Kal Rudman

Kal Rudman, who founded the influential tipsheet Friday Morning Quarterback, relied on by top 40 and rock programmers for spotting the latest hits, has died. According to Deane Media Solutions CEO Fred Deane, who worked for Rudman for much of his career, Rudman peacefully passed away with Lucille Rudman, his wife of 63 years, by his side.

Rudman, a school teacher and disc jockey who went by the name “The Round Mound of Sound,” founded FMQB in his basement in 1968 with his wife Lucille, as a mimeographed-and-stapled journal known for Rudman’s single picks – “Go-rillas” in Kal-speak. It became an indispensable Top 40 programming tool in an era before monitored airplay and audience research. Getting a mention in the “Red Sheet,” the Quarterback’s front page, printed in crimson to thwart those who would avoid subscription fees by photocopying it, helped propel the careers of Barry Manilow, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Billy Joel. Bruce Springsteen credited Rudman’s advice for helping him score his first Top 40 hit, 1980’s “Hungry Heart.”

“Kal explained to me that Top 40 radio is mainly listened to by girls and that my female demographic was low. And I thought about the songs on [‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’] and I realized that the lyrics really were mostly for and about guys.” Springsteen told veteran music-biz exec Danny Goldberg for the latter’s 2009 book.

FMQB eventually expanded into two weekly trade publications, one for Top 40, the other for Rock, which reported on programming and business trends and interviewed influential radio execs.

“Kal was a man who was truly passionate about music and he communicated that passion so enthusiastically and so colorfully,” music industry legend Clive Davis told DMS in a tribute to Rudman. “For many vibrant years, his voice was distinctively heard by everyone working in music. Kal was indeed one of a kind.”

Scott Shannon, morning man at Audacy classic hits WCBS-FM New York, became friends with, and an avid follower of Rudman early in his radio travelogue and says he was instrumental in his career. Calling him “an underrated and under-estimated giant in the music and radio business,” Shannon said he learned a great deal from him. “The things I learned from him were invaluable,” Shannon told DMS. “Basically, how to read the importance of a hit record and how to spot one before your competitor, and quickly act on your gut.”

Shannon said every week he studied Rudman’s Front Red Page, which tipped programmers to hit records just as they were starting to break out. “It meant so much to me to see some guy in Peoria yelling about the phones he’s getting on a certain record,” Shannon continued. “Kal was the captain of that ship. He gave several of these young programmers notoriety and respect in the record business and across the radio business. I made it a point to talk to him every week before I finalized my music, and I knew I could always get an honest read from him. He broke more records than any other publication of that era, was a true pioneer of our business, a very colorful character and networking genius to the extent that many of his methods of doing business have endured up until today.”

For the past two decades, Rudman focused on philanthropic endeavors. He shut down FMQB in January 2020 after 52 years of publishing, when he retired the title and sold off its assets to Cherry Hill, NJ-based Deane Media Solutions.