Gary Theroux is an American radio personality, author, actor, educator, producer, scriptwriter and musicologist who researched, programmed, wrote and, with Bill Drake and Mark Ford, co-produced the Billboard award-winning 52-hour 1978 edition of The History of Rock and Roll rockumentary. He also spent 20 years as the Music & Entertainment Editor of Reader's Digest.
Theroux's work over the years has resulted in multiple Telly, Golden Reel, N.Y. Festivals, Billboard and Communicator Awards. Over his 1982-2002 run as the Music & Entertainment Editor of Reader’s Digest he strategized, directed teams and helped manage RD's Home Entertainment Division, marketing in 33 countries. He created, programmed, produced and annotated more than 300 CD/DVD releases which collectively have sold over 39 million copies. During Theroux's tenure his division of the Reader'[s Digest Association grew in stature to account for no less than 60% of the RDA's entire corporate income (while the flagship magazine was generating only 25%).
Theroux began in radio at age 11, quickly developing the ability to climb into the heads of target demos other than his own and custom-craft programming just for them. His extensive knowledge of music and pop cultures of all eras and genres allowed him to create definitive LP and later CD collections in a broad spectrum of styles. A founder of Reader’s Digest Video, he created many of their biggest TV triumphs, from America In The '40s (PBS) and Legends Of Comedy (Disney) to An Old-Fashioned Christmas (syndicated). He also assembled such award-winning series and specials as Remembering The ‘70s, Elvis, On A Country Road (with Lee Arnold), In Touch (with Kris Erik Stevens), The 100 Greatest Christmas Hits of All Time (with Wink Martindale), The Golden Years, The Halloween Spooktacular (with Kerin McCue) and, most famously, the 52-hour History Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (winner of Billboard’s “Top Special Program Of The Year” award). The author of many articles, liner notes and books, Theroux is a former format designer/programmer and Director of Special Features for Drake-Chenault Enterprises. A longtime DJ, actor, narrator, commercial spokesman, scriptwriter and UCLA instructor, Gary is also an entertainment historian, maintaining files (bios, photos, reviews, etc.) on more than a century of hit music, films and TV programming. From 2007 to 2011 he served as managing producer-head writer for Armstrong InterActive's Emmy-winning TV programming. Theroux's one of the industry leaders on the Nominating Committee of The Hit Parade Hall of Fame. in 2014 he completed both the goodtime comedy screenplay and novelization versions of his yet-to-be-published Knight Before Christmas.
The History of Rock and Roll
In 1975, Theroux found that the History of Rock and Roll 1969 script contained too many inaccuracies and omissions, so as Drake-Chenault programmer/DJ/music historian and their Director of Spoecial Features he researched, rewrote and rebuilt the program entirely from scratch. The new version dramatically expanded the story with fresh interviews, insightful narration, far more music and a host of innovations—all in a modular format which allowed stations more programming flexibility. Bill Drake knew that the rising popularity of stereo FM rock stations made it necessary to redo the show in stereo. The documentary approached each year with a focused half-hour and had separate segments devoted to all the key artists or trends. Bill Drake himself narrated the rockumentary.
Among other things, Theroux had Drake-Chenault chief engineer Mark Ford painstakingly assemble two kinds of annual montages: one of each chart-topping hit of a given year (in sequence) and the other of other key songs there was no time to play in full. Those #1 hit montages were reprised for the climactic final hour of the show—edited together back to back to create a fast-moving 45-minute medley of every chart-topping hit from 1955 to the present. The 1978 edition of "The History of Rock & Roll" debuted as a marathon broadcast over more than 400 domestic stations and another 400 overseas and won Billboard magazine's "Top Special Program of the Year" award.
That success sparked Theroux to write "The Top Ten: 1956–Present," a book about the ten biggest hit records of each year. Theroux eventually hosted his own version of "The History of Rock 'n' Roll" as a fast-moving syndicated daily 21⁄2-minute feature. The online showcasing of that feature lead to it winning the title of "Best Online Program" in the 2014 New York Festivals International Radio Programming Awards global competition.
2014 also marked the fourth year of worldwide syndication (through Envision Networks) of Theroux's award-winning "100 Greatest Christmas Hits of All Time." The ten-hour radio special, hosted by Wink Martindale, counts down the 100 largest-selling, highest-charted and best-loved original hit Yuletide recordings (both singles and key album tracks) from Bing Crosby's 1942 "White Christmas" to the present. More than 160 stars contribute holiday greetings and the stories behind the songs. The countdown, which is updated each year, also features a number of "bonus tracks": rare and surprising tracks by stars few knew ever made Christmas recordings.
- Lycan, Gary (2008-11-30). "Radio pioneer Bill Drake dies at 71 | drake, radio, khj, top, boss - Entertainment - OCRegister.com". OCRegister.com. Archived from the original on 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Gilbert, Bob and Gary Theroux, "The Top Ten: 1956-Present," Pop Record Research, Fireside Books, Simon & Schuster, New York. 1982 (ISBN 0-671-43215-X).
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