The NY Radio Archive

WXRK 92.3

92.3 FM was originally the home of WMCA-FM. But since FM radio was a money-loser in the early days, WMCA sold the station and by 1951 it had become WHOM-FM, owned by Progress Broadcasting Corporation. By the summer of 1975, it experimented with a mellow-rock format and featured Murray the K, Stan Martin, Scott McClennan, Larry Miller and Steve White during the week and with Randy Place, Joe Guarisco, Johnny Michaels and Bruce Fox on weekends. Burkhart-Abrams were later hired as consultants and brought in a tightly formatted AOR that was very short-lived.

But 92.3 hit the big time on July 24, 1978 when it became a Disco station and was probably one of the major reasons for the demise of "music radio" WABC. The format originally featured such jocks as Paul Robinson, David Mallow, Kenn Hayes, Joe Guarisco and Paco Navarro and eventually included Rosko in the night slot, Maria Milito evenings and Dan Ingram even did an afternoon shift there during 1985, just before another format change.

According to an industry insider, since disco was all the rage in the city's clubs at that time, management decided to switch to an all-disco format, the first in the country. Someone was sent to pick up the top 100 selling records, the staff was brought together and directed to "Be yourselves and have fun" and disco music rapidly took the station to number one in the market and the rate cards tripled. There was no grand plan or formula, it just fell together on the air and it worked. Later, consultant Ken Burkhart successfully sold his formula around the country, but those involved knew the truth: it couldn't have been more haphazard. No one had ever done it before, but it was the right music at the right time and the chemistry worked.

In July of 1985, WKTU changed call letters to WXRK and became an AOR station with Jay Thomas in mornings, but Howard Stern took over in February of 1986 and Meg Griffin joined around that time as well. By the Fall of 1989, Pete Fornatale followed Stern and the station also featured Flo & Eddie (of Turtles fame) and Alison Steele in overnights. Vin Scelsa also had a weekend show. By late 1991, Dave Herman replaced Flo & Eddie and John Zacherley joined in late '92. But in January of 1996, the station switched to an alternative rock format and hired all new jocks. In 2006, it became "Free FM-WFNY" before returning to the WXRK call letters in 2007 with a CHR format. In late 2012, it became NOW-FM and by 2015 it had become WBMP-FM "Amp Radio". Meanwhile, there's a new WKTU playing Rhythmic Dance music on 103.5 FM.

Click any thumbnail for a larger image.

WKTU 92.3

AIRCHECK: Rosko [scoped-stereo]

Monday, July 4, 1983 (16:08)

contributed by Rich Barbato

By this time, WKTU was straying away from marketing itself as "Disco KTU", but they were still playing mostly disco tunes. Rosko is more upbeat and aggressive than he was on WNEW-FM.

Rosko (16:08)

AIRCHECK: WKTU: Dan Ingram [scoped-stereo]

Monday, January 14, 1985 (46:09)

Contributed by Rich Barbato

This is Dan Ingram's first day on WKTU doing the 3-7pm shift. In our opinion, this was not a good fit for one of the greatest top-40 DJs of all time. He doesn't sound comfortable. This wouldn't last long -- the station would become WXRK and become an album oriented rock station just six months later.

mp3Pt1(23:10) mp3Pt2(22:59)

WXRK 92.3

AIRCHECK: Vin Scelsa’s “Idiot’s Delight” [scoped-stereo]

Sunday, December 29, 1985 (1:47:51)

contributed by Ken Tullipano

This is a great example of what the free-form format really meant: great music personally chosen by the DJ combined with what was essentially a deeply personal talk show.

Scelsa spends at least as much time talking as playing music and the topics are even more varied than the music he plays. In addition to talking about the music itself, he talks about such issues as unemployment and terrorism (how little things change).

This is a complete (but scoped) show.

mp3Pt1 (32:16) mp3Pt2 (22:48) mp3Pt3 (38:57) mp3Pt4 (13:50)

AIRCHECK: Vin Scelsa’s “Idiot’s Delight” [scoped-stereo]

circa January 1986

contributed by Ken Tullipano

Throughout all of radio history, great air personalities created characters, sometimes doing them and sometimes talking about them. Scelsa created "T-Shirt" and "Razoo Kelley", which once again goes to prove that free-form progressive radio was far more than playing what we now call classic rock tracks. This aircheck contains several segments of letters Vin "received" from these characters.

Razoo (08:25)

AIRCHECK: Meg Griffin [scoped-stereo]

Thursday, October 30, 1986

contributed by Rich Barbato

Here's a bit of Meg Griffin doing a 'commercial free' hour on WXRK. Meg doesn't get to do all that much, but when she is given a chance her personality comes shining through. Typical K-Rock playlist.

Meg (28:26)

AIRCHECK: Jonathan Schwartz: Back to 1967, Summer of Love [scoped-stereo]

circa August 13, 1987 (30:01)

contributed by Ken Tullipano

In August of 1987, K-Rock held a "Summer of Love" celebration and invited Jonathan Schwartz to particpate and replicate a 1967 radio show. This was held just 2 1/2 months before WNEW-FM would celebrate their 20th anniversary and also invite back Schwartz to participate. This is probably the final air hour of that show.

At about the seven-minute mark of this 1987 show about 1967, Schwartz discusses the benefits of the LP over "future media" and "predicts" that the LP will disappear and its two-sided acts and large format artwork with it. In 1987, when this show was recorded, the CD was only three years old and no one was predicting the end of the album format. But Schwartz successfully predicted what would happen 20 years after the show was recorded and 40 years after the Summer of Love when by 2007, the album format had essentially disintegrated in favor of digital downloads of singles.

Jonathan Schwartz

AIRCHECK: Zacherley: Back to 1967, Summer of Love [scoped-stereo]

circa August, 1987 (32:16)

contributed by Ken Tullipano

K-Rock also invited former WNEW-FM, WABC-FM and WPLJ DJ Zacherley to participate in the 20th anniversary of 1967. Zach didn't take it all as seriously as Jonathan Schwartz and admitted to pretending that this was 1967, although it sounded pretty real when he says that he's deciding whether to go down to the Cheetah or the Bitter End after the show. The Cheetah had actually closed in the 1970s. Also note all the drug references. Zach would be turning 69 just a few weeks after this show was recorded and he sounds simply great.


AIRCHECK: Jimmy Fink's Christmas Show [scoped-stereo]

Sunday, December 25, 1988 (41:08)

contributed by Charlie Menut

This is a really terrific Chirstmas show from Jimmy Fink during the years when K-Rock was really a special station. Whether the DJs were picking their own tracks or not, they made the programming their own and Jimmy's personality comes shining through.

The aircheck includes lots of bits from the Beatles' Chirstmas records which were made for their fan club.


AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale's First Show on WXRK [scoped-stereo]

Saturday, September 23, 1989 (51:28)

contributed by Ken Tullipano

Pete Fornatale had joined WNEW-FM in late summer of 1969 and spent most of his career in the 6-10am or 10am-2pm shift before moving to weekends in the Winter of 1982 to maintain his freedom on the air. He broadcast his last weekend WNEW-FM show on September 16, 1989, a week before moving to K-Rock's Classic Rock format.

This show started at 8am on a Saturday, but he also held down a regular 10am-2pm weekday shift, following Howard Stern and leading into Flo & Eddie at first and Dave Herman later. He would stay until January of 1996, when the station switched to an Alternative format and hired all new air personalities. He would return to WNEW-FM around a year after that for their Classic Rock and Classic Jocks format.

But here's his very first WXRK show, he seems happy to be there and judging from the songs played, he mostly picked his own music, although the station seemed to be pushing Bruce Springsteen really hard, due to a promotion (not that there was anything wrong with that).

mp3Pt.1 mp3Pt.2

AIRCHECK: Flo & Eddie on Christmas [scoped-stereo]

Tuesday, December 25, 1990

contributed by Charlie Menut

Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) were members of The Turtles and later, Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention before going solo. In the late 80s, they joined K-Rock mornings during the Classic Rock era. Thanks to Charlie Menut, we have their Christmas show from 1990.

Flo & Eddie(43:12)

AIRCHECK: Rockline with Jim Ladd
and guest Paul McCartney [scoped-stereo]

Wednesday, February 10, 1993

contributed by Charlie Menut

This is a syndicated show that played on K-Rock (probably late at night) with host Jim Ladd. Ladd is better known on the west coast where he started at KLOS, moving to KMET-FM in 1974 where he resided through most of the time until 1987. He also has a show on Sirius XM's Deep Tracks channel and he has also appeared on Roger Waters' album "Radio K.A.O.S."

McCartney is on this show pushing his "Off The Ground" album which peaked at #17 on the Billboard charts and was certified Gold in the United States. It's not an album that immediately comes to mind when people think of McCartney, but it is an album that rocks a bit, largely because it was recorded live in the studio. The critics were not impressed (except in Germany where the album did extraordinarily well). McCartney also takes calls from listeners and is his usual affable self.

mp3Pt.1(29:13) mp3Pt.2(29:52)

AIRCHECK: WXRK K-Rock Promos [scoped-stereo]

circa April, 1993

contributed by Charlie Menut

Here's a set of great K-Rock promos from their Classic Rock era, circa 1993. While highly formatted, it was a great sounding radio station with an amazing talent lineup that picked up WNEW-FM's mantle when they went Alt-Rock.

Promos included:
Alison Steele: "What Makes A Classic?"
Alison Steele: Top of hour ID
Pete Forntale
Maria Melito
McDonald's All Request Weekend
Dave Herman
No Repeat Weekend
Paul Simon: Children's Health Fund Radiothon
The Kinks
No Repeat Weekend #2
Zacherley: Spirit of the Sixties Saturday show
Pete Fornatale: Sunday show
K-Rock Best Music
Top of Hour "It's Up To You" promo

Promos (7:45)

AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale [scoped-stereo]

Thursday, April 7, 1994

contributed by Charlie Menut

Pete Fornatale, going through the motions during K-Rock's Classic Rock era. Pete didn't have much freedom in those days and while Pete was always a consummate pro, you can tell that the creativity couldn't be there due to the format, and the enthusiasm wasn't there either. But as Pete told me years later, he had to put his kids through college.

Pete Fornatale(25:57)

AIRCHECK: Alison Steele [scoped-stereo]

Monday, March 20, 1995 (59:10)

contributed by Charlie Menut

The Nightbird, from the first day of Spring in 1995, just six months before she left us.

mp3Part1(29:22) mp3Part2(29:48)

AIRCHECK: Zacherley [scoped-stereo]

Saturday, April 8, 1995

contributed by Charlie Menut

Here's the first air hour of John Zacherley doing "Spirit of the Sixties" on Saturday from 7 to 10am. Lots of requests, even early in the morning. Amazing.

Pt 1(33:44)

AIRCHECK: Pete Fornatale Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Radio [scoped-stereo]

Sunday, November 5, 1995 (51:38)

contributed by Don Balogh

November 2, 1995 represented the 75th anniversary of the first regular broadcast of Pittsburg's KDKA. Pete Fornatale celebrated that special day on his Sunday show a few days after the anniversary.

The show contains actualities and songs about radio as well as the complete version of "Ballad of the Sandman" by Mike Agranoff, a favorite of Pete's given to him by singer-songwriter Christine Lavin.

mp3Pt 1(26:28) mp3Pt 2(35:10)

AIRCHECK: Vin Scelsa’s “Idiot's Delight” [scoped-stereo]

Sunday, December 31, 1995 (4:02:05)

contributed by Charlie Menut

This is Vin's New Year's Eve show from 1995, all five air hours of it, which he called the “New Year's Eve for Loners” show. It's a great example of a highly creative and unique program in which Vin goes one-on-one with his listeners in his incredibly low-key and "couldn't be more informal" style. Producer Manning also joins in on the festivities.

There's a great Lenny Bruce bit about religion (don't listen if you're easily offended) at the end of Part 6.

mp3Pt.1(31:03) mp3Pt.2(30:40) mp3Pt.3(38:03) mp3Pt.4(12:11)

mp3Pt.5(45:07) mp3Pt.6(45:50) mp3Pt.7(39:11)

WXRK (K-Rock) 92.3 Schedules

Click for larger image


These 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.