On this date in History ... 1960:
issue of Payola reached a new level of prominence when President Eisenhower
proclaimed “an issue of public morality”.
The FCC proposed a law to make it an illegal act.
“Payola” was the term describing how radio
stations and DJ’s were paid to play a record. The number of times a record is
played can influence its popularity. Some DJs admitted to receiving a total of
over $10,000 for their “listening fees”.
One DJ, in his testimony to Congress dismissed it as a problem,
comparing it to “giving the teacher a better gift than the fellow at the next
Congress got involved as a matter of trust, since the (public) radio
airwaves were owned by the public. Others were of the opinion that 1960 was an
election year and since it was the middle of the Cold War and the country was just
coming out of the big Game Show Scandal, politicians wanted to appear to be on
the moral side of things.
The consensus was the hearings didn’t accomplish much
in the way of eliminating Payola, but did accomplish two things: they
threatened the career of Dick Clark on American Bandstand (who avoided trouble
by selling his interest in a recording company and cooperating fully with the
investigation), and destroyed the career of rock-n-roll legend Alan Freed.