The Baltimore Sun


Popularized music-centered radio format

Bill Drake, who set the tone at hundreds of pop stations with a radio format that placed music - rather than disc jockeys - at the center of the broadcast, died of cancer Saturday at West Hills Hospital in the San Fernando Valley of California, his domestic partner, Carole Scott, said.

At the height of his career as a radio programming consultant in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Drake championed a streamlined format that came to be known as "Boss Radio," which made announcers' personalities secondary to the Top 40 hits they were spinning.

Under Mr. Drake's guidance, radio stations such as KGB in San Diego, KHJ in Los Angeles and KFRC in San Francisco shot to the No. 1 slots in their markets by promising more music and less chatter.

Mr. Drake, whose given name was Philip Yarbrough, was born in Georgia and began his professional radio career as a disc jockey and later program director at WAKE in Atlanta.

His name was changed to Drake because the station wanted a name that rhymed with the call letters, according to a biography on Mr. Drake's Web site.

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