The Young Sound format was created in 1966 by John De Witt for CBS Radio at WCBS-FM in New York. The Young Sound was more of an architected format than merely a genre in that songs were selected such that the beat, key, rhythm, and mood flowed from one song to the next. John, who graduated from the Juilliard School of Music in 1958 where he obtained both his Bachelors and Masters Degree in choral conducting, was master of the segue and created these artistic 13-minute mix sets that were greater than the sum of the songs.  


Four of these sets made up a pre-assembled one-hour program tape.  The last song on each tape was always a long instrumental so the program could fade out gracefully at the appropriate time since it would have been nearly impossible to predict the exact length of the program with commercials and song announcements.  It took approximately four hours to make each one-hour program.  The completed tapes were then distributed to CBS affiliate stations around the country.  Each week, five new tapes would be added and five other tapes would be pulled from the rotation.  Each program would stay in the rotation for a period of time, and then drop out as new ones were added. Stations played approximately 130 hours of Young Sound programming per week.  Announcing of the songs was recorded by local talent and literally spliced into the program tapes.  In Chicago, The Young Sound was on WBBM-FM with Chicago sportscaster, Bud Kelly as the announcer.  A few commercials then followed the announcements followed by another set.  The one-hour programs were selected and rotated according to mood and time of day.  John moved the Young Sound production from New York to Chicago in September, 1970.


In addition to the way the songs were segued, what also made the programs great were the selection of the songs themselves.  The Young Sound library certainly wasn’t Elevator Music, was much more than Lounge or Easy Listening music, and didn’t follow any particular standard format.  The Young Sound music had an energy to it, a certain spirited mood.  The songs could be upbeat or laid back or even lush orchestrations of popular hits, but they had a special energy that kept the listener engaged and never bored.  The music John selected was intended to both excite and soothe those of a younger generation, and if the songs were woven together in a flowing tapestry of sound, all the more reason to “stay tuned” for more.


I was fortunate to have access to a professional Ampex 2-track, 2-channel Stereo 7" Reel-to-Reel tape deck that my parents had acquired in 1958 from their friend who worked at Ampex.  I enjoyed The Young Sound sets so much that I taped literally hundreds of hours of programming between 1968 and 1972 and logged each and every set.  I then edited the tapes to make my own “Best of The Young Sound.”  I studied the music and logs, analyzed the segues, and then practiced making my own segued sets.  While I enjoyed the pop music of the time on stations like WLS and WCFL, and while I had my favorite DJs on those stations, often, I just wanted to hear uninterrupted music.  The Young Sound was an oasis to the noise of the pop stations.


By 1970 and into 1971, John had dropped some of the instrumental covers and replaced them with top 40 pop hits along with some progressive rock.  The nighttime rotations were more progressive and included what would now be considered psychedelic rock and progressive folk.  While I continued to enjoy this new format change, the market was once again changing and management felt that a standard live format was far more flexible, so the pre-recorded format finally ended.  Fortunately for me, around this time, a number of “underground” progressive music stations in Chicago were broadcasting the kind of music I enjoyed.  I didn’t miss the pre-recorded format because I had my library of tapes if I wanted a Young Sound fix.


In 1974, I purchased a 4-channel Teac 3340 (then later added a Model 2 mixer, and MB-20 meter bridge) in order to make my own pre-recorded music programs.  The first song would go on tracks 1 and 2.  Stop, rewind a bit, then while listening to the end of the first song on tracks 1 and 2, I would record the second song on tracks 3 and 4.  The third song would get recorded on 1 and 2 and so on.  It was very time consuming, but I preferred this method of “building a segue” over the live “two turntables” method since I could tweak the segues and experiment with various song alternatives without destroying what I had already recorded.  I owned 2 Sony PS-4750 turntables so was able to hone my live DJ skills and try out various segues, but still preferred the multi-track method.  While I did use the tape deck for purposes for which it was originally intended, such as making live and studio recordings of local bands, experimenting with bouncing and sound-on-sound, or producing radio shows, most of its use was devoted to making segued programs, or as I called them, Eclectic Set Programs. My programs were “all over the road” in that some were Young Sound-ish, others were progressive rock, still others were classic rock, jazz fusion, or folk.  Some were theme-based, some were artist-oriented, most were music, but some were comedy and spoken word.


Over the years, I searched high and low for many of the albums that were featured on The Young Sound.  Many were hard to find; a lot them were found in “cut out” bins in off-beat record stores.  Fortunately, many were later remastered and/or re-released and could now be found with the help of the internet.


Recently, a DJ friend helped me by digitizing almost every Young Sound reel-to-reel tape.  I then scanned all the logs and was able to piece together a Young Sound history and evolution.  In the meantime, I had digitized (and cleaned up using iZotope RX and Ozone plugins) hundreds of songs that were vinyl-only and created a Young Sound library of substantial size.  I then decided to recreate that original Young Sound experience by making new programs from songs in my library.  Some segues are based on John De Witt’s original segues; others are my own.  


The idea is to create that same “living energy” that John had created in the late sixties, both through a discerning selection process and in the way the songs blend together.  The goal is such that “The set is greater than the sum of the songs.”