Category Archives: Music

Guest Post: The Days of AM Pop Music in New York City

Dan Ingram (September 7, 1934 – June 24, 2018)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Patrick, who shares the following guest post:


Dear Thomas,

Thank you for all good articles on the SWLing Post.

After the passing of Top 40 radio disc jockey Dan Ingram of WABC 770 AM and later WCBS 101.1 FM, the golden days of Top 40 radio in New York City, the biggest radio market in the United States has been observed in TV and articles. Since 1988, no major AM station in the New York market plays pop music.

Video: Big Dan Ingram Tribute of YouTube

Click here to view on YouTube.

In 1960 WABC 770 AM changed format top Top 40 with upbeat disc jockeys, taking advantage of its 50,000 Watts clear-channel undirectional transmitter with the possibility to reach distant suburbs even 100 miles away during daytime and large portions of eastern United States and Canada after sunset. Its competitors at time were Top 40 stations 1010 WINS, 570 WMCA and 1050 WMGM but with directional transmitters.

Link: News12: A look inside the WMCA Meadowlands radio tower

http://www.news12.com/story/38678814/a-look-inside-the-wmca-meadowlands-radio-tower

Link: WMCA Transmitter Building in LEGO

http://robbender.blogspot.com/2011/02/wmca-transmitter-building-in-lego.html

Link: Photos of the WMCA Transmitter on Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/docsearls/albums/72157686311013535

In the mid-1960s and on to the 1970s WABC had a long line of radio personalities like Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy, “Cousin Bruce” Bruce Morrow, and Chuck Leonard to name a few. Teenagers would enjoy listening to WABC with their transistor radios being popular. In the 1970s WABC was often No 1 or 2 in the New York radio ratings.

However, the Top 40 format was to become less popular in AM with FM stations starting to play hits. WMCA dropped its Top 40 format in the fall of 1970. Despite rivals from FM stations like WXLO 99X, soul station WBLS, album-oriented rock stations like WPLJ and WNEW-FM, WABC stayed on top until 1978 with the only notable AM competitor being 660 WNBC with an adult-leaning Top 40.

But when FM-station Mellow WKTU 92 changed format to disco and became Disco 92, an FM became the No 1 station in New York City putting down WABC to No 2 in December 1978. WABC started to play more disco but the audience became confused. With new management WABC started to aim for an older audience playing more adult contemporary songs. By 1981 WABC played more oldies and started to promote talk shows. In May 1982 it was announced that WABC would become a talk radio station. On May 10, the music ended on WABC and it was in radio called the day music died.

Video: Dan Ingram air check from 1980 on WABC in AM Stereo (Youtube)

Click here to view on YouTube.

Link: AM Stereo – the Kahn system (WNYC)

https://www.wnyc.org/story/am-stereo-the-kahn-system/

Video: The end of music on WABC (Youtube)

Click here to view on YouTube.

Video: Aircheck from WKTU Disco 92 in 1979 (Youtube)

Click here to view on YouTube.

1010 WINS dropped rock and roll music in 1965 and became an all-news station. 1050 WMGM (WHN from 1962) had various music formats until 1987 when it became all-sports.

660 WNBC was the last of the major Top 40-stations to drop music. It had various pop music formats until 1988 when it became all-sports 660 WFAN since WHN/WFAN changed to that frequency. 660 WNBC introduced shock jock Don Imus and afternoon jock Howard Stern.

Videos: WNBC sign-off

(WCBS-TV)

Click here to view on YouTube.

(WNBC-TV)

Click here to view on YouTube.

Many of the disc jockeys, including Dan Ingram, would join 101.1 WCBS-FM, playing oldies with the Top 40 disc jockey upbeat. The classic Top 40 era with double-digit ratings and the nighttime signal reaching hundreds of miles away was gone.

The website Musicradio 77 has a lot of resources and memorial about WABC but also WMCA: https://musicradio77.com

Patrick


Thank you, Patrick, for the stroll down Memory Lane–and thanks for sharing the informative links and videos!

I truly appreciate honoring Dan Ingram as well–no doubt, there are many SWLing Post readers who remember him from WABC. He was and will always be a radio legend.

Post readers: Do you have any memories of AM Pop Music in New York City? Please comment!

VOA’s Music Man For Africa, Leo Sarkisian, dies at 97

FILE – Leo Sarkisian, center, his wife, Mary, and VOA Director David Ensor smile during a celebration that followed the renaming of VOA Studio 23 in Sarkisian’s honor, Jan. 29, 2014. (Source: VOA News)

In February 2013, Leo Sarkisian and his sweet wife, Mary, invited me to their home and studio in Maryland and I recorded what turned into a 3+ hour audio interview.

Sitting with him, time seemed to disappear as I was absorbed by stories about his travels and experiences. He was so kind and gracious–he even insisted that I walk away with one of his amazing drawings which I’ve since framed for my office.

Leo passed away on June 8, 2018 at the age of 97. Rest in peace, Leo.

Here’s the story from VOA News:

(Source: VOA News)

Leo Sarkisian, the creator and longtime producer of The Voice of America’s “Music Time in Africa,” has died. He was 97.

Known by his fans as the “Music Man of Africa,” Sarkisian spent a half-century traveling Africa, listening to local musicians and capturing their performances. Those recordings became the basis of VOA’s longest-running English program.

“Leo always left you feeling like you were special. He didn’t treat anyone less or greater based on their social standing or age or anything, it seemed. He was a true gentleman and optimist and lover of the beautiful things in life,” said Heather Maxwell, an ethnomusicologist who succeeded Sarkisian as the host of “Music Time in Africa.”

Meeting Murrow

Sarkisian arrived in Africa as a soldier in the U.S. Army. In 1961, a fateful encounter changed the course of his life. Edward R. Murrow, newly minted as the director of the U.S. Information Agency, came to Sarkisian’s apartment in Conakry, Guinea, and asked if he’d like to join The Voice of America. Four years later, he went on the air with “Music Time in Africa.”

He spent the next 47 years traveling the continent with his wife, Mary, whom he married in 1949. Together, they met thousands of local musicians and gave their art a global stage.

Sarkisian’s travels put him at the vanguard of African music. Maxwell said a favorite recording from Sarkisian’s collection was of Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, before he developed the Afrobeat style that would become his world-famous trademark.

Sarkisian was himself a musician and artist. He sketched performers, audience members and dignitaries. Some of his illustrations can be found in “Leo Sarkisian’s Faces of Africa,” a collection of portraits of people he met in his travels.

But his greatest legacy will perhaps be the original collection of about 10,000 recordings that he curated, representing every African country. In 2014, the University of Michigan acquired the collection from VOA on long-term loan. Their work involves digitizing the collection and preserving it for generations to come.

‘I feel as if I’m just beginning’

Sarkisian retired in 2012, when he was 91.

“I feel as if I’m just beginning,” he told VOA’s Vincent Makori in an interview that year.

When asked what African music meant to him, Sarkisian said, “It’s been my entire life. It’s from my childhood right up to today, and maybe into the future. I’ll still be doing my art, and I’ll be dancing with my music. What else? It is passion.”

Sarkisian’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Turkey in the early 1900s, according to The Washington Post. Born in 1921, Sarkisian studied art and drew maps for the Army, the Post reported.

Sarkisian lived by Murrow’s “last three feet” motto, Maxwell said. That meant the most important part of communication, even across international borders, came from a personal, human connection.

“We still care about Africa,” Sarkisian said in 2012. “We care about them. We love the African culture. And in turn, of course, we have their love, also. And that is the satisfaction of our work.”

Leo and Mary Sarkisian, after spending most of their lives living in Africa, settled in Boston. Leo Sarkisian died June 8 and will be buried in North Andover, Massachusetts, with full military honors.

Click here to read this story at VOA News.

Alan Roe’s updated A18 season guide to music on shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan Roe, who notes:

I have now updated my Music on Shortwave listing for A-18, and attach version 2.1.version 2.0.

Alan, thanks so much for keeping this excellent guide updated each broadcast season and for sharing it here with the community!

Click here to download a PDF copy of Alan Roe’s Music on Shortwave A-18 v2.1

VORW Radio International updated schedule

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor John with TheReportOfTheWeek who writes:

Since our last update, a few additional time and frequency changes have been made to our shortwave airings of VORW Radio Int. Each broadcast features a fun hour of misc talk and commentary as well as a wide variety of listener requested music!

The full schedule is below, with changes being highlighted.

Thursday 1000 UTC – 5950 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – Western North America
Thursday 2000 UTC – 7780 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – Eastern North America
Thursday 2100 UTC – 7490 kHz – WBCQ 50 kW – Eastern North America
Thursday 2200 UTC – 9955 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – South America
Friday 0000 UTC (Thu 8 PM Eastern) – 7730 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – Western North America
Friday 0000 UTC – 5950 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – Central America (ex. 9455 kHz)
Friday 0000 UTC – 9395 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – North America
Friday 0100 UTC – 7780 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – Eastern North America & Europe
Friday 0100 UTC – 5850 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – North America
Friday 0400 UTC – 7730 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – Western North America (new. Test transmission for West Coast Listeners)
Sunday 2000 UTC – 9395 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – North America
Sunday 2100 UTC – 7780 kHz – WRMI 100 kW – North America

Questions, comments, reception reports and music requests may be sent to vorwinfo@gmail.com PayPal donations are also welcome at that email as this is a listener funded broadcast.

Reception reports will receive a QSL!

All the best,

John