The concept was simple: "The Swingin' Years" perpetuates the memory of swing music, popularized by such acts as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. The program focuses primarily on Swing, but also included many of the popular ballads of the era that topped the record charts from 1935 to 1955, that Cecil calls "The Swingin' Years". The music played on the program originally came from KFI's vast record library, as well as from Cecil's personal collection of 40,000+ 78 rpm records. As the show progressed, Cecil included audio clips of his interviews with some of the brightest stars of the big band era.
"The Swingin' Years" began as a local Los Angeles show in 1956, but by 1973, Cecil began syndicating the program through American Radio Programs, Incorporated. During its peak, the show aired on hundreds of radio stations across the United States, in Europe and on the Armed Forces Radio Network.