Listen to What Music Radio in New York Sounded Like Decades Ago This Memorial Day Weekend

Not so long ago was a time when people who wanted to listen to music would tune in to terrestrial radio; and when they traveled, the reception would progressively get weaker with more static — until one could no longer listen to the radio station…

Listen to What Music Radio in New York Sounded Like Decades Ago This Memorial Day Weekend

…but with the advent of the Internet and mobile communications, you can listen to what music radio in New York sounded like decades ago — anywhere in the world where you happen to be traveling — as radio arguably reached its zenith during its heyday in New York.

One of the most popular radio stations in the world was 77 WABC-AM, which broadcast contemporary music for 22 years until it adapted a talk show format on Monday, May 10, 1982 — “the day the music died” on 770 on the AM radio dial. The music was not pigeonholed into a specific format, as rock, rhythm and blues, country, soul, jazz, disco and other types of music were played during the same programs. Listening to songs performed by Elton John, Herbie Mann, Johnny Cash and Donna Summer during the same program was not uncommon at all. In fact, some of the songs became legendary during those years arguably because of WABC, which was typically the first radio station to broadcast them.

WABC still broadcasts at the Amplitude Modulated frequency of 770 kilohertz in New York; and its format has been all talk and news for 37 consecutive years — but as a tradition of every Memorial Day weekend for years, a dentist named Alan Sniffen brings back Musicradio 77 for all to enjoy and remember through Rewound Radio, which is his streaming broadcast station that plays music from the years 1960 through 1982 — 24 hours per day, seven days per week. He uses what are known as airchecks of the radio personalities — who were also known as disc jockeys, or DJs — to emulate what WABC sounded like. Airchecks were a portfolio of recordings to demonstrate the talent of the personality; and they were used either for the purposes of selling advertising — or as part of a resume if the personality was applying for a job at a radio station — and they were usually telescoped or scoped, which means that the music, commercials and news were removed. Music is inserted digitally back into the scoped airchecks to recreate the sound of WABC-AM — as if it were broadcasting the programs today.

In addition to the music, one of the reasons for the popularity of WABC-AM was its radio personalities. They usually were able to handle almost any situation with aplomb — such as during the blackout in New York City in 1965, when the electricity started to fade during the broadcast — while delivering the time, weather, traffic reports and commercials seemingly flawlessly as they introduced the next song to be played; and often with sharp wit. It all seemed so easy because they were so professional — the likes of them who will never be heard again.

Traffic reports…heh…this was before all of the technology which is now available at our fingertips on our portable electronic devices.

Listening to the news and commercials of the day can be fascinating. For example, start at 3:18 during this aircheck from late veteran radio personality Dan Ingram, who voiced a commercial for Eastern Air Lines and its new non-stop Whisperjet service — presumably with its fleet of Boeing 727 aircraft — from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Saint Louis…

…and do not be surprised if during Memorial Day weekend, you hear commercials from Trans World Airlines, National Airlines, Pan American Airways, and Continental Airlines — most of which aired before frequent flier loyalty programs existed — as well as commercials which were advertising lodging. During the first hour, one commercial each from American Airlines and United Airlines was already heard. You might also hear about incidents pertaining to travel during the news segments.

The jingles were legendary as well. This classic jingle for WABC-AM — which is part of the 1961 Contempo Sig 18 series — had been one of the most recognized of all time.

Summary

Even if you never listened to 77 WABC-AM, give this special program a listen this Memorial Day weekend — no matter where you are located in the world — as it is almost like being transported back in time with an audio record, preserved as a part of the storied history of New York.

Some people listen to the Musicradio 77 broadcast through a mobile telephone to emulate that transistor radio sound which was so popular back then…

…and for additional information, photographs and audio airchecks, be sure to explore this Internet web site which is dedicated to Musicradio 77 WABC-AM — and it was also founded by Allan Sniffen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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