Tag Archives: New York Radio

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!

Radio Time Travel: Brian’s 1974 shortwave radio recording

Many thanks to SWLing Post and SRAA contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND), for the following guest post and recording.

Note that Brian could use your help to ID a few unidentified broadcasters in this recording. If you can help, please comment:


HalliDial

Shortwave Radio 1974: Canada, Argentina, Spain, West Germany, Albania, utility stations

Want to know what shortwave radio sounded like in 1974?

This 55-minute recording, recovered from a cassette, was never intended to be anything but “audio notes”: I was an 18-year-old shortwave listener who collected QSL cards from international stations, and I was tired of using a pen and a notepad to copy down details of the broadcasts. I wanted an easier way to record what I heard, and my cassette tape recorder seemed like the perfect means to accomplish that goal.

But it wasn’t. I soon discovered that it was simpler to just edit my notes as I was jotting them down — not spend time on endless searches for specific information located all over the tape. To make a long story shorter, I abandoned my “audio notes” plan after a single shortwave recording: This one.

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image: DXing.com)

Hallicrafters S-108 (Image: DXing.com)

Still, for those who want to experience the feel of sitting at a shortwave radio in the mid-1970s and slowly spinning the dial, this tape delivers. Nothing great in terms of sound quality; I was using a Hallicrafters S-108 that was outdated even at the time. And my recording “technique” involved placing the cassette microphone next to the radio speaker.
Thus, what you’ll hear is a grab bag of randomness: Major shortwave broadcasting stations from Canada, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Albania; maritime CW and other utility stations; and even a one-sided conversation involving a mobile phone, apparently located at sea. There are lengthy (even boring) programs, theme songs and interval signals, and brief IDs, one in Morse code from an Italian Navy station and another from a Department of Energy station used to track shipments of nuclear materials. And I can’t even identify the station behind every recording, including several Spanish broadcasts (I don’t speak the language) and an interview in English with a UFO book author.

The following is a guide, with approximate Windows Media Player starting times, of the signals on this recording. (Incidentally, the CBC recording was from July 11, 1974 — a date I deduced by researching the Major League Baseball scores of the previous day.)

Guide to the Recording

0:00 — CBC (Radio Canada) Northern and Armed Forces Service: News and sports.
7:51 — RAE (Radio Argentina): Sign-off with closing theme
9:14 — Department of Energy station in Belton, Missouri: “This is KRF-265 clear.”
9:17 — Interval signal: Radio Spain.
9:40 — New York Radio, WSY-70 (aviation weather broadcast)
10:22 — Unidentified station (Spanish?): Music.
10:51— Unidentified station (English): Historic drama with mention of Vice President John Adams, plus bell-heavy closing theme.
14:12 — RAI (Italy), male announcer, poor signal strength.
14:20 — Unidentified station (Spanish): Theme music and apparent ID, good signal strength.
15:16 — Unidentified station (foreign-speaking, possibly Spanish): Song, “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.”
17:00 — Deutsche Welle (The Voice of West Germany): Announcement of frequencies, theme song.
17:39 — Unidentified station (English): Interview with the Rev. Barry Downing, author of “The Bible and Flying Saucers.”
24:36 — One side of mobile telephone conversation in SSB, possibly from maritime location.
30:37 — Radio Tirana (Albania): Lengthy economic and geopolitical talk (female announcer); bad audio. Theme and ID at 36:23, sign-off at 55:03.
55:11 — Italian Navy, Rome: “VVV IDR3 (and long tone)” in Morse code.

Click here to download an MP3 of the full recording, or simply listen via the embedded player below:


Wow–what an amazing trip back in time, Brian! Thank you for taking the time to digitize and share your recording with us.

Post Readers: If you can help Brian ID the few unidentified stations in his recording, please comment!

Note that Brian is a frequent contributor to the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive. Click here to listen to his contributions.