Bobby Jay and the Top Hits of 1958, WCBS-FM New York | 1991

Contributor Ray Bozzanca offered this long ‘check of the legendary Bobby Jay doing what he does best, presenting the hits of the Do-Wop era on WCBS-FM. The reverb is ON for this recording of the Joe McCoy era, Top Oldies station in its prime!




From the best era of WCBS-FM - New York's OLDIES Station!


Steve West

Airchexx Webmaster, Radio DJ, News Anchor, producer and resident geek.

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21 Responses

  1. D.L. Chandell says:


    FINALLY!!!!
    Someone with the bravery to post a Top 20 Countdown hosted by BOBBY JAY!!!

    No one else ever pulled off “The Top 20 Countdown” on WCBS-FM quite like Bobby Jay did — giving us all the information any music lover needed to satisfy his or her quest for knowledge and timing off the (otherwise effectively creepy) station ID continuity in the right places — and quite frankly (although Don K. Reed made a noble attempt in his stead during the mid-1990s), no one ever COULD pull off “The Top 20 Countdown” like Bobby Jay.

    “The Top 20 Countdown” was THE show to check for between 5 PM and 7 PM on Saturdays and Sundays (unless I’m mistaken about the time — it’s been so long) and the perfect lead-in to Cousin Brucie and “The Doo Wop Shop” respectively. And as soon as he started hosting the show less, and the future jocks gave us less song information, the show pretty much began its death knell.

    Interestingly enough, the ambiance of the station was faltering just as well when the jocks kept failing to announce the song titles and artists (especially some of the more rare tunes), and the station ID jingles eventually devolved into something we didn’t know at all as the 2000s came to be.

    “The Top 20 Countdown” BELONGED to Bobby Jay, HANDS DOWN!!!

    And so, Ray Bozzanca, I say…
    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU…
    for giving me at least one of my greatest memories of WCBS-FM back when I so desperately needed it in these depressing times, where everything before us (especially radio and television) seems to be decomposing with no sign of ceasing.

    And by all means, PLEASE see if you can post some more “Top 20 Countdown” shows just like this one. These were indeed THE defining moments of the last great classic era of WCBS FM 101.1!

    Until next time, I’ll be watching
    (and listening)!

    Always Watching,
    D.L. CHANDELL
    Music & Entertainment Analyst and Historian,
    DLC IndustryWatch

  2. JOE FERACO says:


    THIS GUYS WRONG BOBBY J WAS GOOD BUT NORM N NITE WAS MUCH BETTER BECAUSE OF HIS OLDIES KNOWEDGE AND BETTER SONG INTROS

  3. D.L. Chandell says:


    Well, I guess we all have our opinions,
    but I would bet, Joe, that you either:
    A) were not as religiously devoted a listener to the Top 20 Countdown as I was
    ultimately realizing how DEEPLY knowledgeable Bobby Jay was of oldies in a variety of genres (he often took a little time to share his OWN experiences with the listening audience regarding the next artist or song, something Norm almost never did),
    B) wanted to throw Bobby Jay’s long-standing work on the Countdown under the bus on account of being a strongly devoted Norm N. Nite fan, that in itself being understandable in many degrees. Norm is the only one after Bobby who could have pulled it off almost as beautifully (but discrediting Jay? — COME ON!),
    or
    C) have probably underestimated Bobby Jay as an overall CBS-FM jock.

    Well, either way, as I said before, there are only but so many of these Top 20 Countdowns floating on the internet, Mr. Feraco.

    You may not have the same experience I have had from listening to this aircheck (I listened to so many ACTUAL Countdowns from their original 1991 airings alone that I actually remember this one from the day itself — and the chill in my bones all came back just the same from every song intro, bonus tracks included).
    But why not listen to this one a few times over again (no skipping) and maybe you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

    Bobby Jay wasn’t just some jock from Memphis.
    He was a pioneer in radio,
    an icon of the oldies scene,
    and a bonafide LEGEND of WCBS-FM 101.1!

    Thanks.

    Always Watching,
    D.L. CHANDELL
    Music & Entertainment Analyst and Historian,
    DLC IndustryWatch

  4. Robbie says:


    As someone who listened to CBS-FM before the fallout began (2000-01), Bobby Jay was THE voice of not just the Top 20 Countdown, but also Thursday Night ’60s and Friday Night ’50s, along with Monday Night ’70s. I also enjoyed listening to Bobby when he filled in for Don K. Reed on the “Doo Wop Shop” because having sung in various groups, Bobby had a wealth of knowledge about groups he knew back in the day and his song selections were a treat because they more on the obscure side (which I love). I also loved his “Soul Of The City” and “Jukebox Saturday Night” shows. The days when CBS-FM took pride in its specialty shows. Then around 2000-01, the fallout began. The specialty shows began to fold, and The Doo Wop Shop closed its doors in Aug. 2002, arguably the worst move the station ever did. Yes, Norm N. Nite did the “Heart Of Rock ‘n Roll” Sunday night show but it wasn’t the same. CBS-FM knew what direction it wanted to go in, and the results speak for itself. :-(

    • Steve West says:


      Bobby Jay certainly is a class act, even today. He and I were both on the same internet station a few years ago and he even cut me a few liners for my show. Yes, it was a great era on CBS-FM, but like all things, it had to come to an end. I’ve always thought that the Jack-FM format was a horrible thing, but in retrospect, I think it was a good experiment by corporate in the respect that Infinity/CBS had to know where the station should go. Jack-FM made a good bookend. It separated the old 50s/60s Oldies era from the 70s/80s Greatest Hits era.

      Understand one thing, Robbie. Though you, and thousands of others in the Big Apple like yourself probably don’t agree with this, CBS-FM HAD to move out of the 50s and 60s. True, the 50s had been purged by the early 2000s already, but the demos, even for 60s music, are WAY too high. Advertisers can simply not sell merchandise to people over 55 years old in quantities that justify ad budgets. While they have the disposable income (sometimes), most are not willing to part with it while staring at retirement and a fixed income. Especially in light of the Wall Street crash of ’08.

      Yes, CBS-FM knew what direction it wanted to go in, you bet. The station was rewarded for its efforts, FINALLY going to #1 12+ in the Spring ’10 book, something the station NEVER did in all of its storied history. Number ONE! My friend, that’s why the Do-Wop shop and other shows like it are gone. Sure, it offends older listeners to hear so much late 70s music…. disco and the like, but the radio biz needs to make money and CBS-FM, being the east coast flagship station (just like K-Earth 101 is in L.A.) had to become the example of how all CBS (former) Oldies stations need to sound in order to win in their respective markets. 103.3 WODS Boston is a shining example of CBS’ brilliance in the format using WCBS-FM’s format. It evolved into a 70s/80s Classic Hits (without saying it) and even brands itself as WODS!!! Who woulda guessed that a station brands itself using it’s acutal call letters in 2010?!!!! There’s no mention of Oldies on air. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

  5. Robbie says:


    All I can say is that thank goodness clips like this are here so it can remind me of how great WCBS-FM was. I understand all about the demos (since that is what EVERYTHING revolves around), and I saw what it did to LITE-FM (I’m one who can proudly say I loved the station when it was easy listening, back in the ’80s-early ’90s) and SMOOTH JAZZ 101.9. LITE-FM today should be renamed HEAVY-FM; to say still using “lite” is a misnomer is a heavy understatement.

  6. Eddie says:


    Bobby Jay and Norm N Nite were great doing the CBS FM top 20 countdown from the billboard and NYC single charts

  7. Jewel says:


    All I HAVE TO SAY IS BOBBY JAY IS THE MAN !!!!! BOBBY JAY HAS BEEN A LEGEND IN RADIO FOR DECADES…..

  8. Bob Sawicki says:


    I agree with all of the positive things most of what all of you have said about Bobby Jay, who is my favorite CBS FM jock of all time and for one important additional point that you all have missed. It is his delivery of how he introduced the songs. He is a black man with a great smooth baritone voice. He speake rapidly with excitement in his voice just like Alan Freed and other great DJs of the 50s. He always delivers as if it is the first time the record was being played. No white DJ could ever hope to deliver that type baritone voice. In contrast, Norm N. Nite was a technically good DJ, but he delivered in a monotone……not much excitement there.

    CBS FM has always had good DJs and they all deliver in the clearest voices. Its NYC, they get the best. When Bobby Jay was on, I always found myself listening to what he had to say and not just listen to the record he was going to play. This is the way it was in the 50s and part of the 60s. The DJs were great characters, not just clear talkers. All of that is sorely missing today.

    As for the economics of giving airtime to lets say 2 hours to Bobby Jay and then 2 hours to Don K. Reed on the present CBS FM line up, I have always suggested to station management to allow them airtime on Sunday evenings. Why? Most people are either eating or watching TV. How much money could they lose in advertising when the ads aimed at their target audience are not listening anyway? Besides, I cruise the Internet looking for Doo Wop and other 50s 60s music and am suprised by comments of younger people who say things like, “Why don’t they play stuff like this anymore? This is great.”

    My dream will never come true and it is a shame that younger people cannot learn about all of that good music. Thus, i will be somewhat content with all the CBS FM airchecks I have of Bobby Jay and Don K. Reed and the Reunion weekends of old. And I hope others post their airchecks not just of Bobby Jay and Don K Reed, but other CBS FM jocks as well. No one does quite asa good as CBS FM.

    • David says:


      Wrong,Bob. No deejay of any race (and of any music format) could ever hope (nor *can* ever hope to deliver in so smooth a *bass* **OR** baritone voice such as Bobby Jay’s voice on both counts.

  9. David says:


    Robbie, if you think Lite-FM is now “lite” in name only NOW, it continued throughout most of the mid-’90s with its Soft AC format (when “Soft AC” still primarily meant MOR or Beautiful Music [depending on the station]–MOR in Lite-FM’s case–with the emphasis on soft rock over traditional-pop vocals and/or instrumentals [rather than vice versa]). While it had been gradually phasing ’50s/’60s/’70s tunes from standards artists since the late 80s or early 90s, it dropped the last of such recordings in mid-1996. By then, well, it was still Soft AC by then-modern (and, I guess, by current) standards (in that the whole playlist was soft rock), it really didn’t add tunes associated with Hot AC as well as CHR until early 2007. That was when a new Hot AC station came on the scene: Fresh 102.7. Because of its mix of current and recent soft rock hits with hits that were only a smidgen soft or even less so, and an advertising campaign to woo younger listeners from Lite-FM, the latter soon decided to harden its format into what is now called Mainstream AC (or certainly what would be considered as such today). (And guess what Lite’s jocks announce its music as now: “The best variety of lite rock”!)

    Amazing how a lot of soft rock stations still(rightly) position itself as such but play the (at least somewhat) hard stuff whose Adult Contemporary airplay (if any) would’ve been limited to Hot AC as recent as the late 90s or even 2006! (And Hot AC had long ago evolved into either something resembling or into [in name] being interchangable with Adult CHR as it is!)

    • Steve West says:


      Or, to put it another way, there is virtually NOTHING, format wise, that resembles LITE at all now. When I hear a HotAC station now, I hear ‘lite’ hip hop, ‘lite’ dance, ‘lite’ metal… I love hard rock and all these genres, but there’s nothing to tune to for something quiet and 70s/80s/90s-ish SOFT ROCK. NOTHING! And it infuriates the hell out of me!

      • David says:


        You know, I thought there was a time when you could hardly distinguish the Top 40 stations from the AC stations. But hip-hop, dance and even metal on Hot AC radio? I can understand (I’m certainly beginning to understand) such stations playing dance or even metal, but hip hop? My ***, MAINSTREAM adult contemporary stations still don’t play it! If you’re familiar with Maroon 5’s current hit “Payphone”, listen to it on a CHR and then on a mainstream/soft AC and see if you don’t hear the **********in’ difference. (That being the rap heard during the bridge on Top 40 stations.)

      • David says:


        NOR FOR 2000s-ISH SOFT ROCK!!, for that matter!

  10. David says:


    As far as CBS-FM is concerned, you’re right, Robbie: the station knew what direction to go into.

    @Eddie:
    You’re right, as well: both Bobby Jay and Norm N. Nite each did a phenonemal job hosting the “Top 20 Countdown”. As did the behind-the-scenes people who researched the Billboard charts and the NYC singles charts (the latter from, I’m assuming, the city’s Top 40 radio stations of the year being chronicled for that edition of the show).

    Bob, I don’t think that’s a bad idea: bring back Bobby Jay and Don K. Reed to WCBS-FM for Sunday-night specialty shows (the first since a few years before the end of its first oldies format). After all, Reed’s “Doo-wop Shop” was a Sunday-night fixture on the station for the longest.

  11. David says:


    “As did the behind-the-scenes people do a phenomenal job researching the Billboard charts and NYC singles charts (the latter from, I’m assuming, the city’s Top-40 radio stations of the year being chronicled for that edition of the show” is what I meant in my next-to-last comment.

  12. Chucker says:


    Bobby Jay is the Maddest Black Man in radio!

  13. JR. BAILEY says:


    MADDEST I GET IT . I WORKED WITH HIM TOO BUT I GOT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE NICE GUY .. THIS THING THEY CALL MUSIC business IS A CUT THROAT THING AND NOT ALL BAD COWBOYS WEAR BLACK .. BUT HE DID TEACH ME THIS I RATHER STAY OUT OF THE RACE THAN SELL OR SHOULD I SAY STEAL MY SOUL [SONG] . ‘ JR. SONG” LIVES ……. LOVE LOVE LOVE


  14. i think bobby jay is a terrific guy and I wish he was touring again so we can see his oldie shows

  15. joe thomas says:


    Met bobby jay tonight in columbia SC, where he currently lives. As transplanted NYers ourselves, my wife and I were delighted to meet him. Nicest guy you’d ever meet. We used to listen on WCBS-FM. It was a delight meeting him and his friend.

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