Musicradio WABC Airchecks

 

There are many different levels to listen to in the WABC Airchecks.

First, the obvious; if you grew up with WABC or Top 40 radio there is a feeling of nostalgia when you hear things from the past. It's fun!

Second, if you are a fan of Top 40 radio, these airchecks provide a real insight into how it was done. These are the real things, not an interpretation done after the fact. This kind of radio is an art which took real talent.

Third you can learn a lot about the evolution of WABC if you listen to the airchecks chronologically. The station changed and evolved over the years. There are many Dan Ingram airchecks here and you can see how his show changed. Dan himself is amazingly consistent, but the jingles, the music flow and the overall sound of the station changes with time. For example, the emphasis on "more music" and "the music sounds best on WABC" show the increasing impact of competition from FM stations in the seventies.

Fourth it is clear that WABC was more than the sum of its parts. Simply playing the music and running the jingles alone could never capture the feeling. For example, as you listen to these airchecks notice how the audience is always "in on it". Whether it's Dan dropping a one liner, Bob-a-Loo singing over the songs or Cousin Brucie joking about the WABC Chime "catching him unawares", you feel like you're a part of what is happening. They don't pretend to be perfect which, at least for me, made it possible to believe you could be one of them. There is nothing more fun than feeling like you are not just a spectator but are, instead, a participant in the fun.

 

1961

Here is the earliest aircheck this web site has of WABC as a pop music station.  It features Jack Carney doing the last live broadcast from "Freedom Land" on June 6, 1961. (courtesy Glenn Morgan). (8 mins.) 

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Here is an early Dan Ingram aircheck from 1961 shortly after he started at "Channel 77" WABC. Listen to the long jingles, the early Palisades Amusement Park ad, Action Central News intro. and the promos. There is even a short clip of Hal Neal (who hired Dan Ingram) doing a promo (courtesy Terry Morgan)! (10 mins.)

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1962

A Charlie Greer aircheck from January 27, 1962 when Charlie was doing middays. This is an interesting aircheck because WABC, as a Top 40 station, was still in its infancy. Note the "Flair Reports" which were supplied by the ABC Radio Network that WABC was forced to air. Also note the Roy Ross "Channel 77" jingles and an early Dan Ingram promo (What would you do for 2 cents?). Note also that Charlie refers to Dan Ingram as "one of the Good Guys". WABC actually used the "Good Guys" slogan before competitor WMCA! One other neat thing about this aircheck... an unedited Schaefer Beer Jingle! (courtesy Don Tandler of NJ 101.5) (11 mins.)

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This is a Bob "Bob-a-Loo" Lewis aircheck from December 30, 1962. Bob did the overnight show known as "The All Night Satellite". Bob talks to his overnight listeners as "nightnicks" and "nightchicks" and sings his way through a couple of songs. At the time of this aircheck there was a newspaper strike in New York and, as usual, WABC was capitalizing on the situation by promoting itself as "your extra news station". Interesting also on this aircheck is a Dan Ingram promo for WABC-FM as a continuous news station. This was apparently a temporary format for the FM station during the strike. (courtesy Terry Morgan) (17 mins.)

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1963

Movin' and Groovin' and having a ball with Cousin Bruce Morrow as he counts down the WABC All American Survey on October 29, 1963. There are many radio people who can never understand his enormous success. The answer is that he had an almost magical rapport with his younger listeners. His "eeeeeee" approach made him very personable to his listeners and he never pretended to be perfect. To really appreciate his popularity, you have to understand his ability to talk right to you just as a friend would. Good DJ's are not just radio people with good mechanics. Bruce always had a sincerity about him. It is hard to describe unless you were (or are) one of his fans. Much of that Cousin Brucie magic comes through in this aircheck (courtesy Jay Marks). (11 mins.)

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On December 7, 1963 Bruce Morrow did his first "Saturday Night Party" on WABC. It featured Cousin Brucie with a background music loop playing as he supposedly mingled around the party while generally cranking the kids up. As time went by this became one of WABC highest rated programs earning Bruce upwards of 25% of the available radio audience on Saturday Nights! Here is an aircheck from Bruce's FIRST Saturday Night Party Show (courtesy Frank Quaranti). (25 mins.)

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1964

This aircheck features several WABC Disc Jockeys in 1964. It begins with a terrific Scott Muni promo. Bob "Bobby D" Dayton is also featured here. Most noteworthy is the tremendous emphasis being placed on The Beatles at this time. WABC is referred to as W A "Beatle" C, there are LOTS of Beatles songs being played and special Beatles promos are used constantly. There is also a great Howard Cosell "Dan Ingram Chess" bit here. Howard was well known to WABC listeners long before he became a national TV star. (5.5 mins.)

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Here is a composite of the disc jockeys who were at WABC in 1964 including Herb Oscar Anderson, Bob Dayton, Dan Ingram, Scott Muni, Cousin Bruce Morrow and Charlie Greer. (4 mins.)

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These are a series of Dan Ingram airchecks from the summer of 1964. This is from the "All Americans "era of WABC. Included on this clip is a Palisades Amusement Park jingle and a Freedom Land ad; both of these should be very familiar to anyone growing up in New York at that time! (11 mins.)

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1965

These are a series of airchecks from Bob Dayton in 1965. Bob displays some of the acerbic wit he became known for. He had a great sense of humor and frequently liked doing bits that led into records as you can hear from this aircheck! (4 mins.)

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Ron Lundy did his first show on WABC on September 1, 1965. He first started in the overnight show before later being promoted to the midday show where most people remember him. Thanks to Jay Powell we have part of  Ron Lundy's very first WABC show!

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A Cousin Brucie aircheck from September 7, 1965. Notable here are the Coca-Cola commercials (full length).  WABC is very much in the middle of "The British Invasion" as you can tell from the music. Note also the Ron Lundy "Night Walker" promo! Ron had just started this week in overnights at WABC (courtesy Dan Gulino).

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Here is a Charlie Greer aircheck from September 1965. This is when Charlie was doing the midday show as a result of the Bob Dayton firing the previous month. Charlie really had a terrific sense of humor which comes through in this aircheck. Notice also some of the PAMS jingles... some of which are in different languages (courtesy Mark Carbonaro)! (12 mins.)

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This is another Charlie Greer aircheck from his time in middays (10-14-65). This aircheck features several full length commercials and also features the newscast.  A very young Peter Jennings is heard here! Also note the political commercials. (courtesy Jim Kelso) (30 mins.)

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More Dan Ingram Airchecks; these from 1965 while WABC was using the theme "Go Go Radio". Listen to his intro and outro to "Goldfinger". Unbelievable. Note that the "WABC Chime Time" has only the bell, not the jingle before it. (8 mins.)

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Bob "Bob-a-Loo" Lewis was a terrific Top 40 DJ who later became a terrific Progressive Rock DJ. Here he is in 1965. (45 secs.)

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Bob Lewis had a theme song recorded by the Eternals which he played on his show. It is included at the end of this aircheck. (53 secs.)

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1966

Dan Ingram, as always, sounded great on WABC in 1966. There is a "Ron Lundy Tax Tip" on this clip. And, listen to what Dan does to the "Mink of the Month Unscramble the Name" contest. Also, there are several really fun PAMS jingles on this clip (courtesy Richard Kaufman). (7.5 mins.)

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More Dan Ingram Airchecks; these from 1966-67. Now the "Chime Time" has the jingle before the bell and now Dan has the familiar "Dan Ingram" sounder. Also, there is now more reverb on the signal. Note all the new jingles including a bunch of "organ" WABC jingles! (8.5 mins.)

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1967

Charlie Greer became an institution in New York radio on WABC's overnight show from Midnight to 6 AM. Here is a "mint" aircheck from January 14, 1967 which was recorded directly from the WABC board by Charlie himself on reel to reel tape! Don Tandler of NJ 101.5 knows someone who befriended Charlie over the years. Charlie instructed his family that, upon his death, his aircheck tapes were to be sent to this person. When Charlie died in October of 1996 the tapes were, in fact, sent! The quality of this aircheck (and the other Charlie Greer aircheck listed under "1969") is terrific and, in a way, is a gift from Charlie himself.

Charlie was famous for the "Dennison's Clothier" commercials. They were specifically written in iambic pentameter...just like Shakespeare. Charlie was consistently able to get through the difficult copy almost perfectly. These commercials have become a part of "New York radio lore" and there are two on this aircheck. There is also a "pick hit of the week", a full length Pepsi commercial (if you're looking for some nostalgia) and some great PAMS jingles! Note the PSA's recorded by most of the other WABC DJ's. Listen also for the "singing chickens" at the end (you've GOT to hear this..)! This was actually a WABC Hot Prospect! It's "The Chicken Song" by Tony & Nic on Columbia records. (courtesy Don Tandler) (18 mins.)

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Chuck Leonard was known for his smooth sound while at WABC. Dan Ingram had recommended hiring him for that reason. Here he is on a Sunday in April 1967 (courtesy Richard Kaufman). (4 mins.)

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Here is a "Bob-a-Loo" Bob Lewis Aircheck from that same Sunday in April, 1967. This is after Bob gave up the overnight show (courtesy Richard Kaufman). (6 mins.)

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Cousin Brucie's show from November 29, 1967 UNEDITED! That means that approximately 40 minutes of his show from that night are included complete with full length songs and commercials. This is exactly what you would have heard had you been listening that night. This is a great aircheck to get the feel of WABC at this time; from the reverb to the jingles and the music, this is what it sounded like. It's a "time capsule". As you listen to the songs and Bruce you also get a feel for the mood of the country in November of 1967. Close your eyes and listen to it all the way through. Imagine yourself as a teenager in 1967 lying in bed with your transistor radio tuned to WABC. Or, imagine yourself as a GI in Vietnam hearing this. This aircheck was sent to the soldiers in Vietnam over the Christmas Holidays in 1967 (courtesy Dan Gulino). (40 mins.)

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Dan Ingram plays the Top 100 of 1967 on December 26, 1967. This aircheck is almost unedited. So, you can hear Dan (who had a cold at the time...) play the top songs of the year, read the commercials, do the jingles and do his show as you would have heard it that day. There are promos here for Roby Yonge (who was officially starting on January 1) and also references to WABC dropping all the network commitments which had so long interfered with the music. Dan also comments about another famous New York institution; The WPIX-TV Christmas "Yule Log". It's an hour of Music Power Radio! (courtesy Jonathan Wolfert) (64 mins.)

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Roby Yonge's first show in December, 1967. His official start date was January 1, 1968 but WABC had him fill in for Charlie Greer on the overnight show to get acclimated to the station. Roby sounded great! It's hard to believe it was his first show on the station. He was very relaxed and very personable. It is easy to see why WABC hired him. He had been a big success in Miami Florida, particularly with the surfer crowd where he was known as "The Big Kahuna". As you can hear from this aircheck, he was having a little trouble getting used to the cold New York City December weather (courtesy Jonathan Wolfert) (3 mins.)

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1968

These are a series of Cousin Bruce Morrow airchecks starting in 1965 and finishing in 1968. Many of the trademark Cousin Brucie bits are here including his "Big M" theme, the "Cousin Brucie.... Cousin Brucie shout" and his tapping on the table when reading a Gimbel's advertisement (how many of you remember that!). A promo for the "Seventh Annual Principal of the Year" contest is also here.

Also of note at the end of this aircheck is WABC Newsman Bob Hardt announcing the shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. This was a breaking story at the time and it is obvious that details of the shooting were not yet available. (6 mins.)

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Herb Oscar Anderson, WABC's "Morning Mayor" was also a recording artist. He sang his own theme song "Hello Again" which is included in this clip of his show from January 1, 1968. (40 secs.)

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Here are a series of airchecks from Dan Ingram's show in early 1968. The "Music Power" theme is now underway: (6 mins.)

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Roby Yonge fills in for Charlie Greer on the overnight show in July, 1968. Roby's regular shift at this time was middays but Roby sounds great here. He has a good time with the music and the audience. Listen to his whole bit with "Grazing in the Grass". Very appropriate for 1968. Also he does some terrific ad libs. The overnight show was less crowded with commercials and people coming in and out of the studio. Roby seemed to thrive in that environment. As Jonathan Wolfert pointed out, his personality is much more relaxed here (courtesy Jonathan Wolfert) (4.5 mins.)

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These are a series of Dan Ingram airchecks from 1968. There are a bunch of "Music Power" jingles on this clip. Notice now that WABC is beginning to promote itself as a more music station. Dan talks about "pressing forward" with more music with 4 and 5 songs in a row. And, there is a promo for Mets Baseball games on WABC-FM! (courtesy Richard Kaufman) (10.5 mins.)

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These are another series of airchecks from Dan Ingram in late 1968 during the "Music Power" era. Dan Ingram is such a terrific Top 40 Disc Jockey. If you listen to the way he runs his show, from the jingles to the adlibs and the music with such flow and ease, you can understand why so many who listened to him wanted to become DJ's! Incidentally, there is an agency commercial for the "Alone Phone" on this clip that Dan did for New York Telephone which ran on many stations throughout the area. By 1968 Dan was doing an ever increasing number of agency commercials for many large accounts.(11 mins.)

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Jonathan Wolfert donated the following very special aircheck to the WABC site. This was recorded from WABC the night of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on Thursday, April 4, 1968.

WABC shifted to a much quieter mode that night. Gone were the jingles and the excitement. The music Chuck Leonard was playing was slower and Chuck himself was very subdued. There was great concern on that fateful April night of rioting in New York City (there were riots in many U.S. cities). As a black man, Chuck urges calm between the songs and expresses his own sadness and difficulty dealing with the tragedy. He also was mindful of the huge audience that WABC was reaching and was careful to keep the mood of the station calm and respectful. This is an example of true broadcasting responsibility and professionalism.

There are also news clips on this aircheck which are of historical interest. This aircheck is news as it was happening (courtesy Jonathan Wolfert). (6 mins.)

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1969

Bruce Morrow on January 29, 1969.  This is an aircheck that was recorded for the Armed Forces most of whom were stationed in Vietnam at the time.  It was common for WABC to record these to be sent overseas.  Brucie does one of those famous "Propa PH"  acne medication commercials on this aircheck as well as one of his famous Gimbels spots.  If you listened to WABC during this era you will, for sure, remember these!

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Dan Ingram on the "Ingram Mess" in May, 1969. This aircheck was recorded directly from the WABC control board so there is no reverb and the usual WABC processing is missing. Note the frequent references to the survey numbers of the songs which was a staple of WABC at this time. Dan also does a great intro to Bob Hardt's newscast. Dan was constantly kidding Bob about being the "world's skinniest newsman". On this aircheck he refers to him as a "tie clip". Bob has a great comeback after the news (courtesy Chip Ordway). (5 mins.).

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Charlie Greer on the overnight Show from August, 1969. It was recorded directly from the WABC board by Charlie himself just as his 1967 aircheck was (See "1967" for the story).

Yes, there are three Dennison's commercials on this aircheck (what would a Charlie Greer Show be without at least one?)! Jack Webb (of Dragnet fame) is on a PSA on this aircheck and there is also a perfect "Palisades Amusement Park" jingle without any interruption! The American Contemporary News intro jingle is also here. This was one of Charlie's last shows on WABC. (courtesy Don Tandler). (11 mins.)

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Dan Ingram from the Summer of 1969. A promotion for "the first man on the moon" demonstrates, again, on how WABC never missed a chance to capitalize on whatever was going on. He does a goof on a "Duracel" battery advertisement, talks about Ray Charles' nose and just wait until you hear him introduce Donovan's "Atlantis". Dan also has a great time kidding WABC newsman Bob Hardt and he and Bruce Morrow do a great "eee" bit back and forth that typifies the spontaneity WABC was famous for (courtesy Mike Selman). (8.5 mins.)

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Roby Yonge's last show for WABC on the very night he was fired and removed from the air. For those who don't know the story, Roby's contract at WABC was not going to be renewed and he knew it (and says so). By October of 1969 he was relegated to the overnight show. On October 21 he went on the air with the rumors of the "death" of Beatle Paul McCartney. He was fired approximately an hour and a half into that overnight show when program director Rick Sklar (who had been alerted by the WABC switchboard operator) arrived in the studio with a security guard. Roby was removed from the air and Les Marshak took over.

This is a fascinating aircheck for many reasons. First, Roby goes into great detail about the McCartney death rumors. Beatles fans will find that interesting. Second, Roby is blatantly breaking the format by turning his program into a talk show and even speaks about being fired! Third, since this was the overnight show, Roby comments about the vast area that WABC is being heard (about 40 states). And, finally, Roby's final song ("Backfield in Motion") which then segues into a couple of additional songs and the news before Les Marshak identifies himself and advises people to stop calling WABC. By then Rick Sklar had removed Roby from the studio. (courtesy Jonathan Wolfert) (21 mins.)

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Dan Ingram from December 1969. The news at the beginning of this aircheck sets the tone of the country at this time. Listen to the range in music WABC was playing... everything from Led Zeppelin to The Grassroots and The Fifth Dimension. That is what Top 40 radio was all about... playing everything that was a hit. Radio fans will note that another well known New York radio personality, "Rosco", is heard doing an agency advertisement for the movie "Easy Rider" (courtesy Mike Selman). (7 mins.).

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Dan Ingram from September of 1969. This is a real treat for anyone who grew up in the New York City area. Listen for Roger Grimsby (yes, the famous anchorman from Channel 7 "Eyewitness News") doing the news on American Contemporary Radio and the famous "Robert Hall" advertising jingle we all grew up with. Dan has a great adlib here about a mole on "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and some great adlibs during a live "Fresh Fowl" ad. Dan was, for some reason, into doing lots of different voices and accents this afternoon in September '69 and he puts on a real show (courtesy Mike Selman). 12 mins.

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This "aircheck" apparently did make it on the air, at least in parts. It is a "standby tape" recorded by Dan Ingram sometime in 1969. Program director Rick Sklar was a stickler for backup facilities at WABC and he never left anything to chance when it came to possible equipment failures. Dan Ingram recorded this one hour tape and it was kept at the WABC transmitter site in Lodi, New Jersey. In the event the studio in Manhattan had a failure, this tape could be played back at the transmitter site to keep the programming of WABC on the air. Dan jokes around a lot about this possible situation. If you listen carefully, he also makes a quick comment about the WABC-FM programming. At this time, the ABC owned and operated FM stations were running a format known as "Love". Dan makes a quick joke about this with his comment "we only get 'like' on the AM side" (courtesy Bob Wolper). (11 mins.)

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The following Chuck Leonard aircheck was contributed by Jon Wolfert who writes:

"This is a great aircheck of Chuck Leonard, recorded in early 1969. It is the first night that the PAMS Series 36 jingles were on the air, and you can literally hear them experimenting and playing with the package. It was recorded from WABC-FM, which simulcast WABC-AM from 11 PM to 9 AM. This means that the signal has all the processing, but NOT the echo (which was on the AM only). It's almost like having an aircheck right off of the board." (4 mins.)

Listen for the famous "Instant Replay" jingle and also for the quick "Un"talk radio drop in promo. Talk about ironic.......

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Dan Ingram airchecks from 1969. Notice how the jingles are getting shorter. Also, during this era when WABC was running a significant commercial load, it was necessary to drop in "program matter" (which could be something as simple as a jingle) between every other commercial. (3 mins.)

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Jim Nettleton came to WABC from WFIL in Philadelphia on October 4, 1969. Jim's goal had long been to work at WABC so it was a culmination of a dream to land a job there. Here is an aircheck from his first hour on the air at WABC. His show followed Cousin Bruce Morrow who is heard briefly at the beginning of this aircheck (courtesy Richard Kaufman). (6.5 mins.)

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Here is Jim Nettleton the second day he was on the air at WABC (October 5, 1969).  After posting this aircheck, this web site received a nice note from Jim where he commented:  "Thanks for the tip on the site. It looks terrific, and it sure was fun reminiscing.  Hard to believe it was that long ago - seems like last weekend." (courtesy Peter Kanze) (15 mins.)

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1970

Ron Lundy on a Saturday afternoon in June (6/27/70).  Listening to WABC is the summer was one of the greatest things about the station.  No school, long days and WABC always on in the background.  This aircheck features Ron doing his usual midday shift... with Dan Ingram in the background doing his best to make Ron laugh. (4 mins.)

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1971

It's Tuesday, December 21, 1971 just after 3:00 PM. The Dan Ingram Show is on Musicradio WABC. Tuesday is always a big day because the new "Music Power Survey" has just come out and the new rankings are first being presented on the "Ingram Outrage". What number is your favorite song this week? Cousin Brucie will be counting down the top 20 tonight, but you can't wait. Dan doesn't count them down in the afternoon, but he does give the rankings. You sit by the radio waiting... waiting.... and hoping your song moved up on the list. And you know you can count on Dan to give the number... he always does! It's Survey Day Tuesday. (If this doesn't make sense to you then all I can say is..... you had to be there!)

Some other interesting notes about this aircheck. Note the jingles between the commercials. Jingles were considered "program matter" and Rick Sklar did not allow more than two commercials in a row without "program matter". Dan's talent as a disk jockey is evident on this aircheck. Very tight talkups and very tight radio. Listen to the talkup on Santana's "Everybody's Everything". New York radio fans will also note the voice of Joe O'Brien (of WMCA and later WNBC) on a "He Man Store" commercial (courtesy Chip Ordway). (8.5 mins.)

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Frank Kingston Smith counts down the Top 100 from 1971 on the "Dan Ingram Show". This aircheck is from Christmas Day and this was when every Top 40 music fan was glued to WABC to find out what the number one song of the year was as well as where the other songs came in on the list. Frank clearly understood that and did a great job building the excitement (courtesy Peter Kanze). (5 mins.) (If you want to see the Top 100 for 1971 click here!)

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This Dan Ingram aircheck is from December 29, 1971 recorded from 5:00 - 5:55 PM by Tom Twine. As Tom points out "notable on this aircheck are the placement of the Ingram shout jingles on/in record intros." Also, the "other voice" at the end of the aircheck is probably one of Dan's kids. Tom recorded this in Suffolk, Virginia and there is some minimal fading at times. Yet this aircheck again proves the incredible reach of Musicradio WABC! The almost 8 million people reached by WABC at this time did not take into account all of those listening outside the New York area! (courtesy Tom Twine). (10 mins.)

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1972

Cousin Bruce Morrow on April 4, 1972. The aircheck begins with Brucie doing a "Costa Del Sol" wine advertisement ("take my hand... your skin is so nice"). Very tongue in cheek and typical Brucie. These kinds of ads were frequently requested by the advertisers because they knew Bruce could get the listener's attention. Of course there's an acne medication advertisement. Brucie probably sold more pimple cream than any other single person in U.S. history! This aircheck is from a Tuesday night.... Survey Night at WABC and Bruce is counting the songs down (courtesy Chip Ordway). (6 mins.)

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This is a classic Dan Ingram aircheck from June of 1972 and is notable for several reasons. First, it was recorded right off the WABC control board so there is no reverb. Second, it includes part of the famous Dan Ingram version of the Lee Michaels song "Do You Know What I Mean". Third, there are references to Charlie Greer (who had left the station 4 years earlier) that only a hard core WABC fan would have ever understood. And, finally, there are TONS of Dan Ingram one liners. He was really at the top of his game here. If you are one of those, such as myself, who was inspired to work in radio by Dan Ingram, this aircheck will remind you of why! (15 mins.)

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Johnny Donovan in July, 1972. This aircheck is from one of Johnny's first Sunday shows at WABC after he moved over from a successful run at WOR-FM. Johnny was known for his very smooth delivery and very tight top 40 radio as you can hear from this aircheck. Fans of today's WABC will recognize Johnny's voice. He remains at WABC to this day as its Production Director and he also does the production for Rush Limbaugh's highly rated national show (courtesy Jon Wolfert). (4 mins.)

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1973

Frank Kingston Smith on January 13, 1973.  Frank was one busy guy at WABC.  Not only did he do many fill in shifts but he also handled his own weekend shows.  He had quite a radio history before coming to WABC on stations like WRKO in Boston (where he went by the name "Bobby Mitchell").  He had a great rhythm and voice to match and this era of WABC demanded tighter and tighter radio.  Frank was a natural. 

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1974

Harry Harrison was WABC's morning personality from 1968 to 1979. Harry was always been known for his "Good Morning Mom" family approach and he continues waking up New York today, now on WCBS-FM. Here he is on WABC in April 1974 (courtesy Marty Johnson). (2.5 mins.)

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WABC and Dan Ingram keep rocking into the seventies. Here is Dan Ingram in 1974. Listen to Dan's incredible timing with the "Dan Ingram" jingle dropins. WABC is now identifying itself as "Musicradio". Also, the theme "the music sounds best on WABC" was an interesting approach given that FM Stereo was now on the rise (courtesy Richard Kaufman). (5 mins.)

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This aircheck is Cousin Bruce Morrow's last show (his 4,014th) on WABC from August 7, 1974. He was leaving to go to rival WNBC. It is very unusual for a radio station to allow a departing DJ to do "a last" show, especially when that DJ is going to a competitor. But, Rick Sklar did allow it for Bruce. A number of the WABC disc jockeys are heard on this clip. There was a party going on for Bruce in an adjacent room. All of the emotion actually got to him and he was unable to complete the entire show. Chuck Leonard fills in for him for part of the broadcast (courtesy Richard Kaufman). (4.5 mins.)

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Johnny Donovan followed by George Michael on George's first WABC show from Monday night, September 9, 1974.

The aircheck begins with Johnny Donovan (who was filling in for Dan Ingram). Like George, Johnny was an extremely tight air personality as you can hear on this aircheck. (Johnny continues to this day at "NewsTalk WABC" as Production Director). Gil Gross then comes on with the news followed by Howard Cosell and "Speaking of Sports".

George Michael was Bruce Morrow's replacement for the nighttime "teen shift". From Melville Mo., George was a star at WFIL in Philadelphia before he agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to come to WABC. He had worked with Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram as a record promoter when they were at WIL in St. Louis and he makes reference to that. George was fabulous on his first night. Tight Tight Tight. Great talkups, tons of energy and perfect voice intonation for whatever song he was playing. And all of that with what had to a great deal of nervousness on his first WABC shift (courtesy Chip Ordway) (13 mins.).

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1975

Steve O'Brien in January, 1975. Steve was from Washington D.C. and had listened to WABC when he was growing up and first getting into radio. As Steve puts it, "Talk about the grand adventure of having your dreams come true in your profession!" Steve had extensive radio experience before coming to WABC and he sounded great doing the "WABC sound" (courtesy Steve O'Brien). (3.5 mins.)

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It was a very hot day in July 1975 when Dan Ingram was caught on this aircheck. Dan makes frequent mention of the hot weather and does his famous "Roll Your Bod..... Roll Your Bod" a couple of times on this aircheck. WABC fans will note a couple of things have changed at WABC by 1975.

The jingles are now very short. By now WABC was getting some serious competition from FM stations, one of which was WXLO (better known as 99X). 99X ran just one jingle which was a drum roll followed by a quick "99X" shout. This aircheck features an almost identical jingle except the drum roll is followed by "WABC". Also, there is a contest where phone calls were made to listeners where the listeners had to answer the question "what radio station do you listen to?" 99X had previously run a similar contest. Also, there is very little mention of the number ranking of the songs. More music, less talk is the theme. The disco sound is beginning to sneak in here and listen to the level of the reverb on the station. (courtesy Wayne Sandifer). (9 mins.)

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Steve O'Brien fills in for Dan Ingram in October, 1975. This is a very interesting aircheck in the evolution of WABC. First, there are references to "album cuts" which the station was playing at the time. For a Top 40 radio station like WABC, this was a significant development and shows how FM was now having an impact. Second, this aircheck is from a very narrow window in WABC history where they were referring to the station as just "ABC" (without the "W"). Jon Wolfert speaks about this in the JAM Jingle section of this website but, essentially, the decision to refer to the station that way was short lived because ABC corporate management didn't want WABC using the corporate moniker. Third, note the "Dan Ingram" jingle being used here. By now, WABC was no longer using PAMS to supply the station with jingles so they could not use the old Dan Ingram jingle. This one (which Jon Wolfert refers to as the "train wreck") was an odd mix of the original jingle and one that "Thunder Jingles" produced. JAM Creative Productions who, by now, was supplying WABC with jingles offered a new version but WABC insisted on continuing to use this one, at least for a little while longer (4.5 mins). (courtesy Steve O'Brien)

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George Michael in the Fall of 1975. George ran a very high energy show and never missed talking up a record right to the vocal. Listen to all the contests that WABC was running! There is also a great promo for Howard Cosell's "Speaking of Everything" radio show where he was interviewing Mohammed Ali. (courtesy Brian Gardner). (5 mins.)

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Ron Lundy counts down the Top 100 of 1975 on Christmas Day! Ron sounded great playing Christmas music and also the Top 100 of the year. Listen also for a Dan Ingram advertisement for "Seven Eleven" where Dan does a great voice bit and, speaking of voice bits, there's a terrific Mel Blanc ad on this aircheck. WABC fans will also note that Bob "Bob-a-Loo" Lewis is heard briefly on an agency commercial for Certs. This aircheck also includes a bunch of terrific WABC Christmas jingles. (courtesy Chip Ordway). (15 mins.)

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1976

 

During the seventies, the WABC engineers would try to come up with some "creative edits" on some of the hits WABC was playing. This could include changing the lyrics around or mixing up different parts of the song in a humorous way. Dan Ingram was the recipient of these "specials" and, if he liked them, he would play the "new version" on his show. So now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we present The Bay City Rollers and their minor spelling problem (along with a January 21, 1976 Dan Ingram aircheck). (courtesy Peter Kanze) (16 mins.)

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In 1976, it was still a big deal when a new Disc Jockey started at WABC. Bob Cruz was probably the last WABC DJ to start working at WABC under that kind of hype. This aircheck is from the very beginning of his first show on March 1, 1976. Talk about "sweaty palms....." (courtesy Wayne Sandifer). (1.5 mins.)

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Bob Cruz started on WABC on March 1, 1976. Here's an aircheck of him just two weeks later on March 13. Much has been written over the years of how Bob sounded like Dan Ingram. Even program director Rick Sklar admitted he hired Bob, in part, because of the similarity. While this was certainly true, on this particular aircheck, it doesn't seem all that obvious:

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Steve O'Brien in July 1976. This aircheck was recorded during the Bicentennial Celebration in New York and there are references to that by Steve on this aircheck. By now, WABC is using the "touch-tones" for the "prize phones". In addition, the "Big Ticket" contest is running where WABC announced numbers which listeners had collected from newspaper inserts. If you heard your number announced on WABC, you could call the station and win a prize. (courtesy Steve O'Brien). (3.5 mins.)

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Harry Harrison plays the Top 100 of 1976 from his show on December 31, 1976. Listen to how he continually works in the time, weather forecast, and traffic reports. WABC's "Big Ticket" contest was well underway and Harry gives out several numbers for the contest. He makes it sound effortless, but if you think about all he is doing on this show it's remarkable. Balancing all the various parts of the show as well as a very large commercial load took a great deal of organization and talent. If you have ever worked in radio, then you now how quickly that amount of juggling can overwhelm you! At the end of this aircheck Harry's children get a chance to wish everyone a happy new year! (courtesy Harry Harrison) (10 mins.)

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1977

Bob Alfano recorded Dan Ingram from February to May 1977 (2/9, 2/10, 4/5, 5/4, 5/11, 5/19, 5/25).  In the series you will hear a few Ingram show openings, one show closing and a bunch of "Honor Group and Word of the Day's". Dan does the "WABC 77 Dollar Jackpot" several times as well as the WABC "Big Ticket" contest. There's even a clip of Bob Hardt, Howard Cosell and an E.B.S. test! And of course there are tons of one liners, insider comments and song jokes. Listen carefully or you'll miss something...

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During the Top 40 era at WABC there were two major power blackouts in New York City. The first was in November, 1965. This is the aircheck where Dan Ingram talks about "the electricity slowing down". You can hear it under the Famous Musicradio WABC Stories section. This aircheck is from the second power failure on July 13, 1977.

This is an interesting aircheck because you can hear a predominantly music radio station transformed into a talk radio station. George Michael becomes a talk show host rather than a disc jockey. At the beginning of this aircheck another WABC Disc Jockey, Steve O'Brien discusses getting into Manhattan from Queens with all the power out. Other voices heard here are WABC newsmen Gus Englemen, and Bob Capers.

WABC did a terrific job shifting into a completely different kind of radio station. This was a tribute to the talent and abilities of those who were there. (courtesy Wayne Sandifer). (12 mins.)

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Not only did WABC do a good job during the second big blackout but so did a number of other New York City radio stations. This is a series of airchecks from that evening of many New York stations including WABC. It was hot and miserable but New York radio responded well to the crisis and George got a chance to do a news/talk show... something he would  later perfect as a TV sports anchor.

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George Michael on July 19, 1977. This aircheck is a clinic for anyone who is interested in how to do uptempo Top 40 radio.  Listen to the song intros.  George doesn't just time his talking over the instrumental to the vocal. He adjusts his voice to the rhythm of the song.  He works each intro as he raises his voice for uptempo hits and mellows out for ballads.  He had a terrific technique of trailing his voice into the vocal instead of dropping his voice in front of it. Be sure to catch his intro to Chicago's "Saturday In The Park". Any George Michael fan will remember how George didn't just say "Chicago". He always screamed "CHICAAAGOOOO!" Note also how he talks in and out of the other elements of the show including the commercials and promos.  His entire show is a one tight segueway into another. He builds momentum in and out of everything (courtesy Spencer Morasch). (52 mins.)

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From July 22, 1977 Harry Harrison rocks New York through a heat wave. While not obvious from these airchecks, WABC was running a tremendous commercial load during these years and morning drive was prime time. Harry works all the elements of the show together and commiserates with his audience about the oppressive summer weather. The current promotion was the "WABC Game". It was even 77 WABC "D"grees! Harry's newsman, John Meagher is also heard briefly on this aircheck. (courtesy Harry Harrison) (10 mins.)

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Johnny Donovan on July 24, 1977.  Johnny does his trademark talkups and very tight radio program that he was known for.  He plays the "WABC Game" a couple of times, does an Elvis Presley commercial (ironic considering what would happen just a month later) and rocks his way through a Sunday afternoon. (courtesy Johnny Donovan) (32 mins.)

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As fans of popular music know all too well, Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977. George Michael did a tribute to him the night of his death. With very little time to prepare, George did a terrific job putting together a one hour tribute to Elvis that included interviews, music and memories. It was a great program both because of the wonderful job George did on such short notice and the content of the show itself. Here is that show in its entirety:

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1978

Periodically, WABC would create "Station Demos". Their purpose was to provide a collective on air sample of what the station sounded like for advertisers. This one is from January, 1978. It's fun to listen to because it's a snapshot of the station from that era. You'll hear Harry Harrison, John Meager, Ron Lundy, Dan Ingram, Bob Hardt, Howard Cosell, George Michael, Chuck Leonard and Bob Cruz.

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Steve O'Brien's last WABC show from January 22, 1978. The WABC game was underway where listeners had to know which prize was being given away to win it. You therefore had to keep listening. Steve went on to work the afternoon drive shift at WYNY (FM) and while there had some of the highest ratings in New York as the music audience shifted to FM (courtesy Steve O'Brien). (4 mins.)

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George Michael's evening WABC show from February 3, 1978 saluting Carteret High School. George may have been the "tightest" DJ to ever work at WABC. In fact, George was known to throw things around the studio when engineers missed his cues. When he "talked up" a record, he rarely missed the vocal and had the intonation of his voice just right to hit the vocal with the right emotion for the particular song. Listen to the way he talks up "Joy to the World"(courtesy George Irwin). (5 mins.)

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1979

Liz Kiley was the only woman disc jockey ever to work at Musicradio WABC and she was only there for approximately six months! This aircheck is from one of her first shows at WABC. She came from Washington D.C. (WPGC), which she makes reference to on this aircheck (courtesy Sam Press). (4.5 mins.)

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This aircheck was recorded just after the short Disco era at WABC.   As you can hear, the Disco influence is still very obvious in the music. Dan is back to giving the number ranking of the songs from the playlist which is something they had not been doing for a while. Part of the famous "Raceway Park" advertisement is also on this aircheck! (courtesy Jeff Roteman). (8 mins.)

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George Michael on June 18, 1979. By this time George had been at WABC for almost five years.  You can hear his trademark tight talkups and his well-known "CHICAGOOO" intro.  He also makes a comment about the Yankees rehiring Billy Martin as manager.  By this time George had been doing weekend sports reports for WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York.  George would leave WABC in just 5 months to become a full time sportscaster and never DJ again (courtesy Rob Frankel):

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Harry Harrison did his final WABC show on November 21, 1979. At the time he was on the air, he did not know it. This aircheck is from that last show. Included is the first hour and then the final half hour. (courtesy Harry Harrison) (10 mins.)

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Dan Ingram took over the morning show the following Monday, November 26, 1979. Here he is in the morning on that first day as he gets used to his new shift. The usual trademark Dan Ingram one liners and sense of timing are all there but you can tell that Dan is not quite used to mornings yet. He needs to get some more time checks and weather forecasts in. The show changed quite a bit over the next year and a half that Dan did mornings. Eventually it evolved into a full service type show with many voices coming in and contributing traffic, additional news etc. (6 mins.)

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Mp3 (middle) (courtesy Henry Cotterill) (6 mins.)

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Mp3 (last hour) (courtesy Jon Wolfert) (9 mins.)

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1980

Howard Hoffman was the last teen oriented personality disk jockey to work at WABC before it started shifting to a talk format. From Rockland County New York, Howard had worked on the air in New York before he was at WABC on WPIX-FM and was a great choice to do this shift. Unfortunately, he never got much of a chance since the station shifted to night time sports talk and baseball games by 1981. Howard was known for his great voice bits and also for his lightening fast one liners and bits. Here he is in January, 1980. This aircheck features a contest teaser for the "Cash Call" contest (courtesy Spencer Morasch). (11 mins.)

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Howard Hoffman on February 27, 1980. This show starts out with a commercial free hour which was one of several approaches tried during its final attempt as a music station. This aircheck is from the waning days of Top 40 music before the station moved toward a more adult approach. Howard does his usual voice bits here and makes fun of almost anything that comes along including the music, callers, fellow DJ Bob Cruz and the lack of advertising on his show. Note the emphasis on playing LOTS of music and the phrase "WABC: A Remarkable Radio Station" (courtesy Henry Cotterill). (10 mins.)

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Ron Lundy from September, 1980.  Ron sounded his usual happy self in the Fall of 1980. (courtesy Wayne Cabot of WCBS-AM Newsradio 880):

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1981

Johnny Donovan from September, 1981.  By now, WABC is a much different radio station than in previous airchecks on this page.   This particular weekend, Johnny was playing oldies as part of a special that WABC was doing in an effort to attract adult listeners. (courtesy Spencer Morash):

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1982

The End: May 10, 1982: (6 mins.)

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(For more on Musicradio WABC's last day, click: The Day The Music Died)

 

 

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