“Hey, Let’s Hang Out Under the Boardwalk!”

Surprisingly, that iconic summertime feel-good song almost never made it to vinyl…


By Mark Wainwright

imConsider the following song titles:

“There Goes My Baby”

“Save the Last Dance For Me”

“On Broadway”

“Up On the Roof”

“Dance With Me”

“This Magic Moment”

You don’t have to be a battle-scarred radio veteran like me, or an older music fan who remembers hearing those songs as a youngster to immediately recognize these as hits recorded by The Drifters. These songs, and all their other successful releases, were constantly played on the air back in the glory days of AM Top-40 radio, and they are still widely heard and enjoyed today, sometimes in surprising settings; “This Magic Moment” recently turned up in a TV commercial for Heinz ketchup. It is scarcely possible to imagine the history of American popular music without these songs.

Now try this little experiment:

Pull YouTube up on your browser, type the words “Under the Boardwalk” in the search box, and see what pops up. You could spend days (seriously) going through all the uploads from folks who posted that favorite Drifters tune, not to mention all the subsequent recordings made over the years. Some of the names will surprise you. Did the Rolling Stones, of all people, actually record “Under the Boardwalk”? Indeed they did, along with folks like Bruce Springsteen (yo, he’s a Jersey Shore guy, why not?). The song has became a standard, a staple of oldies bands and doo-wop vocal groups who continue to perform the song today. And yet, this most iconic of summertime feel-good songs was within hours of never being recorded. The backstory of that episode, along with the odd twists and turns of the group’s history, deserves some attention.

The Drifters (pictured below in an early photo courtesy of YouTube) were a 1950s brainchild of agent and producer George Treadwell, who got his hands on an early version of the group and envisioned them as sort of all-purpose background singers for hire who could be farmed out to provide background vocals for recording sessions, and for featured performers doing live gigs. Treadwell never thought of them as having a set lineup, he figured that vocalists would drift in and out of the group as needed (hence the name). The group became successful in their own right after their 1953 release “Money Honey” (Clyde McPhatter was the lead singer back then), and they never looked back. For more than a decade, hardly a week went by where you wouldn’t see a Drifters tune somewhere on the music charts.


Treadwell’s management of the group could be capricious, to say the least. He once purportedly fired the band and replaced them with another new group of singers who then performed a show scheduled for the following night (he might have done something like this more than once). Somehow, it all managed to work out. Dozens of vocalists were part of the group at various times, although when The Drifters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, there were seven performers who were cited as critical to the group’s success. I believe Charlie Thomas was the last of these fine singers, and he died in January this year.

“Under the Boardwalk” was written in 1964 by Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick and they offered it to The Drifters, who immediately saw the potential. A recording session was set for May 21, 1964 (already pushing the calendar for summer release), but the night before the session, lead singer Rudy Lewis died of a suspected heroin overdose. George Treadwell and the folks at Atlantic Records really wanted to get the tune out there, so they finally decided to record the song as scheduled. Johnny Moore was called upon to sing the lead vocal; he was the group’s designated backup lead vocalist who would fill in when needed.

One can hardly imagine what these guys were thinking and feeling under the circumstances, but they got through it, Johnny Moore did a superb job, and the final result was amazing. The group actually cut alternate takes of the song. Some radio stations were hesitant to play a record containing the lyric “making love under the boardwalk” (remember, this was 1964), so other takes were done with the replacement line “falling in love under the boardwalk.” It was released in June and was constantly heard on the great AM Top-40 stations of the day, and played incessantly on jukeboxes nationwide. The song spent three weeks at #1 on the Cashbox magazine R&B chart, and got as high as #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song would have almost certainly been a Billboard #1, except for a quartet of young Brits who called themselves “The Beatles.” You might recall they also had some pretty good tunes out there at the time.

And the date of that highest Billboard chart position? August 22, 1964. Fifty-nine years ago today.

So now comes the inevitable YouTube link. I think this one is the original track containing the “naughty” lyrics. Turn up the volume and enjoy! (And remember, you should use lotion that has a minimum rating of SPF 30!)

Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters


Mark Wainwright is a veteran radio performer who spent more than 30 years working as a disc jockey, talk show host, and morning personality at well-known radio stations throughout the United States. He was most recently the morning host at WSYR in Syracuse, New York. (He was even a pretty good AM Top-40 jock back in the day, just ask him!) He can be reached through his LinkedIn page or at markwainwright@earthlink.net

Industry News

TALKERS Vice President/Executive Editor Kevin Casey is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast

Last month marked the 33rd anniversary of the launch of TALKERS magazine – the talk media industry trade publication founded by Michael Harrison in July of 1990. The term “talk media” established and popularized byim the journal refers to AM, FM, online and satellite talk radio, cable news/talk TV, and talk podcasting.

Marking this third-of-a-century milestone, TALKERS longtime VP/executive editor, Kevin Casey is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Casey, then a program director for Clear Channel’s WHYN, imSpringfield, MA, joined TALKERS as its managing editor almost a quarter-of-a-century ago in 2000. The big story during that pre-9/11 year was the excruciatingly inconclusive presidential election between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore that took over a month to settle.

Michael Harrison states, “I’ve been blessed with a tremendous group of media professionals who operated and built TALKERS into the established communications vehicle that it has proven to be in many ways paralleling the growth of talk radio and its offshoots for more than three decades. One of the key individuals who has been responsible for its growth and longevity is my dear colleague, Kevin Casey.”

In a casual conversation between longtime friends and co-workers, Harrison and Casey take stock of the publication’s journey which parallels the historic role of talk radio’s modern era. Hear the complete podcast here.

Industry News

TALKERS Celebrates 33rd Year of Publishing

Today begins the 34th year of publishing for TALKERS magazine as a trade journal serving the talk media industry. The first issue rolled off the presses in the form of a tabloid newspaper on Monday July 23, 1990 focusing primarily on talk radio.  Since then it has grown and evolved with the industry to go through severalim format phases including a full color magazine and eventually a daily online operation geared to providing news, advice and opinions to professionals involved in programming, managing, marketing and operating an array of related platforms in what has come to be known as talk media.  This includes most popular forms of spoken-word AM and FM radio, plus online programming, podcasting, cable television and satellite broadcasting. During this period, TALKERS has produced and presented 26 national conventions in New York and another three in Los Angeles. Add to that more than 35 regional, national and international forums about the field and countless radio rows including several at the White House in conjunction with both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. TALKERS remains and will continue to be a non-partisan proponent of the First Amendment with a great love and passion for talk media’s roots in the century old medium of radio.

Industry News

Pittsburgh Sports Media Personality Stan Savran Dies

Pittsburgh sports media pro Stan Savran died on Monday (6/12) at the age of 76. Savran began his career at WWSW-AM, Pittsburgh in 1976 before moving crosstown to KQV. He then served with WTAE-TV and WTAE-imAM. In 1991, he and co-host Guy Junker launched the popular “SportsBeat” program on cable TV. After that show’s eventually demise, the two worked together on Pittsburgh radio on what are now WPGP-AM and WBGG-AM.  in addition to a couple of cable TV ventures in which he held reporting and sports talk hosting roles. Savran would also host the postgame show on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network.

Industry Views

Premature Ejection

By Michael Harrison

imThere are media and there are media. There are platforms and there are platforms. Not all cultural artifacts are equal in terms of their utilitarian versus cultural value. Damn the tone-deaf corporate bean counters who are ripping the heart out of the spirit that gives humanity its life force! Marketplace obsolescence should not solely be determined by profit and loss. With all due respect to the idea of public service, what about the concept of loyalty? Shame on the automobile industry! Not only is it turning its back on the needs of millions of people, it is in the process of betraying one of its historic partners in not only commerce – but romance and glory. In other words, the automobile industry owes the radio industry a huge debt. The relationship between cars and radios goes a century deep and has been nothing less than a two-way street. Yes, auto industry, don’t be so hasty to save a few bucks by rushing AM (and then FM) radio out the door. You might just find in the long run that “radio” outlasts the private “car” as a fixture of human activity.

A radio is not a cassette, CD, or 8-track player. A radio is a magic box that embodies a century of culture during which it spun the idea that taking a car ride is a lot more soulful than spending time getting from point A to B via the subway, bus, or plane. The car has been the perfect radio-listening chamber and radio has returned the favor in spades with its music and DJs glorifying everything from little deuce coups to Cadillacs to the T-Bird that daddy took away – not to mention bolstering the ubiquitous culture of automobiles with traffic reports, news, weather, and endless references to this particular form of transportation as being a key component of what it is to be a member of society. Radio has provided the car biz with a century long, non-stop free or generously bonused commercial!

From a purely economic position of self-interest and greed, it is understandable why car manufacturers might consider AM radios expendable and are eager to toss them out like the aforementioned obsolete devices of music conveyance.  So, what if millions of people still listen to it and DEPEND on it for free speech, religious expression, ethnic connection, demographic habit and public safety. Couldn’t the car manufacturers wait another decade before turning its back on such an important – and still vital – relationship?

Hey auto industry, be careful what you’re doing. You’re severely mistaken if you think your poop doesn’t stink and your place in our rapidly changing society is guaranteed. You might find rolling along in this brave new world without radio turns out to be a very dangerous road.

Michael Harrison is the publisher of TALKERS and can be reached via email at michael@talkers.com. Meet Michael Harrison at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University.

Industry News

Audacy Feeling Out Users’ Interest in Paid, Commercial-Free Tier

According to a report by Matthew Keys at The Desk, Audacy has begun surveying users of its digital platform to see what they might be willing to pay for commercial-free streaming of its content. Keys writes, “The plan would see Audacy replace commercial breaks on its traditional AM and FM radio stations with ‘exclusive content like additional news, interviews or songs, all while remaining in sync with the live broadcast.’… The survey asked Audacy listeners to choose how much they’d be willing to pay for commercial-free radio, with the prices starting at $1 per month and going as high as $11 a month, according to a copy of the survey reviewed by The Desk. A follow-up question presented a similar list of options, but asked users to weigh in on the maximum price they’d be willing to pay before they thought a premium radio subscription was too expensive.” Read the story here.


Streaming Has Saved Talk Radio

By Kathy Carr
Howie Carr Radio Network


BOSTON — Recently, I was signing up a new affiliate for “The Grace Curley Show” and one section of the agreement dealt with “territory,” meaning the area covered by the station’s terrestrial signal.

The template for this agreement was created just eight years ago, in 2014, but it now seems so archaic. With all the ways you can listen in 2022, what does it matter how strong the signal is and what exactly is “exclusive territory?” Because there is no exclusive territory now.



Monday Memo: Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND — “…so are The Days of Our Lives.” The intro to that soap opera – er, daytime drama – is SO old that it outlived star MacDonald Carey, still heard voicing-over the beginning of each show on NBC-TV every weekday…until today. After 57 years and 58 Emmy Awards on broadcast television, the venerable melodrama will now be seen exclusively on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.



Monday Memo: Is Your Show the Dog? Or the Tail?

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Lots of response to last week’s “Weekend Warriors, Renegotiate.” SOME stations were horrified by what I’m telling their brokered ask-the-expert hosts. SMART stations already offer the win-win template I outlined. ICYMI: https://www.talkers.com/2022/03/21/monday-memo-weekend-warriors-renegotiate/

 FMs are scrambling. AMs? Ugh.

As if AM wasn’t already suffering listener demographics, technical interference, caricature programming, and too little local content, now comes the proposal to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. From November through February – when local sunrise would come between 8:00 am and 9:00 am – later pattern and power change times would cripple full-time stations. Daytimers would be utterly screwed if smart ones with translators hadn’t already rebranded as FMs (as have so many full-time AMs).



Reginald Fessenden: Father of Modern Radio

By Aaron Bennett
National Inventors Hall of Fame


NORTH CANTON, Oh. — Established in September 2011 by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), World Radio Day celebrates the profound influence of radio technology in spreading diverse, democratic discourse. Because of the medium’s relatively low cost and massive reach, it remains one of the most accessible forms of communication.