As I said in yesterday’s part one, there are many ways to look at the time we spend at a job, but for many, it all boils down to the numbers. Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday and take a look back at my years at WABC, by the numbers.
1989….We leave the ABC Building at 1330 Avenue of the Americas ,and move to 2 Penn Plaza, just above Penn Station. The move outside of ABC property is in case the FCC says that Cap Cities/ABC can’t keep ownership of one or both radio stations. My commute becomes 3 escalators and and elevator ride to the 17th floor.
April, 1989…in the midst of NABET/ABC contract negotiations, new contract proposals come out and Radio Engineers are not in them! What?? This is the first salvo of the second round of cutting NABET jobs in radio, and although we did end up in the final contract, there were less of us in the mix. We lost some good folks who took the opportunity to jump to TV, and some of our longest folks got a nice buyout after years of service to ABC. This contract was also the beginning of the separate Radio Seniority List. Hard to believe that there were 36 NABET Engineers at local radio (WABC and WPLJ) when I started!
2/9/96….the day the mouse arrived! After 10 years of working for CapCities/ABC, ABC becomes part of the Walt Disney Company, and suddenly we go from being employees, to cast members! Some of us take a bath the next year paying taxes as our CapCities/ABC stock is converted to cash, but hey, we get Disney Park admission tickets!
11/2/98…..NABET calls a 1 day strike against ABC that lasts into 1999! So, on the day before Election Day, 1998 I come to work to discover that the union has called a one day strike against the company. The next day ABC says, nope you’re not coming back and locks us out! For the second time in my ABC life, I’m outside the building picketing rather than inside playing radio! This time, however, I’m not a single guy, but rather a husband and father of 3, with expenses and a mortgage. After 7 weeks, when we are eligible to collect New York State unemployment insurance, I go to the office in Hempstead, and everyone there applying is an ABC employee! I get one unemployment check, and we go back to work in January, 1999!
9/11/2000….After there being a Gambling hosting the morning show for 75 years, in 2000 WOR management informed John R. Gambling that his contract would not be reviewed at the end of the year. Following his September 11th show, John left WOR, and within months, showed up at WABC. John and I had first become friends when I spent a summer at WOR in the late 70s, and he was the evening Staff Announcer. He started doing a Saturday morning show, but within a couple of months, John was doing 10 AM to Noon, Monday to Friday on WABC, and I was his engineer. John and I were both born in 1950, we both lived on Long Island, and we both had twins. Those 2 hours a day were some of my best memories of our talk years, and a place we laughed and had fun daily. We had 8 great years working together every day till February of 2008, when he became victim of a Citadel cost cutting move, and left WABC. He was back doing mornings at WOR in months!
6/12/2007….Disney CEO Bob Iger, declaring that radio is no longer a “core business,” spins off the ABC O&O Radio Stations and the ABC Radio Network to Citadel Broadcasting, run by former CBS money man Farid Suleman. For the first time in over 30 years, I no longer work for ABC! I become a Disney retiree with a lifetime Disney Silver Pass! The slide starts!
12/8/2008….Joe Scarborough Show. So, the idea was to take Joe Scarborough and Mika Brazinski from the CNBC cable show, Morning Joe, and put them on WABC Radio and then within 2 weeks, syndicate the show nationwide. They were both very nice people, but they had no radio experience and they were, after all, TV People. We in radio have always found that TV People are very demanding of many things unrelated to doing a radio show – like breakfast, the correct mustard, and how to fill out a W-2 form. The one bright spot was that when he was a teen in western New York, Joe would listen to George Michael on WABC and we figured out that on some of those nights that he listened, I was probably running the board for George. The show got off to a slow start and stayed there as even the O&O affiliates backed out eventually.
4/26/2010….the Joe Scarborough Show was put on “hiatus” to redevelop it’s format into a new three hour show…we’re still waiting!
3/5/2009 – Citadel stock is officially delisted from the NY Stock Exchange, and the stock closes at 1 cent a share that day.
9/2009….2 year contract extension ends…last raise. Our last NABET/ABC contract ended in 2007, so when Citadel bought the stations, we were without a contract. To get another thing out of the way, Citadel and NABET negotiated a 2 year contract extension, which gave us a small yearly salary increase, but maintained the NABET/ABC contract provisions that had existed. In 2009, based on the financial situation of Citadel and it’s stock, there is no talk of a new contract.
12/20/2009 – Citadel makes it official, and files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. More job and benefit cuts hit the 17th floor of 2 Penn Plaza.
9/16/2011….After 4 years of staff cuts, programming changes, deteriorating stock price leading to eventual delisting from the NY Stock Exchange, and even a bankruptcy, Citadel “merges” with Cumulus, and the 5th, and last, employer enters the picture.
12/31/2013…After 25 years, the Rush Limbaugh Shows moves from WABC down the dial to WOR, and the sound of WABC changes greatly. The show that was credited by many with saving the AM band, has become a political football for the Dickeys (Lew and John…Cumulus big wigs) and although the show does stay on several of it’s other stations, the station that Rush started his network on is no longer his Flagship Station.
12/31/13 – Also the last day to hear the Sean Hannity Show on WABC, as it too moves to WOR, following Sean’s very derogatory comments about the Dickey Brothers.
12/31/2014…The distribution deal for ABC News that originated when Citadel bought the radio network and was inherited by Cumulus ends, and suddenly the former radio flagship of ABC no longer carries ABC News at the top of the hour, and one more link to my history goes bye bye!
7/16/2015…contract ratified….no raise. A full 6 years after the contract extension expired, a new contract is ratified. We get no raise (a $500 signing bonus), get sick time cut (and now have to pay for Short Term Disability insurance), but we keep our vacation time that dates back to the good old ABC days!
9/29/2015…Perhaps as a Wedding Anniversary present to Susie and I, the Dickey Brothers (Lew and John) leave the Cumulus Building, turning over the running of the struggling company to Mary Berner, a board member with a publishing background. Her first official day is October 13th…so glad to be 65 and NOT 35!
12/10/15….My last WABC Christmas Party. As there are now 4 radio stations on the 17th floor (WABC, WPLJ, WMBM, NASH FM), it’s called the Cumulus NY Holiday Party, and a good time was had by all…even more was had by those of us who continued on to Market Manager Chad Lopez’s after party!
12/18/15…Jill Vitale plans her 4th annual WABC Alumni Party at the Statler Grill. I attend and have a wonderful time and party with folks that I currently work with, and folks I used to work with, including Dr. Judy Kuriansky, who was one of the first WABC talk show hosts way back in the early 80s! We are both slightly older than we were back then, but still fun!
1/2/2016….My 66th birthday! A long way from the 26 year old I was that first night in 1976, but based on the goings-on in the radio business, and specifically in the place I’ve called home since 1976, I’m very glad to be on this end of my work life!
1/4/16….The day I made it official and send in my retirement notice. After a vacation spent working on the emails, I let the world know I am leaving WABC. A VERY strange feeling!
8……Number of WABC GMs in the time I’ve been there. Now, in the old days, WABC and WPLJ had their own GMs. Over the years, some of these folks were GMs for both stations, and recently they’ve been called Market Managers. So when I first got there, the WABC GM was Al Racco, then Jim Haviland, Fred Weinhaus, Don Bolukous, Mitch Dolan, Steve Borneman, Kim Bryant, and now Chad Lopez.
13……the number of WABC PDs over the years. Of course, legendary Musicradio PD Rick Sklyar when I started, followed by Glen Morgan, then Al Brady Law (he was there for a very short time…fired George Michael, Harry Harrison, and Chuck Leonard, and I’m not sure I ever actually met him), Jay Clark, Mark Mason, John Manelli #1, Valerie Geller, John Manelli #2, Phil Boyce, John McConnell (John was I believe VP of Programing while Phil was still PD, so for a brief period we had 2 for 1), Laurie Cantillo, Tony Mascaro (Not sure Tony actually had the PD title, but as the Operations Manager, duties were the same) and Craig Schwab.
17…..WABC morning shows through the years I’ve worked at WABC. A number of years ago, we had a WABC trivia question that went something like, “name the WABC Morning Shows in order from Harry Harrison to the present?” I used to be pretty good at it, but haven’t tried it in years! This is not easy, and a real memory test…I may not remember them all, and some will probably be out of order, but here goes! Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram, Ross and Wilson, Allan Colmes, Art Athens, Dave Dawson, Steve Cane, Rush Limbaugh (did it for 2 weeks and it was great….decided to stay with the network show!), Jay Diamond, Curtis and Lisa (Sliwa wife #2), Lionel, Mike Gallager, Mike Gallager and Penny Krone, Mike Gallager and Lionel, Curtis and Kuby, Imus in the Morning.
2……and finally, number of days of work left for me till it’s all over on January 29, 2016!
Thanks Dick! The end is near!!