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John Harlan Rook is an American radio programmer known for his tenure at 50,000-watt ABC-owned WLS in Chicago; where in 1969, he was named "Radio's Man of the Year" by Variety as well as "Program Director of the Year" at the Gavin Report convention. He was also the architect of the sound of ABC's KQV in Pittsburgh in the early to mid 1960s and the program director for Los Angeles' KFI in the 1970s and KABC in the mid 1980s.
Rook was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and attended high school in Nebraska and acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena, California, with Natalie Wood, Nick Adams, and Sal Mineo in the 1950s before appearing in the Wild Bill Hickok television series. While attending acting classes he worked at Liberty Records before beginning his career in radio.
In 1977, John Rook & Associates was named "Radio Consultant of the Year" at the Bobby Poe Convention. In 1985, Rook was voted by the readers of Radio & Records as "One of most Influential Programmers of the past 20 years". At the 1998 Radio & Records convention he was honored as one of "Radio's Legends." As a programming consultant Rook shaped the sound of several dozen American radio stations including WCFL, Chicago; WHYI-FM, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale; KTLK, Denver; KTKT, Tucson; KROY, Sacramento; WZGC (Z-93), Atlanta; KRBE, Houston; and WBAP, Dallas/Ft Worth.
Hit Parade Hall of Fame
Rook is the creator of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, an association which highlights musical performers who have been responsible for big hit records over the years. Many are very influential but routinely ignored by entities such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A good example would be Pat Boone, who with over 60 chart records including many No. 1 hits during the emerging rock and roll era, is responsible for introducing mass audiences to songs popularized by R&B performers not played on mainstream stations at the time. Until the Hit Parade Hall of Fame's first inductees in 2007, Boone was not honored for his contributions by any organization. Likewise overlooked until being honored by the Hit Parade Hall of Fame are Connie Francis and Chubby Checker.
Also included are numerous artists who have had big national hit records which don't fall under the strict genre rules of other awards associations. The most obvious example would be the icons of the pop standards era, artists such as Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine, Jo Stafford, Joni James, Perry Como, Patti Page, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, who achieved their popularity in the period between big band music and rock and roll. A nominating committee of many industry luminaries including Joe Smith, Rick Dees, Russ Regan, Al Coury, Wink Martindale, Red Robinson, Erica Farber, Kent Burkhart, Ed Salamon, Scott Shannon, Rollye James, John Gehron, Larry Lujack, Bob Fead, George Klein and Jim Long is restricted to selecting artists or groups that have attained at least two top ten records according to Billboard or Cashbox magazines in any genre. After nominations are unveiled, the general public can vote for their choice online. New nominees are unveiled during the second week of February with inductees named in the second week of January.
Rook also created Hit Parade Radio in 2008.
- Me The Mob and the Music written by Tommy James, pages 160-161 (ISBN 978-1-4391-2865-7)
- What Am I Doing Here written by Rollye James (ISBN 978-0-9845880-0-8)
- Dead Air-The Rise and Demise of Music Radio written by Bill Young (ISBN 978-1456541460)
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