The Goldrush

The Goldrush was possibly the most successful program WIDB ever had.   It was a live remote from Merlin’s, then the largest bar in Illinois, and put WIDB “on the map.”  Merlin’s held 1500 people, and it was packed for every Goldrush.

By 1974, students who had been protesting and rioting less than 20 months before were now streaking naked thru campus and watching “All my Children.”  They were less serious and looking for a good time.  It seems ironic from today’s view, but even though most were under 21, there was a yearning for the simpler and more carefree days of our youth in the 60’s, only a few years before.

It is fair to say that the 1960’s generally looked forward to new things, and there was a great willingness to accept change in the name of “progress,” especially with popular culture and music.  But by 1970, nostalgia began to creep in.  Radio formats played 50’s hits and called them “oldies.”  WIDB had a weekly oldies show as early as 1971 and WTAO aired such a show on Saturday afternoons in 1973 and ‘74.

Programmers at WIDB knew there was a great interest in 60’s hits, especially from The Beatles onward.  As early as 1971, WIDB had a weekly oldies show.  Until fall ‘72, weekends meant every other song was a 60’s hit.  In the Fall of 73, WIDB began airing the “Solid Gold Sunday Night Special” where requests were recorded and played with the song.  It was very popular.

To capitalize on this appeal, WIDB decided to have a “Sock Hop” at the Student Center.  Heavily promoted on WIDB as an “Oldies dance party,” the “Sock Hop” drew 900 to Ballrooms A-D.  But, of course, no alcohol could be served.