Friday, December 02, 2011

WFLN Philadelphia Guide

WFLN-FM was the first FM station in the Philadelphia metro, unless you could WJBR-FM, which while technically in Wilmington Delaware, is certainly audible in the Philly market. WFLN was simulcasting on 95.7 and 900 AM. These are WBEN and WURD-AM presently. To promote it's shiny new FMiness, WFLN began publishing a monthly pamphlet called The WFLN Philadelphia Guide to Events and Places. It was a radio schedule with a bit of news, interviews, and some kitschy cartoons. It was a tidy little publication and they charged 50¢ for it and also carried a small load of advertisements. In that issue above (July 1963) advertisers include Pepperidge Farm, the Guardian Newspaper, the Philadelphia Electric Company (selling refrigerators) Folkway Records, Fidelity Insurance, and the Milk Distributors Association. It was in circulation until at least 1985. It began no later than 1960. You can read more about the WFLN here, and more about that whole Philly FM radio dial shebang here.

In December 1961 a new publication, the FM-Stereo Guide began publishing it's own schedule of radio programs in Philadelphia. Before the first issue even hit the stands, WFLN threatened to sue them. Billboard covered the spat, and the issue of a terse lawyer letter explaining that the guide has falsely claimed that WFLN is furnishing programming information to them.  Ultimately the guide was to include information from 10 stations but not WFLN.  They claimed that the FM Guide conveyed "a completely false impression to the public of the character of the magazine."

To our modern sensibilities, it seems like a gross over-reaction. But in the internet age, we have given up on the notion that the flow of information can be controlled. But there was no internet in the 1960s. While today no one would try to limit access to this kind of information. It's considered of basic utility. But back in the early 1960s, FM radio was the playground of audiophiles and this 48 page pamphlet was an income stream for the radio station. The leap to FM was no sure thing, and they were defending that investment prudently.  For historical reference, and research purposes, I've scanned one issue. Read on.

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