Ronnie's Countdown Game
Back in 1961 New York City radio station WABC ran an hourly contest called "The Countdown Game."
The deejay invited listeners to call in to play the game. The lucky listener who got through got a chance
to win several of the top charted records on the WABC survey for that week. As I recall, the initial prize
was the top five. If the listener didn't win, the prize the next hour would be the top 10 ...
and so on, increasing by five until there was a winner.
The contest had only a single rule. The deejay told the listener that he was going to play the Countdown
Game jingle and that the listener needed to guess what dance they would "count down" to: the three choices
were CHALYPSO, SLOW DANCE
or HOP. After the listener made his or her guess, the deejay played the jingle.
If the listener guessed correctly, he or she would win the records; if he guessed incorrectly, he would
receive a consoling words from the deejay with an invitation to try again later.
I was lucky enough to get through twice. I played the game with deejay Chuck Dunaway with a chance to win the
top 15 records but, unfortunately, guessed the wrong dance! But a few days later I played the game with
deejay Fred Hall and, miracle of miracles, I guessed correctly and won the top 10! That was a joy for me
because the top 10 that week included "Mother-In-Law" by Ernie K-Doe, "Runaway" by Del Shannon and "I've Told
Every Little Star" by my Teaneck High School schoolmate Linda Scott.
The contest had a short shelf life -- possibly no more than a month if that -- and I have yet to find anyone
who remembers it! I was beginning to think that maybe the contest never happened and that I
simply dreamed about it. But it turns out that it was indeed real. Though he himself did not remember
the game, Fred Clemens -- after reading my description of it which I posted on a message board -- told me
that he might know someone who could get me a copy of the Countdown Game jingles! That someone was Brian Lee
and so I thank both Fred and Brian for making this page necessary.
The chances of "winning" are 1 in 3 but if you are truly psychic you should do much better than that, right?
Though there are no prizes, I hope that you'll enjoy playing the game just as I did 53 years ago during the
golden days of top forty radio.
For consistency here I call this page "Ronnie's Countdown Game" but I'm simply taking webpage license. WABC and
the people responsible for the jingles really deserve all the credit. As far as I know the game was
exclusive to WABC but it's possible that other stations presented it as well. But it was on WABC where I heard
it and played it and it was a wonderful listening and rewarding experience.
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