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*Frankie Crocker was born on this date in 1940. He was an African American radio personality, entertainer, administrator, and producer.
Born in Buffalo, NY, Crocker began his radio career at Williamsville, NY; station WUFO, while studying pre-law at the University of Buffalo. His other jobs included N.Y. radio stations WWRL and Top 40 station WMCA. As program director at WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM in the early '70s, Crocker began to shape an innovative and influential radio format. That style would become known as progressive R&B while he garnered the top spot in the ratings. His timing was perfect as a new kind of R&B station was beginning to spring up on the FM dial around the country. Their formats emphasized less (if any) talk, a cross blend of jazz, pop/rock, sophisticated soul, funk, and R&B. The sound was similar to the sound of the smooth jazz stations of the late '90s. The Venus Flytrap characters on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati showed a slight resemblance to Crocker's sound and style.
As his reputation grew, Crocker was offered different opportunities. He appeared in the movies Cleopatra Jones and Five on the Black Hand Side. He released two disco-oriented albums on Casablanca Records as Frankie Crocker's Heart and Soul Orchestra, The Heart and Soul Orchestra, Love in C Minor, and Disco Suite Symphony No. 1 in Rhythm and Excellence. Later he hosted NBC TV's Friday Night Videos, was one of the first video DJs on cable channel VH1, had his own syndicated radio show, Classic Soul Countdown, and worked at WRKS-New York. His skills led to him programming and/or working at KUTE, Los Angeles, WGCI and WNUA, Chicago, and WKKS, St. Louis.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a DJ/programmer. Crocker filled the R&B format with a wide-reaching musical palette that included music from just about every genre. Frankie Crocker died from pancreatic cancer in Miami, FL, on October 21, 2000.
NY Times Article