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Bill Drake: R.I.P.





Bill Drake, who helped revolutionize Top 40 radio and co-founded the radio syndication company Drake-Chenault, passed away on Saturday at the age of 71 from lung cancer. Drake (real name: Phillip Yarbrough) started in radio in the late '50's at WAKE/Atlanta, and ended up on the West Coast a few years later.

At KYNO/Fresno, Drake met Gene Chenault, and the pair helped create a tighter, more streamlined Top 40/CHR format, as well as the "Boss Jocks" and "Boss Radio" at KHJ/Los Angeles in the '60's. The programming pair brought more organization to on-air formatting, including tighter playlists of the current hits, less talk from jocks and musical production elements sung by the Johnny Mann Singers. Drake is credited as the first programmer to use market research as well. Drake and Chenault formed their own syndication company in the late '60's, which specialized in jingles and automated FM formats.

Drake also spent time in his career programming in San Francisco, New York, San Diego, Detroit Tulsa, Boston, Memphis and other markets.


(from FMBQ)


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I had the privilege of being mentored in LA radio by former KHJ Boss Jock Bill Wade in the fall of 1980 before moving on to a GM position at WCRM - FM Dundee, IL, who taught me everything that Bill Drake taught him. Indirectly, I would not be in the position that I am today -- launching a digital internet radio station if it were not for Bill Drake.
Thank you, sir!

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