Big Wilson, 66 WNBC New York | April 1969

660 New York WNBC

660 New York WNBCDate of Recording: 04.xx.1969
Station: 66 WNBC New York
Featured Air Personality: Big (John) Wilson
Format: Pop/Full Service
Contributor: Big Apple Airchecks
Original Post Date: 03.02.2010

Curator’s Notes:

There’s a lot that’s been said about Big Wilson – he’s a legendary personality on the old WNBC. Problem is, when people think of radio in the 1960s in New York City, the first station that always comes to mind is WABC. So, WNBC was always dwarfed… and never really tried to compete in the Top 40 arena anyway, as NBC, the network, always had features running on air which disrupted the music presentation.

Big Wilson is captured here in a recording that sounds like it was made with a microphone placed in front of a table radio speaker. The audio quality isn’t the best. But its worth remembering Big Wilson and a radio station with more heritage than any other station in America… WNBC. The station has been gone since 1988, but certainly not forgotten.


  1. David Sutton

    Wow! An MOR aircheck of the late WNBC! To paraphrase the introductory comment, when people think of that station, its later rock’n’roll formats (AC and Top 40) are what come to mind (as evidenced by all the other WNBC airchecks).

  2. Big Wilson was one of the best in the radio industry and one of the nicest and hip guys too!

    We are so lucky to have this sample of Big Wilson @ WNBC. It is a great example of what “personality radio” was all about in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

    Thank you Airchexx for making this available.

    John Harper
    WMEL Talk Radio
    Cocoa Beach / Melbourne, Fl.

  3. Jim Warren

    I used to love listening to “Biggy”. I was very upset when he was bumped off of WNBC. As I recall his successor was none other than Don Imus. I was determined to not listen to Imus in the Morning, but he was so wild and crazy that I was drawn in.

    • David

      As I remember it, Big Wilson was bumped not off WNBC when the “Imus in the Morning” show premiered, but moved to middays (or at least to late mornings in particular). Wilson didn’t leave WNBC until two-and-a-half to three years later.

      • David

        I meant, “…was not bumped off WNBC…”.

      • Stuart Dolgon

        When I first listened to WNBC in mid-1969, Joe O’Brien was doing morning drive and Big Wilson was on middays. When Imus arrived in 1971, he replaced O’Brien and Biggie followed Imus from 10:00 a.m. to early afternoon.

  4. carleton d libbey

    Big Wilson was one of the most talented performers to grace the airways of NYC, which is where I listened to him.

    He was especially gifted when allowed to set up his piano in the studio and tinkle the keys.

    And Biggie used to sine off with…If I don’t see ya…I’ll see ya.”

  5. David

    By the way, Big was a holdover from the MOR days when WNBC switched to what is now known as adult contemporary. I think that he was also a holdover from the middle-of- the-road format prior to the one heard on this aircheck (the MOR format that was, IIHMFS, replaced with the “WNBC-Your Conversation Station” talk format in 1964[a year after Big Wilson signed on with the station)).

  6. David

    The announcer giving the legal ID (and plugging the Joe O’Brian (sp?) show at the end (prior to NBC Radio’s then-news sounder) was either NBC/WNBC-TV staff announcer Vic Roby or similar-sounding NBC/WNBC-TV staff announcer Jerry Damon.

  7. bob

    what was biggy,s–theme song ?? I WAS a big fan–when was in cleveland–many moon (DOGs, AGO)that music still haunts me-but cant remember the name!!

    • Radio Bob

      I remember that for a while, in the 60s on WNBC, Big used as his theme, an instrumental version of “This Could Be the Start of Something”, aka “This Could Be the Start of Something Big”, written by Steve Allen. Not sure what version he used, but it was neither Nelson Riddle’s nor Count Basie’s.

  8. William Steven

    I loved Big Wilson when I was a kid in the 1950’s, whe he worked at KYW-1100 Cleveland and Channel 3 Television, and was glad he became a great announcer at WNBC in the Big Apple, along with another Ohioan…Charlie Greer from WAKR-1590 Akron before going to WABC 77 in that same era…great memories.

  9. David Brunk

    I too listened to Biggie when I was a boy growing up in Lakewood (Cleveland) Ohio. KYW Westinghouse Broadcasting…I can still hear Big Wilson, Joe Finan, Wes Hopkins, Specs Howard & Harry Martin, Jim Runyon, Jim Stagg, Jay Lawrence, Jerry G…They weren’t all there at the same time but Bigge was one of the first in my memory.

  10. Al Gordon

    I worked with Big Wilson in 1976 at WIOD Miami. One of the nicest on an off the air… do you have any air checks of him from that era “610 WIOD, The Great Entertainer”

  11. Gary Kerns

    I see here that “Big” Wilson’s name was John. Never knew that. I guess WNBC could best be called a quasi-Top 40 station, but, as it said in the description of this aircheck, it never really tried to compete with WABC. Even though I’ve lived in West Virginia all my life, I did frequently listen to WNBC when I could get it, and preferred it to WABC. Many years after this’ check, WNBC became the NYC outlet for Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40”.

    • Malcom John Wilson, Jr., technically. I recently read something posted by his son who i believe is also in the media that NBC brass had thought about cancelling NBC Monitor a few years before they actually did, but Wilson had such huge ratings they decided against it. Now, Big Wilson left in 1974 and as someone else posted, he went to WIOD Miami. But I also remember he worked in television down there and was very popular. Just shows that when you’re kind to everyone that comes out on the air, too.

  12. Gary Kerns

    Thanks for the info on Big Wilson. I never knew about his origins.

  13. Gary Kerns

    A few other things. As most people probably know, 660 in New York City is now WFAN. During most of Don Imus’ tenure on WFAN, the Yankees’ flagship was WABC. Now Imus is on WABC and WFAN is the Yanks’ flagship. I have a 1982 WNBC aircheck, made shortly after WABC flipped to talk. Among other things, Imus said that if he were there that WABC still would’ve been MusicRadio. What I liked most about WNBC was “The Time Machine” when Big Jay Sorenson hosted it. I’d call him about once a month. I’ve lived in West Virginia all my life, and he would kid me about being a hillbilly. In 2005 and ’06, he was working at WJRZ in New Jersey. He remembered me and said that New Yorkers got a kick out of my southern accent when he’d put me on the air with my requests.

  14. Here’s an aircheck, one of three, of Big Wilson from 1978 on WIOD. I had never heard him until I DL’d some old MONITOR airchecks and hears him doing the last weekend ever of MONITOR in 1975.

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