In 1954, the disk jockey Alan Freed copyrighted "rock-and-roll." Literally. It was the name of his radio program. Soon after, it was the name for an entire revolution in rhythm and blues.
The Museum of Television and Radio in Manhattan is beginning a yearlong series of panels and listening sessions exploring the importance of radio to rock, and rock to radio. "We're concerned about how rock-and-roll came about at a time when radio was hurting because of what TV was doing," Ken Mueller, who has organized the series, explained. "The relationship between radio and rock-and-roll is usually ignored, but rock-and-roll never would have made it if not for radio."The museum will play 12 groups of radio programs in its listening room, for a month each, beginning with a top-40 package that includes a 1967 broadcast from the countdown king Casey Kasem and a 1968 show by the longtime Los Angeles disk jockey Robert W. Morgan.
On Monday WNEW-FM DJ Pat St. John was to broadcast live from the museum auditorium with Stevie Nicks and Dr. John.
"It's nice that people will be able to watch the process," St. John said. "That's what they did in the old days. After the show, we'll be presenting our entire archive to the museum for the permanent collection. In fact, the show itself will be taped and given to the museum."