During a decade when radio was losing its biggest stars to television,
Alan Freed revived the medium with the music he labeled rock
Born on November 21, 1921, Freed began his broadcasting career
in 1942. On July 11, 1951, Freed took the nickname Moondog
and began hosting a program of rhythm and blues music on WJW/Cleveland.
Within a year, Freed had become a local sensation, with an audience
that crossed racial lines.
In 1954, Freed moved to WINS/New York, where he featured rock and
rolls early performers, including Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry
and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. He later hosted a network show
for CBS Radio and moved to WABC/New York in 1958.
Freeds endorsement of rhythm and bluesand his subsequent
popularity with both black and white teenagersmade him a lightning-rod
for both racists and musical conservatives. His career effectively
ended in 1959 when he was caught up in the payola scandal,
accused of accepting bribes to play certain records. Despite his
personal tragedies, Freeds innovations helped make rock and
roll and the Top-40 format permanent fixtures of radio.
Alan Freed died on January 20, 1965.
Alan Freed was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.
courtesy of Photofest.
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