logo horizontal layout-small.png
How and Why, the Story

This is not a real radio station, at least not yet. Above are airchecks of an "at home" radio station I created with some free automation software, my extensive music collection, and my experience of working with automated radio from 1974-2002.


I used a 13-year-old laptop I had rebuilt with a new SSD and a new WIN 10 installation. One reason I did this, is that I have no radio station available to which I would listen since I'm well out of the recognized 18 to 49 adult demographic. “Oldies” are now from the 80s and 90s. I have no connection with those decades, despite the fact I was a DJ at WDNL throughout most of that period and played those hits.


I used the call letters of WIDQ because no one else is using them, and it includes an “I” for Illinois and my initials. Somewhat self-serving but it's my station!


That 13-year-old laptop was operating like new, so I thought I'd try it as an automated radio station. I always liked the way Drake-Chenault automated formats worked, but I wanted to add at least a minimal amount of "personality" to it, so that's what I tried to do. I designed a format that would play the ID at the top of the hour, with 2 spot sets(I sold radio and don't mind commercials as long as we're talking 1 min spot sets, not 10 minutes a set).


The music is from the mid-60s through the 70s, with a few 1980 selections by original 70s artists, if it fits in with the format. There are just over 840 songs available for airplay. There are basically 4 music categories, called 6, 7, 8, and 9.  That is actually an homage to WDBR and WDNL which used the same source numbering system.


Some music genres not within this format are any of the many novelty songs from that era, no bubblegum (Archies, Osmonds, and no “Streaking” or “Disco Duck”, etc.), no heavy disco (other than just a few mass appeal songs from the era that could be considered disco), no extreme hard rock (although I have included a few of early KISS, Journey, Aerosmith songs). There are though, a few album cuts from well-known artists that work within the “sound” of the station. Overall it's mostly a “mellow” rock format with an emphasis on “Rock.”


The 7 and 8's are the format-defining songs from the superstars of the era. The “Superstars” include the Beatles, Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Steely Dan, Carole King, America, Carly Simon, the Bee Gees, Elton John, etc.. The only difference is that the 7s have a minimum of a 7-second intro. Many of the 8's could also be 7s but are 0-starts. 6's are a mix of mostly lesser significant 70s with a few more significant songs from the 60s and a few from the early 80s(less than a dozen). The 6s have a longer rotation period than the 7 and 8s. The 9s are generally all 1960s, with a few low-rotation songs from the 70s, and also includes a number of 0-starts. That category has an even longer rotation period. I've announced the song titles and artists similarly to how the Drake formats did it. Only the 8s are announced entirely, but a few 6s and 9s are also titled, mostly at the end of the song, while the 6s are announced mostly over the intro of the song, with just a few at the outro.


There are basically four blocks of formats used, with time corrects similar to how the Drake-Chenault system worked. That puts events like the top-of-the-hour ID, or commercial spot sets within a couple of minutes of where you should want it. That also gives two music blocks an hour of 25-30 minutes per hour. I program some gratis commercials within the format, two 60-minute commercial sets with the commercials coming from various national and regional streaming services.


Two things could become of this project. One, I could stream it from this website, but the cost for me to do that with music licensing is prohibitive without a couple of sponsors. From what I can determine, the cost for music would be in the neighborhood of $100-150 a month. The second idea would be for a station to pick this up for use on their main channel, or a secondary HD sub-channel. Obviously, the call letters would be changed, and the jingles replaced with either pre-produced sweepers or other jingles. If you would be interested in sponsoring the format being streamed, drop me an e-mail using the form at the bottom of the main page. Meanwhile, it will exist as a pleasure to me (and to my daughters who thanks to me like 70s songs)

Comments are welcome from the form at the bottom of my main page...

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