Thursday, November 06, 2014

Music 'Til Dawn vs. Nightflight 760

Recently I received a email from Les Martens regarding one of the memories that appears on the webpage. It said:

Music Til Dawn sponsored by American Airlines was not on WJR but on WWJ. I was the host from 1956 to 1960. (Nightflight 760 was on WJR.)

I emailed Mr. Martens with a thank you, and he responded with this:


Confusion it is, and I long ago gave up spending time or energy to correct it, but I stumbled on your links and couldn’t resist. Congratulations on your Detroit sites.  It was fun surfing, and clearly you’ve put in a lot of time and energy as webmaster. 

FYI, here’s the 1.01 on Music Til Dawn. The program was the brainchild of C.R. Smith, founder of American Airlines, who worked late and could find no decent music (classical) late at night, pre-FM. (American was dominant in Detroit; the original Metro terminal was named for Smith.) Marketing people told him the demographics for classical music were limited, but he correctly intuited that the audience he wanted, professionals and educated upper middleclass, were the people travelling by air at that time, and they would fly his airline. He was right. 

The show was set up originally in nine cities, each with a local host, in CBS O&O stations in the early 50’s. The CBS pattern was broken in Detroit when WJR wouldn’t come to terms on all night rates, so American Airlines’ ad agency made a deal with WWJ, which as the world’s first radio station, operated by the Detroit News, was not chopped liver. 

A couple of years after I took over hosting in 1956, WJR started Nightflight 760, with a format of travelogue type info by Jay Roberts with related pop music. Memories later confused the two shows hopelessly. 

Pre and postscripts on me may be in order, given your encyclopedic Detroit memories. At WWJ I moved on in the 60’s to daytime record shows, telephone talk shows and, finally, anchoring afternoon news and talk from 4 to 7pm, which expanded into their all news format after I finally got a law degree and started practicing. I did both for a few years. For 20 years I did the commentary on Detroit Symphony broadcasts.

Actually, I started at WJR. As a senior at Redford High in 1949-50, I was the last of the teenage emcees on Make Way For Youth with the Don Large Chorus on CBS. After me, they used a staff announcer; I was never sure if I was irreplaceable or the last straw. 

Good luck with the Detroit Memories scene. You’re doing great work.

Les Martens

LISTEN to the Music Til Dawn Theme Song on YouTube

1 comment:

  1. I am sure that in 1964 "Music 'til Dawn" was on WJR. Sometime in 1965 American dropped its sponsorship and the show reverted to "Night Flight 760" with less classical music. My wife and I met Jay Roberts in the studio one night and we discussed the change and his freedom to program the music more to his liking.