Paul Drew, one of Top 40 radio’s major architects, died Thursday (May 16) of natural causes at Victor Royale Assisted Living in Glendale, Calif. The 78-year-old’s multi-faceted career included stints as a DJ, programmer, broadcasting executive and consultant.
Drew, a graduate of Wayne State University in his native Detroit, began his professional radio career in 1961 as a DJ with Atlanta station WAKE. He later moved crosstown to WGST and then WQXI, where he was promoted to program director. Leaving WQXI in 1967, Drew moved on to programming gigs at CKLW in Windsor, Ontario-Detroit, WIBG in Philadelphia, KFRC in San Francisco and former Los Angeles powerhouse top 40 KHJ.
In the early ‘70s, he was appointed VP of programming for RKO Radio, a nationwide chain whose roster at one time included KHJ and sister KRTH, KFRC, WOR & WXLO (99X) New York and WHBQ Memphis, among other stations in Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. Their formats ranged from top 40 and adult contemporary to classical, oldies and talk.
During the course of his career, Drew worked with and/or mentored a diverse array of radio personalities, programmers, consultants and industry writers. That list includes consultants Jerry Clifton and Guy Zapoleon, writers Gerry Cagle (Network 40), Walt “Baby” Love (Radio & Records) and Jerry Del Colliano (Inside Radio), as well as air personalities Rick Dees, Dr. Don Rose, Jay Thomas and Charlie Van Dyke.
Drew was also a partner in the radio consulting firm Drew-Atkinson Associates and also handled several American projects for the Sony Corporation.
In 1984, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as the first director of the USIA’s Radio Marti Project. Drew also launched a series of seminars staged throughout the U.S. under the Professional Programming Management banner.
Drew is survived by his former wife, Ann. Funeral arrangements are private.