Dick Summer reveals the REAL father of classic rock radio inBoston

Doug Drown revdoug1@verizon.net
Tue Aug 1 09:42:40 EDT 2006

When I was a teen in the '60s, WTRY was a very well-run Top 40 station,
owned at the time by Kops-Monahan Communications, which also owned [the
similarly well-run] WAVZ in New Haven.  (Mr. Monahan was the brother of my
6th-grade teacher, so I knew all about this stuff.)  WTRY operated basically
as an indie; it had a curious, rather nominal affiliation with Mutual,
running, at certain times of the day, the first couple of minutes of
Mutual's half-hourly newscast and then completing it with local and regional

WTRY's big competitor in those days was, of course, WPTR.  I never did know
which station topped the ratings.  Does anyone have that info.?

WPTR became the Capital District's ABC affiliate in the mid-'50s, as you
attest, but by the time I started listening to Top 40 it was independent.
WOKO had left Mutual and had gone to ABC.  WPTR rejoined ABC --- American
Contemporary Radio, more properly --- around 1968 when the old network was
split into thirds.

Does anyone know what became of Paul Flanagan?  That's a name I hadn't heard
in years.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dan Strassberg" <dan.strassberg@att.net>
To: "A. Joseph Ross" <joe@attorneyross.com>; "Rick Kelly"
Cc: "boston Radio Interest" <boston-radio-interest@rolinin.bostonradio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2006 7:17 AM
Subject: Re: Dick Summer reveals the REAL father of classic rock radio

> What triggered the affiliation shift was WTRY being sold to a group from
> Providence RI headed by a guy named Mowry Lowe. I believe the price was
> $800,000, which sounds like a little bit today, but by the standards of
> than 50 years ago, was a high price--justified by the station's high
> billings. I think Lowe and his partners owned WEAN 790 (now WSKO) in
> Providence and they had had considerable success with it as a
> locally-programmed music-and-news (MOR) station modeled on New York City's
> WNEW. Lowe's timing was excellent because TV was making the entertainment
> fare--but not the news--offered by the four major radio networks (ABC,
> Mutual, and NBC) increasingly irrelevant. Despite their lack of network
> news, locally programmed stations were starting to do very well compared
> with the network affiliaites.
> Anyhow, WTRY, as a CBS affiliate, had had several local programs that were
> top-rated in the market. One was Paul Flanagan's Tri-City Ballroom, a
> call-in request show (no calls on air) heard Saturday nights from 10:00 PM
> to 1:00 AM. The program was noted for jamming the New York Telephone Co's
> local switchboards with calls from teens trying to vote for their favorite
> record of the week. The 1954 advent of rock-n-roll as the major
> recorded-music genre only increased the show's popularity. WTRY also had
> another local legend, Roy Schutt's First-Prize Musical Clock, which aired
> Monday-thru-Friday mornings from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM (right before Arthur
> Godfrey, as long as WTRY was affiliated with CBS). This show, sponsored by
> local meat packer (First Prize bologna and hot dogs) seemed to appeal to
> grandparents of Flanagan's audience. Grandma and Grandpa would call (not
> air) to have Schutt announce their grandkids' birthdays. Rumor had it that
> most school-bus drivers in the market would play the show on the bus
> so the kids could hear the announcements.
> When WTRY switched from CBS to MOR, Flanagan was already a local legend.
> switch gave him more airtime (a weekday PM-drive show) and only heightened
> his popularity. Schutt, who already had obscenely high ratings (IIRC, more
> than a 40 share), continued to draw those ratings even though he was about
> as cornball and un-hip as one could imagine.
> WTRY had a very savvy and quite hip PD, Randy English, whose personal
> was, obviously, not reflected in most of what the station broadcast but he
> was really tuned in to what the market wanted and knew how to deliver it.
> I'm sure that English must have regarded the departure of CBS and the
> consequent addition of something like 10 hours a day of local programming
> a golden opportunity. The Providence folks brought with them their local
> star, a DJ named Ernie Anderson, who did mid mornings. I thought he was
> horrendous, but his ratings on WTRY were great too. And besides the
> top-40 show, Flanagan added a nightly (7:00 PM to 8:00 PM, IIRC) EZ show
> called Lemonade Concert (the theme song was David Rose's Seranade to a
> Lemonade), which also garnered good ratings and kept a lot of the radio
> listeners tuned in for an extra hour before they switched off their radios
> and turned on their TVs.
> Back in the mid-50s, most people regarded the decline of the daytime radio
> soap operas and the departure to TV of headlined nighttime fare, such as
> Fred Allen, Jack Benny, and Gunsmoke, as signs of the end of radio's
> Age. In fact, though, those events marked the beginning of a second Golden
> Age, denoted by the pre-eminence of local MOR and Top-40. Among stations
> mid-sized markets, WTRY was fortunate to be a shining star of both of
> Golden Ages.
> --
> Dan Strassberg, dan.strassberg@att.net
> eFax 707-215-6367
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "A. Joseph Ross" <joe@attorneyross.com>
> To: "Rick Kelly" <rickkelly@gmail.com>
> Cc: "boston Radio Interest"
> Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 11:00 PM
> Subject: Re: Dick Summer reveals the REAL father of classic rock radio
> inBoston
> >
> > Sometime around 1955, or maybe 1956, there was a major shift of radio
> > network affiliations in the Albany area.  CBS went from WTRY to WROW,
> > leaving WTRY without a network affiliation.  ABC went from WROW to
> > WPTR.  And Mutual went from WPTR to WOKO.  The only network that
> > stayed put was NBC on WGY.
> >
> > > Paul Flanagan was a painfully shy guy, I tried unsuccessfully (by
> > > annoying the hell out of him with constant phone calls)to mentor me
> > > but he just wouldnt.
> >
> > I remember Paul Flanagan on WTRY, and then he moved to WPTR sometime
> > in 1956, I think.
> >
> > --
> > A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
> >  15 Court Square, Suite 210                 Fax 617.742.7581
> > Boston, MA 02108-2503                    http://www.attorneyross.com
> >
> >

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