WABC $25,000 BUTTON The WABC $25,0000 Button was introduced in the Spring of 1974 when Jerry Clifton was giving away over $22,000 for answering your phone, "99X is my radio station".

Paul Drew and Elton John
Paul Drew (standing) and Elton John (sitting). Photo by Evan Dakes from his perspective at the board.

Clifton Snoozing
99X Consultant Jerry Clifton naps on the Roller Coaster at The Day at Playland in Rye, New York, one of many 99X promotions.

Weed and Evan, 1978
Steve "Smokin'" Weed (left), HIS Corvette, and Evan (not left) in L.A. (1978)

Evan Dakes Today
Here's Evan today, in his preferred position (with the buttons in front of him.)

The Evan Dakes Collection

Something always fascinated Evan Dakes about the "voice in the night". You know — that distant person who is talking to nobody else but you.

In 1970 the FCC made a landmark ruling and created the first shared frequency ever, 89.1 FM. Evan happened to be attending one of the schools that was coveting this frequency. In 199, he wrote:

"We started WFDU-FM in August of 1971. I was on the airwaves.; I had no salary. The voice thing wasn't so cool after all.

I got a job selling spots for WWDJ in Hackensack, NJ, which meant I had to convince people to buy time on a 5,000 watt upstart top 40 station and not WABC. I learned many things that summer. One being that my sales manager and Herb Tarlek from WKRP were the same, except that Herb would not be a reality for another decade or so.

Then came my destiny: Answering request lines (hey, at least it ain't the mail room) at WXLO-FM. A position for engineer soon became available and I was in. RKO's Paul Drew brought in Jerry Clifton and the 'Q' format. In 1974, 99X was born — and so was I.

Clifton changed certain personnel (the Drake jocks), tightened the format, and made the contest a thing of beauty. He was giving away over 20 grand if you answered your phone '99X is my radio station'. Soon after, WABC introduced the $25,000 Button. Everyone at the 'X' wore one.

Working there was INCREDIBLE. It was New York, Top 40 Radio, concerts, promotional appearances by artists, and most important, working with people my age that were as crazy as me.

Every day was a party and since we were mentioned in more and more diaries (write it down!) the kids were allowed to have the house to themselves. This party overflowed onto the air and New York felt it too.

But all good things have a limited format life. I was transferred to WOR-AM in 1976 where I worked with Bob and Ray, Jean Shepherd, John Wingate, Barry Farber, and John Gambling, to name a few. WOR-AM was classic radio. The voices, the personalities, the history. I had seen both sides now.

I spend my days now as a Technical Director for WWOR-TV (what is with these letters and me?) Some of the shows I have been happily associated with include Morton Downey Jr., Richard Bey, and hold on to your irony, the original Howard Stern Channel 9 show."

Evan Dakes, 54, was in a coma for six weeks and passed away on December 18, 2005, following a severe stroke. We'll miss you, Evan.

The Repository thanks Evan for sharing!

[Descriptions by Evan Dakes]


WABC New York, Composite, 1973 (11:18)

. . . a bunch of sissy Knights . . .

You'll notice the absence of REVERB in this 1973 WABC Composite - obviously, this one was not recorded from the air.

Featured: Harry Harrison (Bamberger's), Ron Lundy (Sears humidifier), Dan Ingram (A&S). The use of reel-to-reel echo in Ingram's intro to Knights in White Satin was an unusual departure for WABC.

Also featured: Bruce Morrow, Chuck Leonard, Jay Reynolds, Frank Kingston Smith (U.S. National Speedway PSA) and Johnny Donovan.

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WOR-FM and How the "X" Came to New York (1967-1974) (11:08)

. . . No buttons, No bells, No 50-year-old men trying to act 20 . . .

Thanks to the producers of "NINE the Ultimate Radio Format" for the sincerest form of flattery.

WOR-FM Poster We start with the birth of mid 60's FM radio and the sound of WOR-FM. Proclaiming WOR-FM ROCKS! it was boring and laid back (like all of us were then).

Enter Bill Drake. The 60's were ending and WOR-FM eventually gave way to a more top 40 sound called OR-FM, and finally, the change in call letters to WXLO in the early 70's. The "last gasping moment" refers to the end of the road for WXLO. Exit Mr. Drake and enter Paul Drew. It was 1974 and it was the arrival of the "Q" format in New York. Led by Jerry Clifton, its special sound of top 40 and contests slowly began to undermine WABC. He took the so-so station that was "WXLO-98.7" and since there was no Q in the calls, named it (drumroll) — 99X!

99X Stereo The 99X segment features the original "X" jocks in actual order. Starting from the "Shotgun" (the only jingle on 99X) is morning man Jay Stone. The bagel who calls in is Jerry. The promo montage that follows features the sound that made 99X unique. Jerry's ever-present X X X whispers and stereo pans and repetition (the air condition wee - air condition wee - air condition weekend) made the audience stop and listen. The repetition was intentional and manually edited, pre-computer, and has not been enhanced from the original sound.

Also featured: Chuck Roberts, Dave Thompson, Walt Baby Love, Brian White, Joe McCoy and RK Oliver (Rocco). (What did you expect from a station owned by RKO General?)

Take note: Joe and Walt are true renaissance men, spanning the incarnations and upheavals of this compilation. Notice how far back you hear them!

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TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16Khz)
Dan Ingram Composite WABC New York Summer 1974 (30:59)

. . . There's a penguin on my shirt, and he's biting my left breast . . .

If you love Dan Ingram, sit back and enjoy a half hour of his Opening (or Closing) — Day After Day! The original tape was board output and the mic, jingle and sound levels were all over the place. It's remarkable to hear how much the WABC processing took care of everything. There's some thin audio at the top with the newsman's fluff. I suspect that was not part of the original recording.

This is a wonderful assembly of talent, featuring Ron Lundy, Chuck Leonard and the finest Howard Cosell bits. Dan had a talent for taking previously recorded conversations with The Coach and editing them into true radio moments. His "time once again to Broach the Coach" is another reason Dan and his WABC years are legendary. He also finds time to skewer Bruce Morrow on his move to WNBC.

So, let's re-visit the Summer of 1974. The open seems to begin a few days before the Fourth of July. All together now...

bum..bah-bum..Double-you A B C's Dan In-gram ...Go Go Go...

[Tech Note from Uncle Ricky: This exhibit, like all REELRADIO exhibits, was processed for streaming presentation. The original tape was recorded without gain control, and some distortion and noise is present in the original recording and the exhibit submitted to REELRADIO.]

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TOP STREAM 44.1Kbps (20Khz)
Brian White, 99X WXLO-FM New York, 1974 (14:34)

. . . 99X - because they play less commercials . . .

From the very early days of the Super X: The "Blind Owl" Brian White at his best with pure high-energy, start to end. Brian is super tight and still working in those live disco spots! I have left in these beauties and all the other live spots, unscoped from my original ten-inch reel just to show you how much reading was involved. There are some Jerry Clifton promos, too, featuring the late Jay Stone's voice as the whisperer.

This was the new sound of New York. It was the best of times.

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TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16Khz)
Steve Weed, Terry Nelson, 99X New York, 1976 (14:17)

. . . and in a partial score, What's a matta U, 3 . . .

This aircheck is from a skim I ran one Saturday in September, 1976. Jerry Clifton was gone, the original jock lineup had gone and so had the original sound, and the shotgun. The station had come into its own by this time.

Unique to this exhibit is Steve Smokin' Weed doing mornings; he normally did evenings. Terry Nelson was the regular morning man, and here, he is doing afternoons.

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The Evan Dakes Collection has been part of REELRADIO since April 4, 1999!

Reel Top 40 Radio Repository ©1996-2005 REELRADIO, Inc.