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Sam Sherwood
In 2013 the great Sam Sherwood donated a package of Formula 63. He shared its story with Jeanne Andersen, creator of TwinCitiesMusicHighlights.net.

KDWB, “The Good Guys,” went on the air on September 16, 1959, as a Top 40 station. (Technically they were still WISK - formerly WCOW - until a few days later.) As part of their promotion, they sold ads to rival WDGY (which had gone Top 40 back in 1956) and other radio and TV stations for a product called Formula 63.

Will Jones of the Minneapolis Tribune reported that the ads were recorded by Dudley LeBlanc, the former Louisiana politician who sold Hadacol years ago.

Hadacol was a patent medicine marketed as a vitamin supplement, but its principal attraction was that it contained 12 percent alcohol (listed on the tonic bottle’s label as a “preservative”), which made it quite popular in the dry counties of the southern United States.

LeBlanc mentioned Hadacol and then said that the new Formula 63 was for people who were tired, dull, and depressed. “Get immediate relief from boredom with new Formula 63.” Little cardboard packages (about the size of a lipstick) were made up with Formula 63 labels, stuffed with cards plugging the new station. Security was so tight that the 120,000 packages were stuffed at the Society for the Blind. Free samples at Snyder Drug Stores revealed what the “product” really was. Even the KDWB disk jockeys weren’t let in on it until that morning. All the other radio stations fell for it and advertised the product until people started calling to complain. Some stations were incensed, while others figured they were getting paid so why not?

The card inside the box was a ticket to a huge rock ‘n’ roll show that would kick off the station. The show was to start at 8 pm and take place at both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Auditoriums at the same time, with the stars “shuttled” by helicopter between them. (Helicopters had to be replaced by limos when things got too dangerous.) Proceeds were to be divided between the Minneapolis and St. Paul Community Chests.

Advertised performers were:
• Dodie Stevens
• Carl Dobkins, Jr.
• Billy Vaughan
• The Four Preps
• Randy Sparks (later the founder of the New Christy Minstrels)
• Ed Townsend
• Jan & Dean
• Jerry Fuller
• Sandy Nelson
• Jimmy Haskell
• Ernie Fields
• Bobby Vee

To get listeners in the mood for another rock ‘n’ roll station, they played “Charlie Brown” by the Coasters - in French - nonstop for many hours. Don French was the first Program Director. The first lineup of DJs was Hall Murray, Phil Page, Sam Sherwood, Bob Chasteen, Bob Friend, Randy Cook, and Dick Halvorson. John McCrae was the first general manager, and Sam Sherwood held that position throughout the ‘60s. The FCC required that the station identify itself as “KDWB – Lake Elmo, also occasionally serving Minneapolis and St. Paul.” Its original catchphrase was “My mommy listens to KDWB.” The station provided immediate competition to leading rock ‘n’ roll station WDGY.

written by Jeanne Andersen