Friday, May 4, 2018


Art Vuolo
Chicago’s National Radio Hall of Fame [link] recently announced the museum will be adding a permanent exhibit showcasing the video collection of radio historian Art Vuolo.  

Though Vuolo never actually worked in the radio biz, he has spent four decades chronicling air personalities, producing videos and telling the history of American radio since the 1950s.

In honor of the new exhibit, Vuolo has released a YouTube montage culled from his behind-the-scenes footage of more than 700 on-air personalities across the country. This is a must-see video for anyone interested in Contemporary Hit radio. I started my career working in “Top 40” radio. I was mesmerized as I watched the seven-minute video that captures a time and place not so long ago. You can see it here:

When the exhibit at the National Radio Hall of Fame is completed, visitors will be able to search and view the recordings at computer stations. Eventually the entire video collection will be while people will be able to access the collection will be available online.

Jimmy Kimmel as seen in
A History of the American Disc Jockey

Beginning in 1979, Vuolo traveled to hundreds of radio stations and videotaped countless hours on DJs on the air and in interviews.   

In the 1980s Radio & Records magazine called Vuolo Radio’s Best Friend.

Philly’s Jerry Blavat as seen in
A History of the American Disc Jockey

Vuolo describes his documentation of DJs on-the-air at America’s leading rock and contemporary music stations in the 1980s and 1990s as an educational mission.   

Howard Stern, early in his career, as seen in
A History of the American Disc Jockey
Vuolo told Inside Radio:

“What I’m known for more than anything now is being an archivist, preserving radio for future generations. The hours of video will be a remarkable resource for aspiring radio talent, radio fans and media historians.”

Vuolo says his goal is to preserve the “art form” of the Top 40 DJ for posterity.


There is nothing about public radio in Vuolo’s work.  Nor is there anything about the rich history of African-American radio after World War Two. Some viewers may dismiss the video as a bunch of white guys making too much money. These criticisms may be true but they miss the point.

A History of the American Disc Jockey is tightly focused on one narrow slice of radio history. Perhaps the Radio Hall of Fame will put it in the larger context. 

However, as a person who started my career in AM Top 40, Vuolo has preserved a part of American radio history - stations and personalities who once ruled the dial. They had an enormous impact on our culture.

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