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) will feature airchecks, articles, advertisements and other documentation about New York radio culled from the air, from journals and newspapers of the day. In addition, it will contain a repository of air-checks and other radio archive materials.
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.
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July 30th Marked the 48th Anniversary of the WOR-FM Rock Format
WOR-FM started broadcasting their rock format on July 30th, 1966, 48 years ago.
When they first joined the air, they did so without DJs, due to a union dispute over setting a new minimum wage for FM DJs.
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.
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 between each song.
WOR-FM gave us much higher audio quality (although few tracks in the early days were actually in stereo), few 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).
The station would simulcast John Gambling until 10am, play music until 2am and then simulcast Barry Farber until 5:15 am.
In the early days, there were few spots, but one I remember they played all the time 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 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 when Bill Drake was given responsiblity for programming all the RKO-General stations except for WOR-AM. But that's a different story. For more about the history of WOR-FM, click the WOR-FM page here. (Posted 8/7/14)
WBAI and WNYC-FM Personality Steve Post Dies at Age 70
Steve Post, who was one of the first practitioners of what would later be called free-form radio, died Sunday, August 3rd, at the age of 70.
In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Post hosted "The Outside" on WBAI after midnight on weekends (Bob Fass hosted weekdays). Post would play music of all genres – music that would not be heard on commercial radio – woven with stories and complaints about living a modern life.
From 1973 to 1980, he hosted the WBAI morning show, "Room 101".
From 1982 to 2001, he hosted the "Morning Music" show on WNYC-FM. He returned to WNYC in 2002 to host "The No Show".
One of our favorite oft-repeated Post stories was the time he got locked in the bathroom at WBAI and had to climb out the window to get back to the studio so that there would be no dead air.
Post was also the author of "Playing in the FM Band: A Personal Account of Free Radio" (Viking Press, 1974).
Post broke every rule of conventional radio and was a great contrarian. So there was never any chance that he was going to work in commercial radio. But both Post and Fass had great influence on the early FM commercial free-form DJs. (Posted 8/4/14)
Dave Herman Dies
Dave Herman, one of the greatest air personalities of the free-form and progressive rock eras, has died at the age of 78. WABC Channel 7 news reported Herman's death apparently from "suffering an aneurysm of a major blood vessel near the heart".
Dave had worked at WMMR-FM in Philadelphia, a sister station to WNEW-FM, before coming to New York and joining the new air staff at WABC-FM around May of 1970. The staff also included Tony Pigg, Jimmy Rabbit, Jimmy Fink and John Rydgren late at night. Dave initially had a morning and an evening show on the station. In February of 1971 the station changed its call letters because it was afraid that WABC-AM was getting credit for its ratings in surveys. Legend has it that Herman came up with the WPLJ call letters, based on the old song, "White Port Lemon Juice". But by August of 1971, the station became highly formatted and Herman was unhappy. He left WPLJ in late 1971 and joined WNEW-FM in March of 1972, taking over the morning show on May 22nd of that year.
In late May of 1982, he took over the nightime slot, which was held by Alison Steele for many years. In 1983, he moved into Pete Fornatale's morning slot and in November of 1986, he returned to the morning show. From about early 1992 to 1996, he moved to K-Rock, where Howard Stern commanded AM drive and Pete Fornatale followed. Herman followed Pete. In January of 1996, K-Rock changed to a "Modern Rock" format and all of the former WNEW-FM jocks left the station. Herman and Fornatale returned to WNEW-FM with a "Classic Rock & Classic Jocks" format, but WNEW-FM never returned to its former glory. Fornatale was let go in the Summer of 1998 and Herman that November.
Herman was involved in many syndicated radio efforts including the "King Biscuit Flower Hour" concert series as well as a series of interviews, the most famous of which was probably his interview with Ringo Starr.
On the air, Dave had a wonderful presence, always sounding both incredibly friendly and incredibly important. He had an incredible knowledge of music and would frequently sneak in an off-format track, like a Louie Armstrong recording.
In late 2013, Herman was accused of soliciting sex with a young child by federal agents who set up a sting operation. We'll now probably never know the truth of those accusations, but there was word last week that the feds were reconsidering charges. Since there was no actual child and Herman never got his day in court, my preference is to remember the decades of joy that he gave everyone on the air. But regardless of the merits of the charges, I have no doubt that Dave actually died of a broken heart. (posted 5/28/2014)
Link: Vin Scelsa announces the death of Dave Herman.
Record Store Day: Countdown
Countdown until record store day:
Great record stores are an endangered species, so instead of complaining about their demise, go visit one and buy something. The latest casualty is J&R Records, which stopped selling music and video online in early 2014 and whose physical store closed in early April 2014, probably never to return.
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.
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.
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.
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)
In 2012, The New York Times caught up with the great John Zacherley - still doing his thing at an amazing 94 years of age.
"Once a Ghoul, Always A Ghoul"
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.
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 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.
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 as 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. For the project 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.
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 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
Dr. Zoet, who is the creator of this site and is sometimes known as Martin Brooks, 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 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.)
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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New York: Rock My Radio by Gerry Dieffenbach
What a great track! Thanks to Rob Frankel for forwarding.
Link to song
Recently added NEW and REVISED CONTENT:
- Sept 1: WNEW-FM: RAW INTERVIEW: Scott Muni interviews John & Yoko, thanks to Dan McCue, from the Fall of 1971.
- Aug 10: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale interviews Dan Fogelberg from August 11, 1985, thanks to Ken Tullipano
- Aug 10: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: A few minutes of Scott Muni's syndicated Ticket to Ride show from August 11, 1985, thanks to Ken Tullipano
- June 11: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Scott Muni interviews Jimmy Page, from 37 years ago, thanks to Dan McCue.
- June 11: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Scott Muni interviews Jimmy Page, from 37 years ago, thanks to Dan McCue.
- June 11: Syndicated Radio: BOARD CHECK: Scott Muni interviewing Mark Knopfler for a radio show entitled "World of Rock", from June of 1988, thanks to Dan McCue.
- Jun 5: WPLJ: PHOTOS: Elton John, Jimmy Fink, Pat St. John, Tony Pigg and the 2001 MTVR reunion, thanks to Allen Shaw.
- Jun 5: WABC-FM: PHOTOS: The programming team, air personalities and Ike & Tina, thanks to Allen Shaw.
- Jun 5: WABC: PHOTOS: Bruce Morrow, Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram, thanks to Allen Shaw.
- May 29: XM Radio: Vin Scelsa announces the death of Dave Herman.
- May 16: Syndicated Radio: BOARD CHECK: Scott Muni interviewing The Moody Blues for a radio show called "World of Rock", from May of 1988, thanks to Dan McCue.
- May 12: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Scott Muni from the first week of May, 1980, thanks to Steve Ronzino.
- Apr 18: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Updated the below aircheck to a longer version.
- Apr 17: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: A very early Rosko aircheck from around March 16, 1968 accompanied by a complete newscast, contributed by our newest contributor, Steve Ronzino
- Apr 15: WNEW-FM: AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale interivewing the great Kenny Rankin, who plays live in the studio, contributed by Ken Tullipano.
- Apr 8: WXRK: AIRCHECK: John Zacherley doing "Spirit of the Sixties" on Saturday, April 8, 1995, from the Charlie Menut archive.
- Apr 7: WXRK: AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale from exactly 20 years ago, April 7, 1994, thanks again to the Charlie Menut archive.
- Mar 30: WXRK: SCHEDULE: Added a chart showing the 92.3 schedule from 1975 to 1996.
- Mar 29: WXRK: AIRCHECK: From the Charlie Menut archive, Alison Steele from March 20th, 1995.
- Mar 17: David Brenner AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale's Crawdaddy Rock Review sydicated show, with guest, the late comedian David Brenner.
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