Charter A&M Corner Member
We've discussed this before - my favorite radio station during the late '60s was WFIL-FM, the sister station to the monster WFIL top 40 station. It was practically impossible not to hear some of the broadcasts on that powerhouse AM as you could ride around with the windows open and know what songs were being played, it was THAT popular.And Harry, I was one of those kids who listened to the MOR stations (in my case, KMPC and KFI in Los Angeles and KGIL, San Fernando) as well as the Top 40 stations.
The FM side concentrated on the "nicest music" - that was their slogan. So you wouldn't hear the heavier sounds of top 40 or R&B, just the softer stuff. While the AM station had Beatles and Stones weekends, the FM side did Burt Bacharach weekends.
And my point with Sergio was that all of his records were routinely played on that FM station. It didn't matter to me, the listener, as to whether or not a song was a Billboard hit - I didn't read the magazine and had no access to the charts. All I could glean from listening to "my" station was that these records were pretty big in order to be played as often as they were. And they played all of the Dionne Warwick and Bossa Rio and other soft hits that I wanted to hear.
I intuitively knew of the difference between the AM stuff and the FM stuff - as I say, I could hear it in the periphery everywhere, and I knew that they didn't play much by Sergio Mendes or even Herb Alpert - unless the songs were monster hits. I remember hearing on the FM this nice little song by someone new, someone named Carole King. It was called "It's Too Late". It fit right in with the other "nicest music" that they played and didn't sound out of place at all - I kind of liked it after those early spins.
One day while out at lunch in a pizza joint, I heard the radio playing the WFIL-AM station and on came this new little song that I'd heard on FM. I couldn't believe that this "little song" was making it to the big, powerhouse, AM, but then I didn't yet know of the future status of TAPESTRY and its songs.
Back then the FM station had its supporters too. There were a lot of smaller shops where you'd go in and hear their familiar jingles and their rotation of soft hits and instrumentals, so those Brasil '66 singles got plenty of airtime, whether or not they cracked anyone's list. But like others here, I'd love to know the details behind the split between A&M and Sergio - and would like to throw out another possible factor. A&M, at that stage, was trying to divest itself of its older, softer image. Artists like Claudine and Sergio Mendes and the Baja Marimba Band, all staples of the early days, were basically forced to seek out other labels. Claudine went to Barnaby, Sergio and Julius headed for Bell, and A&M was much more of a rock label from that point onward, while still hanging on to a few softer artists like Carpenters and Lani Hall and the re-formed T.J.B.