Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Ken Mills Looks inside a new book by Marlin Taylor

We were pleased that Radio World featured our review of Radio…My Love, My Passion by Marlin Taylor in their April 11, 2018 print and digital editions.   

We appreciate kind assistance from Paul McClane and Emily Reigert.

Taylor is the guy who invented modern Beautiful Music and programmed it at WHFS, WDRV (now WBEB), WRFM, WBCN and global program syndication.

Radio…My Love, My Passion is available now at Amazon [link] and from the author at [link].  Autographed copies are available from Taylor.

Today we have our review of Taylor’s book as it appeared in Radio World.

Marlin Taylor
You may not know Marlin Taylor’s name but you know his work. Taylor is one of the radio industry’s Greatest Generation, the men and women who built the stations and formats after World War II. Taylor has been called The Father of Beautiful Music because of his groundbreaking work creating and marketing the format.

Taylor’s new book – Radio…My Love, My Passion – is not only his personal story, it is a behind the scenes account of the birth and proliferation of the radio format known as Beautiful Music, Good Music, Easy Listening Music and even Elevator Music. Whatever you call it, Taylor was an architect who changed the face of radio programming.  He brought enjoyment to millions of listeners worldwide.

Radio…My Love, My Passion is scheduled for release on March 20, 2018. Taylor’s book is an essential addition to any radio fan’s library. The book is a must-have for scholars.

Taylor gets the story started by talking about his childhood in suburban Philadelphia. We learn about his first job in radio followed by his stint in the Army. Taylor invented his first radio format while he was stationed in Thule, Greenland.

In early 1961 Taylor was in his final months of duty at Fort Meade, near DC. He was about to get married and needed to find work.

In a career changing moment, Taylor describes seeing an ad in Broadcasting magazine. A new FM station was being built in Bethesda, Maryland and they needed a Program Director. The station was the legendary WHFS. After all the call letters stood for “Washington’s High-Fidelity Station.”

The FCC had recently authorized FM stereo transmissions. Taylor’s job was to find high fidelity music that showcased the stereo effect. WHFS signed on in November 1961.

In Radio…My Love, My Passion Taylor describes how he built the music library. He was in constant contact with record labels such as Columbia, London, and RCA Victor. He urged them to release more stereo LPs.

In the summer of 1962 he developed Stereo Notes, a newsletter for stereo music fans that increased tune-in to the station.

In the book, Taylor talks about the elements and criteria for the Beautiful Music format. He intuitively knew the importance of making a good first impression. Taylor built Beautiful Music they way an architect might plan a structure. Everything part of the format had to be impeccable. Taylor put these skills to good use in coming years.

In February of 1963 Taylor became aware of a new FM station being planned for Philadelphia, his hometown. David Kurtz owned the FCC construction permit for what became WDVR. Kurtz hired Taylor to program the station. It was being constructed on a shoestring budget/

WDVR was being built on a shoestring budget.  Readers will learn how Taylor met Jerry Lee who was hired to be the Sales Manager for WDVR. The station signed on May 13, 1963. The entire operation occupied four rooms.

Programmers will love reading about the “science” of Beautiful Music. about Taylor’s format was based on instrumental versions of popular songs.  He tells about constructing quarter-hour “sets” of music, often arranging songs by mood and tempo.

The assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963 caused a major change in the presentation of Beautiful Music. Up to that point every voice heard on WDVR was prerecorded. When the shots rang out in Dallas, WDVR was caught with no way to report the story. From that point on, Taylor insisted on having live, local announcers whenever possible. This human touch became another signature of his format.

Then readers are taken on Taylor’s rise to the top of the business. In 1966 he was hired by T. Mitchell Hastings to program The Concert Network:  WBCN, Boston and WHCN, Hartford. The are several priceless anecdotes about the eccentric owner.

Taylor tells of building WJIB in Boston. Then he moved to WRFM in New York. On WRFM the Beautiful Music format struck gold. By the fall of 1970, according to the Arbitron ratings, WRFM was the number two station in the nation’s largest market. Taylor was on a roll.

WRFM’s owner Bonneville Broadcasting loved Taylor’s Beautiful Music format. They decided to syndicate it nationwide. Beautiful Music went global when stations in the UK, Australia and Europe signed on.

But, Taylor’s good fortune changed in the late 1980s. Changes in lifestyle and music meant changes in priorities for radio ad buyers. They wanted to reach younger demographics. Beautiful Music stations began switching to Adult Contemporary and Soft Rock formats. These format changes became a wave and the market for Beautiful Music vanished quickly.

Taylor left in 1988 and Bonneville sold the format in 1993.

Taylor describes being out of work, a new experience for him.  One night he prayed:

“God, please grant me the opportunity to have one more grand gig in this industry that I love before I am too old and feeble physically and mentally to handle the challenge.”

The clouds began to part in fall 1998 when Taylor met Lee Abrams, the head of new satellite radio broadcaster XM Radio. XM was still in their development phase at the time. Taylor pitched an Easy Listening format to Abrams.

In November 2000, Taylor got a call from Dave Logan, Abrams lieutenant at XM. Logan wanted to offer him a job programming a 1940s Big Band channel. This wasn’t Taylor’s first choice but he took the job anyway.

Soon Taylor felt reborn and his creative juices began to flow again. He built the Big Band channel based on his experience: The Forties and More... On Track Number Four! The channel became a hit for XM. Other projects followed at XM and XMSirius. Taylor retired from the company in 2015.

Radio…My Love, My Passion is filled with history and anecdotes. You will recognize many of the people who played roles in Taylor’s work. Marlin Taylor has done a wonderful job assembling the facts and touching on events that matter. When you finish reading  Radio…My Love, My Passion you will feel like you know him as a true visionary who changed the radio programming forever.

1 comment:

  1. I would be interested in getting this book. Any radio history would be of interest of myself. He really loved the "pops" music, and it worked for three decades.