Dick Clark had one older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. At the age of 16, he got his first job in the mail room of WRUN, a radio station in Utica, New York, which was owned by his uncle and managed by his father. He worked his way up the ranks and was promoted to weatherman before becoming a radio announcer. After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in business administration, Clark began working at several radio and television stations before landing at WFIL radio in 1952. While working at the station, Clark became a substitute host for Bob Horn's Bandstand, an afternoon program where teenagers danced to popular music, broadcast by WFIL's affiliated television station. In 1956, Horn was arrested for drunk driving, giving Clark the perfect opportunity to step in as the full-time host.
After acquiring nationwide distribution the newly reformatted program, now titled "American Bandstand", premiered on ABC on August 5, 1957. In addition to the name change, Clark added interviews with artists (starting with Elvis Presley), lip-sync performances, and "Rate-a-Record," allowing teens to judge the songs on the show - and giving birth to the popular phrase, "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it." Clark also established a formal dress code, mandating dresses and skirts for the women and a coat and tie for the men. But perhaps the most impactful change that Clark made to the show was ending "American Bandstand's" all-white policy, allowing African American artists to perform on the show.