The Evolution of Musicradio WABC

 

WABC was a Top 40 music radio station from December 1960 until May 1982. Over that time, it changed and evolved as both radio and music did. On this section of the web site we present over thirty Dan Ingram airchecks in chronological order starting in 1961 and continuing into 1982.

The reason for selecting just Dan Ingram airchecks for this section is that Dan was at WABC over the entire time. He is amazingly consistent throughout so the most of the changes you hear are the result of WABC evolving over 22 years.

To get the full effect, you should try to listen to these airchecks chronologically. Listen to the jingles, the promos, the contests, the slogans, the commercials and of course, the music! It's an interesting study in the evolution of WABC and rock radio. Each aircheck is linked to the WABC Music Survey that was in effect that week. Relevant links to other sections of this web site are also included.

 

     July 1, 1961

Dan Ingram's official first day on WABC was July 3, 1961. However before that official start date, he filled in for WABC DJ Chuck Dunaway on two late nights as a way to familiarize himself with WABC's set up. He was instructed not to use his name when doing those two fill in shifts so he chose to simply refered to himself as "Not Chuck Dunaway" since it was Chuck's show but Dan obviously wasn't Chuck.

This has been part of "WABC Lore" for years and, incredibly, we have an aircheck of "Not Chuck" from one of those first two shows! Dave Vieser both recorded part of the program and then saved it for over 40 years.  Remember, this is Dan Ingram before he became a star on WABC and the station itself was far from a ratings success.  Just how it came to pass that Dave was recording that night is a case of serendipity if ever there was one. Here's "Not Chuck Dunaway" on either June 30th or July 1, 1961!


July 1, 1961
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July 1, 1961
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July 13, 1961

Dan had started on "Channel 77" just 10 days before this aircheck was recorded. It features the Roy Ross "Channel 77" jingles. Note how long the jingles are. The music survey is titled the "WABC Swinging 77 Sound Survey". That survey featured 70 ordered songs, "The Soarin' Seven Singles", A "77 Sound Sleeper", "Big 7 LP's", and "Sure-Shot 7 LPs". This was a very large survey and would shrink as time passed.

A Herb Oscar Anderson promo is featured which includes part of his "Hello Again" theme. There is also a Scott Muni "Scotland's Yard" promo.

Note that WABC is referring to its news as just "Action Central" as opposed to "Action Central News".


July 13, 1961
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July 13, 1961
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August 7, 1962

The arrival of the PAMS Jingles! The famous Series 18 "Contempo Sig" jingle is heard coming out of the news at the beginning of this aircheck. The PAMS "Your Hearing Things" Series 18 jingles are well represented here. It's WABC "Summer Fun Time" (no chime time yet) and WABC is referring to itself as "the new sound sensation in New York".

It's summer so Palisades Amusement Park is advertising on WABC (but no Palisades jingle yet) and so is "Freedom Land"(with the jingle). Dan gives the WABC "Sports Shorts" (with the PAMS Series 16 jingle). Herb Oscar Anderson is heard doing a "Bohack" Commercial. In those early days, Herb's credibility with listeners was very important to advertisers. Pop music stations had a difficult time convincing advertisers that adults were listening. HOA played a pivotal role at WABC in this area.

There is now a "pick hit of the week" on the "WABC Silver Dollar Survey".

ABC staff announcer George Ansbro does the news. At that time local newscasts were read by the ABC staff announcers who were also responsible for many other duties with the ABC network.

Note the promo for listeners to call the station with news "scoops" The news is now referred to as "Action Central News" and has its own jingle.


August 7, 1962
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August 7, 1962
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November 20, 1962

A Tuesday afternoon and Dan was playing music from the new music survey on the "Dan Ingram Flingram". Tuesday afternoon was new survey day even as early as 1962. Now referred to as the "Silver Dollar Survey" it features 40 songs plus a "pick hit".

PAMS Jingles Series 16 and 18 jingles are featured on this aircheck.

Stridex and Tackle commercials mark the start of "pimple cream" spots that became standard on WABC.

Note also the WABC "Good Guys" promo on this aircheck proving that WABC did in fact use the "Good Guys" moniker before competitor WMCA made it famous a year later. Dan also now uses the term WABC "D"grees.


November 20, 1962
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November 20, 1962
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July 31, 1963

WABC has started to emphasize the "Number One Song" with a special recorded intro into it. This, of course, later developed into the special jingles that introduced each the top 3 songs as they played. A Winston Cigarette commercial on this aircheck is certainly an indicator of the times.

The PAMS Series 18 "Teenagers Do It" jingle is featured as are several jingles featuring the "sonovox" effect introduced by PAMS with this series. WABC is also still using the Series 16 "Yours Truly" jingles. Note the emphasis placed on the "Pick Hit of The Week" (a great choice that week). The Survey is still called the "Silver Dollar Survey" and now consists of just 30 songs plus the pick hit.

Shorter drop in promos are now heard on the station ("WABC Hit Line"!) in addition to the longer promos.


July 31, 1963
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July 31, 1963
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October 3, 1963

WABC was carrying the N.Y. Jets in the Fall of 1963 (at the Polo Grounds) and there is a promo for the team on this aircheck. WABC is now referring to itself as "All American", a moniker that would continue on the station for several years. The famous PAMS Series 26 Jingles are now on the station. On this aircheck, the All The Weather All American jingle is heard along with "All American Pick Hit" jingle and several others from Series 26. Note also the "Chime" is now present at the end of some of the songs but without the jingle preceding it. The music survey is now called "The WABC All American Survey".

Dan is using his "On The Dan Ingram Show" jingle which is not a PAMS jingle. It is a CRC jingle that Dan brought with him from WNHC.

Note all the cigarette commercials now being carried by WABC along with a great Schaefer Beer Commercial.

For another aircheck from this same time period, go to the Musicradio WABC Airchecks section of this web site. Under "1963" is a Cousin Bruce Morrow also from October, 1963.

 


October 3, 1963
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October 3, 1963
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June 12, 1964

This is probably the most famous aircheck ever recorded of WABC. You have probably heard parts of it before but this is the most complete version I've ever heard. It is the single best demonstration of why WABC is the greatest Top 40 radio station of all time.

Some PAMS Series 27 "Jet Set" jingles are now being used on WABC along with the All American Series 26 jingles. Series 27 may well be the most famous Top 40 Jingle Series created by PAMS. To this day you hear these jingles still being used on oldies radio stations. Note the tremendous number of jingles now being used by WABC.

The Beatles have now invaded and WABC's commitment to playing their music along with the PAMS Beatles jingles (Series 26D) is evident.

Some of those great summertime jingles that were heard on every beach in the New York area during the mid sixties are heard here along with the Palisades Amusement Park jingle and a Freedom Land commercial!

Dan Ingram's famous "Gasser" promo featuring what would become his closing music theme (Tri Fi Drums) is on this aircheck. By now, Dan has really perfected his Top 40 announcing style. He's quick, right on the mark with every element of the show and, of course, funny. This is the Dan Ingram that inspired an entire generation to go into radio. You can tell why. And note how consistently he gives the number ranking of the songs as he plays them. This was VERY important to the millions of teenagers listening to the station at that time and Dan never disappointed!


June 12, 1964
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June 12, 1964
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October 7, 1964

WABC is still using the "Gasser" promo and PAMS Series 27 jingles are very much in the spotlight. Again, note the tremendous number of jingles the station is using and the variety in those jingles. There are some really fun jingles on this aircheck both with and without the PAMS singers!

The 1964 World Series is underway (Yankees/St. Louis). There is a great Howard Cosell promo (and jingle) on this aircheck. Howard was a fixture on WABC radio long before he became a TV star. Note also how many "drop-ins" Dan is using at this time (people laughing, kissing, etc.).

Scott Muni and Cousin Bruce team up for a great Beatles promo on this aircheck and the tremendous Beatles influence on W A Beatle C is clear by late 1964.

The "This Week on WABC" Dan Ingram music promos are now being used. WABC News Director Jim Gordon is heard doing a promo for people to call WABC if they witness a breaking news event. There is even a jingle to go with it!


October 7, 1964
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October 7, 1964
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October 16, 1965

Dan Ingram is now becoming a star at WABC. His show begins with his own theme jingle (WABC's Dan Ingram Go Go Go..) from PAMS Series 29. Note how previous PAMS jingles series are still being used. WABC would phase jingle packages in and out and did not abruptly stop one series in favor of a new jingle series.

WABC is now "Go Go Radio" and you can hear the reverb on the signal quite clearly on this aircheck. As previously noted, WABC has the "Chime" but still no jingle in front of it. But, the jingle from which it would eventually be "clipped" IS on this aircheck! It's part of the weather jingle. Listen carefully!

Dan and his engineer were clearly having fun with a laugh track on this aircheck. This kind of spontaneity is one of the personality aspects of WABC that made it so unique.

Listen to Dan "tweak" the competition, WMCA, with his drop in over Len Barry's "A-B-C".


October 16, 1965
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October 16, 1965
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June 25, 1966

The "WABC Sound" that most remember has now emerged. The WABC Chime Time Jingle now precedes the chime, Dan is now using his famous "Dan Ingram" acappella jingle, and the "WABC Superheat #" jingles are now being used in front of the top 3 songs.

The "WABC Mink of The Month" Contest is well underway. PAMS Series 31 ("Music Explosion") jingles are now part of the WABC jingle mix.

There are some great sixties radio commercials on this aircheck and also interesting is a Columbia Records ad voiced by legendary WNEW personality William B. Williams.


June 25, 1966
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June 25, 1966
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July 2, 1966

Dan (now just one day short of his 5th anniversary at WABC) makes a tongue in cheek comment about the ABC Staff Announcers. They were a big part of WABC during these years. Dan also kids around about "shooting his engineer". The close proximity of the DJ's and the engineers was one of the unique features of WABC. A great example of a "This Week on WABC" music promo is here. Dan would record a new one each week.

Note the large number of commercials being carried by WABC. Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In the Night" is the number one song. Most people think of WABC as a "rock" station but, if it was a hit, WABC played it. This is a hallmark of Top 40 radio.

PAMS Series 30 jingles are a regular part of the jingle mix. By now there are LOT's of jingles including some fun instrumentals. And, one of the greatest WABC jingles of all time, the Let's Go Go Go jingle from PAMS Series 29 is heard here along with the WABC Twin Spin jingle.

This is one of the earliest airchecks where the term "Musicradio" is actually used on the air although it is not yet being used with the consistency that would come later. Note the "Pick Hit of the Week" from the Rolling Stones!


July 2, 1966
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July 2, 1966
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August 24, 1966

"The Summer Music of Gold" continues on WABC. Notable here is Dan doing his "Pronto" Indian imitation over his opening theme music as well as several other "voices" as the show progresses. More PAMS jingles are featured here including "The Living is Easy" and "The Top Down Sound" jingles. Note how jingles are used almost everywhere on WABC... after records, before records, between commercials... everywhere! One reason this was possible was the tremendous melodies. Jingles were much more than simple call letter "shouts". That's what made the PAMS jingles from this era so distinctive and so memorable.

The "Castro Convertible" theme is included on this aircheck which should be very familiar to anyone who grew up in the New York area in the sixties. Listen to Dan talk up "Save It For Me"... a great example of how he would frequently "hit" a number of "posts" within a single record talk up.


August 24, 1966
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August 24, 1966
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March 10, 1967

This particular aircheck was recorded from the air so you can hear the audio processing of the station which included the famous WABC reverb. By now WABC is using PAMS Series 33 "Fun Vibrations" jingles. These newer jingles are now getting shorter than the series that preceded them.

Note how jingles are placed between commercials. The rule at WABC was that "program matter" had to appear between any two commercials. Rather than play two commercials in a row, there was always something to break them up. That could be the DJ coming on mic, a promo or a jingle.


March 10, 1967
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March 10, 1967
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A WABC historical note: The infamous AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) Strike began during the week of March 29 (two weeks later). The regular WABC on-air staff walked out due to a contract dispute with ABC. Management and non-union personnel took over their shifts. They billed themselves as the "New All Americans." Be sure to click on the above link to hear a special aircheck contributed by Jon Wolfert of some of the "New All Americans" who filled in!

 

July 1, 1967

You may have heard parts of this aircheck before but not with this quality or detail. The PAMS Series 33 "Fun Vibrations" jingle are still very much in use. Note all the "mad organist jingles" that Dan is fooling around with on this aircheck. Dan's engineer at this time was Richard Factor, also known as Dan Ingram's "Evil Ox". He was responsible for creating the various effects heard on those "organ" jingles (as Dan makes reference to).

Note the sonovox "Fun" sweepers that Dan uses coming out of the news. Dan does his usual magic working in and out of the commercials. The "Win a Boat Ride With Cousin Brucie" contest was well underway. This is the contest where Ron Lundy almost drown (click here to hear Ron tell the story). As previously commented, note how there were never two commercials in a row without a jingle or Dan coming on mic. This was part of the format.

This aircheck includes Dan's closing theme (Tri Fi Drums) with Dan closing out his show.

 


July 1, 1967
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July 1, 1967
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Here's an "Aircheck Special":

At the end of the above aircheck, Dan comments that he will be doing a show on WABC-FM that night. That show was known as "The Other Dan Ingram Show" and was carried once a week on Saturday nights on WABC-FM. Program Director Rick Sklar was experimenting with some of the WABC-AM personalities on the FM station. Bob Lewis and Chuck Leonard also did shows on WABC-FM at this time. You won't believe how different Dan's approach was on WABC-FM. Remember, this aircheck is from the same time that the above aircheck was recorded from WABC-AM!

Here is an aircheck of "The Other Dan Ingram Show" from July 15, 1967!!


Dan Ingram on WABC-FM: July 15, 1967
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Dan Ingram on WABC-FM: July 15, 1967
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November 2, 1968

Note the "Untalk Radio" promo on this aircheck. Just a little ironic...

By this time, WABC was growing in audience share at a very rapid rate. Note how the commercials are becoming more and more mainstream rather than just commercials that appeal to a young audience. The 1968 Election was just 3 days away and there are plenty of political commercials on this aircheck. In January of 1968, WABC had dropped most all of its network obligations which really helped push the rating up. You can also hear how the music is changing on this aircheck both in style and length when you compare it to the earlier airchecks. The theme is now "Music Power". By now the "Music Power Survey" is quite short and the repetition of the number one song is once an hour.

Note also that Dan Ingram is heard on an agency commercials for NY Telephone's "Alone Phone" reflecting his now growing second career as a voice over artist. The news theme is now the "American Contemporary News" sounder which came in the previous January. As far as Dan's Top 40 radio skills go, he was never better than on this aircheck. This is the kind of Dan Ingram radio that inspired a generation of kids to become broadcasters (I was one of them).

See if you can catch Dan's quick "nice guys" quip aimed at WMCA's "Good Guys". PAMS Series 30 and 34 jingles are now the predominant jingles being used.


November 2, 1968
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November 2, 1968
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January 1, 1969

Dan plays the Top 100 of 1968 on New Years Day 1969. The "Evolution of WABC" would not be complete without some mention of WABC's yearly Top 100 of the year surveys which were played each year between Christmas and New Years.

The Top 100 was a very big event for anyone who grew up with WABC. Weeks before the Top 100 was presented, there was endless speculation on the part of listeners about which song would be "Number One". There were always a few surprises.

And, to make it even better, you could send WABC a self addressed stamped envelope and they would send you a copy of the list.... complete with picture of the DJ's.

 


January 1, 1969
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January 1, 1969
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January 23, 1969

WABC had just introduced new "Power Hit #" jingles in front of the top 3 songs of the week (which Dan comments on). Most all of the jingles now being used on WABC are now shorter. Most heard hear are from PAMS Series 34.

There are an amazing number of commercials on WABC. That was one reason why WABC required "program matter" of some kind be inserted between commercials. By now, the station was a huge money maker.

Note Dan's one liner about newsman Bob Hardt being so thin. This became common practice between Dan and Bob as time passed. Note also how Dan has a terrific time kidding with his engineer in such a way as to keep listeners interested. This is another reason why the engineers played a very big role at WABC. While it was rare to actually hear them, they did have the effect of giving the air personalities someone to play off of. Check the Virtual Tour of the WABC studio section of this web site to see the unique configuration of the DJ and engineer at WABC.


January 23, 1969
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January 23, 1969
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September 4, 1969

Dan seems a bit more sarcastic on this aircheck than he was on some of the earlier airchecks. I suppose if I were to pick one thing that changed in Dan over the years it would be that Dan's humor became a bit more sarcastic. No doubt some of that was a reflection of the times.

This aircheck happens to include a full newscast although it is only a minute long. Note how Dan is now dropping in his famous "Dan Ingram" acappella over song intros just in front of the vocal starting. Dan turned this into an art form that was copied by DJ's all over the country.

Dan talks about "pressing forward" with more music. The concept of promoting WABC as a "more music" station is significant because, since most stations of the era played pretty much the same music, promoting the idea that WABC played "more" music than its competition was a way to hold listeners. This would become an ever more significant theme to the station as competition from FM stations increased in the seventies.


September 4, 1969
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September 4, 1969
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December 11, 1970

Listen to all the live commercials that Dan is reading on this aircheck. This is noteworthy because it shows how advertisers liked having Dan and the other WABC DJ's read their commercials live. As previously commented, Dan's ability to keep the audience listening through commercials is legendary. His adlibs kept listeners paying attention... the very key to good advertising. Once again, note how Dan's interplay with his engineer contributes to this.

Note "The Drug Scene" PSA on this aircheck. WABC did a special series on drugs which started out on Bruce Morrow's show. Originally it featured teenage ex-users describing the horrors of drugs. The feature won the prestigious Ohio State Award for Rick Sklar and WABC in 1970.

Dan is now mentioning some album titles which is new for the station. He is also using the sonovox "Right On" sounder at this time. Note the famous PAMS Series 40 "W....ABC" jingle where PAMS Bass singer Jim Clancy does the "W" and the rest of the group overlays "ABC". Also "The Most Music" acappella is now sometimes in front of the WABC "Chime" jingle. The "Number One" jingle is now "Heavy Hit One".

In addition to jingles, several WABC promos produced by Assistant Program Director Julian Breen are heard being used between commercials. As previously commented, these promos and jingles were considered "program matter" and were required by Rick Sklar to be present between commercials.

Want to hear some GREAT backtiming to a record intro? Listen to Dan's intro to "Tears Of A Clown". Dan squeezes in his talkup and 3 sonovox jingles just before Smokey starts to sing. Great example of WABC using the talents of both its DJ's and engineers to create that sound. Dan also "broaches the coach" at 5:25PM on this aircheck. Only those who grew up with WABC know what that means... And, yes, this aircheck includes Dan's closing "Tri Fi Drums" theme.

This is another one of those airchecks that shows how Dan inspired a generation of kids to become broadcasters.


December 11, 1970
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December 11, 1970
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May 6, 1971

Dan is now using his "Dan Ingram Electric Radio Theater" intro to start his show.

Of note here are how many things have NOT changed on Dan's show. He's still using his "Dan Ingram" acappella and his "on the Dan Ingram Show" jingle at the end of the weather forecast. One thing worth noting about the evolution of WABC is how many things don't change frequently. This was one reason why the station became so familiar and comfortable with its listeners. Abrupt change was not something the station had a need to do.

WABC is now doing its "People Power" feature where listeners could call in and get their complaints on the air. On this aircheck is an interesting one from a listener complaining about POW's in Vietnam.


May 6, 1971
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May 6, 1971
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November 6, 1971

Dan on a Saturday afternoon. He was always quick to comment on how the weather was sure to be bad on his "only day off" which was Sunday. The weekday WABC DJ's worked Monday through Saturday.

Dan does a funny bit here at the end of a commercial which ends with "you know who you are". He goes through a list of former WABC DJ's. This was one of Dan's trademarks... he would make comments that only insiders or radio fans would understand.

Dan even "broaches the coach" on this aircheck. Unfortunately, Howard Cosell was off that Saturday. Dan plays John Lennon's "Imagine" on this aircheck. Of course, Dan had no idea at this time of the significance the song would ultimately have for WABC. Note also that WABC is continuing to occasionally make reference to album titles.

This aircheck ends with Dan's signature Tri Fi Drums closing music.


November 6, 1971
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November 6, 1971
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November 20, 1971

WABC's John Meagher is heard doing the network news on American Contemporary Radio at the beginning of this aircheck. Note that Dan is back to using his "Go Go" opening theme. He had used the "Dan Ingram Electric Radio Theater" opening for a while.

WABC is no longer using a special "number one" jingle before the number one song. "Music is Our Message" is now the major slogan being used. PAMS jingles series 41 and 42 jingles are heard on this aircheck. Note how short the jingles are getting. A few longer ones still make it on the air ("You're on a Music Weekend) but most are now quite short. The whole sound of the station has "matured" to an extent. Some of this was the due to the presence of FM. Although still far from a threat to WABC, its programming was having influence.

WABC is now the ratings leader in New York. Listen to the commercials... cars, oil companies and other mainstream agency spots predominate. Gone are the days when all WABC could sell was acne medication.


November 20, 1971
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November 20, 1971
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March 1, 1972

This is one of a number of airchecks recorded of WABC to be played on Armed Forces Radio for the troops in Vietnam. Dan comments to that at the beginning of the aircheck.

Listen to the wide range in music that WABC is now playing. From the Osmonds to Led Zeppelin, WABC is playing it all which illustrates two things. First, as a Top 40 station, WABC continues to play everything. Second, the impact of album music and groups that are popular as a result of it are now getting airplay on AM radio stations. Most album music is starting on FM. WABC is also playing a few "older" oldies than it has before (The Eldorados' "My Front Door" is on this aircheck).

Dan is heard on an agency commercial on this aircheck for "Phisohex". His voiceover career was, by now, in high gear. Dan very rarely would comment on his own agency commercials on the theory that commercial voices should be anonymous. Occasionally he was known to say "there's a voice you can trust" but that was as far as he ever went when he played one of his own agency spots.

Bob Hardt is briefly heard coming in on the news at the end of this aircheck.


March 1, 1972
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March 1, 1972
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April 7, 1972

The most interesting parts of this aircheck are the other "elements". First, the newscast at the beginning has some interesting historical notes. Dan's show then begins on a very awkward note as his engineer runs the incorrect cart coming out of the news so that Dan's show starts out "with a flying thud" as he puts it. Of course Dan manages to make it all very entertaining. Dan could always take a mistake and turn it into great radio.

The commercials are also not cut on this particular aircheck so you can hear some of the classic commercial jingles from that time.


April 7, 1972
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April 7, 1972
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January 8, 1974

WABC is now stressing that it plays some "oldies" as well as the current hits. An interesting slogan being used at this time was "the music sounds best on WABC". Considering that competitors like WXLO, WPIX-FM, WPLJ and others were on FM, this was quite a claim. But it does reflect how WABC was aware of the influence of sound quality on its listeners. WABC was still the number one radio station in New York... but now by a decreasing margin.


January 8, 1974
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January 8, 1974
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August 10, 1974

The WABC $25,000 Button contest is now underway. This was a major contest at WABC... the biggest one to date. Smaller contests had been more common for WABC but now with the building FM competition, WABC created this very big promotion. There are many references to it on this aircheck showing the focus the station was then placing on this contest.

Worth noting is that this aircheck is from the from the month that Bruce Morrow left WABC. Dan does his famous summer "Roll Your Bod" bit twice on this aircheck and also makes a quick reference about the city of Boston and WABC DJ Frank Kingston Smith (who had worked there at WRKO).

Dan even "broaches the coach" (Howard Cosell) on this aircheck which he always did at 5:25.

The jingles heard here are still from PAMS... but not for much longer.

 


August 10, 1974
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August 10, 1974
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January 6, 1975

The PAMS era for jingles is now over at WABC. Between the end of the PAMS era and the beginning of the JAM era for jingles, WABC used jingles from "Thunder Productions". Gone now is the WABC "Chime Time" jingle although a rather poor attempt at a new Chime Time jingle is heard here. Dan could not even use his famous "Dan Ingram" acappella jingle since WABC no longer had a contract with PAMS. In its place is now some strange hybrid of parts of that jingle mixed in with something that Thunder apparently came up with. It seems that even Dan was not familiar with some of these jingles judging from some of his comments on this aircheck. It was almost like WABC was trying to recreate everything it had with PAMS but missing the mark. Listen for a number of familiar jingles that aren't quite what they used to be.

The WABC "Wild Spotters" were out looking for buttons as the second WABC $25,000 Button contest continued. The term "Musicradio" is now being pushed more than it was before. It is in most every jingle and Dan uses the term much more frequently than before.

Dan has some great time fooling with Barry White over the intro of "Can't Get Enough of Your Love". As we move into the seventies Dan's double entendres are getting a bit more risqué. That's not a surprise considering the music was doing likewise.

 


January 6, 1975
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January 6, 1975
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August 2, 1975

It was a very hot day in 1975 when Dan was heard on this aircheck. He does his famous "Roll Your Bod" bits several times here.

WABC is changing. Between this aircheck and the previous one, note how the jingles have changed. These are still the "Thunder Jingles" but they're different. Used most frequently now is a quick shotgun WABC jingle (which sounds very similar to a jingle used by competitor 99X at that time). Most of the Thunder "PAMS sound a like jingles" are now gone. Even so, Dan is still using that very strange "Dan Ingram" name acappella.

This aircheck is also from a period in WABC history where the station was sometimes referring to itself as just "ABC". Research had shown the many WABC listeners referred to the station as just "ABC". So, the station figured they might as well capitalize on that and refer to itself that way. It didn't last because ABC network brass decided it created confusion with corporate "A.B.C."

Note how more phone calls are now being used on the air. Rather than a big promotion like the $25,000 button, the station is running more frequent phone contests. In addition, phone calls were made to listeners where the listeners had to answer the question "what radio station do you listen to?" There is now very little mention of the number ranking of the songs. More music, less talk is the theme.... a kind of "streamlined sound". (aircheck courtesy Wayne Sandifer).


August 2, 1975
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August 2, 1975
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January 21, 1976

The JAM Creative Productions jingle era began at WABC on October 3, 1975 with JAM's "Priority One Package". This is the first aircheck in this series which features JAM jingles. Note the faster rhythm of the jingles. Getting the call letters in quickly and then getting back to music was now what radio stations were demanding of jingles. (Interestingly, the "other" Dan Ingram acappella is still occasionally being used by Dan. This was not a JAM jingle.)

This aircheck starts with a special "edit" of the Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night". These edits were created by the WABC engineers for Dan. If he thought they were funny enough, he would use them on the air. This one was a riot!

WABC continues with its "Winning is as Easy as ABC" promotion. There were call-ins to the station (the prize phone) as well as WABC initiating calls out to listeners asking for this slogan.

Dan makes of his famous Neil Sedaka barbs on this aircheck. It's not exactly clear as to why Dan didn't like Neil... but it's obvious that he didn't. Dan's voice-over career was also very much in full swing in 1976. You can hear him on the end of an agency "Clearasil" commercial. Dan also has a good time kidding around about Wolfman Jack on this aircheck. Wolfman had been at competitor WNBC two years earlier.

 


January 21, 1976
Mp3


January 21, 1976
Real Audio

 

September 15, 1976

WABC is now very contest heavy which was a requirement as more stations were now competing thanks to FM. In addition to the many "Prize Phone" contests, WABC is now running its "Big Ticket" contest. The was the last major contest run at WABC under Rick Sklar. The station gave away "Big Ticket Numbers" in the Sunday paper. Like a lottery ticket, WABC listeners were to save the inserts from the paper with the number on it. If WABC announced that number, you called in and gave a second verification number and won the prize.

Note the famous JAM Priority One cut #7 W... ABC jingle. It won a Clio Award that year. Even though the jingles had very much changed from earlier years, WABC continued to be a prototype radio station in the use of jingles.

 


September 15, 1976
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September 15, 1976
Real Audio

 

March 15, 1978

Dan Ingram has now started to do his "Vocabulary Word of The Day" and his "Honor Group of The Day" bits. The "WABC Good Word About New York Game" is well underway along with the Glenn Morgan produced "I Love New York" promos. While still present, the use of jingles continues to decline at WABC. Survey numbers are still important to WABC as Dan continues to give the number ranking of the songs.

There is also a very interesting WABC license renewal announcement on this aircheck. Radio stations were required to air these announcements at license renewal time to advise listeners that they could file comments with the F.C.C.

 


March 15, 1978
(Mp3)


March 15, 1978
(Real Audio)

 

April 11, 1978

Dan was in a good mood this Tuesday afternoon as he debuted the new weekly survey. He has some very good Ingram one liners on this aircheck.

The "Good Word About New York Contest" continues...

Note here are the disco influence is building at WABC. The threat from FM is very real by now... in fact Dan has a great line about an "FM Mute" button. The ratings for the station were now in decline. It was not clear what the next step should be. It seems so obvious now, looking back that if FM had a better sound for music, it was going to prevail. But it wasn't so clear then. The station had been so phenomenally successful that no one could imagine it not continuing.

Dan does a terrific PSA for Phoenix House showing how WABC's commitment to warning of the use of drugs continued into the late seventies. This is one of the hallmarks of WABC. It tried very hard to be a "family" radio station. Management was concerned with WABC's image in the community. On a business level, this was important to mainstream advertisers who spent a great deal of money with WABC. But it was also important to the listeners. The station never wanted a negative reputation. This is one thing that has changed significantly since this era. Most radio stations today just don't worry about this to the extent that WABC did.

 


April 11, 1978
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April 11, 1978
Real Audio

 

April 27, 1979

Much has been written and discussed about the "Disco Era" at WABC. This aircheck (and the one that follows) is from Dan Ingram's show from that spring when WABC flirted with the Disco format.

By 1979 WABC was in ratings trouble... at least by its own standard of always being number one. FM had been eroding the AM music audience for several years but it was the the disco fad that finally pushed a radio station ahead of WABC. The FM station that accomplished it was WKTU (92.3). "Disco 92" was an overnight sensation and WABC took it hard. There was a great deal of debate about what to do but the sales department was not happy trying to sell the station now that it wasn't on top. Against the wishes of the programming staff, the station was shifted toward disco in a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the ratings.

Contrary to what some believe, WABC did not become a "solid disco" station as you can hear from this aircheck (and the next one). They still played non-disco hits and non-disco oldies. What was different was that it also played disco cuts that were not necessarily big hits. It gave the station a much different rhythm than it was known for.

As it turned out, this was the beginning of lots of changes that would take place at Musicradio WABC over the next three years in an effort to stop the inevitable. (Aircheck courtesy of Jeff Roteman).

 


April 27, 1979
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April 27, 1979
Real Audio

 

April 28, 1979

This aircheck was recorded just one day after the one above. It's significant because it's another example of the "Disco Era" at Musicradio WABC.

Of additional interest here is Ron Lundy ending his show just before Dan's show. Dan also kids around about how the temperature at WABC could not be "66 WABC D'grees and he goes on to imitate competitor WNBC by stressing the "A" in WABC as WNBC was then doing with the "N" in WNBC.

A brief and very unusual Ron Lundy promo is heard on this aircheck. Dan's closing theme and comments are also included.

 


April 28, 1979
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April 28, 1979
Real Audio

 

November 26, 1979

After 18 years in afternoons, Dan Ingram becomes WABC's morning personality. This was BIG news for Dan, WABC and radio. Things were changing at WABC. Essentially, here is what happened:

WABC, by now, had been suffering ratings erosion for a couple of years as a result of FM. It was admirable that they were able to hold on as long as they did considering the popularity of FM stations like WXLO, WPLJ and WBLS. Music sounds better on FM and the introduction of so many "new" stations into the market (because of FM's explosive growth) was fragmenting the music listeners.

With this background, in comes 1979 and the Disco craze. WKTU (FM) was the primary beneficiary. Classic example of a radio station being in the right place at the right time. For the first time in years, WABC was beat by another music station. This sent shockwaves through the station... in fact through the entire radio industry. WABC was not used to being a second tier music station so there was enormous upper management demand to do something. One attempt, of course, was the "Disco Era" as demonstrated above. That didn't last long but it was a symptom of the station's determination to regain it's status.

In late 1979 WABC hired a new program director, Al Brady. Al had been in New York radio for sometime at various stations including WWDJ, WNBC and WYNY. One of his early acts at WABC was to assure all the air personalities that their jobs were safe. That turned out to be wrong. But it's worth noting because it shows that Brady did not originally come in planning to fire people. But the pressure at the station to make big and obvious change was tremendous. Especially from sales where being number one had been the key to enormous profits.

Some think the format change was an effort to make WABC sound younger. That's an oversimplification. The idea was to make it sound different. When things start going bad, radio stations change things in such a way as to let the audience know things are different so listeners will sample it again. Al Brady wanted change and upper management wanted change. Brady's plan was to take the station back to its Top 40 roots by playing more mainstream hits (without the Disco emphasis) to give it a music sound that was more or less what it had been famous for. But, no one would have noticed these changes without a wake up call. Just changing the music alone wasn't enough of a statement.

So, Brady fired Harry Harrison, Chuck Leonard and George Michael over Thanksgiving 1979. This after assuring everyone that their jobs were safe. He also moved Dan Ingram to mornings, Bob Cruz to afternoons and hired Howard Hoffman for evenings. Sturgis Griffen and Mike McKay were also hired at about this time. The newspapers all ran stories about this, and the radio industry "buzz" was tremendous. Brady achieved his goal of letting the world know changes at WABC were happening. This was big stuff for a radio station known for its stability for so many years.

By the late seventies, Harry Harrison was not then doing the kind of morning radio show that Top 40 stations were evolving into. Dan was, of course, funny and the best known of the WABC DJ's. Putting your most popular and funniest DJ in Morning Drive is, in fact, solid programming. Dan seemed receptive to the idea. After 18 years in afternoons, he seemed to want to get back to his WNHC/KBOX days of doing morning radio. He has commented that he always coveted the morning shift probably because it's the most important shift in radio.

Dan sounds a bit out of stride on this aircheck. Considering he wasn't yet used to mornings, that should be no surprise. But Dan, as always, was the consummate pro. He did eventually settle into mornings as later airchecks demonstrate.

As a personal note I can tell you how REALLY strange it was to hear Dan in mornings. I never really got used to it... neither did many other people.


(First Hour)
Mp3


(First Hour)
(courtesy Jon Wolfert)
Real Audio

 


(Middle)
Mp3


(Middle)
(courtesy Henry Cotterill)
Real Audio

 


(Last hour)
Mp3


(Last hour)
(courtesy Jon Wolfert)
Real Audio

 

September 3, 1980

Wow! Has WABC changed by September of 1980! Dan has been doing the morning shift for a little over nine months. Listen to what his show sounds like. The station has become very "Adult Contemporary" in its approach. Dan's show is filled with traffic reports, weather reports and news reports. The emphasis on "more music" is now gone and the station is taking a "full service"approach. It is no longer "Musicradio WABC" but instead is "New York's Radio Station".

Dan is still Dan... he has some terrific one liners on this aircheck. But his approach has changed. He is now very "conversational" without the quickness of the Top 40 pacing he had been so famous for.

The music is also very adult in sound. The station still is playing the hits but is favoring the more "middle of the road" singles with fewer uptempo songs. The disco sound of the station is now nothing more than a distant memory. Also now gone is the reverb, the rapid fire contests the "news five minutes first" and the effort to make the station appeal to a younger audience. In effect, the station seemed to be saying that it too had grown up... just like its listeners.

Also worth noting is that WABC first started to carry Yankee baseball games in the summer of 1980. Because of the Democratic and Republican conventions that year, then Yankee flagship station all news WINS opted out of the games during the conventions. WABC picked the games up during those weeks in July and August. What a shock THAT was! Radio people knew this was the beginning of the end of music on WABC. Of course, the following year WABC out bid WINS for all the Yankee games and became the full time Yankee Baseball flagship radio station in 1981.

On a personal note I must comment on how sad it was to listen to the station at this time. The fun was gone. Years later Dan would comment that his year and a half in mornings at WABC was "one of radio's best kept secrets". No wonder. Dan's genius was being wasted on this format. Too many interruptions, boring music and slow moving transitions between the various elements of the show. Yes, Dan is clearly making the best of it, but the station was not making the best of him. He was so jammed up getting in and out of whatever was next on the show that there was little time for anything else.

 


September 3, 1980
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September 3, 1980
Real Audio

 

December 9, 1980

Other than the final day, this was probably the saddest day in the life of WABC as a music station. John Lennon was killed on the evening of December 8 in New York City. That night and into the next day WABC dedicated most all of its programming to John and his death.

Rick Sklar once commented that WABC's era as a music station more or less coincided with "The Beatles Era" and Dan's morning show on December 9 reflected that. On this aircheck, Dan spends a lot of time talking about John. Dan involved most everyone who was on the air with him that morning and did a great job of mixing the sadness of the moment with keeping the radio show moving. Once again Dan demonstrates his tremendous talent as a broadcaster as he does what was, essentially, a talk show with a little music. Dan was one who could speak with experience about "Beatlemania" since he had been playing their songs at WABC right from the beginning. Rick Sklar is featured twice on this aircheck and during his second appearance tells some of the stories of WABC's experience with The Beatles.

As far as the evolution part of this aircheck is concerned, note the the adult type jingles the station is now carrying, along with the large number of traffic, weather and news breaks. There is a terrific promo toward the end of this aircheck which featured WABC celebrating its past and present as "New York's Radio Station".

 


December 9, 1980
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December 9, 1980
Real Audio

 

March 9, 1981

Dan Ingram returns to afternoons on WABC. As he comments, it seemed like he was "coming out of a long tunnel". Ross and Wilson were hired to take over mornings and WABC spent the rest of the day trying to remind listeners of its storied past in the hope that the same people who listened to the station as kids would now listen to it as adults. Evenings were now occupied by Yankee baseball.

Johnny Donovan is heard briefly at the beginning of this aircheck welcoming Dan back to afternoons. Note also the Ernie Anderson voice-over promos. Anderson was a well known TV voice for ABC-TV.

The station is now so adult that it seemed almost contrived. But Dan still does some great top 40 type announcing in and out of the music and promos. Dan certainly sounded better in the afternoon than he had been sounding in mornings. This was probably because he was not quite so jammed up with all the elements demanded for in mornings. The latest slogan now being used was "WABC where there's always a better song".

Note Dan's comment to one of his own agency commercials "now there's a voice you can trust". This is as close as Dan ever came to telling listeners that he was the voice on agency commercials. He has commented in interviews that it is very important that voice over artists be anonymous to the listener. But even Dan couldn't keep totally quiet when his own spots ran on WABC during his show. Dan's voice-over career was going strong and his voice was heard all over the country on many commercials.

 


March 9, 1981
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March 9, 1981
Real Audio

 

October 26, 1981

The 1981 World Series is underway with the Yankees hosting game six of the Series the next night. WABC continues to target itself toward a young adult audience with the theme "We Like Your Style". JAM Creative Productions created an entire jingle series for WABC around this theme.

Rick James is now Dan's newsman and Dan's show is called "The Dan Ingram Program" as opposed to the "Dan Ingram Show". The music is very "middle of the road" with a fair number of oldies in the mix. As previously commented, the station was trying to remind listeners of its history as "their" top 40 hit radio station when they were kids. Dan has now been on WABC for over twenty years!

Dan is still Dan... listen to his talkup of "These Eyes". The station has changed... but Dan hasn't.

 


October 26, 1981
Mp3


October 26, 1981
Real Audio

 

January-March 1982

These are a series of airchecks to give you a feel of what WABC sounded like just before its switch to a talk format. The station is playing a large number of oldies at this time and even has an show called "Saturday Night Reflections" (hosted by Marc Summers) which was an oldies only show.

By the time these airchecks were recorded WABC knew that it was changing formats. Dan makes a couple of references to that where he comments that it is appropriate that a "jingle is wearing out". The jingle he is referring to is his show opening jingle which is heard twice on this series of airchecks and both times Dan comments about it. He also makes an offhanded comment about how he might not be hearing the "SUNDAY SUNDAY" National Speedway commercials.

Of historical interest here is the announcement of the death of John Belushi from March 5, 1982. Dan, as usual, comes up with an appropriate way to pay tribute to him.

Dan sounds quite relaxed here for someone who is about to lose his job. Of course, at the time he believed he was going to be starting at "Superadio" once WABC switched formats. Superadio was to be a satellite based top 40 service intended to be aired on subscriber radio stations all over the country. It never did materialize but it probably made it easier to endure the end of a job Dan held for almost 21 years.


January-March 1982
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January-March 1982
Real Audio

 

May 7, 1982

Dan Ingram's final afternoon show on WABC. His final show was on May 10 in the morning where he and Ron Lundy did the final three hours on WABC as a music station.

Dan spends some time getting nostalgic here and speaks about his years at WABC while playing some of his favorite music from those nearly 21 years. He has some great lines about some of the music thus demonstrating that even at the end, Dan was in top form.

Dan spends some time making references to "Superadio" on this aircheck. He also has a special "honor group of the day". Dan Ingram fans will appreciate some of the "inside" humor about Neil Sedaka, Herb Oscar Anderson, "Rae Tayler" and others. He also has a great line about "In The Still Of The Night".

It's was a fun show... and also a sad one.

 


May 7, 1982
Mp3
(aircheck courtesy of Jonathan Wolfert)


May 7, 1982
Real Audio
(aircheck courtesy of Jonathan Wolfert)

 

May 10, 1982

The End.

Dan Ingram and Ron Lundy do the final show on WABC as a music station.

For more information, other airchecks and pictures from that day go to the The Day the Music Died section of this web site.

 


May 10, 1982
Mp3
(aircheck courtesy Jonathan Wolfert)


May 10, 1982
Real Audio

(aircheck courtesy Jonathan Wolfert)

 

 

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