Welcome to the New York Radio Archive - Where Great Radio Still Lives!
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 New York City 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 rock radio fans that don't exist on other sites.
The New York Radio Archive (NYRadioArchive.com) features airchecks, articles, advertisements and other documentation about New York radio culled from the air, from journals and newspapers of the day.
Come back often to see what's new on the New York Radio Archive as we'll be posting new air-checks and other archival material often. We have a great team of contributors who are constantly finding that lost aircheck in their archives.
Please post any feedback or just say hello on the Guestbook page.
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July 30th Marks the 50th Anniversary of the WOR-FM Rock Format
WOR-FM started broadcasting their rock format on July 30th, 1966, 50(!) years ago.
When it first stopped simulcasting the AM and programming pop music, it did so without air personalities due to a union dispute over setting a new minimum wage for FM DJs, somewhat puzzling as WNEW-FM had DJ's as part of their "All-Girls" MOR format (with Alison Steele having joined on June 4, 1966).
Their initial advertising was via a Milton Glaser design.
But it was hard to tell from the design whether it was going to be a true rock station or an FM station playing "beautiful music" versions of rock songs, since it was hard to imagine a full-time commercial rock station on FM.
While today we would decry their jockless programming as a jukebox, it was a revelation back then. We were all used to WABC-AM, which never segued one track into another and almost always played at least one spot, usually more, between each song.
WOR-FM gave us much higher audio quality (although few tracks in the early days were actually in stereo), fewer commercials and continuous music and we loved it. Standing near the Coney Island boardwalk with a transistor radio, we would high-five each other each time they played another track without a spot inbetween. It seemed miraculous (and ideal for taping).
But in spite of those advantages and aside from "early adopters", it would be a number of years before FM could claim significant market share. While WINS had switched to an all-news format 15 months before, WABC would remain the powerhouse for a long time to come and WMCA would continue the music format for another four years.
WOR-FM simulcast John Gambling until 10am, played music for 16 hours until 2am and then simulcast Barry Farber until 5:15 am.
In the early days, there were few spots, but one I remember that they played quite often was for Hohner Harmonica. In those formative months, it still sounded like WOR-FM was going to be a top-40 radio station, albeit a slightly quieter and more mature one than what we were used to. The DJs wouldn't join until October 8th and the station would slowly evolve into a free-form radio station that played as many album tracks as singles. That would be a different revelation. But it lasted less than a year as Bill Drake was given responsiblity for programming all of the RKO-General stations except for WOR-AM. But that's another chapter in the WOR-FM story. For more about the history of WOR-FM, click the WOR-FM page. (Posted 7/4/16)
Sex & Broadcasting: A Film About WFMU
WFMU is the independent free-form, truly listener sponsored (they don't accept corporate underwriting) radio station broadcasting at 91.1FM in New York and 90.1FM in the Hudson Valley. It was once part of the now-defunct Upsala College, but later split off to maintain its independence. It's also the place where Vin Scelsa got his start.
There's a new documentary about the station called "Sex & Broadcast: A Film About WFMU". It was positively reviewed today (March 30th) in the New York Times.
You can also click the image above to navigate to the film's website.
NY Radio & Twitter
We've setup a new Twitter display to show postings about New York Radio. It's imperfect, but it's still fun to see some of the posts, at least the ones that are decipherable.
Commentary by David DiSanzo
Our good friend, contributor to this site and music industry expert David DiSanzo sent us the following today, and I thought it was interesting enough to post here:
So I'm driving a beat up old car back and forth to Secaucus. CD player not working correctly. Cassette deck broke. FM antenna only goes up a third of the way.
Radio...especially as you move towards NYC, is frightfully bad. The worst of it, I feel, is the classic rock station. Every morning they play either "Who Are You" or "Baba O'Reiley" or "Love Reign O'er Me". I don't know why but they do. There's an oldies station that just plays Janet Jackson songs from the 80s and Manfred Mann's Earth Band's version (the single edit w/out the guitar solo) of "Blinded by the Light" EVERY DAY....in the morning and then again in the evening. This leads me to believe that people are actually robots and not human at all.
Then I "switched it over to AM" as Jay Farrar sings in the 1st track of the 1st Son Volt record ("Windfall")..."searching for a truer sound". I started thinking that...with the return of vinyl, and now tape, that we should take back AM radio.
First of all, it shouldn't sound the way it does. We have the ability to make AM sound fantastic but no one is interested so it sounds terrible...unlistenable, really. But it USED to sound much better (I have the tech to back that up and audio samples provided by a friend of mine) and could sound even better than it did then...
Secondly, it would be cheap, I would imagine, to start an AM station. Imagine a station that played great music w/out ever touching Hotel California (if I HEAR THAT SONG ONE MORE EFFING TIME I AM GOING TO GO NUTS). We'd get all the hipsters buying AM radios to go w/their Crosley turntables..
So I switched it...I only know the two news channels and the sports channel...so I started scanning and landed on this Morristown, NJ oldies station. They were playing The Beach Boys and then went into The Monkees' "Vallerie". Then Bread and Barbara Lewis. They could do no wrong. I didn't care about the bad sound - I had good music for a change. I was happy.
You know, the NYC oldies station read something in the news about Buddy Holly on his birthday recently...he was in the news for some reason...and the DJ said he couldn't actually play a Buddy Holly song (this on an "oldies station...WCBS - the station that built their business on 50's rock)...and that he'd get fired "again" if he did..but there was a song he wrote that Linda Ronstadt covered that was a big hit in the 70's that he could play.
Let's start an AM station! Let's quit our jobs and we can all be DJ's...not on-air personalities...just DJ's.
Two Barbara Lewis tracks in one morning!
Link: WMTR-AM Classic Oldies.
"Little Steven's Underground Garage"
We often editorialize on this site about the poor state of broadcast radio and how almost no one is doing the kind of quality broadcasting that was accomplished on the best free-form and progressive rock stations in the 1960s and 1970s.
But there are still some great shows out there on both commercial and non-commercial listener-sponsored radio and there are also some great shows in syndication. One of those is Little Steven's Underground Garage, which has been in production since 2002 and will soon issue its 700th show - almost 1800 hours of absolutely fantastic radio.
Recent shows have been dedicated to The Wrecking Crew, Girls of Summer, Joe Meek, Jack Nitzsche, Movies, Ringo, The Who and more.
Little Steven, of course, is Steven Van Zandt, probably best known for being a member of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band, but he's really a renaissance man. He worked as a sideman for the Dovels and was a co-founder of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and he's released four solo albums. And of course he's known for his role in The Sopranos and in the Netflix show, Lilyhammer, for which he's also a producer and writer. He's the program director for the Underground Garage Sirius/XM channel as well as the Outlaw Country channel. He's also been a music producer, co-producting some tracks for Gary U.S. Bonds' "Dedication" album and most recently for Darlene Love. He was also responsible for getting The Rascals back together (albeit briefly).
Most of the Underground Garage shows have been archived and can be listened to on the Underground Garage website. (Posted 9/7/15)
"I Am What I Play"
"I Am What I Play" is a new documentary that profiles four DJs in major markets who were active during the 1960s to 1980s. It features Meg Griffin as well as Toronto-based David Marsden; WBCN, Boston morning man Chalres Laquidara; and Seattle DJ and PD Pat O'Day.
The film includes rarely seen archival footage of the DJs, the radio stations and the performers. We'll post screening dates as we know them. More info at the movie site here. (Posted 8/21/15)
Edwin Armstrong and Nikola Tesla
There's been a number of recent fictional novels about Nikola Tesla as well as a discussion on the NY Radio Message Board about why there aren't any radio industry statues in NYC.
The figure probably of most relevance to this site is Major Edwin H. Armstrong, who was born December 18, 1890 and was the inventor of FM radio. And he does have a monument of sorts: the Alpine tower located in the woods west of Route 9W on the Palisades in Alpine, NJ. Armstrong invented FM broadcasting in 1933 and built the tower in 1938. But FM really didn't take off until the FCC mandated in 1966 that stations in cities of greater of 100,000 people could no longer simulcast the AM signal on FM, which brought us rock WOR-FM on July 30, 1966.
There are a few plaques around the city in tribute to Tesla, who invented the brushless AC motor, improved Edison's DC dynamos, developed AC power systems in competition with Edison's DC and is also credited with inventing electric oscillators, meters, improved lighting systems and the Tesla coil - a high voltage transformer. He also did work with remote controls and claimed he could develop a wireless power system.
Both Tesla and Armstrong had to constantly fight the big corporate powers who tried to steal their patents. Tesla died poor in a hotel room at the New Yorker Hotel. After his death, the U.S. Supreme Court voided four of Marconi's patents and awarded them to Tesla. After numerous court battles with RCA and David Sarnoff, Armstrong committed suicide. His widow continued the fight and eventually won most of the cases.
But how many American schoolchildren know who Armstrong and Tesla were? That's a shame.
Radio Unnameable news
Radio Unnameable, the documentary about WBAI's Bob Fass, is now available on a DVD which includes several hours of extra material including deleted scenes, rare audio recordings from Bob Fass' library, some archival video and short film called "Night People". It can be purchased from Kino Lorber or from Amazon.
More information on the film is available on our media page.
Here's a nice article about the great Carol Miller from Media Bistro
Where did the books go?
We've moved them to the Media page
Ken Tullipano has an amazing archive of air-checks, 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 few people hold: restorian. Rob is expert at taking old scoped air-checks and seamlessly adding back the music. Rob was also responsible for remastering the air-checks heard on WABC's "Rewound" program from 2000 to 2009. Rob was one of the producers of "The News Blimp" through most of the 80's 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.
Charlie is a big radio fan who had the foresight to record many radio shows onto videotape where they have survived far better than many audio recordings of the era. Since 1981, he's been Regional Manager, Chief Engineer and on-air talent for Family Stations, Inc. From 1970 to 2010, he was also owner and President of Audio Headquarters, Inc., a consumer electronics repair facility.
Charlie refers to himself as a "life long radio geek, air checker, and these days as a radio program 'restorian'".
Steve tells us he listened only to WNEW-FM from the late 60's thru the 70's. He worked in NYC at night in a computer room and was able to listen all night. He later listened to the short-lived WQIV.
He taped WNEW-FM and other stations knowing those recordings would be important someday.
He eventually left NYC for Florida and he's able to catch up with some of the former WNEW-FM DJs by listening to WFUV streaming and to SiriusXM. We're thrilled that Steve is willing to share his extensive aircheck archive with us.
In 25 years as a practicing journalist, Dan McCue has written on everything from international trade, business and law to politics, science and the environment, but for all that, music and media remain closest to his heart.
A multi-award winner for his work in daily and weekly newspapers, Dan is currently writing a history of WNEW-FM, the working title of which is Where Rock Lived. He has been interviewing scores of on-air and behind the scenes personalities at the station, as well as the musicians, concert promoters, record industry executives and others who interacted with the station during its glory years.
Rich Barbato grew up in Staten Island and was a huge WABC and Dan Ingram fan. Like many of us, he used to listen for the chart positions of each song and write the surveys down each week. He loved WABC so much that he attended the NY School of Broadcasting and received his 3rd class FCC license.
He worked for the ABC Radio Network from 1978 to 1984 and got to see and speak with the WABC DJs that he grew up with. Rich has an interesting library of airchecks and he has generously volunteered to share them with us.
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.
Allen B. Shaw
Allen Shaw was one of the earliest executives to promote rock on FM radio. He helped give birth to the early ABC-FM rock formats, such as the early experiments with Bob Lewis and Dan Ingram, the advent of the syndicated "Love" format, free-form WABC-FM and the emergence of WPLJ. He has graciously permitted us to use of his photos of WABC, WABC-FM and WPLJ. These days, Mr. Shaw is Owner/President & CEO at Centennial Broadcasting II, LLC and Vice Chairman of the Board at Beasley Broadcast Group
Joseph S. Pilliteri
Joseph has listened to FM radio since the mid-1970s and has been a fan of both WPLJ and WNEW-FM. He especially enjoys radio documentaries and song parodies. He maintains a YouTube channel with song parodies under the screenname RadioPackRat. He resides in Garfield, New Jersey.
Don discovered WNEW-FM in 1967 while playing with a small Emerson table radio. He marveled at the great underground music of that day. Don felt that the DJ's were most entertaining and enlightening in that they were proficient in the "little art form" (as Jonathan Schwartz called it) of segueing songs and spoken words together to enlighten and inspire young people like Don to eventually take that on as an avocation. To Don, Rosko was King and he listened intently to Richie Havens, the Chambers Brothers, Chad and Jeremy's Progress Suite, readings of Gibran, Yevtushenko and other things you didn't normally hear on the radio, all juxtaposed to illustrate that great art was possible on the FM dial. Between that and great experiences at the Fillmore East, Don's musical die was cast.
Norm Garr has been a BOSS RADIO aficionado since the day KHJ, Los Angeles came alive in 1965! Norm is fortunate to own copies of all four versions of The History of Rock And Roll: The original narrated by Robert W. Morgan for KHJ, Los Angeles (someday, OR-FM's original version might show up); the 1st syndicated version with Harvey Miller (Humble Harve) heard here; and the 1978 and 1981 versions hosted by Bill Drake. A number of previously missing pieces have been contributed from Norm's collection to make this edition as complete as possible.
Dr. Zoet, who is the creator of this site and is sometimes known as Martin Brooks, grew up listening to New York City 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 air-checks that he recorded and then erased (because recording tape was expensive!)
If you have air-checks 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.)
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New York: Rock My Radio by Gerry Dieffenbach
contributed by Rob Frankel
This song was written by Gerry Dieffenbach and Al Stark and was frequently played on the WCBS-FM special 'Rock 'n Roll Radio Greats' weekends.
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