Friday, 24 February 2012

New York radio 1971 - 1972

Alison Steele (born Ceil Loman on January 26, 1937; died September 27, 1995) was a pioneering American disc jockey in Manhattan at what would become the archetypal progressive rock radio station in the United States, WNEW-FM. She was commonly known as "The Nightbird".

I used to work the afternoon shift at the record factory and arrived home past mid-night. As I didn't have a TV set I used to turn on the radio and listen to Alison Steele on WNEW-FM. She was cool. I liked her smooth voice that was so different from those guys at WABC that shouted non-stop.
The Night Bird. (WOR 25th September 1971)  (WOR 17th January 1972) 

WABC was the New York area most popular radio station even though it was fast losing ground to the FM stations like WOR-FM, WPLJ-FM and WPIX-for the good of New York ... that played Top-40 at a better-quality sound.

Dan Ingram was the most popular DJ in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. He did the afternoon slot.
It is a candid that the WABC's Chief Engineer took of Ingram in the early Fall of 1971.
WABC was #1 in 1966. The disclaimer says: (The data used herein are estimates from the Pulse New York 18 County Area Reports based upon cumulative homes reached per week, available January through September 1966... and the average homes per quarter hour for the calendar years 1964 and 1965. Any figures quoted are estimates only and are not accurate to any precise mathematical degree.)  Represented nationally by Blair Radio. 
I used to listen to all Top-40 stations... so sometimes I tuned to 97 WWDJ an AM station in Hackensack, N.J.
WABC's Top 100 hit-list of 1975 - a flyer they sent their listener who wrote them requesting it.
DJ Pete Fornatale with a voice of gold...

Peter ("Pete") Fornatale was born 23 August 1945. Died 26 April 2012 in New York City. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage April 15, 2012 and had been in ICU.

He was the first DJ to host a rock music show on New York City's FM band, starting in 21 November 1964 on WFUV. By broadcasting progressive rock and long album tracks, he was noted for introducing a musical alternative to Top 40 AM radio in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 
He gave early exposure to country-rock bands like Buffalo Springfield and Poco, and did one of the first American interviews with Elton John.

Starting with WOR-FM in 1966, FM was demonstrating a large rift from AM broadcasting. 

Fornatale was a key figure in this trend with his weekly program, "Campus Caravan," which was heard on Fordham University's WFUV from 1964 to 1970. He began professionally in 1969 at WNEW-FM and also worked at WXRK.

He was a native of the Belmont section of the Bronx and attended Fordham Preparatory School and Fordham University, where he received a B.A. in Communication Arts in 1967. 

Pete Fornatale, James Taylor & JOP.

J I N G L E S 

I got this message from someone at YouTube concerning a jingle at Dan Ingram's daily afternoon show on WABC:

'When I was little, I thought they were singing 'all the dancing from shore' instead of
'on the Dan Ingram Show'.

"May You Always / Auld Lang Syne"

As the holiday bells ring out the old year, and sweethearts kiss,
And cold hands touch and warm each other against the year ahead,
May I wish you not the biggest and best of life,
But the small pleasures that make living worthwhile.

Sometime during the New Year, to keep your heart in practice,
May you do someone a secret good deed and not get caught at it.
May you find a little island of time to read that book and write that letter
And to visit that lonely friend on the other side of town.

May your next do-it-yourself project not look like you did it yourself.
May the poor relatives you helped support remember you when they win the lottery.
May your best card tricks win admiring gasps and your worst puns, admiring groans.
May all those who told you so, refrain from saying, “I told you so.”

May all the predictions you’ve made for your first-born’s future come true.
May just half of those optimistic predictions that your high school annual made for you come true.
In a time of sink or swim, may you find you can walk to shore before you call the lifeguard.
May you keep at least one ideal you can pass along to your kids.

For a change, some rainy day, when you’re a few minutes late,
May your train or bus be waiting for you.
May you accidentally overhear someone saying something nice about you.
If you run into an old school chum,
May you both remember each other’s names for introductions.
If you order your steak medium rare, may it be so.
And, if you’re on a diet,
May someone tell you, “You’ve lost a little weight”, without knowing you’re on a diet.

May that long and lonely night be brightened by the telephone call that you’ve been waiting for.
When you reach into the coin slot, may you find the coin that you lost on your last wrong number.
When you trip and fall, may there be no one watching to laugh at you or feel sorry for you.

And sometime soon, may you be waved to by a celebrity,
Wagged at by a puppy,
Run to by a happy child,
And counted on by someone you love.
More than this, no one can wish you.

Happy Holidays!

DJ Harry Harrison recorded 'May you always' while still working at WMCA. Then he moved to WABC and kept his tradition of reciting this paen written by  Larry Marks & Dick Charles.

Harry Harrison at WMCA.
R. Peter Straus at WMCA.

Ronald Peter Straus, who almost never used his first name, was born in Manhattan on Feb. 15, 1923, the son of Nathan Straus Jr. and Helen Sachs Straus. His father, who became director of the United States Housing Authority under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a New York State senator, bought WMCA in 1943. The company, Straus Communications, later owned many radio stations and newspapers in the Hudson Valley and New Jersey.

WMCA, 570 on the AM dial, was founded in 1925, broadcasting from the McAlpin Hotel, from which the call letters were derived. It was bought by Nathan Straus Jr. in 1943. Its programming included popular music, dramas, New York Giants baseball games and, in the postwar years, a remarkable run of music and talk featuring Barry Gray, sometimes called “the father of talk radio,” and disc jockeys like Scott Muni and Murray Kaufman, a k a Murray the K.

WMCA pioneered public service radio in New York. It was the first station in the country to run editorials on political and civic issues, with Mr. Straus himself reading opinions on the air, and the first to endorse a presidential candidate, backing John F. Kennedy in 1960.

In December 1963, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” wailed out over WMCA, and Beatlemania, with a big boost from the station, soon engulfed the region. 

It was hardly a surprise. WMCA had been playing rock ’n’ roll since the 1950s, and WMCA’s Top 40 format, along with that of its fierce rival WABC, dominated the New York airwaves through the 1960s. 

WMCA’s disc jockeys, known as the Good Guys, became almost as well known as the stars whose records they played.

Howard Cosell & Muhamad Ali at Radio WABC in 1966.
Chuck Leonard publicity in 1972

Chuck Leonard has been with WABC 77 Radio since Labor Day 1965. And he's built a bigger audience than any other radio personality from 10:30 PM to midnight, from Monday through Friday.

'I try to be good company', says Chuck.'I treat the mike like I treat my next door neighbour.'

'So I tell the truth. I wouldn't lie to a friend, and I don't lie to my audience.  If I'm reading a commercial and I throw in a little editorial comment like 'No kidding, this stuff is really terrific,' my listeners know it's really terrific stuff.'

'Listeners in the New York area are special. They can spot a phony a mile away. And they're fast. If you start a joke, it better be one they haven't heard or they'll turn you off. You have to stay ahead of the game.'

Chuck honestly likes his audience. 'They're night people, and that's my favourite kind. I relate to them better than day people - we just have more in common, that's all.'

They like him, too. Not just as an entertainer, but as a friend. 'I get a lot of letters. Almost all of them sound like they're from somebody I've known for years.' Chuck says.

It's that kind of loyalty that's made him the number one man in his time slot. And ABC the number one station all the time.

Department Stores galore!

Newark's Bamberger's - later Two Guys.

Bamberger's ghost sign in Newark.

Korvette Department Store was located between Macy's and Gimbels on Herald Square.

I once bought a few cassette tapes at Korvette's music department. They had their own brand.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

1967 Newark's race riots

Men yell at the National Guardsmen and New Jersey state police were called out 14 July 1967 to aid Newark police, following the 2nd night of disorder in this, New Jersey's largest city.
Even though this blog was originally supposed to be about the 1970s we cannot forget the race riots that happened in July 1967. They changed Newark's landscape forever. Here are some photos of what happened.

Two years before the riots there was The Newark Community Union Project (NCUP) Police Brutality March across Broad & Market Street in Newark, N.J. in 1965.

Springfield Avenue in July 1967.
Burn, baby, burn... Broad Street in flames...
some brothers being frisked by the National Guards...
 more of the same...

The scene at Jones Street in Newark as the National Guard patrols - 15 July 1967.
National Guards take over Newark.

'Are you talking to me?' - Newark N.J.  July 1967.

It's hard to find the way back home in this town...
National Guardsmen search civilians at bayonet point in Newark, N.J., 17 July 1967. 
Who's the aggressor and who's the victim? The image speaks for itself. 

all of a sudden Newark, U.S.A. was a bit like Vietnam. 

12 July 1967, during San Francisco's Summer of Love, the Newark Riots began. They lasted until 17 July 1967. The six days of rioting, looting, and destruction left 26 dead and hundreds injured.  

According to a Rutgers University study on the riot, many African-Americans, especially younger community leaders, felt they had remained largely disenfranchised in Newark despite the fact that Newark became one of the first majority back major cities in America alongside Washington, D.C. In sum, the city was entering a turbulent period of incipient change in political power. A former 7-term congressman representing New Jersey's 11th congressional district, Mayor Hugh Addonizio (who was also the last non-Black mayor of Newark) was charged with failing to incorporate Blacks in various civil leadership positions and to help Blacks get better employment opportunities. Black leaders argued that the Newark Police Department was dominated by white officers who would routinely stop and question Black youths with or without provocation. 

Despite being one of the 1st cities in the U.S. to hire African-American police officers, the Department's demographics remained at odds with the city's population, leading to poor relations between Blacks and the Police Department. Only 154 of the 1322 police officers were Black (11%) while the city remained over 50% Black.

This unrest came to a head when 2 white Newark policemen, John DeSimone and Vito Portrelli, arrested a Black cabdriver, John Weerd Smith, for improperly passing them on 15th Avenue. Smith was taken to the 4th Police Precinct, which was across the street from Hayes Homes, a large Public Housing Project. Residents of Hayes Homes saw an incapacitated Smith being dragged into the precinct, and a rumour was started that he had been killed while in police custody. Smith had been moved to a local hospital. 

This set off 6 days of riots, looting, violence, and destruction - ultimately leaving 26 people dead, 725 people injured, and close to 1,500 arrested. Property damage exceeded $10 million. 

In an effort to contain the riots, every evening at 6:00 PM the Bridge Street and Jackson Street Bridges, both of which span the Passaic River between Newark and Harrison, were closed until the next morning. 

read more about the Newark 1967 riot:

Newark's 4th Precinct found itself in the precarious position of being surrounded by public housing projects whose thousands of occupants they were not in complete sympathy with. The 12-story Hayes complex in particular offered a commanding view of the 4th Precinct. During the riot, snipers atop the Hayes complex would fight pitched duels with officers a 100 yards below. 

the 4th Precinct

People protest in front of Newark's Town Hall with signs wanting the National Guard out of Newark. Aftermath of Newark Riots: 13 July 1967.

Scudder Homes prepped for long over-due demolition.

below: Newark's tragic triangle - Decades of disgust and resentment finally give way to demolition as the Scudder Homes are reduced to dust in 1987. Off in the distance, Stella Wright (back, right) and the hulking mass of the Hayes Project (far left) await their turn at oblivion. It was the fitting end to the nightmare of high-rise public housing.