Rick Dees Weekly Top 40
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The Weekly Top 40 logo
|Genre||Music chart show|
|Running time||Approx. 3 hrs. and 55 mins. (including commercials)|
|Syndicates||Westwood One (domestic)
Radio Express (international)
Various guest hosts
|Air dates||since September 1983|
|Audio format||Stereophonic sound|
Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 (sometimes known as The Weekly Top 40) is an internationally-syndicated radio program created and hosted by American radio personality Rick Dees. It is currently heard on over 200 radio stations worldwide and the American Forces Network. It is distributed domestically by Westwood One (now part of Cumulus Media) and internationally by Radio Express. It is also heard on Dees' official website.
The Weekly Top 40 countdown is available in two versions: Hit Radio (for Top 40 stations), and Hot Adult (for Hot AC stations). A version for AC stations called Weekly Top 30 debuted in July 2009; it has since been cut to 20 songs.
The Weekly Top 40 debuted in September 1983, after Rick's then-station, KIIS-FM, lost American Top 40 to a rival station, KIQQ (now KSWD) over the playing of network commercials. (Ironically, KIIS-FM would again carry AT40 in 1988, after Shadoe Stevens took over as host.) Initially syndicated by United Stations, the show was initially heard on ten stations, but would expand to 40 by the end of 1983.
Part of the Weekly Top 40's appeal in the '80s - and how it differentiated itself from the more sober AT40 - was Rick's colorful, signature use of goofy sound effects and comedy voices, often at the end of each segment before commercial breaks. The voice impressions were by Rick and his wife Julie (a talented voice actor) as well as other mimics, and included characters imported from Rick's popular morning show on KIIS-FM. Characters heard on the Weekly Top 40 through the '80s and beyond included "talent booking agent" Bernie Shelley of "Possessive Artists" and his ditzy receptionist; countdown "technician" and wino Willard Wiseman; snide gossip columnist Groanin' Barrett; snappy workout guru Jane Fondle with her Radio Aerobics; call-in airhead John Revolting; salivating agony aunt "Crabby"; tittering sex therapist Dr. Rude (a spoof of popular radio and TV sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer); and "Joan's Clone", a take-off of comedian Joan Rivers.
Other comedy routines were "Outrageous!" Facts (inspired by Lionel Richie's reaction to Prince at the 1985 American Music Awards) and "News of the Offbeat", a punchline gag introduced by Rick quoting from bizarre supermarket tabloid stories. Dees Sleaze, a jokey recycling of an item of Hollywood gossip, was often accompanied by the lisping voice of Rick's "boss" at the radio station.
In the '80s the countdown would open with John Williams' Superman Theme and Dees reciting an alternative version of the classic Adventures of Superman opening narration: "...and who, disguised as Rick Dees, mild-mannered disc jockey, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the pursuit of loose women." By 1988 the show's IDs included voice impressions of former hit songs (early examples were Cyndi Lauper's True Colors, Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel, George Michael's Faith, and Need You Tonight by INXS). Other commonly heard sound effects were Little Richard's throaty belly laugh, Michael Jackson's falsetto squeal, James Brown's lines "Believe me that's bad" and "I feel good", and the Joan's Clone exclamations "Yuck!" and "She's a tramp!!".
A contest (the Weekly Top 40 Challenge) and a pre-recorded interview ("special in-studio guest") were other enduring features that helped give Rick's show a younger more contemporary sound when compared to American Top 40. By 1985, the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 could be heard on radio stations around the world as far away as New Zealand.
After ABC Radio Networks pulled AT40 from American stations in July 1994, it picked up the Weekly Top 40 for national syndication.
In January 2000, Weekly Top 40 would move to Premiere Radio Networks (ironically, the same company that owned AT40) until 2005, when Dees left KIIS-FM and its owner Clear Channel Communications, which owned Premiere (Dees had apparently been passed over as Casey Kasem's successor at AT40 in favor of current host Ryan Seacrest, which may have played a role in his departure).
The Weekly Top 40 moved its distribution over to Dial Global from 2005 to 2008. It has been streamed on Dees' official website since 2006.
Reruns of the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 from the 1980s began airing on the TKO Radio Network in 2010 after a trial run on WQMA in Mississippi. A few stations under the "Gen X" moniker air old 90's versions of the countdown starting in summer of 2010. Recently the AC version of the countdown was shortened to the Weekly Top 20.
On February 1, 2011, it was announced that the Weekly Top 40 franchise went switched syndication to the Westwood One radio network (former syndicator for Casey's Top 40), returning to Dial Global after the latter merged in October 2011. The new syndication deal will include additional programming in the franchise, including "The Daily Dees", "Rick Dees 80s and 8", "Rick Dees 90s at 90", repeats of past editions of "Weekly Top 40", and the "Teen Top 20 with Kevin Dees".
Segments aired on the Weekly Top 40
- Sure Shot - a song predicted to crack the Top 40 in the following weeks
- Weekly Top 40 Challenge - during the program, listeners will claim their prize
- Behind the Velvet Rope with Kevin Dees - a gossip segment hosted by Rick's son Kevin; previously known as Dees' Sleaze, hosted by Rick himself.
- What's Happening - a rundown of new movies, DVD's and music
- Number Ones Around the World - a look at the Number One song in various nations
- Top Downloads - the hottest music, ringtones, TV shows and videos being downloaded from the Internet.
- Planet of the Apps - the latest news on mobile smartphone applications.
In 1985, Dees would create and host a syndicated weekday music program for United Stations, American Music Magazine -- the daily, hour-long program would be similar to his countdown show, except that it played the "most requested songs", as phoned in by listeners to an 800 number hotline. The songs were not typically played in countdown fashion, but the most requested was always played at the end of the show. As with most syndicated radio programs, the shows were distributed to radio stations in collector-type boxes—which has been most helpful in keeping the shows in good condition for collectors—by United Stations Programming Network on 5 LPs, one for each day of the week. Each week's box of LPs typically contained two promo spots: one for weekdays and one for the weekends.
The show was produced in a "faux-live" style. Dees would encourage callers to "call in" to the show, and often pre-recorded calls and caller montages would air as though listeners were actually calling in at the time of broadcast, even though these shows were recorded and distributed to stations at least a week ahead of the air date.
Often these shows would feature celebrity guests (either call-in or in-studio) who were promoting events, movies, TV shows or albums un-related to the show. Guests included people like Patrick Swayze, Milli Vanilli, Jon Provost of Lassie, Cher's mother, etc.
At the end of 1988, Dees would leave the program, to be replaced by Bruce Vidal, who regularly subbed for Dees on his countdown show. Around this time, stations could play the program an hour a day on weekdays, or, for weekend airplay, as a single five-hour block, or as a two-hour and a three-hour block. It is unknown when "American Music Magazine" left the air, though at least one show from June 5, 1989 has surfaced in online show trading.
- Durkee, Rob. American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century. ISBN 0-02-864895-1. New York City: Schirmer Books, 1999. Accessed December 10, 2007.
- eBay: "AMERICAN TOP 40 Shadoe Stevens welcomes KIIS-FM 102.7 L.A. 1988 Promo Display Ad
- ABC Radio Networks Kicks Off 'The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40' This Weekend - Entertainment News - redOrbit Retrieved January 6, 2009.
- Radio-Info: "Entertainer Rick Dees and Westwood One sign a major deal", February 1, 2011.
- Rick.com - Official website for Rick Dees.
- The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 - Citadel Media Network's page for the show.
- Listen to Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 online - A partial list of radio stations carrying the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40, including XM Satellite Radio's channels, with scheduled broadcast times and streaming links.