Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Payola is an action where bands and singers/songwriters pay disc jockeys under the table to play their songs more often on the radio. This is now illegal, after payola was done liberally in the 50s and 60s.
Dwight Eisenhower was president at the time, and he passed a law making payola illegal. At first, such things as paying for more airplay on television was illegal, but apparently a second law had to be made for the same action, only on radio.
After payola became illegal, Alan Freed was convicted of payola. Dick Clark, the host for American Bandstand (who’s wife, coincidentally, gave Chubby Checker his last name), also was brought to court for payola, but was found innocent.