Wednesday, 27 March 2013

1971 New York radio

As I was saying in the previous page when I commented abou radio gadgets, I started listening New York City radio stations since the very first day I arrived in the USA in 2 October 1971. Looking back it feels like I had been given the key to the city's radio even before I had arrived there. I turned the radio on the first night and listened to whatever was being broadcast.

I think the first sound I noticed and was made conscious of was the mandolins playing at the end of Rod Stewart's 'Maggie Mae'. That sound would soar into the air and make itself the king! Slowly I realized it was the end of a song... a long song that told the story of a young man that was going back to school because it was late-September... exactly the time of year we were on.

From 'Maggie Mae' I started picking songs I liked very often. I remember Jonathan Edward's 'Sunshine' which had a really pleasant jangling guitar sound with a singer's good voice. Lee Michael's 'Do you know what I mean?' was a very powerful song! It had rhythm and a mean organ that counterpointed Lee's clear voice. Gee, in the US one had a magnificent radio that churned hits after hits.

'Superstar' with the Carpenters was the most beautiful song possible. I had never heard of Karen Carpenter or that they were brothers. 'Superstar' was heavenly and it was #2, kept from #1 only by the strength of 'Maggie Mae'. North-american radio was a fairy-land for me. I liked everything I heard even if I didn't understand the lyrics. The sound was good. Even the commercials were amazing. I fell in love with a Chrysler's Plymouth ad that I first I thought it was a regular song. Then I realized it was shorter than a 'common' song and soon I picked up the lyrics: Chrysler Plymouth coming through!!! To be in the United States was so good. Such a dream come true!

I lived in the Portuguese-Puerto Rican ghetto in Newark, N.J. and I soon realized that WABC was the most popular radio stations among Brazilians. But as I also had a FM radio I noticed that FM-stations were more 'stylish' than AM stations. I kept going back and forth. I even remember tuning to a New Jersey AM station: WWDJ of Hackensack, N.J. It was similar, on the same lines as WABC but its signal was weak.

The FM stations I remember I listened through 1971, 1972 and 1973 were: WCBS, WPLJ, WNEW, WOR-FM. I could listen to album-tracks of The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other bands I already knew from living in Brazil.

In the USA I was introduced to Chicago, Carpenters, Rod Stewart, Elton John and many others. I remember the 1st time I listened the name Elton John being pronounced. I thought at first that it was Tom Jones, the Welsh singer, but then I learned better. I was really impressed by the vocal beauty of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and became an instant fan... then in 1972, Neil Young individually became my idol. Talking about music idol I already had one in the shape of 'American pie's Don McLean... but Neil Young was more dramatic and exuberant.

Chicago Transit Authority was a band that impressed me a lot too. I saw them as the next step after Blood, Sweat & Tears much more in the line The Beatles had opened. Their 2nd album was so amazingly good... the one which starts with 'Wake up sunshine', goes through 'Make me smile' and ends with 'Colour my world' and a rock rhapsodic fantasy. Such an amazing album side. They played the whole side on WNEW.

Melanie's 'Brand new key' couldn't be a better song to end 1971. 'American pie' would play constantly in jukebox. It was divided in two parts... but in the FM stations it played the whole 8 minutes and 23 seconds. Think that Sly in the Family's 'A family affair' had been #1 in the country for 2 weeks and the amazing Isaac Hayes had been #1 too with his 'Shaft' theme (John Shaft).... what glorious period it was 1971's Autumn.

Dan Ingram, argueably New York's most popular radio DJ in the late 1960s and early 1970s at his post at WABC Radio in the autumn of 1971.

Frank Kingston Smith was at WABC from 1971 to 1974. He worked weekends and was the primary fill in DJ over those years. He had a long radio career at many great stations like WFIL/Philadelphia and WRKO/Boston (as "Bobby Mitchell").

Over the years people have forgotten the important place that news held at Musicradio WABC.

While it's true that music programming was the primary emphasis, no radio station could keep its license without "serving the public good".

Unlike today's music stations, WABC had a real news department that had a job to do... and did it well. Ironically, the news department at Musicradio WABC in 1975 was better staffed than its counterpart is today at "News-Talk Radio" WABC!

Rear: Paul Ehrlich (News Director-tending to teletype machine), Bob Capers, Bob Hardt
Foreground - a secretary, John Meagher, Gus Engelman.

This advertisement appeared in "Broadcasting Magazine" on 27 October 1975

This is Musicradio

Yes, the newsroom at America's most listened to radio station WABC we don't think we got to be Number One by doing just a few things right, so we weren't too surprised by the results of this year's New York State AP Broadcasters News Competition where New York stations - including the all-news ones - were judged in six categories.

WABC's afternoon drive newscast with Bob Hardt was named Best Regularly Scheduled Local News Program. Hardt's report has earned this accolade six of the last seven years. Nobody's ever done that before.

Newsman John Meagher received the AP Award for General Excelence of Individual Reporting. Meagher won that one for his investigation of boon-doggling in resort area land sales.

And WABC's Public Affair program, 'Perspective New York', earned Honourable Mention in the Documentary Category.
Not bad for musicradio.
an ABC owned AM radio station

Les Marshak at WABC in 1969; then he moved to WPIX (Pix 102).

Stan Brooks, a familiar voice on 1010 WINS, dies at 86

By Paul Vitello for The New York Times.

23 December 2013

Stan Brooks, a reporter whose long tenure and prolific output on New York’s first all-news radio station, 1010 WINS, made him one of the most recognized and consistent voices on the radio for more than 40 years, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 86, and had worked until a month before his death, delivering his last report from City Hall on Nov. 20. The cause was lung cancer, his son Bennett said.

Mr. Brooks joined WINS, 1010 on the AM dial, as news director in 1962, when it was still one of the dominant pop music stations in the country, with a lineup of popular disc jockeys including Murray Kaufman, known as Murray the K.

When Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the station’s owners, decided to make WINS an all-news operation soon after Mr. Brooks’s arrival, he helped assemble the staff and lay the groundwork for one of the first all-news radio stations in the country — and the first in the city.
The switch took place on 19 April 1965. The blackout on 9 November 1965, which plunged most of the Northeast into darkness, put Mr. Brooks’s news team on the aural map.

By tapping into a transmission line based in New Jersey, WINS was one of the few radio outlets that managed to stay on the air. From a 19th-floor studio in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. Brooks and his reporters broadcast news and information throughout the night.

“Reporters had to go down 19 flights to get the story and then walk up 19 flights to go on the air,” all by candlelight, he told an interviewer.

After several years as an executive and then a national correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcasting radio station system, Mr. Brooks became a local reporter at WINS in 1970. His voice has been on the city’s airwaves almost every day since.

In understated dispatches between 30 seconds and one minute long, he reported on plane crashes, race riots, municipal near-bankruptcies, the tall ships, the Son of Sam, the Attica prison uprising and every mayoral administration from John V. Lindsay to Michael R. Bloomberg. He conducted interviews under a light rain of ash and debris on Sept. 11, 2001. Before ducking under his desk, he delivered a live report from the scene after a gunman killed Councilman James Davis at City Hall in 2003.

He liked the precision of short-form journalism. “When you’ve got 35 seconds, you’ve got to tell people what they need right away,” he said in an interview last year. “You want to get to the spine of the story.”

In a 2005 interview, Mr. Brooks said he was often asked when he was retiring. “I don’t want to live in Florida,” he said. “I like living in New York, and as long as I’m living in New York I want to be active, and I think the most active and the most fun thing I could do is this.”

Stanley Bertram Brooks was born in the Bronx in 24 January 1927, to Herman and Mildred Brooks. His father worked for a paper company, selling paper to printers. He attended City College for two years, before serving in the Army. He later transferred to, and graduated from, Syracuse University. After working for newspapers in Westchester County, he became a reporter and editor at Newsday on Long Island, where he worked for 10 years before moving to WINS.

Besides his son Bennett, he is survived by two other sons, George and Rick; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, the former Lynn Schwarz, died in May.

On August 22, 1972, John Wojtowicz, along with Salvatore Naturale and Robert Westenberg, attempted to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank on the corner of East 3rd Street and Avenue P in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Wojtowicz and Naturale held 7 bank employees hostages for 14 hours. Wojtowicz, a former bank teller, had some knowledge of bank operations. However, he apparently based his plan on scenes from the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day. The robbers became media celebrities. Wojtowicz was arrested and Naturale was killed by the FBY during the final moments of the incident. Wojtowicz answered the phone and gave Stan Brooks an interview. The robbery was turned into the Oscar winning film Dog day afternoon - listen to a 1971 radio ad by Chrysler.

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