You're absolutely right Penrod, it was highly structured. How can you have a current-based hit music format without structure?
I think it's one of those fantasies about "old time" Top 40 - that it was all less structured and more entertaining than today.
Yes the structure has changed...and is in many ways tighter. Many PD's have their head in the sand and believe reading liner cards somehow equates to entertainment. But you can even trace that one back to how different PD's interpreted and implemented Bill Drake's formatics. There were good and bad examples of Drake up and down the dial.
Remember comments our beloved Debaser has made about his time on the 1520 line - that it "had a magic and a charm"...it was special even then, playing (IMHO) at a WABC/WNBC/WLS/WCFL level. Listen to any of those old airchecks and there was structure alright - but they made it natural and seamless
. They took ownership of it as well as Dan Ingram or Ron Lundy ever did, a testament not only to 'KB airstaff but also its PD's.
IMHO a good PD and airstaff will have the ability to make it sound like they are presenting the music...like they're in charge rather than just following a list. That's where passion for the music and knowledge of same comes in. That's the foundation for an emotional connection with the listener.
To me...it's at least somewhat apples and oranges between a current based, survey based Top 40/Country format and an AOR format where jocks at least present the illusion of digging deeper than just playing the current hit. That's probably the biggest fundamental shift in philosophy going from "free-form" to AOR. In other words, I think Burkhart-Abrams took the music in a direction where it ought not to have gone....or at least to the extent that it did...making AOR into its own version of Top 40. That's how I see it anyway.
BTW in the 'KB article you linked it mentioned a promotion where one of the "W"s had been stolen and listeners had to find it to win. A couple stations just
did their own version of the very same
promotion. Many times the best ideas consist of a new spin on an old idea.
Anyway I'll see your Men At Work stiff and raise you one from Melanie, one 'KB once played...for about a week and a half: "Bitter Bad". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHmafD8DKQA