Saturday, 28 March 2015

Alison Steele, the Night Bird at WNEW-FM

Alison Steele, the Night Bird of WNEW-FM, is the most successful female disc-jockey in the country. 

Current ratings show that, in any given quarter-hour of her show more than 100,000 people are tuned in to the station. Why do so many people stayed tuned into her ‘nightly excursions’ (Monday through Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 p.m.) ? One listener said: ‘She has some sort of irresistible quality about her. You can easily fancy her to be something larger than life.’

How did she get where she is? ‘You just don’t become great overnight. You’ve to work at it. If what you want  is tough to get, you have to fight for it. It has taken me 7 years of hard work to get where I am right now. However, I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied. Each night I try for a higher plateau and I think my audience responds to my trying.’

Her deep, resonant voice is distinctive. She has been called a temptress, and a writer has asserted that she could make a commercial for gym socks sound sensuous.

Finding the bright side

‘I have an optmistic philosophy,’  Alison said. ‘I’ve always gone by the idea that there’s something fine in life, but you have to make the effort to find out what it is.

‘I’m tired of people bitching and moaning that they can’t get a break. I abhor negativism. I’m positive about everything I do. We’re so used to the negativism that has crept intyo our daily lives, all we can do is put down others who are honestly trying.’

Where did Alison Steele get the nerve to challenge this tough, competitive industry?

‘It was my mother’s influence actually ,’ Alison said with a smile. ‘She taught me a very simple rule: if I wanted something, all I had to do was go and get it. She helped me get self confident when I was 14. There was an ad in our local paper  for a tall good-looking girl to fill a part-time slot. I was neither tall nor pretty, but my mother told me to go and get it anyway. I went down, bluffed my way in then worked hard until I got it right. I was off to a great start.’

Now, aside from her radio excursions as ‘The Night Bird’, Alison does one other rock radio show, syndicated to 600 stations, a radio show for women, and a TV talk show broadcast over the Sterling Cable TV network that is seen by 55,000 viewers in the New York area.

Happy where she is

Can success spoil Alison Steele? ‘Not really,’ she replied. ‘I have a lovely job, which is most gratifying, and I love making a lot of money.’ Alison declined to say just how much money she makes.
Alison does quite a bit of work for local charities. She’s a member of the board of the New York City Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation, gives a lot of time to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation and is on the credit committee of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Her days are busy. She has to listen to the new albums, takes care of personal errands, auditions for commercials and still finds time to answer each fan letter.

‘I’ve hundreds of letters at home I still have to answer. My biggest regret is that I’m 6 to 8 months behind in my replies. But I’ll catch up, I promise.’

‘People call me because they’re lost or upset,’ Alison said. ‘I try and point them in the right direction of self-help and love for oneself. I stress the idea that if you’re positive about things, you’ll enjoy what you have all the more. People call me when they have nowhere else to turn and I’m glad I can help. When I do hear from someone who’s troubled I’m patient and understanding. I listen, ask no names and just give my particular brand of advice. I usually hear from those I’ve spoken to a while and they thank me. God, that makes me feel good! It’s fine to know you’ve helped somebody, somewhere, sometime.’

SUNDAY NEWS 17 February 1974

By K. Michael Blumberg

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