Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Motherlode of Music Surveys

In September 2004, I wrote here about how I became a Top 40 geek:
In the fall of 1970, I was the first kid on my school bus every morning (at 6:50AM), and thus I rode on gravel roads and paths trodden by cows through the wilds of Clarno and Cadiz Townships for over an hour before getting to school. Being the first kid on, I had my pick of seats. The back of the bus is the most desirable spot, but what you must know about the social dynamics of the school bus is that little kids don't get to sit in the back. One particular morning, the seat I chose was underneath the radio speaker. And on that morning, the bus driver responded to popular demand by tuning in WLS, the Classic Top 40 giant from Chicago. And the rest, as they say, is history. Your correspondent fell utterly in love with radio and with the music that came out of it.
A part of the story that has remained untold 'til now is this: A friendly neighbor girl who was a few years older (eighth grade, maybe) rode the same school bus I did. She always seemed to have candy or gum in her purse, and was willing to share it with younger kids on the bus. But one day, she gave me a copy of a WLS "Hit Parade" music survey she had picked up at our local record store. I cannot recall now how or why this happened, exactly--but for a long time after that, while other kids would ask her for gum, I would ask her for Hit Parades.

Forever after, I have been a chart geek. So it is with goggle-eyed stupid delight that I report to you the existence of a website I found today: ARSA, the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. It is the motherlode of music surveys, not just from one or two radio stations, but for hundreds across the country and around the world. You can access charts by station, by date, and even by song title. Chart data is sorted in many different ways--if you want to see how "Dream On" by Aerosmith performed on all the charts on which it appeared, you can. (It hit Number One in New Haven, Connecticut, on February 1, 1976, but not in South Bend, Indiana, until February 7.) In addition to reproducing chart data, the site also features photos of the charts themselves, so there are plenty of embarrasing DJ photos, perhaps even of guys you used to listen to. (There are no pix of me, but there is a survey from a station I worked at, published while I was there.)

I am supposed to be working this afternoon, but I don't think that's going to happen now.

Politics Intrudes:
Take note of the "Save the Net" logo that appears at the right, and click it. It will take you to a website sponsored by a consortium of online groups that is working to defeat a bill in Congress that would permit greater corporate control over the Internet, and which could very well kill the Internet as we know it today. You can also click over to The Daily Aneurysm, my other blog, to learn more about the issue of "net neutrality." The eventual fate of net neutrality is a vital issue. It's one that you, as an Internet user, have an interest in, whether you know it yet or not. Click now, not later--the vote may be this week, and you need to call your representative in Congress before it happens.


At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UNBELIVEABLE! This ARSA, the Airheads Radio Survey Archive link you gave it absolutely amazing! I grew up in the Boston area and I've longed - for YEARS - to find the charts that I saved as a kid in the early 70's.

You've made my musical millenium! Keep up the great work!


At 11:06 AM, Blogger homercat said...

WoW, thanks for finding that. I'll be using this site lots. It's funny, I grew up listening to WLS too. Like you the bus driver always had it tuned to that station. What was that morning guys name? Larry Lujack or something. Uncle Larr and lil' Tommy's Animal Stories used to kil me man. Memories. Thanks man.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger The Stepfather of Soul said...

Thanks for the link; will have to check these surveys out!


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