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 uploaded to forums and postings boads 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.
And if you're a vinyl lover, check out lpvinylmusic.com
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The Month The Music Died
Among all the other troubles in the world, this has not been a good month for those who still revere the "fathers" of our music. As I'm sure everyone knows by now, we lost Chuck Berry yesterday (Sunday, March 18) at the age of 90. His first hit recording, "Maybelline", recorded in 1955, still sounds great today. Berry was originally discovered and mentored by pianist Johnny Johnson, but Berry soon took over the band. Unlike many of the other early stars of rock and roll, Berry wrote most of his own songs and his humor and meter has never been matched. John Lennon was quick to point this out when he guest-hosted the Mike Douglas show in the 1970s and featured Berry.
Berry's career was dormant after 1960, but revived after the Beatles and Rolling Stones recorded many of his songs (and the Beach Boys stole "Sweet Little Sixteen" for "Surfin' USA" for which they eventually had to give Berry credit). While charts don't do a very good job of reflecting influence, Berry had 27 charted singles on the Pop Charts with three in the top ten and 23 on the R&B charts with 14 in the top 10. His second biggest selling single was late in his career: a live recording of "My Ding-A-Ling" (backed by the Average White Band) and released in 1972. Berry had actually recorded a version of the song in 1966 as "My Tambourine", but it was originally recorded by Dave Batholomew in 1952. But Berry will be better remembered for the canon of "Roll Over Beethoven", "School Days", "Rock & Roll Music", "Sweet Little Sixteen", "Johnny B. Goode", "Carol", "Nadine", "No Particular Place to Go" and others.
While not as famous, we also lost bluesman James Cotton, who died on March 16th in Texas at the age of 81. Cotton played in Howlin' Wolf's early band in the 1950's and also recorded for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Beginning in 1955, he played with Muddy Waters and by 1965, formed his own band. His first album was produced by Mike Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites, who later formed The Electric Flag. Even more so than Berry, Cotton's charted records don't represent his influence, but he charted twice with the "James Cotton Blues Band" LP on Verve in 1967 and "100% Cotton" on Buddah in 1975. Two of his later albums were Grammy nominees: "Giant", released on Alligator Records in 2010 and "Cotton Mouth Man" in 2013. Cotton got frequent play on the better free-form and progressive rock stations of the late 60's and early 70's and he often appeared at the Fillmore East and Fillmore West.
And we also last master record producer Tommy LiPuma, who died on March 13th at the age of 80. LiPuma worked with George Benson, Paul McCartney, Miles Davis, Barbara Streisand, Dr. John, Al Jarreau and many others. The albums he produced sold more than 75 million copies. He was recognied with 33 Grammy nominations and 5 wins. LiPuma began his record industry career in Cleveland, where he worked for a local record distributor. By 1961, he did promotion and eventually publishing at Liberty Records and produced demo sessions for Randy Newman and Jackie DeShannon. In 1965, he joined A&M where he produced hits for Chirs Montez and the Sandpipers. In 1968, he formed Blue Thumb records with Bob Krasnow and recorded such acts as Dave Mason, Ike & Tina Turner, Gabor Szabo, the Pointer Sisters and the Jazz Crusaders. In the 70's he produced Barbara Streisand at Columbia and George Benson at Warner. In the late 70's at Horizon, an A&M imprint, he worked with Dr. John and Brenda Russell. From 1979 to 1989 back at Warner, he worked with Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Miles Davis and Randy Newman. His biggest success came with producing Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable... With Love" album, which sold over 7 million copies. In the 1990's he produced many albums for Diana Krall and in the 2000's, he worked with Willie Nelson, Joe Sample, Barbara Streisand and many other great artists.
These were all giants (unlike the many forgettable acts of today) and those in the know will miss them deeply.
"Dare To Be Different: WLIR-The Voice of Generation": A movie about WLIR
There's a documentary about WLIR radio, back when it was rock station that played lots of music that no one else played. Among the WLIR staff interviewed in the film are Delphine Blue, Bob Marrone, Donna Donna, Denis McNamara and owner Elton Spitzer. It also includes interviews with Sam Ash, Gary Del'Abate, Ron Delsner (concert promoter), Steve Leeds (VP Sirius), Monte Melnick (Tour Manager for the Ramones), Matt Pinfield, Seymour Stein (Founder, Sire Records), Debby Harry, Thomas Dolby, Billy Idol, Joan Jett and many more.
There's a trailer on the website, Looks like this is going to be great. They expect to announce distribution in late March, but they've planning a Premiere which also include a concert by A Flock of Seagulls, The Alarm and The English Beat bands.
Talk Radio Host Alan Colmes dies at 66
Talk show host Alan Colmes has died at the age of 66 from lymphoma (February 23, 2017).
Holmes, a New York native, began his career in stand-up comedy, but wound up working in talk radio and did stints at WABC, WHN, WNBC, WEVD and WMCA in New York, WHNC in New Haven and WZLX and WEZE in Boston.
He was hired for morning drive on WABC and moved to WNBC in 1987 where he stayed until it became WFAN. In 1996, he was hired by Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes, to be the "liberal voice" of Fox News and was paired with Sean Hannity from Fall 1996 to early 2009. After leaving that show, he continued as a commenator on Fox. He was also the author of two books, "Thank the Liberals For Saving America" and "Red, White & Liberal: How Left is Right & Right is Wrong".
Holmes was sometimes criticized for not being as strong as Hannity and there were claims that he wasn't given as much time to interview guests, but Holmes felt that being on Fox was far more exciting than 'preaching to the choir'.
Record Store Day: Countdown
Countdown until record store day:
In spite of the vinyl hype, great record stores are an endangered species, so instead of complaining about their demise, go visit one and buy something. NYC isn't the same since we lost Tower Records, Virgin and J&R as well as Vinyl Mania and the Times Square Record Shop in the 42nd st subway station and was famous for the collection of vocal groups and doo wop. And it's really tough when one thinks back to the days when almost every neighborhood had a record shop and records were also sold in most appliance and department stores. Each record store had their own vibe. NYC-based baby boomers will also remember the original Sam Goody's, Record Hunter, Disc-o-Mat and the record departments at Alexander's and Korvette's department stores, among many others. For me, growing up in the Bronx, it was Spinning Disc records on the Grand Concourse near Fordham Road as well as Cuzin's and another shop across the street on the south side of Fordham Road that still had listening booths and an outdoor speaker that sounded so incredibly good, it actually used to make me sweat.
The largest record shop in NYC is Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
While it might be a chicken-and-egg syndrome, anyone who thinks we don't need physical retail should take into account that the U.S. music market is now 1/3rd its former peak size (adjusted for inflation), in spite of the incredibly deep stock available on e-commerce sites. And that includes downloads and streaming.
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.
WBGO to Increase Online Profile
The NY Times reports that WBGO, the public radio Jazz station based in Newark at 88.3 is going to substantially increase its online profile by hiring jazz critic Nate Chinen to manage its editorial content. WBGO is the second-highest-rated jazz station in the country, with an audience of about 375,000 people.
Columbia University to Digitize the Bob Fass Archive
The New York Times reports that Columbia University is going to digitize about 10,000 hours of recordings from Bob Fass' WBAI shows going back to the 1960's. Fass was a pioneer on WBAI, creating what would later be known as free-form radio and introducing his late-night listeners to non-mainstream artists (many of whom would later become mainstream) and to both local and national politics, giving many their first taste of a politial education.
While rarely given credit, Bob Fass and Steve Post, another radio personality on WBAI, were the fathers of free-form, politically oriented, highly local radio.
And here's info about the Radio Unnameable documentary
The Kate & Vin Scelsa Podcast
After Vin Scelsa retired from WFUV, fans wondered if they'd hear his very personal style of radio again. Over the last year, he's joined with his daughter Kate and produced 13 podcasts out of "Studio V" in his home.
A number of the episodes include segments that deal directly with the history of radio: Episodes 3-5 include a history of WFMU, Episode 7 has a section on ABC-FM and Episodes 12 and 13 include segments about Zacherley and WPLJ.
Link here: The Kate & Vin Scelsa Podcast
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 & Broadcasting: 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 issue its 800th show later in 2017 - already 2000 hours of absolutely fantastic radio.
Recent shows have been dedicated to surf music, St. Valentine's Day, the Beatles, "Naughty Girls", the Whisky-A-Go-Go and there are some great past shows devoted 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, 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's album, which features a killer version of "River Deep-Mountain High". He was also responsible for getting The Rascals back together (albeit briefly) and he produced their live comeback show.
Most of the Underground Garage shows have been archived and can be listened to on the Underground Garage website. (Posted 9/7/15, updated 2/23/17)
"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. FM broadcasting started in the early 1940's, but the early system was made obsolete when the government moved its frequencies to the current band in 1946. 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 more than 50% of the time, which brought us rock WOR-FM on July 30, 1966.
There are a few plaques around the city in tribute to Tesla, who was a Serbian immigrant who came to the U.S. when he was 28, in 1884. He 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 in 1943 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 which sapped his finances, Armstrong committed suicide in 1954. His widow continued the fight and eventually won most of the cases.
But how many American schoolchildren know who Armstrong and Tesla were and what they accomplished? At best, to them Tesla is a car brand.
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 a 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) included on this site; 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 our edition as complete as possible.
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.
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'". Charlies has an incredible recording archive which is deep enough to be its own museum.
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.
Growing up on the Jersey side of the NYC metro area, Myles Putman, began actively flipping the radio dial and playing with recording devices at 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 his back catalogue of radio edits and sound checks and he digitally concocts new forms of audio mischief on occasion.
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.
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
David started working in college radio at Pratt Institute. While there, he co-created a "Media In America" course that was originally taught by Dave Herman and later by Pete Fornatale. When Pete's associate Bill Ayres (no, not that Bill Ayres) started a late-night talk show on WPLJ, David became producer and he later produced the Alex Bennett show as well as other public affairs programs. And he was even associate director of the infamous "Midnight Blue" TV show on public-access cable in NYC.
He did a stint at radio syndicator Cinema Sound and eventually formed Rockwell/Weinstein productions with John Rockwell (no, not that John Rockwell). He's also done on-air work at WOR; WRSU-FM (Rutgers U); WCTC-AM and WMGQ-FM (New Brunswick) as well as some features for KMEL, KRQR and live program audio for Live-105 (all San Francisco) where he also started webcasting in 2006. David still hosts a weekly podcast, "The Marconi Experiment", named after Dave Herman's WMMR, Philadelphia show of the 1960's.
David has some incredibly high quality airchecks that will soon begin to populate this site and we're ecstatic that he's agreed to share them with us.
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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