Tuesday, March 2, 2010

RIP: Gene Chenault

From the Los Angeles Times:

Gene Chenault, one half of a pioneering team that helped to revolutionize rock radio programming in the 1960s with the "Boss Radio" format, first at KHJ in Los Angeles and then coast to coast, has died. He was 90.
Chenault died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma Tuesday at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, said his wife, Susan.
In the 1960s, Chenault partnered with Bill Drake to launch a phenomenally successful radio format that turned poorly performing stations into ratings winners and made household names of radio personalities such as Robert W. Morgan and "the Real" Don Steele.
Drake was the driving creative force, introducing a formula of less talk, fewer commercials and more music, which became known as the "Drake style."
Chenault was a mentor to the younger Drake, with the business acumen and management experience needed to propel the formula to success at a time when the radio marketplace was changing and FM radio was assuming more prominence, said Carl Goldman, who worked for Chenault at KIQQ-FM (100.3), which was known as K-100.
The game-changing success of KHJ Boss Radio was noted in a 1968 Time magazine story. The RKO-owned station rose from 12th-ranked locally to No. 1 within six months after its format change in 1965. Stations in San Diego, San Francisco, Boston and New York soon followed.
The duo then formed Drake-Chenault Enterprises, a national radio consulting service that syndicated radio packages such as "Hit Parade" and "Solid Gold," as well as jingles performed by the Johnny Mann Singers to 350 radio stations (EDITOR'S NOTE: samples of those jingles are embedded above.)
Chenault retired in the mid-1980s. Drake died in 2008.

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