Todd Storz

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Robert Todd Storz (May 8, 1924 – April 13, 1964) was an American radio broadcaster, credited with being the inventor of the Top 40 radio format.

Early life[edit]

Storz was the grandson of Omaha brewer Gottlieb Storz. Growing up in the family mansion in Omaha, Nebraska, Storz became a ham radio enthusiast while living there.[1][page needed]

Radio career[edit]

In 1949, Storz, along with his father Robert, purchased radio station KOWH in Omaha; Todd became the station's general manager. At the time, typical AM radio programming consisted largely of blocks of pre-scheduled, sponsored programs of a wide variety, including radio dramas and variety shows. Local popular music hits, if they made it on the air at all, had to be worked in between these segments.

Storz noted the strong response certain songs received from the record-buying public and compared it to the way certain selections on jukeboxes were played over and over, which he, program director Bill Stewart, national program director and radio presenter Jim "Grahame Crackers" Richards as well as KOWH staff observed. According to producer Richard Fatherly,[2] Storz also commissioned a study from the University of Omaha before switching KOWH to a music focused/"Top 40" format.

Station acquisitions[edit]

Storz expanded his stable of radio stations in 1953, purchasing WTIX in New Orleans, Louisiana, gradually converted his stations to an all-hits format, and pioneered the practice of surveying record stores to determine which singles were popular each week. It was at WTIX where he counter-programmed market rival WDSU's Top 20 at 1280 program with the Top 40 at 1450 on WTIX. In 1954, Storz purchased WHB, a high-powered station in Kansas City, Missouri, which could be heard throughout the Midwest and the Great Plains.[3]

With the help of Stewart, Richards and a newly expanded staff, Storz converted the stations to an all-hits format and called the result "Top 40".[4] Within a few years, Top 40 stations appeared all over the U.S., spurred by the burgeoning popularity of rock and roll music. At his peak, Storz owned WTIX, WHB, KXOK in St. Louis, WDGY in Minneapolis, WQAM in Miami, and KOMA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. During the ongoing Payola scandals of the 1950s, D.J.s at Storz stations were pronounced "clean" as they did not debut records, but stuck to the "Top-40" pre-existing hits format developed by Storz.[5]


At the height of his career, Storz died of a stroke in 1964, at the age of 39. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha. The family has since commemorated his work by issuing the "Storz Awards" every ten years since 1968.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Fisher, Marc (2007). Something In The Air: Radio, Rock & The Revolution. Random House Books. ISBN 978-0-375-50907-0. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (1998). Dick Fatherly Knows Best (from The Hits Just Keep Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio). Miller Freeman Books. ISBN 0-87930-547-9. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Storz family of Omaha acquires WHB Kansas City in merger deal." Broadcasting - Telecasting, April 26, 1954, pg. 64. [1]
  4. ^ "SHOW BUSINESS: King of Giveaway". Time Magazine. June 4, 1956. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Scherer, Steven Robert M.A. (August 2002). "The Influence of the Limited Playlist at the Storz Broadcasting Company during the Payola Era". Purdue University. 

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