The NY Radio Archive

WABC-FM / WPLJ 95.5


Before WPLJ was "New York's Best Rock", it tried to out-freeform WNEW-FM. As early as Fall 1967, it experimented on Saturday nights with shows from music producer Tom Wilson, Bob Lewis' "Some Trust In Chariots", Chuck Leonard's "Swingin' People" and "The Other Dan Ingram Show."

By 1968, WABC-FM had a syndicated progressive rock format during the day (Most Music, which evolved into "Love" with Brother John Rydgren) and either Chuck Leonard or "Radio Free New York" with Bob Lewis evenings.

By May of 1970, when the station became WPLJ, live jocks filled the schedule with such names as Dave Herman, Jimmy Rabbitt, Tony Pigg and Jimmy Fink. By 1971, the schedule included Murray Roman, Michael Cuscuna (who later became a Jazz producer), J.J. Jackson, Tony Pigg, Vin Scelsa, Dave Herman and Mike Turner. But by August of 1971, the free-form format was history.

Later in the 1970s, such names as Jim Kerr, Pat St. John, John Zacherle, Carol Miller and Vivian Roundtree were heard. The station became WWPR in December of 1987, but in late December of 1988 switched back to the WPLJ call letters.

Click any thumbnail for a larger image.


WABC-FM 95.5


WABC-FM Clicks with Classical Plan

Billboard - October 2, 1965

WABC-FM

WABC-FM decides to try "top 40" classical radio. We all know how that worked out. I'm surprised they didn't try jingles to go along with it.

Classical

The Other Dan Ingram Show

Billboard - May 14, 1966

WABC-FM

We had always thought that "The Other Dan Ingram Show" happened as a result of WOR-FM's success on FM. But this article demonstrates that it had actually started months before.

Other Dan Ingram Show

The Other Dan Ingram Show

FM Guide - August, 1966

WABC-FM

At Bob Lewis' urging, Dan Ingram tried an FM show on Saturday evenings, but Dan overdid trying to not fall back into his AM personality...it was really, really low-key. Dan eventually gave it up supposedly because there was no money in FM.

Other Dan Ingram Show

WABC-FM: Do some marketing

Billboard: September 23, 1967

WABC-FM

"The dream is WABC-FM...Logically, a stage and screen fromat has everything working for it."

In this editorial, Billboard calls upon WABC-FM to better promote its "Stage and Screen" format. But Claude Hall, editor of Billboard, didn't yet see what was coming.

Stage and Screen

But still Show Music during the week...

FM Guide - November, 1967

WABC-FM

Although WABC-FM was dipping into the progressive rock scene on Saturdays with shows from Dan Ingram and Bob Lewis, they were still playing Show Music during most broadcast hours.

Show Music

AIRCHECK: Bob Lewis-Beatles Press Conference

May 19, 1968

Contributed by Frank Quaranti via Rob Frankel

This is a great aircheck contributed by Frank Quaranti of Bob Lewis playing excerpts from a press conference with Beatles Lennon & McCartney, including his own interview with them. The Beatles were in the U.S. to announce the formation of Apple Corps.

This was also the press conference where Lennon admits that their admiration for the Maharishi had been a mistake. Lennon was his usual insightful but strident self and McCartney was trying to be nice.

mp3Lennon

AIRCHECK: Love Format-Brother John (scoped)

June, 1968

from Rob Frankel

These airchecks, from most probably June 15 or 16, 1968, are great sounding restorations by Rob Frankel. My recollection of the syndicated ABC-FM "Love Format" was that it was automated, boring radio, but this aircheck proves that my recollections are incorrect.

Note the interludes, interviews, other formatics, news and a great selection of music. I especially liked the reference to the band called, "The Traffic" as well as the intro, "Marshall McLuhan tells what's happening to us, baby!"

It's a little hard to perceive on computer audio, but these airchecks sounds really great - wide stereo separation with EQ that really has impact. Listening to them on a good audio system, it's easy to see why people got excited about listening to rock on FM. I wonder if today's technology has killed that impact, either because of the artifacts of solid state electronics and digital technology or because of radio station over-processing the audio.

Update:Rob Frankel has informed us that this is not an aircheck, but a demo of the format that actually preceded the launch. So that makes this even more rare than we thought it was. But it also explains why there's so many interesting bits, things which I don't believe made it into the final format.

mp3Pt. 1 mp3Pt. 2

AIRCHECK: WABC-FM Jingle

Contributed by Neil Leibowitz

A "stereo ninety-five and a half" jingle from the "Love" syndication era. But listening to it now, it could have been a jingle for almost any format.(Updated with an expanded version in context).

mp3
Jingle

Don't be a snob!

1969

WABC-FM

This ad was probably intended for advertising agencies, not for the listening audience. Most adults (and especially agencies) were still scared of hippies in 1969.

WPLJ Psychedelic

24-Hour Rock Festival

1970

WABC-FM

This ad was a bit more generic.

WPLJ Psychedelic

Michael Cuscuna

1970

WABC-FM

Michael was one of the early WABC-FM jocks who was hired when WABC-FM was apparently trying to appeal to the musical intellectuals in the audience. He later became an acclaimed jazz producer.

WPLJ Psychedelic

AIRCHECK: Bob Lewis (Scoped)

January 10, 1970

from Rob Frankel

This is a mono aircheck provided by "restorian" Rob Frankel. We hear a very mellow and loose Bob Lewis taking us through a free-form journey. As with several other airchecks on this site, note that much of the music is not the music we hear today on classic rock stations.

From the sound of this aircheck, it might only represent one channel of the stereo signal. But you know what the music is supposed to sound like anyway.

Dig those snazzy jingles!!!

mp3Pt. 1 mp3Pt. 2

Dave Herman ad

FM Guide - May, 1970

WABC-FM

An ad for Dave Herman. Doesn't seem like much today, but at the time, FM rock stations were trying to demonstrate that they weren't corporate (even though they were) and that they cared about individual air personalities. WABC-FM became WPLJ right around the time this ad was published.

Dave Herman

Changes at WABC-FM

Billboard: August 8, 1970

Billboard's take on the changes at WABC-FM.

WABC-FM changes

ABC FM Station Strategy

Broadcasting - August 10, 1970

WABC-FM

An article about the evolving strategy for the ABC FM Network O&Os

ABC FMs


WABC-FM Photo Section


WABC-FM Photos

circa 1968-1970

Contributed by Allen B. Shaw

Here are some great archival photos of WABC-FM.


WABC-FM

The WABC-FM Programming Team" including Richard Silverberg, Howard Smith, Peter Bohme, George Yahraes, Jim Smith, Brother John Rydgren, Pat Rasbach and T.J. Johnson, among others.

Know who the rest are? Let us know.

WABC-FM

The WABC-FM Love Format Team: Brother John Rydgren, Bob Lewis and Howard Smith.

WABC-FM

Air personality Jimmy Rabbitt

WABC-FM

Air personality Tony Pigg. Note the Sennheiser HD414 headphones. Those were a revelation in those days. Most AM jocks were stuck with communications headphones with very limited frequency response.

WABC-FM

Ike & Tina Turner with ABC-FM executive Allen B. Shaw. That looks like the "Live at Carnegie Hall" LP, which was released in 1971, so this might be during the WPLJ era.


WPLJ 95.5


A 1971 Psychedelic Promo for the station

1971

WPLJ

Stations really tried to be creative back then. While the results didn't always look professional, at least they didn't look like a rubber stamp from a third-rate advertising agency.

WPLJ Psychedelic

AD: WABC-FM to WPLJ

circa March, 1971

This is an ad that was placed in the program for the Fillmore East. There's several interesting things of note here: WABC-FM is crossed out to let listeners know that the station has changed to WPLJ. The format of the station is never mentioned nor implied. Nowhere does it say "rock". In fact, the illustration would lead one to believe that this could be a classical music station. This could be interpreted as either a major marketing blunder or as having respect for the intended audience. Since this ad was contained within the program for the Fillmore East, it is unlikely that the station could be anything but a rock (or possibly a jazz) station. And there is still an emphasis on the jocks, who were still considered even more important than the music itself.

WPLJ Ad

Is WPLJ Reverting to WABC-FM?

Village Voice - October 14-21, 1971

WPLJ

In late 1971, WPLJ placed increased restrictions on air personalities and instituted a playlist. WBAI air personality Steve Post condemned this in a somewhat inaccurate article in the Village Voice. WPLJ air personality Dave Herman responded back a week later, but left WPLJ before the end of the year and joined WNEW-FM in morning drive a year later.

WPLJ Programming Change WPLJ Programming Change WPLJ Programming Change

And Dave Herman's reply:

WPLJ Programming Change

Zacherley Promo

circa 1971

A promo for Zach contributed by Kimball Brandner. Not the greatest pic of Zach, but there wasn't much money in those days. I suspect this was given out at concerts that were hosted by Zach. Zach used to get a tremendous reaction when he hosted shows - he just seemed so incredibly cool - much cooler than your average DJ. And he didn't even wear his horror makeup at concerts in those days.

Zacherley

Zacherley!

Metropolitan Review Magazine - Nov 2, 1971

WPLJ

John Zacherle hosted horror movie TV shows in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He developed a character named Roland in Philadelphia and when he moved to WABC-TV, New York in 1958 for Shock Theatre, started using his own name (eventually with a "Y" added at the end to make it easier to pronounce). While many cities had such hosts, most TV historians consider Zacherle to be the first. Zach was probably best known for breaking into the films and satirizing the contents - he was one of TVs first anarchists. In 1959, the show moved to WOR-TV and in 1963, renamed Chiller Theatre, moved to WPIX. In 1965, Zach started hosting Disco Teen on Channel 47 out of Newark, NJ.

In 1960, there was a "Zacherley for President" promotional campaign. We think the below photo, with Stan Z. Burns and Murray the K from WINS, is from that campaign.

John Zacherley

Zach was friends with Dick Clark and filled-in for Clark on tours from time-to-time.

Zach was an early progressive-rock DJ on WNEW-FM, starting in 1968, doing the morning show, of all things. In the Summer of 1969, he moved to a more appropriate shift, 10pm-2am between Rosko and Alison Steele. But in 1971, he moved to WPLJ where he stayed until 1980.

John Zacherley

Zach, who is now 91 (as of early 2010), still sounds great and appears at Thriller Theatre conventions, where he is considered to be the main draw.

Male DJs typically wouldn't be mistaken for models and Zach was mostly seen publicly in horror makeup, but as you can see from the photos in the article, Zach was one good-looking guy. He could probably have had a career as a leading man.

John Zacherley John Zacherley John Zacherley John Zacherley

Here's a pic of Zach taken just a few years ago:

John Zacherley

Zach with Brewer and Shipley

Billboard: January 29, 1972

A photo of the great John Zacherley with Brewer and Shipley.

Zach

Switch Hitting on ABC-FMs

Broadcasting - March 13, 1972

An article about the ever-changing evolving formats of the ABC network owned and operated FM stations.

ABC FM network ABC FM network

Jim Kerr

Billboard: October 3, 1981

Jim Kerr signs a five-year contract with WPLJ

Kerr signs 5 year contract

WPLJ Survey

June 12, 1984

Contributed by Myles Putman

WPLJ Survey

WPLJ Photo Section


WPLJ Photos

circa 1971-1979

Contributed by Allen B. Shaw

Here are some great archival photos of WPLJ.


WPLJ

Elton John with air personality Jimmy Fink

WPLJ

The great John Zacherley.

WPLJ

A 1972 Beatles promotion. In case you don't know what they are, all those white things on the table are letters and postcards. This is back when the great radio stations engendered amazing loyalty from their audience and that loyalty was more important to advertisers than high numbers.

WPLJ

A promotion featuring Pat St. John circa 1973

WPLJ

A promotion for the station in the form of a Rolling Stones buttonfrom June of 1975

WPLJ

A promotion for the station in the form of a button featuring The Who, from March of 1976.

WPLJ

A promotion for the station in the form of a Led Zeppelin button from June of 1977.

WPLJ

A promotion for the station in the form of a Fleetwood Mac button from June of 1977.

WPLJ

Pat St. John circa 1977

WPLJ

Tony Pigg circa 1979

WPLJ

Storm Field, Jimmy Fink and Shelly Sonstein circa 1979

WPLJ

A promotion for the station featuring Queen, from September of 1980.

WPLJ

At a WPLJ reunion at the Museum of TV & Radio in 2001: Jim Kerr, Pat St. John and Allen Shaw.

WPLJ

At a WPLJ reunion at the Museum of TV & Radio in 2001:
(Back row L-R): Ken Meuller (MTVR Host), Dave Herman, Scott Shannon, John Zacherley, Jim Kerr
(Front row L-R): Allen B. Shaw, Pat St. John, Carol Miller.


WABC-FM/WPLJ Schedules


WABC-FM/WPLJ Schedule

1967-1978

These air schedules are sourced from newspapers, FM Guide (which was usually a few months behind changes), Radio Guide, Richard Neer's book on FM radio, personal recollections of myself and DJs and various postings on the web, especially those of Vince Santarelli. Corrections welcomed. In some cases, the same dates are posted twice due to conflicting information from different sources. This was one shows the schedule from 1967 to late 1978.

Schedule1

1978-1989

Great jocks during this period including Jim Kerr, Tony Pigg, Jimmy Fink, Carol Miller and Pat St. John.

Schedule2