Welcome to the New York Radio Archive!
Welcome to the New York Radio Archive
While there are many radio sites and forums on the web, short shrift is generally given to 1960s-1970s free-form, progressive and underground FM rock radio. In addition, when air checks and other collectables are loaded to Forums on the web, they are frequently lost as the postings are removed or it's hard to follow which postings had the associated attachment. This site will serve to remedy those situations. So we'll cover the free-form radio FM scene, mainly for New York radio stations, but we'll also add some goodies for New York AM radio fans that don't exist on other sites.
The New York Radio Archive (NYRadioArchive.com) will feature articles, advertisements and other documentation about New York radio culled from the journals and newspapers of the day. In addition, it will contain a repository of airchecks and other radio archive materials. And we might even put up some rare one-of-a-kind materials for sale for those of you who want more than an electronic copy.
Come back often to see what's new on the New York Radio Archive as we'll be posting new airchecks and other archival material at least once a week. We've got some great contributors lined up who have promised to donate unique radio-related archival materials to this site.
Please post any feedback or just say hello on the Guestbook page. We'd like to know who is out there.
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Richie Havens dies at 72
We've just learned that the great Richie Havens has died from a heart attack earlier today (April 22, 2013) at the age of 72. His first major album on Verve Records, "Mixed Bag", released in 1967, was synonymous with the rise of free-form, progressive rock radio and the first track of that album, "High Flying Bird", was the first track played by Rosko when he joined WNEW-FM in October of 1967.
That album also heavily influenced DJ Pete Fornatale who used it as the title of his weekend radio show for many decades. That show is still on the air today, hosted by Don McGee on WFUV.
Havens is also well known for being the very first act to perform at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.
Images of America: New York City Radio
Our friends Alec Cumming and Peter Kanze have put together a book for Arcadia Publishing that's filled with photographs about New York radio.
The book includes commentary and photos of such classic air personalities as Alison Steele and Dan Ingram as well as radio's pioneers, including inventors Edwin Armstrong and Lee DeForest. The book is a comprehensive, yet concise tour of New York City radio beginning at the turn of the last century and extending through the internet radio of today, stopping along the way at radio's pre-TV golden age and the growth of both top-40 and progresive rock & roll beginning in the late 1950s. The book contains many classic as well as rare photos. My favorites include a display of radios at Bamberger's Department Store from the 1920s, FM inventor Edwin H. Armstrong standing acrobatically on top of an antenna, some rare photos of Alan Freed along with such DJs as Jocko Henderson, Dr. Jive (Tommy Smalls), Bruce Morrow, and Bob Lewis before moving on to the progressive rock era of Rosko, Scott Muni, Murray the K, Alison Steele, Jim Kerr and many others. This is a must have for anyone who ever cared about New York radio.
More info and ordering here.(Just a link - we don't get anything for this)
The New York Times recently caught up with the great John Zacherley - still doing his thing at an amazing 94 years of age.
"Once a Ghoul, Always A Ghoul"
RADIO UNNAMEABLE Bob Fass Documentary
Unless you're Ken Burns, it's almost impossible today for serious independent filmmakers to get documentaries completed because it's so hard to obtain funding. There are a number of documentary projects of interest to us that have been underway for years, with no signs of completion. Unfortunately in the United States, most have to be abandoned.
But I'm very happy to announce that a documentary we told you about last year, RADIO UNNAMEABLE, about Bob Fass of WBAI, has been completed and just finished a run at the Film Forum in NYC.
Directed by Paul Lovelace and Jessica Wolfson, RADIO UNNAMEABLE is a documentary film about legendary radio personality Bob Fass, who revolutionized the FM dial on listener supported New York station WBAI by serving as a cultural hub for music, politics and audience participation for nearly 50 years. Long before today’s innovations in social media, Fass utilized the airwaves for mobilization, encouraging luminaries as well as ordinary listeners to talk openly and without commercial considerations, taking the program in surprising directions. RADIO UNNAMEABLE is a visual and aural collage that pulls from Bob Fass’s immense archive of audio, film, photographs, and video that has been sitting dormant until now.
RADIO UNNAMEABLE played for two weeks at New York's Film Forum and will be playing at selected locations throughout the country. A list of upcoming playdates is below.
Click herefor more information about the movie.
Click herefor the New York Times review of the movie.
Click herefor a New York Times article about Bob Fass' archive which includes several short airchecks.
When Paul and Jessica contacted us over a year ago to see if we had any WBAI material, I had my doubts about the success of such an effort. After all, there aren't that many people interested in radio these days. Take those people and filter them down to those that care about New York radio. Then take those people and find the ones who still care about 1960s-70s radio. (Well…OK, those are the people who visit this site.) Now take those remaining and find the ones who care about Bob Fass and WBAI. I thought that number would be about nine (me being two of them).
Then I thought that even if there was such interest, how much archival material, especially visual material, could possibly be available? After all, the peak of Fass' radio career took place in the 1960s and 70s, before the age of portable video.
I couldn't have been more wrong. This film has been selling out at the Film Forum. It is filled with wonderful visuals and audio. As it turns out, Fass saved about 7000 reels of tape from his shows. (Not the least bit organized or cataloged, but at least they were kept).
This film is about far more than one late-night radio personality. It's about a city, political and social movements, the best use of radio to get something positive accomplished, and how Fass (and a few others like him) created a comfortable environment for new artists to explore their art and present it to the public before the age of complete and crass commercialism. But it's also about how internal politics and the segmentation of political movements came together to destroy even the most utopian environments and the resulting fallout.
While no commercial radio station was ever as free-form as Fass (and Steve Post) was on WBAI, it's easy to see the influence he had, especially on personalities like Vin Scelsa, who appears in the film. Also appearing is Judy Collins, the voice of Joni Mitchell, Paul Krassner, Steve Post, Abbie Hoffman, Marshall Efron, Dave Van Ronk and many other luminaries of the era.
We always knew there was a core of people who listened to WBAI, but I don't think many outsiders today believe it had all that much influence. The reality, as shown in the documentary, is that Fass could get thousands of people to show up for a "Fly-In" at Kennedy Airport or the equivalent of a flash-mob at Grand Central Station (which ended in violence) and many other such events.
One of the surprises of this documentary is that it's so damned entertaining - it's simply a delight to watch. It brings us back to a time of great social movements as well as silliness and excesses. But you walk away from this film thinking, "Radio was really important then, wasn't it?" And it mostly seems so trivial and unimportant now.
Listeners to his show were constantly trying to seek ways to help people. One woman called-in distraught because of an apartment fire. People called in offering her a free hotel room. Fass got listeners (or his "cabal", as he called it) together to clean the streets during a garbage strike. Fass himself kept a guy on the air who claimed to be in the process of committing suicide and saved his life. Can you imagine any radio station, commercial or non-commercial, that could accomplish these things today?
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! It won't be playing long…don't miss it. And if you don't live in New York, keep looking for it at your favorite art house (or call them up and demand that they program it).
Wednesday, May 22 - 8:00pm
Rivertown Film - 58 Depew Avenue - Nyack, NY
includes Q&A with the filmmakersWeb Info
CAROL MILLER Book
Carol Miller has written a book: Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio.
As the book jacket says, "The all-American chronicle of radio legend Carol Miller, from her rise to success in a male-dominated world to the rock stars she's known along the way to, for the first time, the private story of her quietly waged battle with a deadly illness."
Carol's been on the air since 1971 and has been a New York air personality since 1973. To look at her and listen to her though, you'd think she couldn't have possibly been on the air for even half that time.
Click herefor the book on Amazon
Click herefor a NY Times article.
Record Store Day Countdown
Countdown until record store day:
Here's more info about record store day: Record Store Day site
And if you're interested in some great gently-used vinyl:LP Vinyl Music is our sister site where you can buy great vinyl, including unique and rare radio documentaries and interviews, as well as some DVD and Blu-ray titles.
Ken Tullipano has an amazing archive of airchecks, primarily from WNEW-FM. He has graciously agreed to share them with us.
Ken tells us that he's lived in New York State his entire life (originally Port Chester and now Carmel) and that he loved listening to rock & roll on the radio going back to Murray the K on WINS and Scott Muni on ABC. When he discovered WNEW-FM, he was "hooked".
Ken started recording shows in 1977 and like all of us, he wishes he recorded a lot more. Ken tells us, "It never occurred to me that someday they wouldn't be around. They always made me feel like I was part of a big music loving family. Thankfully WFUV is carrying on the tradition." We couldn't agree more.
Rob Frankel has been in radio for years, has worked as a producer for Drake-Chenault, the RKO and ABC Radio Networks and is known by a title that only he holds: restorian. Rob is expert at taking old scoped airchecks and seamlessly adding back the music. Rob was also responsible for remastering the airchecks heard on WABC's Rewound program from 2000 to 2009. Rob was one of the producers of The News Blimp through most of the Eighties, and he has been Senior Producer for Citadel Media, where he was one of the producers of Flashback!, a weekly classic rock series, since 1989.
Check out Rob's website at RobFrankel.net where you can also find out about Rob's availability to create magic for you.
Growing up on the Jersey side of the NYC metro area, Myles Putman, began actively flipping the radio dial and playing with recording devices since about age 9. He has wantonly engaged in creative "de-construction" (re-editing) of really, really bad music for over 30 years; and portions of his "montage" and "Skipping Delights" recordings were aired on WFMU in the 1980's.
Myles also created a large body of "real time- recording" collages of radio and music edits for "aesthetic" and possible historic value; in addition to a gallery of re-edited political speeches. He now resides in the Hudson Valley with his wife Judy. In his spare time he continues to sift through the back catalogue of radio edits and sound checks, and digitally concocting new forms of audio mischief on occasion.
Kimball is a great fan of New York top-40 radio and has contributed most of the WABC surveys and many of the WABC promotion materials that appear on this site.
David has worked for a number of music labels and is an intensive music collector and radio fan. He also fondly remembers his friendship with Alison Steele.
Dr. Zoet, who is the creator of this site, but prefers to remain otherwise annonymous, grew up listening to New York top-40 radio and then to the FM free-form and progressive rock stations from the first day they joined the airwaves.
He worked in college radio, then became a recording engineer and producer and has produced thousands of hours of syndicated radio shows. But he now wishes that he saved more of the airchecks that he recorded and then erased (because recording tape was expensive!)
If you have airchecks or other materials that you'd like to contribute, send an email to info AT nyradioarchive.com (replace the "space AT space" with an "@" sign.)
1950's Radio in Color: The Lost Photographs of Deejay Tommy Edwards
by Christopher Kennedy
(The Kent State University Press - ISBN: 978-1-60635-072-0)
In the media section of this site, we've put up a videography of movies about radio. We've always wanted to also publish a comprehensive bibliography of the best books about radio, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. But today, a book came in that's going to be our first entry.
Christopher Kennedy is an accomplished musician and songwriter who has released five albums with the band Ruth Ruth. For years, he's been looking for a copy of the long-lost rock ‘n’ roll film The Pied Piper of Cleveland, which purports to contain the earliest known footage of Elvis Presley. He still hasn't found that film, but in the process of looking for it, he came across a treasure trove of photographs taken by Cleveland DJ Tommy Edwards, mostly at WERE-AM and some concerts between 1955 and 1960. In addition, author Kennedy separately found copies of Edwards' own “T.E. Newsletter”, a remarkably comprehensive review of the music industry in Cleveland as well as Edwards' personal weekly survey of important pop and country records.
The photographs in this book are remarkable because they show artists from all genres of music (and film) at their very raw, unvarnished and un-manipulated beginnings. And many of the Ektachrome photographs, in spite of some color deterioration, are amazingly beautiful in spite of the fact that they were photographed with a mere Kodak Brownie camera. Against a bright red stage, we see the deep blue pants of a 29-year-old Chuck Berry, playing then as now, with a pickup band. We have some great shots of Elvis from 1955. And we have Gene Vincent, a pimply Roy Orbison, Dion and Sam Cooke. But there's also pop stars like Billy Eckstine, Jerry Vale, Andy Williams, Patti Page and Johnny Mathis, movie stars like Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda and country stars like Johnny Cash. But my favorite photo in the book is a photo of soul singer Malcom Dodds, sitting at an old heavy-duty broadcast turntable.
The book contains several essays and each artist's photo is accompanied by a short article by the author, with many containing quotes about the artist from the “T.E. Newsletter” as well as contemporary comments from those involved. There's a lot of research contained in this volume.
What's important about this book is how it demonstrates that radio and the radio DJ were once the core of the country's culture. The DJ was completely immersed in the music and the artists that they played. Artists sought out the publicity that only radio could provide. In the case of Tommy Edwards, his newsletter was as insightful as those published by any radio consultant in later decades. I think it's all too easy to forget just how important and powerful radio was and how much radio was responsible for the birth and development of rock ‘n’ roll. And yet, at least in Cleveland, rock ‘n’ roll lived comfortably along with country music, just as Ray Charles would later prove that soul and country could be one thing as well. I dare say that if a new genre of music evolved today, it would not survive because none of the media that exists today could act as its guardian the way that radio guided rock. Buy this book. It's one of the last memories of what made 1950s American radio great.
Here's a nice article about the great Carol Miller from Media Bistro
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NY Radio & Twitter
We've setup a Twitter display to show postings about New York Radio. This will display the last 100 Tweets. The second one is searching for some specific commercial radio station call letters, but it's not working as well as we'd like: everytime someone ends their post with "world" or "work", but it gets cut off to "wor", we incorrectly get a hit, even if it's not about radio. And WKTU seems to pick up many posts in another language, so we cut back that search term to KTU radio. But it's still fun to see some of the posts, at least the ones that are decipherable.
New York: Rock My Radio by Gerry Dieffenbach
What a great track! Thanks to Rob Frankel for forwarding.
Link to song
NEW and REVISED CONTENT from the last two months:
- Jun 16: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale's Mixed Bag welcomes Summer, from June 18, 1978, thanks to Ken Tullipano.
- Jun 12: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: 30 years ago today: Pete Fornatale's Mixed Bag from June 12, 1983 with guests Flo & Eddie, from the Ken Tullipano archive.
- May 20: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: A short segment of Pete Fornatale's show from May 21, 1982, which followed the Dave Herman show below.
- May 20: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Dave Herman's last morning show (the first "last" of several) from May 21, 1982, thanks to the Ken Tullipano archive.
- May 11: MEDIA: Added to the list of TV shows and movies that have plots that are either directly or indirectly about radio.
- May 10: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: A complete Vin Scelsa show welcoming Summer from 33 years ago: May 11, 1980, thanks to Ken Tullipano.
- May 1: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Scott Muni with guest Peter Wolf of the J. Geils band in this Ken Tullipano Archive aircheck of May 1, 1980.
- April 27: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK/VIDEO: A YouTube video posted by Rick S. featuring Rosko reading about the 1968 My Lai massacre accompanied by relevant images. Stirring stuff.
- April 25: WFUV: AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale at college radio station WFUV interviewing WOR-FM DJ Rosko from April 29, 1967. Rosko's show of the same day can be found right below where he talks about his experience with Pete and other staff members at FUV.
- April 15: WOR-FM: AIRCHECK: Added hour 36 of the History of Rock & Roll, completing the rock chart sweep.
- April 14: WOR-FM: AIRCHECK: Added hour 35 of the History of Rock & Roll.
- April 3: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale celebrates Academy Awards day and plays rock music of the movies in this April 3, 1978 aircheck.
- Mar 27: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Dennis Elsas interviews the great Mel Brooks from March 27, 1978, thanks to the archive of Ken Tullipano.
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