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This web site is part of
David H. Citron's
South Florida Radio Pages
and South Florida Radio History

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South Florida Radio History:

1960s: Rick Shaw Remembers
The Good Ol' Days
at WQAM Tiger Radio

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Entire site copyright 1996-2006 by David Citron

All rights reserved. This page first posted on Univox in 2003.

If Greater Miami had its own Dick Clark -- a still-young-after-all-these-years deejay who's been spinning records since before the Beatles had arrived but had aged nary a year -- he'd be WMXJ's rockin' Rock 'n Roll icon Rick Shaw.
"I wouldn’t trade my time at WQAM for anything else during those years.
It was the heyday of AM rock radio and it was an honor to have been part of it." ... Rick Shaw

Shaw (a/k/a Jim Hummel) has grown with the ages of rock 'n roll... from its youth at Storz's WQAM (560) Tiger Radio in the 1960s to its teens at RKO-owned oldies station WAXY-FM (105.9) in the 1970s to its middle age today at Jefferson-Pilot's WMXJ (102.7), Majic 102.7.

Remember the mop tops and sock hops? 25c pizza slices at the mall? Haulover Beach? Jukeboxes and pinball machines? Doo-Wop?

In 2001, Rick Shaw described those early days at WQAM in a slick two-page article, published in The Summer 2001 issue of South Florida History Magazine, the official publication of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.

Following we proudly reproduce Rick Shaw's 2001 article, Rock & South Florida Radio with the permission of Rick Shaw and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.


She's Only Rock & Roll --

Rock & South Florida Radio

by Rick Shaw

Radio is to rock ‘n roll what warm water is to a hurricane. Back in the 1950s, radio exposed thousands of young listeners to a new sound called rock ‘n roll. In South Florida alone, billions of dollars in air-time were allocated to putting the product -- rock ‘n roll music -- on the air, at no cost to the music industry.

When rock music came along in the mid ’50s, it was an AM radio world. FM was there, but nobody cared. The AM stations with tenure had signed on in the ’20s and ’30s and had captured more than 90 percent of the audience. And in South Florida, the station that would be tapped for the honor of introducing the southern half of the state to rock ‘n roll music would be WQAM in 1956.

The lower your dial position in the AM world, the better your signal. Few stations get lower than 560 and at 5,000 watts, it goes a long, long way. But even the most powerful radio station can’t make pictures. And during the ’50s, television was flexing its muscles. Radio broadcasters were searching for an answer and along came rock ‘n roll.

Legend has it that Todd Storz and Gordon McClendon, both owners of radio stations, were in a bar, and over a beer, were dis-cussing the problem. One of them noticed the same song being played over and over on the juke box. People paying money to hear the same song…over and over and over. Why wouldn’t that work on radio? It did! It worked so well, in fact, that the radio broadcast industry was turned on its ear. And as the ’50s neared the ’60s, rock radio and rock music picked up steam.

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South Florida was dominated by one radio station that played rock ‘n roll music. In 1964, between 7:00 and midnight, WQAM generated a 54 share audience rating. That meant more people had tuned there than all the other stations combined. And that kind of audience meant the record industry had to get its product on your air. Getting a slot on the WQAM top 56 play list was golden to a record promoter. And more often than not, it meant selling lots of product.

From 1956 through 1970, WQAM was the determining factor in terms of what rock ‘n roll would be heard in South Florida. From the early days of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, to the Beatles and all that followed through their breakup, WQAM was the medium through which the message was passed.

As migration from AM to FM began to take hold in the early ’70s, it truly signaled the end of an era. The first radio station to play rock ‘n roll music as a format in South Florida ... The first to play Elvis, The Beatles, Stones, Monkees, Hendrix ... An amazing legacy that is beyond explanation to someone who wasn’t there.

Somebody probably would have picked up the format and run with it had WQAM not been there first. But having been there from the inside looking out, it just would-n’t have been the same.

If you were a kid growing up in the southern half of Florida when rock music began, and you had delusions of grandeur as a rock ‘n roll star, you had no choice but to be inspired by what was going on at 560, WQAM. It constantly told the story of kids who were virtually unknown, and after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, their first rock release would shoot to the top ten. Rags to riches, with two years of high school. Rock ‘n roll music could make that happen, and it did, many times.

I wouldn’t trade my time at WQAM for anything else during those years. It was the heyday of AM rock radio and it was an honor to have been part of it. If you were there, you know what I mean. If you weren’t, there are no words that will work.

Rick Shaw is such a south Florida radio legend that WMXJ (102.7) sells Rick Shaw Bobbleheads to benefit the Majic Children's fund.

Jim Hummel, better known as Rick Shaw, began his career as a South Florida DJ at WCKR (now WIOD) doing the 6-midnight shift. In 1963 a change in format caused a move to AM rocker WQAM. One year later, he pulled the largest rating share in the history of the market. In 1965, he added “The Rick Shaw Show” to the Monday through Friday Channel 10 lineup. It was essentially the MTV of the ’60s playing Rock and Roll on television. Through most of the ’70s, Rick was programming WAXY 106 for RKO. Rick can still be heard bright and early between 5:30-9 am, Monday through Friday on Majic 102.7. Rick Shaw, one of South Florida’s greatest radio Disc Jockeys. Courtesy of Rick Shaw.

Reproduced with the permission of Rick Shaw and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. (They retain all their rights.)

In June 2006, Rick Shaw completed his 50th year in broadcasting. See July 2006 Radio News.

In November 2006, Rick Shaw announced that he'd retire in 2007. See December 2006 Radio News.

If you were a big WQAM Tiger Radio fan, you may also want to see Steven Geisler's unusual WQAM nostalgia site

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Page hatched on: 2003

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