The show debuted on April 20th 1935, as a 60-minute program, and there was no particular format used for presenting each song, with just a selection of the top 15 songs, being introduced in no particular order.
Some years later, the format was changed to a countdown, and fanfares led to the top three finalists, with the number one song being played for the finale - a chart show style formula which has lasted throughout the years.
Initially, the songs being played were more important than the singers, and during the 24-year run, the show had 19 orchestra leaders and 52 singers or groups - with vocalists usually being paid a mere $100 per episode, and not even credited for their input.
Other vocalists in the 1930s included Buddy Clark, Lanny Ross, Kay Thompson and Bea Wain, but the most famous was probably Frank Sinatra, who joined the show in 1943, and was then later fired for messing up the No. 1 song, Don't Fence Me In. However, as his popularity rose, he was invited back, and returned in 1947 to co-star with Doris Day.
The exact science, source or method of how the charts were calculated was never revealed, and listeners were given the following statement in each show:
"Your Hit Parade survey checks the best sellers on sheet music and phonograph records, the songs most heard on the air and most played on the automatic coin machines, an accurate, authentic tabulation of America's taste in popular music."
It's entirely possible that the song choices were merely based on the producers random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system though. What do you think?
Whatever the source, the series was incredibly successful, and kept going strong for many years. The success of the show even spawned a spin-off series, Your All-Time Hit Parade in 1943, which was devoted to all-time favorites mixed with some current hits. You can listen to both series on RUSC.