The WMMS Solid Gold Sunday
One of our pet weekend programming specials was the WMMS Solid Gold Sunday. We’d break format to play eleven straight hours of the sixties and early seventies hits first heard on AM top 40 radio. It was a risky endeavor since radio programming rulebooks cautioned stations against altering format. But we were never good at rules – unless we could break them, which we did quite often.
We knew a large percentage of our audience grew up with top 40 radio and the music played on that format influenced nearly all of the artists we played in our regular album rock format. Though we did play a large number of compatible top 40 hits from the sixties and early seventies in regular rotation, it was unusual to hear them back-to-back, hour-after-hour on WMMS. From the British Invasion to garage bands from surf to soul – we played it all – except for the wimpy stuff like the Carpenters, Helen Reddy, and Bobby Sherman.
We also kept it authentic. We searched for the original 45 RPM versions – not the re-recorded album track versions (compare the original single version of “Time is on my Side” by the Rolling Stones to the album version featured on various Stones greatest hits albums). In some cases, especially with Jan and Dean and Mamas and Papas, the mono version was a better choice than the stereo version, which had vocals in the left channel and all the instruments in the right.
Years earlier, while rummaging through an old storage closet when we were at at our original E.50th and Euclid, we found this terrible WMMS jingles package, which was produced for the station during a brief moment in the late sixties when spent a few weeks in a quasi-top 40 format. The jingles were hideous – but we pulled them out of the archives and they served the purpose and added a touch of camp for the Solid Gold Sunday.
The success of our Solid Gold Sundays spawned our weekly Solid Gold Sunday Morning oldies show, hosted by Len “Boom ” Goldberg (he called his oldies “Solid Goldbergers”), which was followed a few years later by our sister station, WHK, switching to a full-time oldies format in April, 1984.
More on Cleveland oldies radio in Chapter 26 of The Buzzard