Forgotten TV – Billy Bang Bang Westerns

WABC-TV New York – 1963

Early 1960′s – Growing up in the ‘burbs of New York City – there was a lot of local kid’s TV. Mornings on WABC-TV – “Tommy Seven” the clown was pretty popular and lasted for several years. When Tommy Seven went off the air – WABC-TV replaced him with “Courages Cat” and “Billy Bang Bang” and his western-style movies. Billy Bang Bang? No one seemed to remember. Channel 7 showed them every weekday morning at 8:25. He was some sort of western cowboy/hero. The year – 1963.

Couldn’t  find anything on the Internet until now. Found these ads off-line – and indeed, “Billy Bang Bang” was being offered to TV stations. This was back in 1962 and certainly fits the timetable. I wasn’t dreaming.

billy bang bang western tv show

Speaking of Tommy Seven (actor Ed Bakey) – here’s a nice mention from December, 1961. Tommy was doing an appearance at Madison Square Garden.

Tommy Seven WABC TV 1961 History

Gary West

“I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” Was First Played On April 29, 1965


The Rolling Stones, “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” Could Not Have Been (First) Recorded In May of 1965

rolling stones pop culture history 1965


Many of us rely on Wikipedia for the first and last word in facts. I have to admit – I use Wiki – but cautiously. My good friend Joe Condon pointed out an interesting fact to me. During the 1960′s – Joe was one of the top-rated DJ’s at WTRY in Troy, NY. WTRY was known to play big hits very, very early – and that included the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones… WTRY was the very first to play, what would become, one of the greatest rock ‘n roll songs of all time – “Satisfaction.” The date – April 29, 1965. The problem is – Wiki – and about half-a-dozen “authoritative” song authors and their books claim the song was “recorded” on May 10. That’s just not possible. WTRY began playing the tune on April 29. My guess – the later dates were re-dos. WTRY was most-likely playing a test-pressing – and Joe Condon confirmed the station was playing an acetate disc.

Here’s Joe’s full explanation via e-mail:

“There are many many people,  who were there and  will confirm  that “Satisfaction” was, in the building and  played April 29th on WTRY.”
Continues Joe Condon:
1.   I filled in for Rick Snyder that night,  who was down at Palace Theatre, Albany for a Rolling Stones concert. WTRY program director Lee Gray had a nightly feature on Rick’s show called “Voice Your Choice”.  From 8pm to 9pm, listeners would vote on 4 songs. That night – the Rolling Stones were in concert. They never came to the WTRY studios in Troy – but instead, gave “Satisfaction” to Lee Gray. Lee sent someone back to WTRY,  only about 15 minute drive from the Palace Theatre, with “Satisfaction” for “Voice Your Choice.” The record with the most votes became… the “Spectacular Sound of the Hour”.  “Satisfaction” won. When I walked in the studio,  Doug Cole told me that, “you  are going to have to drop one of the records Rick left,  because the Rolling Stones had brought  their latest record to Albany.”

2.   Next night (Friday) night,  listeners voted on all 4 winning songs for “Spectacular Sound of the Week”.  “Satisfaction” won. I remember listening to Rick that  Friday, and was (that) they won.  Reason:  there was a very big local group called Buddy Randell and the Knickerbockers… they had a song(don’t remember which song)… which lost to the  Rolling Stones.  I wanted the local guys to win.

Thank you Joe Condon, who confirms the “Satisfaction” early airplay over WTRY.
Gary West –


Tech History – When Did Wireless Microphones Come Out?

Today – The World Can’t Live Without Them

wireless microphone 1960 tech history mrpopculture.comWireless microphones are used virtually everywhere: concerts, TV, movies, live shows, schools – you name it. The days of someone holding a microphone with a cord attached are long gone. I’m often asked – when did the age of, “wireless” mics begin?

Although they took a long time to catch on (mainly because of their size) – wireless mics were available as early as 1960. Sony was out front – and, from this ad, they were selling the microphone (with transmitter) and receiver for $250.00.

“The Remarkable Sony Radio Wireless Microphone” was way ahead of its time. Click the picture.

Gary West

WPIX-TV History – 1966 – Cartoons/Frankie Crocker

1967 WPIX-TV Cartoon LineupIf you were lucky enough to have seven TV channels (in New York and Los Angeles) – there was always something to watch. After school – New York’s WNEW-TV (channel 5) and WPIX-TV (channel 11) gave us a diverse line-up of kid’s shows and cartoons. It was also the era for local personalities. Here, WPIX-TV has six.

There was plenty to go around: cartoons, super marionation (Stingray), live action (Superman) and of course – Bozo the Clown.

Back then, WPIX-TV children’s programming brought in the bulk of the station’s advertising dollars – and, as you see here – a 1966 advertiser presentation pitching the channel 11 kid’s lineup. WPIX-TV scheduled this programming around noon – then again late afternoon into early evening – as late as 7pm.

Here’s a rare look at just what the station was telling the advertising community – and a fond look back at “the old” channel 11.

Check out the “Barney Google” cartoon. It’s the first time I heard the word, “Google.”

Below – New York radio DJ icon Frankie Crocker did a short stint hosting a Saturday night music show over WPIX-TV. “Electric Village” didn’t last long and at the time, Crocker was a “Soul” DJ at WWRL – but wanted to broaden his appeal. A year later – he would be heard on top-40 station WMCA. This was after Clay Cole left his music show and comes to us from September, 1968:

Frankie Crocker WPIX-TV Show 1968

What? –  New York’s Joe Franklin Endorsed An Elvis Presley Replacement?

Click Here

Gary West 

Radio History 1950′s-1970′s – When Night Disc Jockeys Ruled

The Hours Between 6p And 11p Could Be Moneymakers For Stations

Teen Idol” DJ’s 

Since Alan Freed began playing rock ‘n roll on evening radio – there was no doubt – the evening DJ could bring in tons of ratings and revenue. Back then – many radio stars were born out of the 6p-11p area time slot – even with prime-time television viewing. Mostly teens and young adults listened, but, if you had them – you could have big ratings. At times – their average audience share could be bigger than the rest of the station.

The teen DJ set the tone for the next morning as well. If you listened at night – chances are – you had the same station tuned-in the following morning.

Every city had these night DJ stars – and New York City was no exception. Besides Alan Freed – there was – Paul Sherman, Bruce Morrow, Murray the K, Scott Muni, B. Mitchel Reed, Gary Stevens, George Michael, Chuck Lenoard – and others.

Unlike today, this could be a huge advertisingrevenue. I found this  from Spring of 1966. Holding the 7 to 11p shift at WMCA – Gary Stevens was then, New York City’s #1 evening personality – and within a year – had served-up over 200 sponsors. Unheard of in modern radio.

Stevens just came off 20 shares in the New York radio ratings – beating big-time rival “Cousin” Bruce Morrow – with a 12 share.

This was an era when all evening radio was live. In many places today, it can be voice-tracked – especially in medium and smaller markets – and, some large markets contain voice-tracking between 6p and 6a.

Most of those who grew up during the 1960′s and 1970′s – can name their favorite DJ – and usually – they came from the evening hours. Do you remember?

WMCA - Gary Stevens - May 1966

Gary West


Pop Culture History/Trivia – The Real Fred Flintstone

mrpopculture fred flintstone alan reed It’s really no mystery – the voice of the original Fred Flintstone – and the one that set the character forever is that of the late actor –  Alan Reed.

He’s probably known for the most memorable single cartoon voice of all time.

But – It’s really hard to get a hold of Reed. You’d see him in a movie – and – flash, he was gone. You wanted to hear his voice – because – really – Fred Flintstone is much more prominent than Alan Reed ever was. Don’t get me wrong, Reed did lots of movies and television – but, let’s face it – more people know his voice because of “The Flintstones.” He also looks a bit like the cartoon character.

Reed died in 1977 – and newer Flintstone cartoons used an imitation of Reed. The original is always the best.




TV Trivia – Fascinating Facts – New York TV Station Transmitting Real Police Lineups…

Fascinating Facts – TV Trivia – Real Police Lineups Featured On NY TV Station…


Back we go to 1962… TV station WUHF-TV (channel 31) and the NYPD had a great idea – transmit police line-ups on the station – then, set up remote receivers in various locations throughout New York City  - so the line-up could be viewed remotely.

Real criminals on TV. Yes, the “broadcasts” were scrambled at the time – another novelty – but – the idea was way ahead of its time. Apparently the idea was to make it easier for folks to identify “criminals”  - and thus, get better results. Here’s the article – just click to read:




I’m looking for a White Rock soda commercial that used the Seekers’ “Georgy Girl” as the melody.

White Rock Soda

White Rock Soda

From Melinda H – Hello Mr. Pop. I hope you can help. I’m looking for a White Rock soda commercial that used the Seekers’ “Georgy Girl” as the melody. I still remember the words – “Hey there White Rock Girl… bubbly, exciting White Rock Girl…”

Mr. Pop History – It’s a great one. Listen to this commercial. It’s so darn catchy. I remember this before the song became a hit. Just as the movie “Georgy Girl” came out in 1966, this commercial began. When the song became a hit. I remember thinking – “Georgy Girl? – this is the White Rock commercial?” So, in this instance, the commercial was using the movie theme, not the hit song. This commercial is perfect – and timed impeccably – right up to 60 seconds with no fill.

You’re the girl whose always zingee… swingee and spark-e-ling.” Gotta love it! It’s sooo 1960’s when it seemed – everything was “swinging.”

Here it is – The White Rock soda radio commercial – first aired in the summer of 1966 and ran through the summer of 1968. To me, the beer, cigarette and the soda people had the best jingles. Pick any one – most were good to great!

These types of commercials helped make top-40 radio so much fun. You listened and really, really enjoyed them.

Here’s that commercial – still sounds great!

Whatever Happened to Debbie Drake?

Debbie Drake

Debbie Drake

From Elizabeth D – My daughter and I were talking about how she grew up with me exercising in front of the TV with Debbie Drake. I SAID, “I WONDER WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO HER?”

I got on Google, and found your info. DO YOU KNOW WHERE, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO DEBBIE DRAKE?

I AM 75, HAVE A GREAT FIGURE AND TWO KIDS IN THEIR 50s…who work out daily and we all attribute it to DD because they grew up with that example. OF COURSE, I’m curious how she looks today.

Mr. Pop History - As posted earlier, Texas native Debbie Drake was the first female TV champion of fitness. Unlike Jack LaLanne, Debbie was also popular on records (to a certain extent) and books. Born in 1931 and as far as I know, she’s still active. Her last book was “Debbie Drake’s Secrets of Perfect Fiqure Development,” republished in 2000.