Ahmet Ertegun Award
Tom Donahue ignited a radio revolution.
Donahue is called is the “Father of Progressive Radio,” and for good reason; he played music from different generations with his own opinions sprinkled throughout the set. His authoritative yet contrarian persona was beloved by San Francisco listeners.
Hall of Fame Essay
In that basso profundo of his that made teenage listeners think of Top 40 DJs as gods, “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue used to open his show with a rumbling but somehow friendly warning: “I’m here to mess up your mind and clear up your face.”
He did that, and more. He wound up changing the face-and sound- of radio itself. It was Donahue who was most responsible for free-form radio and for the album-oriented format into which it ultimately evolved, and it was the success of his stations and their brethren elsewhere that jolted FM radio into commercial life in the late ’60s.
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