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WNEW-FM 102.7 (Pg 1)

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WNEW-FM 102.7 All Girls Format 1966

In 1966, WNEW-FM adopted an "all-girls" MOR format that included air personalities Alison Steele, Nell Bassett, Arlene Kieta, Ann Clements and Margaret Draper. Here are some promotions and other epherma from that short-lived format, which launched just a few days after WOR-FM launched their rock format.

The Launch

June-July 1966

Contributed by Dan McCue

A press release from June 14, 1966 announcing the new "all girls" format on WNEW-FM. (Click for larger versions)

PressRelease p1 PressRelease p2

A WNEW-FM newsletter from July 1966 announcing the new "all girls" format and an article in the trades. (Click for larger versions)

PressRelease p1 Article

Margaret Draper in the WNEW-FM studios. (Click for larger version)

Polly Draper

And finally, a playlist for Draper's show from October 2nd, 1966, which looks like it was probably computerized (and remember, this was before micro-computers). 13 months later, rock would take over the format. (Click for larger version)


The Girls

FM Guide - August 1966

The WNEW-FM "girls" were featured on the cover.


Vive Le Difference!

FM Guide - 1966

An ad promoting the format.


DJ Nell Bassett

FM Guide - 1966

Nell Bassett, who was also a superb athlete and had prepared for the Olympics


WNEW-FM 102.7 Progressive Rock Format 1967

In late Fall of 1967, when WOR-FM dropped free-form rock in favor of a Bill Drake format, WNEW-FM hired ex-WOR-FM jocks Rosko (Bill Mercer) and Scott Muni and added Jonathan Schwartz and Dick Summer along with Steele and Bassett. Bassett left soon after but Alison became "The Nightbird".

PRESS: The Announcement

October 18, 1967

A WNEW-FM press release annoucning that Rosko would be joining the station effective October 30th. Even though this was released on the 18th, I think this announcement was pretty much ignored by the press, because Rosko appearing on WNEW-FM on October 30th was a complete surprise to me. (But we're gong to research this and see if any of the NY papers picked this up.)

On the night of Rosko's premiere (October 30th), I was at the Village Theatre hearing Cream and the Vanilla Fudge. (Surprisingly, the Vanilla Fudge actually played better than Clapton and Co. that night.) Rosko was supposed to have been hosting the concert, but an announcement was made that Rosko would not be there that night because he was on the air at WNEW-FM. The crowd went nuts with joy.

OK, it turns out what I wrote above is partially incorrect. So much for memory. That show at the Village Theatre was actually on Friday, November 3rd. I guess I wasn't aware that week that Rosko had joined WNEW-FM. I heard it for the first time when I attended that concert on that Friday night. It must have been the same for most of the crowd, because they really did go nuts when they heard that news.


PRESS: The Announcement

October 28, 1967

Billboard's announcement of Rosko joining WNEW-FM. This probably hit the newsstands on October 21st.


AIRCHECK: The Beginning

October 29, 1967

Alison Steele announces that Rosko will be joining the next day


IMAGE: Alison Steele

circa 1967

An official autographed portrait of Alison Steele, courtesy of Kimball Brandner


AIRCHECK: Rosko [mono/scoped]

contributed by Rob Frankel

November 27, 1967

"Who'd ever think that they'd season space? Who would ever think it? But it's there. Right in the center of that bagel!"

Judging by the newscast, this aircheck representing about an hour of air time is from either November 27 or November 28th, about a month after Rosko joined WNEW-FM. While we're big fans of Rosko, he does seem a bit 'out of it' on this particular date. The music, however, is quite diverse with tracks from Captain Beefheart, the Cyrkle, Melanie, Richie Havens, Jefferson Airplane, The Sandpipers, the Bee Gees, Miriam Makeba, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and other progressive/folk/rock/pop acts of the time. Note also how Rosko reads (actually ad libs) almost every spot, sometimes going on for almost two minutes.

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PRESS: Rosko Joins WNEW-FM

FM Guide - December, 1967

Rosko actually joined on October 30, 1967, but FM Guide always had long lead times.

Rosko Rosko

PRESS: WNEW-FM Format Change

Billboard - Dec 09, 1967

Billboard's announcement of the format change to full-time progressive rock after Rosko's show "sold out" the advertising.


WNEW-FM is going rock "all the way"

PRESS: Village Voice - Dec 14, 1967

WNEW-FM hired Rosko first. Alison Steele was already there. My records show that Jonathan Schwartz joined on November 16 (but if that's the case, this article was after the fact) and Scott Muni joined on December 18th.
"...the station will use two of its girls..." sounds a bit condescending to modern ears, but I guess the Women's Liberation Movement hadn't taken full hold yet.


WNEW-FM 102.7: 1968

Scott Muni & Jonathan Schwartz Join WNEW-FM

FM Guide - January, 1968

I believe that Schwartz actually joined the airstaff on November 16, 1967 and Muni joined on December 18, 1967.

From their "official portraits", they don't seem too hip, do they? They look like bar-mitzvah photos.

Muni Schwartz

A New Groove

FM Guide - 1968

An early promotion for the station


The Jocks

Village Voice - 1968

An early promotion for each DJ

Summer Schwartz Muni Muni

AIRCHECK: Rosko [scoped stereo]

circa March 16, 1968

contributed by Steve Ronzino

This aircheck is probably from March 16th or 17th, 1968, which was a weekend, which means the show (except for the news) was probably pre-recorded. It's a great sample of how WNEW-FM sounded in the early days - just 20 weeks into the format.

There's also a complete terrific newscast with news about Robert Kennedy's campaign starting in California, the war in Vietnam, prosecution of protestors and Israeli incursions into Jordan.

And along with tracks that have become part of the rock canon, there are some rarities that I don't even think contributor and music expert David DiSanzo would know.

Since we posted this, Paul Zullo tells us this must be from March 23, 1968, based on the sports news.

Rosko (35:31)

Dick Summer joins WNEW-FM

FM Guide - July, 1968

Dick actually joined earlier in 1968, but didn't stay long. He was replaced by John Zacherley.



contributed by Rob Frankel


We don't generally think of early free-form/progressive rock stations having jingles, but most of them did and WNEW-FM was no exception. Thanks to Rob Frankel, here's a chance to hear those jingles, mostly in the raw.

These jingles are very laid back, but the melody of some of them is the same as used by Standards WNEW-AM. I guess if a listener never listened to the AM, it wouldn't matter and if they did, it would sound familiar.

At the time these originally aired, I think I was upset that WNEW-FM started using jingles. I think I felt that if they used jingles, other traditions from AM rock stations would follow. But they were used sparingly and as far as I remember, only a few of the following were actually used regularly. There's one downbeat one (that was obviously used to transition from uptempo to downtemp songs) that is so "down", it seems like it should only have been used if someone had died. In retrospect, some of them seem "okay", but WNEW-FM didn't use them for very long.

Thanks to Rob Frankel for supplying these. These versions are in mono, but I believe the originals were broadcast in stereo. The Chris Wood that we hear on these jingles is not a production engineer "testing" the jingles, as I originally surmised, but the member of Traffic.

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RECORDING: "About School" by Anonymous, read by Rosko

thanks to Rick S on YouTube

circa 1968

This is probably an LP recording, not an aircheck, although I suspect Rosko also read this on the air. This is a segment of a verse called "About School," which is a treatise about conformity. Rosko was great at reading this type of material and bringing great emotion to it. This would never be accepted on music radio today.

AIRCHECK: Bob & Ray's Music Factory [scoped]

contributed by Rob Frankel

October 20, 1968

"Do you like Tim Hardin?" Wally Ballou: "Tim who?"

This is a really strange aircheck of Bob & Ray hosting a progressive rock music show which played from 5-6 pm on Sundays.

It's hard to tell whether Bob & Ray were somehow under contract to Metromedia so they tried to fit them into WNEW-FM or whether it was something they wanted to do. One of the interesting things about the show is that it wasn't about hit music - none of the songs played in this sample are part of the progressive rock canon, although some of the acts were. Either some over-hip producer decided to make this show about obscurity (it almost sounds like a Rhino Nuggets compilation) or someone was pulling tracks out of the air.

But there's also a lot of psychedelic production work between the tracks along with some Bob & Ray characters, so a lot of planning went into the show. We even get to hear Rosko reading Gibran. This is really a trip, as they used to say.

mp3Bob & Ray

'Rosko': WNEW-FM's Big Gun

Billboard - October 12, 1968

An article about Bill "Rosko" Mercer, celebrating 13 months at WNEW-FM.

Rosko Bug Gun

WNEW-FM 102.7: 1969

Rosko: Fat-Free and Sassy

New York Times: January 6, 1969

A profile on Rosko from the New York Times Sunday Entertainment section.

"Management says I'm a guru, that I have a mystique. It's just the opposite. I am so simple."

Rosko Times

AIRCHECK: Alison Steele [scoped stereo]

February 11, 1969 (62:08)

contributed by Dan McCue

Alison Steele, the Nightbird, doing her flight till dawn, setting up musical moods and motifs that were suitable to late-night radio in the psychedelic sixties.

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Too Freaky?

FM Guide - 1969

1969 promotions for the station

Steele Steele

AIRCHECK: Rosko Interviews John Lennon

circa May, 1969

Rosko was not known for his interviewing skills, but no one would give up an interview with a Beatle. While this came to us dated May, 1969, it might be more likely that it's from a few months later as Lennon was promoting "Give Peace A Chance" and "Remember Love", which were released in early July. Yoko and Timothy Leary also join the call, recorded over a phone line.

Rosko w/Lennon

AIRCHECK: Jonathan Schwartz - "First Love"

circa 1969

WNEW-FM was more than a station that played rock records. In the early days, it gave its air personalities a great deal of freedom and that included the ability to read poetry or tell stories.

Alison Steele frequently read poetry as did Rosko, who read Gibran over sitar music. Jonathan Schwartz told carefully crafted stories. One, frequently repeated, concerned the policy over not bringing food into the studio. The one presented here is about a mailed letter and first love.

Jonathan Schwartz

AIRCHECK: Rosko - "The War" by Pete Hamill

circa Fall 1969

“They died in the muck and swamps of Vietnam and their blood is on our hands.”

As noted above, early WNEW-FM gave the jocks a great deal of freedom on the air. In this aircheck, Rosko reads a stinging anti-war column by (then) New York Post columnist Pete Hamill.

You would never hear anything like this on commercial music radio today. No one would be willing to stop the music for ten minutes and nor would they be willing to take such a strong political stand.


AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale reading Woodstock spot

July or August, 1969

In the summer of 1969, Pete Fornatale sat in one night for Alison Steele. One of the first spots he read was for the upcoming Woodstock festival. Since Pete was new at the station, he didn't manage to record a regular aircheck, but he brought with him a small, portable recorder and sat it near the console and recorded himself. Another version of the story is that he didn't record it, but a student of his did. That aircheck did not survive except for this spot, which he transferred onto a cart. It also appears in some of the WNEW-FM Anniversary broadcasts, but here is the complete spot.

mp3Woodstock spot

AIRCHECKS: Jonathan Schwartz, Pete Fornatale, Zacherley (Scoped)

circa Summer or Fall, 1969

Some short (sloppily scoped) mono airchecks mostly from the Fall of 1969, but a good view into how the station began to mature. Note how most of the spots were actually quite off-beat, interesting or funny. I think this kept people listening during the breaks. Zach was sitting in for Rosko and does a funny bit at the beginning demonstrating how he couldn't do what Rosko did, but that was the point - each personality was distinctive.

Note during the Fornatale aircheck (sitting in for Zach), he plays a WNEW-FM jingle, which were short lived.

I originally thought I recorded these in Fall, 1968 on a quick trip home from school. While WBCN (Boston) was already on the air, my associates at the college radio station didn't believe that you could do a top-40 format on FM (not that I wanted them to) because their media professors told them that rock music wouldn't sound good on FM and that the pacing of AM radio didn't lend itself to the frequency response of FM (so much for the academics). So I recorded both the freeform and top-40 FM stations of the time as well as Murray the K on WMCA. Unfortunately, the aircheck of Kaufman didn't survive. The aircheck of Drake WOR-FM is posted on the WOR-FM page.

Since I originally posted these, Rob Frankel has pointed out that Zach mentions the special edition of Life Magazine concerning the Woodstock festival, so that aircheck had to be from late summer or early Fall of '69, not 1968. And since then, Lawrence A. Goldberg has pointed out that the Fornatale aircheck must also be from 1969 and he's correct because there's a spot for the film Putney Swope, which wasn't released until July 1969. So much for memory.

mp3Jonathan Schwartz mp3Pete Fornatale mp3Zacherley

VIDEO: Rosko on MyLai

posted by Rick S.

circa Fall, 1969

“We, all of us…wrapped in our…banalities…all of us must sleep tonight in the knowledge that we share in mass murder.”

This is another stirring Rosko reading against the war in Vietnam and specifically about the My Lai massacre. This massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians by U.S. troops in South Vietnam took place on March 16, 1968. The murdered civilians included infants, children, men and women and many of the women were gang raped. Only one soldier was convicted and found guilty of killing 22 villagers, but he only served three and half years under house arrest.

The video was added to Rosko's reading by Rick S., who posted it on YouTube. It's doubtful that Rosko wrote this - he frequently read the columns of Pete Hamill, but there's no credit on this one.

WNEW-FM 102.7: 1970


WNEW-FM Internal document: March 8, 1970

WNEW-FM's internal schedule as of March, 1970 with pretty much the original lineup of Michaels, Schwartz, Muni, Rosko, Zacherle and Steele with Pete Fornatale doing fill-ins and weekends.


Five Bloody Hours of British Rock

FM Guide - 1970

An ad for a Jonathan Schwartz special program. The surprise at the time was that British rock was Scott Muni's specialty and one would have expected such a show to come from him.

British Rock

AIRCHECK: Scott Muni [scoped]

November 5, 1970

Contributed by Rob Frankel

Due to extreme scoping, we don't get to hear too much music on this one, but one of the really interesting things about this aircheck is the variety of spots. Among them are spots for the films Monterey Pop, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the documentary, Groupies. (IIRC, Groupies features Suzy Creamcheese.) The first two films were in revival.

Part I includes the end of the Jonathan Schwartz show at 2pm and most the news broadcast. Parts 2 and 3 feature Muni.

Note: This aircheck was labeled as 11/15/70, but clues in the aircheck on upcoming concerts lead me to believe it was actually 11/5.

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WNEW-FM 102.7: 1971

ARTICLE: Scott Muni becomes PD of WNEW-FM

Billboard: January 16, 1971

Muni becomes PD, a position he held several times at WNEW-FM.


AIRCHECK: Scott Muni [scoped]

circa February, 1971

Contributed by Rob Frankel

Here's another aircheck contributed by restorian Rob Frankel. Among the tracks played on this Sunday show were songs by Dave Edmunds, the Kinks and Mountain.

Note: This aircheck was labeled as 1970, but clues in the aircheck about new releases lead me to believe it was actually early 1971


AIRCHECK: Rosko's Goodbye

March, 1971

Rosko announces that he's leaving WNEW-FM (4:13)


PRESS: Personality Profiles


The WNEW-FM marketing team developed personality profiles for each DJ.

Profile Fornatale Profile Muni Profile Schwartz Profile Steele Profiles

AIRCHECK: John Zacherley

March, 1971

Zacherley really laid back and loose


AIRCHECK: Scott Muni

circa April, 1971

Grateful Dead Concert coverage w/Bill Graham

This is a great aircheck in which Bill Graham tells a story of chasing down some creep who stole tickets to the show from some teenage girls. But as aggressive a front as Bill Graham put up, you can tell that he was really shaken by the incident. And that's aside from the fact that this was still back in the days when WNEW-FM had the guts to broadcast live concerts and before consultants advised it was a bad idea.


ARTICLE: Jonathan Schwartz Still Digs Sinatra

New York Times: May 9, 1971

A profile on Jonathan Schwartz from the New York Times Sunday Entertainment section.

"A record like Judy Collins's "Reflections" can move him to a 10-minute discussion on watching chicks hatch in a Korvette's window, or the absurdity of televising an eclipse."

Schwartz Times

AD: Celebrating Bob Dylan's 30th Birthday

Village Voice: May 20, 1971

Dylan B-Day

AIRCHECK: The Last Night of the Fillmore East [scoped]

contributed by Rob Frankel


June 27, 1971

Bill Graham wisely did not want to choose one radio station to present a live broadcast of the last concert at the Fillmore East to the detriment of another, so both WNEW-FM and WPLJ broadcast the event.

The acts included Albert King, J. Geils w/ guest John Lee Hooker, Edgar Winter's White Trash, Mountain and the Beach Boys. I believe the Allman Brothers and Country Joe McDonald also played that night, but either they weren't included in the broadcast or weren't included in this aircheck. The Allman Brothers set is included on several Allman Brothers CD releases.

Note that as usual, we had to scope the songs. This does kind of take the life out of them since we miss the extended solos and the emotional builds that progressive rock acts specialized in, but we can blame the DMCA for that.

Jocks heard include Scott Muni, Pete Fornatale, Dave Herman, Michael Cuscuna, Alison Steele, Mike Harrison, Howard Smith, Mike Klefner and Vin Scelsa

Radio stations today would not have the guts to spend three hours on a live broadcast, they certainly wouldn't share the show with another station in the same market and they wouldn't limit spots, as was done for this broadcast. They would also ramp up the formatics and marketing, but all of the air personalities in this broadcast are very low key and they barely interrupted the proceedings. And note that it's not "American Express presents..." or "Citibank presents..." or "Budweiser presents..." It's just the concert. I suppose many would claim that everyone involved was a lot less sophisticated about business in those days. I prefer to think that everyone was simply a lot classier and knew where to draw the commercial line.

Note Pete Fornatale's closing genius prediction about the potential future ability to purchase such a concert in some form of video. That wasn't so obvious back in 1971.

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INTERVIEW: Scott Muni with John & Yoko (scoped-stereo)

circa September-October, 1971

contributed by Dan McCue

In the Fall of 1971, Scott Muni visited with John and Yoko, probably at their Dakota apartment, to record a long interview. This recording is of the raw interview. Unlike an interview that might have been conducted live on air, Muni didn't ask many specific questions. Instead, he let Yoko and John ramble on and free-associate. As a result, we get a very candid and deep look into how John and Yoko wanted to present themselves and what was important to them.

It should never be forgotten that for all Lennon's anti-commercial pretensions, he was a brilliant marketer of himself and Yoko was a public relations genius way ahead of her time. Yoko found ways to create buzz decades before the advent of social media.

A few highlights: At about 15 minutes into part one, Lennon talks about the genius of Chuck Berry. Later in the interview, he gives Elton John only a "so-so" review, yet we wound up appearing with Elton at Madison Square Garden not long after. At about 14 minutes into part two, he talks about the possiblity of touring with Eric Clapton. At the beginning of part three, Muni asks about what it was like on the first U.S. Beatles tour. And at about 10 minutes, Lennon talks about "Woman Is The Nigger of the World" and how he came to realize that if he had treated the other Beatles, like he had treated women (including Yoko), they would have walked out on him.

We don't know how much of this, if any, was ever used on the air.

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WNEW-FM 102.7: 1972

ARTICLE: Alison Steele

New York Daily News: June 25, 1972

contributed by Kimbal Brandner

"I've become a fantasy figure."

Val Adams' Radio Roundup Column


ARTICLE: WNEW-FM To Broadcast Fillmore Series

Billboard: July 1, 1972

contributed by Kimbal Brandner


ADS: Up the British! / The American Dream

Village Voice: August 24, 1972, November 9, 1972

Simple ads promoting a day of British rock and an election-day show of "non-fiction" rock. This was the beginning of Richard Nixon's second term in office.

British Ad Election

AIRCHECK: Alison Steele

December, 1972

The Nightbird


WNEW-FM 102.7: 1973

AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale

November, 1973

with Loggins & Messina


WNEW-FM 102.7: 1974

ARTICLE: Alison Steele

New York Daily News: February 17, 1974

contributed by Kimbal Brandner

"...a writer has asserted that she cold make a commercial for gym socks sound sensuous."

No great revelations here, but a great plug for Steele and WNEW-FM.


"The Drawing Poster"

April, 1974

A hand-drawn poster that served as an ad for WNEW-FM around 1974.


AIRCHECK: Dennis Elsas interviews John Lennon (scoped)

WNEW-FM: September 28, 1974

"For those people who like to know where licks and things come from which I do, because I'm always nicking little things myself, this is a beautiful combination of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"...and "Lightning Strikes Again"...and it's a beautiful job, with a little Walrus underneath."

In September of 1974, John Lennon paid a (supposedly) surprise visit to Dennis Elsas to promote his new LP, "Walls and Bridges". Lennon stayed for several hours, talking about the album, but also playing disc jockey and reading spots

Lennon wasn't a great jock--he didn't sound comfortable on the air, but he was a great sport and he brought some great records with him. Even though we had to scope the songs, especially check out "Daddy Rollin' Stone", an Otis Blackwell song recorded by Derek Martin in 1962 and Richie Barrett singing a Leiber-Stoller song, "Some Other Guy", a song the Beatles originally performed live. These are killer singles - the kind of rarities that oldies stations should be playing today, but never do.

This was radio at its best: a great DJ giving Lennon the freedom and the time to do his thing on the radio. No one cared that they were breaking format (they skip the first scheduled news segment) or not sticking to the normal song rotation. Elsas tied songs together that had similar musical themes in very interesting ways.

Note: For a variety of reasons, Dennis Elsas has asked that we not present the entire aircheck, so we've taken it down. Instead, we're going to link to the version of the aircheck that's on his site. There's also lots of other aircheck goodies there that you'll be interested in.

Dennis Elsas w/John Lennon (off-site)

WNEW-FM 102.7: 1975

PROMOTION: 1975 International Radio Programming Forum


Contributed by Ken Tullipano

WNEW-FM promotes being named "the greatest radio station in the world" by the Billboard Magazine International Radio Programming Forum.

Larger image

AIRCHECK: Scott Muni with John Lennon [scoped stereo]

February 13, 1975

contributed by Ken Tullipano and Dan McCue

On February 13, 1975, John Lennon stopped in at WNEW-FM to play DJ and to promote his new album of rock standards, Rock 'n Roll, which would be released four days later. The album itself had an interesting history: Lennon was sued by music executive Morris Levy (who had owned Roulette Records, the Birdland jazz club and a music publishing company) over one line in "Come Together" that had been "borrowed" from a Chuck Berry song.

As a settlement, Lennon agreed to record three of the songs that Levy had publishing rights for. Lennon started recording the album with producer Phil Spector in late 1973 and after a dispute, started recording again on his own in late 1974. In the meantime, Phil Spector disappeared with the tapes. Walls and Bridges got released first with one Levy song.

After Levy released a mail-order album called "Roots" using Lennon's demo recordings, Levy sued Lennon again and won $6795 (according to Wiki), but Lennon, Capitol, EMI and Apple countersued and won $145,300. Lennon eventually got the Spector tapes back and completed the recording.

rubber soul

John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll (1975)

Lennon's visit to WNEW-FM was mostly a promotion for the album. After his death in 1980, a special was put together by The Source that included many segments of this show, but also added other Lennon tracks. The version heard here, contributed by both Dan McCue and Ken Tullipano merges the two versions together.

This version is Copyright (c) 2014 by Martin Brooks.

John Lennon on WNEW-FM

AIRCHECK: Bob Lewis [scoped mono]

May 24, 1975

contributed by Rob Frankel

This is an amazing aircheck contributed by restorian Rob Frankel. It features Bob Lewis sitting in for Richard Neer on Memorial Day weekend in 1975. This morning show reminds us what free-form DJs used to do: they used to create compex, layered soundscapes.

I'm not referring to segueing two records together where the first few seconds of the second track overlays the last few of the first in an interesting way. What I'm referring to here is the creation of complex collages and montages of sound. And Lewis does that several times during this show, which comprises about two hours of air time.

As usual, we've had to scope this aircheck so the copyright police don't come after us. So any jarring transitions that you hear are the result of that editing, not Lewis'.

Although those who are into today's highly formatted radio would be disturbed by the diversity of sound here, it's one of the things that distinguished FM from AM radio of the day. It wasn't just that FM played album tracks--Classic Rock stations have given us that false impression. But having said that, the show does stand some criticism -- the space and mind trip it takes us on seems more suited to a very late night show than a hot holiday Saturday morning when people were getting ready for Memorial Day outings, the beach, etc. But in spite of that, it demonstrates just how important the DJ was in the days when they still had the freedom to create. And it also demonstrates something one could never get from an MP3 player, YouTube or Pandora. That differentiation could save broadcast radio, but today's radio management seems deaf to that concept.

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AD: The Progressives

Soul & Jazz: September, 1975

An ad to accompany an article about WNEW-FM.


ARTICLE: Pete Fornatale

Soul & Jazz: September, 1975

Not sure if this was an article or an "advertorial". It appeared in the same issue as the ad above.


AIRCHECK: Alison Steele [scoped-stereo]

Friday, September 19, 1975 (32:24)

Contributed by Dan McCue

Alison's show from sometime around September 19, 1975. Because the aircheck is scoped, it's a bit hard to tell, but she played a bunch of extremely long ethereal tracks, creating a true nighttime ambience. When was the last time you heard a radio station actually create a mood? They don't because the computers pick the tracks.

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WNEW-FM 102.7: 1976

AIRCHECK: Scott Muni [scoped-stereo]

Wednesday, February 25, 1976 (30:52)

Contributed by David DeSanzo

Scott Muni's afternoon show.

Scott Muni

AIRCHECK: Scott Muni

May, 1976

The Professor


AIRCHECK: Jonathan Schwartz's Last Show [scoped-stereo]

Saturday, May 1, 1976 (55:54)

Contributed by Don Balogh

“Radio offers an opportunity to use their makes you use your head a little”

This is Jonathan Schwartz's last show on WNEW-FM. Schwartz was the third air personality to join the rock format, after Alison Steele and Rosko. Schwartz joined on November 16, 1967, about a month before Scott Muni.

In this aircheck, Schwartz talks about how the station truly had a "sense of family". He pays tribute to the senior executives who had created and managed the station, including George Duncan, Nat Asch, Varner Paulson and Mel Karmazin, who would go on to be one of the biggest executives in all of radio and would eventually run Sirius/XM.

Schwartz also talks about a time years before, when he claims there was a person at the station who caused massive dissension. While he doesn't name the person, I have to believe that he was referring to Rosko (Bill Mercer).

This aircheck provides absolute proof that music radio used to be highly intelligent. I have to wonder what happened to all the people who enjoyed this station before it began to change for the worse and become far more rigid and commercialized in 1981. Schwartz emphasizes that there was no music policy at the station and that the air personalities could play anything they wanted and did play music for varied genres including rock, pop, country, folk and blues (although in reality, they never played very much black blues). All in all, this was a really terrific show. I couldn't imagine any station, even on public radio, giving a DJ the freedom that Schwartz had on this show. How many radio stations today "make you use your head a little"?

Schwartz would be replaced by Dennis Elsas. Dennis' role as music director would be taken over by Vin Scelsa.

mp3Part 1 (30:36) mp3Part 2 (25:18)

PHOTOS: Alison Steele


Contributed by Kimball Brandner

Central Park photo by Rico Vaccaro

"The Nightbird" (although I never pictured the Nightbird as an owl; at WNEW-FM in 1976 (note that there's at least three turntables, four cart machines and an open record library); in Central Park (July 7, 1976 with Jefferson Airplane); with Donovan in 1977; with Melissa Manchester in 1977.

Alison Steele

Alison Steele Alison Steele

Alison Steele Alison Steele

WNEW-FM 102.7: 1977

PROMOTION: 1977 Calendar

1977 (published Fall 1976)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

WNEW-FM printed a calendar each year, which were sold to listeners with the proceeds going to charity. These are some of the photos included with the 1977 calendar. (Click each image for larger versions)


Scott Muni with John Lennon

The Portraits of Pete Fornatale as a Young Man

Various promotions

WNEW-FM 10th Anniversary Celebration

Record World - March 26, 1977

"Others can look to WNEW-FM as an example of a way to integrate a progressive format into the critical demands of modern day business."

Some months in advance of WNEW-FM's 10th anniversary, Record World published a special issue dedicated to the station. Ordinarily, issues like this had a few meaningless accolades accompanied by a few ads, but the comprehensive editorial and the large number of ads for WNEW-FM demonstrated how much power and influence the station had on the market and the industry - an influence far greater than its ratings would lead one to believe, largely because of the loyalty of the audience and its ability to sell acts and records.

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PROMOTION: Grateful Dead Concert

Wednesday, April 27, 1977

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

WNEW-FM promotes a live concert with the Grateful Dead from the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey.

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circa April, 1977

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

We're guessing as to the year, but WNEW-FM was doing a lot of promotion in its tenth anniversary year, so it's probably correct. Probably not their strongest campaign.

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PROMOTION: 10th Anniversay "Reflections"

Monday, May 2, 1977

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

The 10th anniversary wouldn't take place until October, but WNEW-FM promoted it throughout that tenth year. In this case, it took the form of WNEW-FM DJs reminiscing about the previous ten years each night on the Dennis Elsas show between May 2nd and May 7th.

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PROMOTION: 10th Anniversay of Sgt. Pepper

June 1977

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

WNEW-FM celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band" LP. The album was actually released almost five months before the station hit the airwaves.

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AIRCHECK: Scott Muni

Saturday, June 18, 1977

"I left WABC in 1965 and had no particular intentions of coming back because I was disenchanted with radio."

Some interesting perspectives from Scott Muni a few months before WNEW-FM's 10th anniversary.


AIRCHECK: Scott Muni interviews Jimmy Page [scoped-stereo]

June 7, 1977

Contributed by Dan McCue

In a very informal and free-flowing interview, Scott Muni interviews Jimmy Page.

Muni-Page (37:28)

ARTICLE: No 'Experts' Hired By N.Y. WNEW-FM

Billboard: June 25, 1977

"Instead of hiring experts, we hire people who are knowledgeable, conversant and aware"

Some more interesting perspectives from Scott Muni a few months before WNEW-FM's 10th anniversary, about how the station did not use programming consultants and instead, hired air personalities who knew what they were doing.

In reality, while all of their airstaff had great personality on the air, they weren't necessarily knowlegeable about rock when they joined the station. Alison Steele once back announced a track as being from the album "Rolling Stones" by the Flowers. And while Jonathan Schwartz knew pop, jazz and movie music, he had no experience in rock. But they quickly learned.

Personally, as a listener, I'd rather take a chance that a jock given freedom will do something I won't like than listening to programming that supposedly appeals to the largest common denominator. For decades now, radio has been programming a race to the bottom.

Of course, WNEW-FM itself changed just a few years later. I think most of their air personalities will tell you that everything changed just after John Lennon died.


AIRCHECK: Dennis Elsas: 10 Years of Summer [scoped-stereo]

Friday, July 1, 1977 (Pt1 37:19, Pt2 25:43, Pt3 26:48)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Dennis Elsas celebrating the 10th summer of WNEW-FM with a Friday night show dedicated to summer music of the previous ten years.

Part 2 features actualities from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, something which no jock on a commercial radio station would do today.

Part 3 features a segment with Scott Muni remembering the Fillmore East.

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AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale: 10 Years of Summer [scoped-stereo]

Monday, July 4, 1977 (Pt1 24:23, Pt2 24:57)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Pete Fornatale celebrating 10 years of summer at WNEW-FM. He covers Sgt. Pepper, the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, the 1968 Democratic Convention, the moon landing and more.

Part 2 features a recording of one of the very first spots Pete ever read on the air at WNEW-FM - a spot for the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair

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WNEW-FM 10th Anniversary POSTER

October, 1977

"You see that's the important thing about the WNEW-FM play list.
There is no play list."

WNEW-FM created a giant poster to celebrate its 10th anniversary that it gave away at concerts. WNEW-FM had a great promotions department and it knew how to serve its loyal listeners. (Click on any image to enlarge)

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AIRCHECK: Vin Scelsa [scoped-stereo]

Saturday, October 15, 1977 (Pt1 23:39, Pt2 13:42, Pt3 25:00, Pt4 27:20)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

A complete show! Vin Scelsa celebrating the 10th anniversary of WNEW-FM. He makes some interesting projections about what was going to happen in the "21st century", 23 years in the future from the date of this broadcast.

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AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale [scoped-stereo]

Sunday, October 30, 1977 (Pt1 20:36, Pt2 13:56)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Pete Fornatale celebrating the 10th anniversary of WNEW-FM.

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AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale [scoped-stereo]

Sunday, October 30, 1977 (Pt3 30:10)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

In celebration of the 10th anniversary, Pete Fornatale appeared on the Dennis Elsas show on May 5, 1977 to reminisce about the station. As part of his Oct 30, 1977 show, he replayed an hour of that interview.

There are some wonderful actualities in this show. There's a segment from Pete's first WNEW-FM show (preceded by an intro from Rosko), where he reads a spot for the Woodstock festival. At about 16:50 there's a high-quality recording in the clear of a Palisades Amusement Park spot. And at about 21:45, there are several WNEW-FM jingles.


PROMOTION: "Play It Again"

October 31, 1977

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

WNEW-FM promotes its 10th anniversary with an announcement of special programming for the week, featuring the best of the specials from the last ten years.

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AIRCHECK: Dave Herman [scoped-stereo]

Monday, October 31, 1977 (25:32)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Dave Herman celebrates the 10th anniversary of WNEW-FM on the anniversary of the first full day of programming. This last hour of his morning show includes excerpts from his legendary interview with George Harrison.


AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale [scoped-stereo]

Monday, October 31, 1977 (32:25, 11:11, 23:17, 29:35, 2:44)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Pete Fornatale continues the 10th anniversary celebration. Part 4 features a WNEW-FM documentary from 1967 about a young troubled runaway girl residing in the East Village, typical of times in which music stations also felt a public service responsibility.

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AIRCHECK: Scott Muni [scoped-stereo]

Monday, October 31, 1977 (5:05, 17:04)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

The first part has Scott recalling how WNEW-FM evolved over time - it was not a 24 hour a day rock music radio station from its first day. Part two is a great stereo aircheck of Scott Muni during WNEW-FMs 10th anniversary week in 1977, playing a long set of Beatles music, something which couldn't be done today under the DMCA regulations.

Scott also speaks more during this aircheck than he was normally prone to do and it's a very intimate, direct to the listener approach, which was one of the aspects of WNEW-FM's presentation that led to great listener loyalty.

This, of course, was still in the vinyl days and you can hear the vinyl noise. Some might say that we've come a long way technologically, but there's something about that vinyl noise that is relaxing...perhaps how sometimes people use pink noise to meditate. Notice also how one of the tracks starts at 45 rpm instead of 33.

The show begins with a promo by Dave Herman for some of the anniversary activities and notice how both Joan Baez and Woody Allen are included. WNEW-FM still had guts in those days - ten years later, by 1987, only the big rock stars would be mentioned.

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AIRCHECK: Dennis Elsas [scoped-stereo]

Monday, October 31, 1977 (21:30)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Dennis Elsas celebrates the 10th anniversary of the station with guest Randy Bachman.


AIRCHECK: Alison Steele [scoped-stereo]

Monday, October 31, 1977 (37:19)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

This is a phenomenal aircheck representing about two hours of airtime and demonstrates what progressive rock radio was really about. Steele seamlessly blends music of her choice together, creating a very specific mood and aura. When you listen to this aircheck, there can be no doubt that this is a late night show and there is no doubt about the creativity and the contributions of the air personality.

Unfortunately, the scoping destroys some of the rhythm and mood, but we think you'll still get the idea.

We hear Alison reading two long segments of verse and playing long tracks from Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Santana, the Alan Parsons Project and others. Progressive rock radio was never about individual tracks like the Classic Rock stations of today -- they were about creating context by carefully choosing the tracks that would be played with each other, something no program computer can accomplish. This aircheck is an example of why people listened to the radio. It also demonstrates what radio can do that an iPod or even Pandora can't do. It's shocking to me that with declining interest in radio, that today's managers and programmers don't understand this. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them never heard this kind of radio.

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AIRCHECK: Scott Muni with guest Jonathan Schwartz [scoped-stereo]

Wednesdy, November 2, 1977 (40:30)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Thanks to collector Ken Tullipano, we have another historic aircheck recorded during the tenth anniversary celebrations at WNEW-FM. Scott Muni brought back Jonathan Schwartz to talk about his years at the station. Schwartz had left the station 18 months before after being on the air for 8 1/2 years.

Those who believe radio should play by pre-defined programming rules will think this is a terrible show. It breaks format (only three songs are played during the hour) and it talks inside radio. But I think there was such loyalty for WNEW-FM that its listeners wanted to know more about the workings of the station, much like how movie fans today want to know every aspect of the production of the films they love. And there's some wonderful moments here. Schwartz reveals no love lost for some of the original WNEW-FM executives. And he seems to exaggerate every situation, claiming that there were only nine albums available to play when WNEW-FM launched, which is obviously not the case if you listen to any airchecks of that period.

I think Schwartz was one of the greatest progressive rock DJs of all time (even if he didn't initally know the music all that well). He's one of those unique individuals who can make a story about a slip of paper that fell on the floor sound as important as a debate about world politics. Coming from a "standards" family (his father was the composer Arthur Schwartz), he had a unique view of the music and looked for tracks that were melodic and lyrics that were poetic and intelligent. And of course, he's an expert on Frank Sinatra. (Today, we'd call him a fanboy).

But having said that, he did have a big ego (not unusual for a jock) and a bit of arrogance. Note how he talks about his vocal abilities on his newly recorded album as "somewhere between Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra". Uh huh.

Earlier in the interview, Schwartz talks about FM minimum salaries, which was the cause of the "strike" at WOR-FM that kept jocks off of the air from June through September of 1966. I had always understood that the minimum for FM DJs when WOR-FM finally hit the air with jocks was $400 per week. But Schwartz claims in this interview that he started working for $175 a week. And Muni mentions that eleven years later, while the FM salaries had increased dramatically, they still weren't at AM levels. That $175 in 1967 works out to about $61,000 a year in 2011 dollars. Not great for the #1 market in the country.

While I never remember Muni working any shift but his own, a comment he made during this show makes me think this interview may have played at midnight rather than during his regular 2-6pm shift, which would also explain how few spots there are.

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AIRCHECK: Dave Herman [scoped-stereo]

Wednesday, November 2, 1977 (26:45)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

Dave Herman's 1977 10-year anniversary show includes an interview with George Burns, who Dave found wandering the halls of WNEW looking for William B. Williams. This aircheck also includes a "something old, new, borrowed and blue" set from the very contributor of this aircheck, Ken Tullipano.

Scott Muni stops by to talk about Jonathan Schwartz

Dave Herman

AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale with Brian Wilson [scoped-stereo]

Thursday, November 3, 1977 (25:24)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano


This is a rebroadcast of a program originally broadcast on November 24, 1976. Pete was always a giant Beach Boy fan and this was a rare chance for him to interview Brian Wilson, who spent a lot of time hiding from the public.

Fornatale w/ Brian Wilson

AIRCHECK: Dave Herman w/ Peter Wolf [scoped - stereo]

Thursday, December 15, 1977 (30:08)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

A great show from Dave Herman with Peter Wolf from the J. Geils band. Wolf was a favorite of WNEW-FM who had once been a DJ on Boston's WBCN. The show also features Robin Sagon.


AIRCHECK: Vin Scelsa's Christmas Show [scoped - stereo]

circa December 24, 1977 (28:03)

Contributed by Ken Tullipano

We're guessing at the year, but here's Vin Scelsa doing his version of a Christmas show.


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