Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Doremus

The Chicago Tribune called him "the nation's foremost beautiful music host." I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult. In 1967, he was named "Best Chicago Radio Personality." That's far from insulting. Born in Sapulpa, OK in 1931 Doremus was born into an era when the Okies were outbound. He studied radio-television journalism at the University of Tulsa, and graduated in 1953. Doremus radio began at his campus radio station 89.5 KWGS in 1948. After graduating in 1951, he started at KRMG followed by KOME, KVOD and WKY.  He went to Chicago in 1957 at WIND and later included WAIT, WMAQ, WCLR-FM and WGN. He had several strangely unrelated successes in radio. These divide his life cleanly into eras.

His most enduring successful program was "The Passing Parade." It was a series of short   radio dramas, but based on true history. He neither wrote nor narrated the program. Actually it was written and narrated by John Nesbitt. You can hear one here. Doremus discovered the program languishing on television and syndicated it to radio. It was counter-intuitive, but he acquired the rights to the series and over 1500 three minute episodes were broadcast in the 1950s.

During the mid-1960s he produced "Patterns in Music" on WMAQ-FM in Chicago. It aired weeknights at 7:00 PM. The syndicated program exploted new hits and amateur teens tryign to sing them. Much reality TV today is based on the same premise. It was later retooled for TV where it was died an untimely death at the hands of disinterested sales clods. The original recordings of Patterns in Music are being aired today by 97.5 KNXR in Rochester, Minnesota.

In 1964, John Doremus Inc pioneered the idea of in-flight music for airlines. the service was called 'Music in the Air" and was the first in-flight audio programming.   His first client was United Airlines but soon included others like Braniff, Air Jamacia, Icelandic Air, and Wardair.The project grew to include 14-channels of programming all recorded and produced in-house.

In the 1970s, his company exploded into commercial re-packaged programs. The produced "The Spirit of '76," a radio series for Union Oil Company. By 1979 they also produced "The Innovators" for Amway on NBC, "The Legacy of America" for The Singer Company, This Business of Life and a lot of spokesperson work.  He died  July 6th, 1995 strangely forgotten for such a prolific content creator.