Today I sent off the email to the powers that be, revealing my intent to retire from WABC Radio . If everything goes according to my plans, January 29, 2016 will be my last day of work, and the end of 44 years of working in New York Radio, that started at 1050 WHN on April 17, 1972.
This life in New York radio really all started for me on a spring day in 1970, when I was standing in the hall at WCWP (CW Post’s college radio station) and WCWP’s Chief Engineer Bill Mozer said 10 words to me that would change my life forever, “Do you want to come to work with me tonight?” By work, Bill meant did I want to travel into the ABC Building with him as he worked as an engineer at WABC and WPLJ. For 8 hours that night I went from meeting Dan Ingram and watching his show in studio 8A, to eating dinner with Cousin Brucie, to exploring the much darker and slower (and smokey) environment of WPLJ! It was only 8 hours, but those 8 hours changed my life forever! I was no longer a college junior who had no idea what I was going to do when I graduated! I was going to be a Radio Engineer!!! Thanks Bill!
Well over half my life has passed since the day in 1976 when I walked into WABC, sat down and talked to WABC/WPLJ Chief Engineer Win Loyd, and got hired as a NABET VR. I started at WABC as a 26 year old single guy, and over the past 40 years, I met and
married my best friend, became a Dad 3 times, sent 3 kids off to college, saw my first son get married, became a Grandfather twice, and recently celebrated our 36th Wedding Anniversary with the same girl I met back in 1977, in the middle of a 5 month long NABET strike against ABC. Back in 1976, I started working for the WABC/WPLJ Engineering Department, and over the course of 40 years, I have managed to work for 5 different companies without ever changing jobs!
Along the way, I’ve worked with some of the best radio has to offer. From the Musicradio days, legends like Dan Ingram, George Michael, Johnny Donovan, Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy, Chuck Leonard, and Rick Skylar. On the WPLJ side, there were great folks like Tony Pigg, Pat St. John, Jim Kerr, Jimmy Fink, and a late night guy named Bob Marone. When WABC went talk in 1982, I was fortunate to again work with the best in the business, folks like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, John Gambling, and again Johnny Donovan, plus some characters like Ed Koch, and Joy Behar.
On July 23d, 1983, I became a NABET Group 7 and started in the job I’m still doing as I write this, and as such, I’ve been involved in the majority of commercials that have aired on WABC since then. The methods and tools, AND most definitely the commercials, have changed a lot in the almost 32 years I’ve been WABC’s Senior Production Engineer, but the object has been the same…get the spots on the air! I’ve also worked with more Account Executives and Sales Management folks than I can count, some of them were the best in the business…and then there were the rest! Good or bad, I’ve appreciated every day that they do what they do so our checks don’t bounce, because if I had to do their job, they probably would!
When I started at Musicrado 77, WABC it was the most listened to station in the nation. It was the pinnacle of radio’s number one market, and the place where everyone wanted to work. Sometime in the early 80s, I started to think of WABC as MY radio station! Oh, my name surely wasn’t on the FCC license, but I definitely felt like I had an ownership stake in 770. I grew up, and now have grown old in this radio station, and the members of the WABC Family were, and are my family. Over the years, I’ve been to countless weddings (but only one in Palm Beach a couple of years ago where Elton John was the after party entertainment….thanks Rush! ), seen so many folks become parents, helped friends bury their parent, as my WABC Family helped me do twice 30 years apart, and been fortunate to meet, work with, and become friends with so many! How could I not think of this place as my radio station? I only hope that the new CEO at Cumulus can turn around the company, and indeed my radio station, because the recent history of this once great radio station has been very, very sad. The years since Disney CEO
Robert Iger came to the conclusion that radio was not one of Disney’s “Core Businesses” and sold off the ABC O&O radio stations to Citadel have not been kind to many of the former ABC stations. WABC is not alone in suffering through first Citadel’s bankruptcy, and now Cumulus and the Dickey Brothers mismanagement. It’s personally sad for me to see the kinds of programing that this once great radio station puts on every week for money, even though it has not changed my working conditions or paycheck. Frankly, were it not for being a NABET union member (thanks ABC for making me join in 1976), I would not be able to say that, as so many of my WABC friends are not so fortunate! The last 8 years have seen so many members of my family get shoved out the door, and so many others leave for greener pastures.
In 1976 WABC was the only radio station I wanted to work at, and 40 years of working at WABC has given me so much, taken me to so many places, allowed me to meet an incredible array of people, and provided me with experiences very few can look back on in their lives. It has provided a very good life for my wife Susie and me, and for our kids Billy, Krissi, and Kenny. It’s given me memories I will treasure for the rest of my life, and stories that I’ll probably be telling for years to come, but now it’s time to turn it over to the next generation. I’ve been very proud to work with a great bunch of young radio folk;, guys and girls more my kids’ ages than mine, who I’ve always thought of as my “work kids.” Doesn’t really seem that long ago I was their age, talking to the “old guys”, and suddenly I turn around and I am one of the old guys! John Gambling used to say that he was always the youngest guy at every radio station he worked at, until he woke up one day and discovered he was the oldest! Same for me. It makes me sad that today, the radio industry, and especially the radio station I love, is in as sorry shape as it is. I was very lucky to come along at a time when things were changing, but I still had the ability to see a future that was bright and held promise. Today, the business is nuts, and unfortunately, a lot of decisions are made for short term monetary gain, with no long term view of the ultimate consequences. Based on the last 8 years, I fear that their future is not as bright as mine was in 1976, and that we are more and more seeing the signs that radio as I know it, is over. I worry about my17th Floor Family going forward, and wish them well, but for me, it’s time for Susie and I to move on to our next chapter.
I may be retiring from Cumulus, New York, but in my heart I’m saying good bye to the WABC/WPLJ Engineering Department and the American Broadcasting Company that a 26 year old me started working at so very long ago. Unfortunately, WABC/WPLJ Chief Engineer Win Loyd is no longer with us, because I’d love to say to him, “Thanks for the ride Win…it was better than anyone could expect!”
See you on Facebook!
Dan Ingram’s 20th Anniversary at WABC
Check out this TV spot for WABC from 1977. http://youtu.be/6Q83t-z8r1s
George Michael with Mark Simone on WABC’s Saturday Night Oldies March, 2006