Saturday, December 03, 2005


Well, I was tuning the dial looking for hockey games to listen to on the radio and guess what i stumbled across. WABC Radio in New York is doing a Saturday night oldies show now from 6-10PM. They are spinning the oldies on Saturdays and reliving the glory days of one of the truly classic music radio stations of all time. Here's the link to the info. I guess they needed to fill the time on Saturdays now that the Devils games have left for WFAN.

It's really fun listening to music on WABC, on AM Radio. Of course, WABC was one of the most dominant top-40, rock and roll radio stations of all time in the 1960s and 1970s. Their DJs- Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram, Scott Muni--- were legends. Their signal boomed from New York on 50,000 watts of power and absolutely covered the eastern USA and Canada.

Around 1977, AM radio Top 40 was knocked off by FM in New York City and WABC began its decline. In 1982 this truly iconic rock station changed its format to talk radio. It was called "the day the music died." Over time, though, it turned out to be one of the most successful format changes in history, as WABC became a dominant player in talk radio. They carry Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, a host of others. In fact its remarkable how many of these old rock radio stations switched to talk. WLS in Chicago, for example, was also a rock station that switched to talk radio. CKOM in Saskatoon, which I grew up listening to at 1250 on the AM dial, used to be a rock station just like WABC. These days it's a talk radio station like so many of these old Top 40 stations, but it was one of the last to make the switch. They held out for a very, very long time until the folks at Rawlco, the owners, got fed up and ditched spinning records in the 1990s, and went talk. Now they run talk shows with John Gormley and Charles Adler.

Most of these rest of these Top-40 stations are either All-Sports or All-News. WINS 1010 in New York actually pioneered rock and roll, but they switched to all-news in defeat in the 1960s after WABC knocked them off.

The only true music holdout I can think of is 1050 CHUM Toronto, which used to be a legendary top-40 station before it became a legendary Oldies station. But even they tried to go talk. There was a period of time earlier this decade when this station went all-sports as "The Team 1050," which absolutely flopped and was a big fiasco. It would have helped this station if it actually had play-by-play sports on the air! They got demolished when the Blue Jays went back to the FAN. Anyway, it's great CHUM 1050 still is playing the oldies and remembering its rock heritage. I was listening to the last moments of CHUM 1050 when it switched to sports, and I cried when it went off the air. And keep in mind, I was a big sports fan! I should have been cheering for this format change, yet I felt it was terrible that this station and its rock heritage was being tossed aside. Little did I know it was going to come back.

Anyway, enough about 1050 CHUM. As for WABC: it's great they are spinning records again on Saturdays and I hope they rerun some of the old jingles they used to have.

There's a special WABC radio website out there, too, devoted to the old Top 40 station and providing some pictures and old audio clips. You can find it at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's Saturday Night, now airs from 6-9 (first hour is online only at