Kal Rudman, a legendary radio veteran and founder and publisher of the Friday Morning Quarterback (FMQB) radio-industry “tip sheet,” passed away on Wednesday, December 1 at the age of 91.
Just hours after his death, Lucille, his wife of 63 years, also passed away.
Upon Rudman’s death, music industry giant and longtime friend Clive Davis told former FMQB CEO and current owner of Deane Media Solutions, Fred Deane, that “Kal was a man who was truly passionate about music and he communicated that passion so enthusiastically and so colorfully. For many vibrant years, his voice was distinctively heard by everyone working in music. Kal was indeed one of a kind.”
The Philadelphia-born Rudman — pictured above with Robin and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees — was a science teacher with a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania before turning his first love, radio, into his business, by becoming a Top 40 disc jockey in 1959 at WCAM in Camden, New Jersey with the nickname, “The Round Mound of Sound.”
Eventually moving his radio operations to Philly’s WDAS – the City of Brotherly Love’s most prominent African-American music and talk station – and his sound to soul, Rudman became known for his prowess and knowledge in all things R&B, and in the mid-60s, he was hired as Billboard magazine’s R&B editor.
By 1968, however, Rudman left Billboard to start his own trade publication from the basement in his home with Lucille. Friday Morning Quarterback, a mimeographed-and-stapled broadsheet for Top 40-format AM radio station programmers, eventually morphed into two full-color, weekly publications beyond just R&B, one for top pop singles, and the other dedicated to FM and Album Oriented Rock, or AOR. He ran it for 52 years.
Kenny Gamble, songwriter, producer and the co-founder of Philadelphia International Records with Leon Huff, told Variety that Rudman’s true gift, “was being able to instinctively identify good music. He was one of the people I used to come to all the time and ask what he thinks about a record. He really did have golden ears.”
Rudman’s FMQB single picks, often known as “Go-rillas,” became a go-to guide for radio programmers. Bruce Springsteen even credited Rudman’s for helping him score his first Top 40 hit, 1980’s “Hungry Heart.”
In label veteran Danny Goldberg’s 2009 book, “Bumping into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business,” the author talked of The Boss’ frustration at having zero Top 40 chart success despite having critically acclaimed albums. “Kal explained to me that Top 40 radio is mainly listened to by girls and that my female demographic was low,” Springsteen told Goldberg. “I thought about the songs on ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town,’” and realized the lyrics really were mostly for and about guys.”
In addition to his print businesses, Rudman became the face of music on national television. Starting in 1980, Rudman became a part of talk show host Merv Griffin’s on-air team, talking about popular music, and in 1982, Rudman started similar affiliations with NBC’s morning show, “Today,” and late night news host, Tom Snyder’s broadcast “Tomorrow.”
The married Rudmans famously maintained philanthropic efforts through their Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation, from the 1980s onward. By January 2020, after 52 years of serving the music industry, Kal retired the Friday Morning Quarterback title and sold off its assets to his neighboring Cherry Hill-based Deane Media Solutions.“For over 50 years, I have been the specialist in predicting countless hits for numerous artists, and I’ve received unique recognition by the music industry as not only a taste-maker but a star-maker,” Rudman told Variety upon his retirement in 2020. “However, times have changed drastically, along with the industry, and it was time for me to move on to my original passion, medicine.”
With that, Rudman returned where he started, in science and in radio, co-hosting “Inside Medicine,” a weekly program that aired on Philadelphia radio stations operated by Beasley Media Group.