Here’s an hour long treat for WABC Music Radio 77 fans! I’ve no idea how this was recorded but it sounds suspiciously like it was taken right off the WABC studio console. The audio quality is the best I’ve ever heard! Sped up records (well, carts, as WABC had all carted music by 1978), lots of disco hits and thundering reverb!
Chuck Leonard is all wound up and rockin’ out here on a warm Summer night. Its the perfect time to hear something NEW, from MusicRadio 77!
Courtesy of AircheckDownloads.com
8 thoughts on “Chuck Leonard, 77 WABC New York | August 31, 1978”
One of the great radio voices on N.Y. radio for over 30 years, from WABC to WBLS FM to KISS FM to occassionly WCBS FM as a fill in. It was sad that Al Brady fired him along with Harry Harrison and George Michael, the great voices of 77 WABC.
Very, very cool. I loved this station growing up in Boston, it used to boom in. The quality of this recording is fantastic.
WABC Went almost all disco for a period of time between late 77 and early 79 to offset huge competition form 92 KTU (FM) which rode the disco wave with DJ Frankie Crocker to # 1. It was a futile attempt and Al Brady Law (Recently deceased) blew out a few the old school jocks as noted above by ED M. Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram survived only to sign the station off as TOP 40 when it went talk in 1982.
In retrospect, Al Brady really made all the right moves necessary – to destroy the winning formula that WABC had used up to that point in becoming the number one top 40 station in America.
At the time, Brady’s moves seemed the correct response.
It could be argued that had WABC counter programmed KTU’s disco music with a harder Rock base of music, and kept the intensity level at the fever pitch that it had been up through 1978 with the same jocks, the station likely would have weathered the Disco craze and emerged in late ’79 or ’80 as number one again. Likely that would have positioned WABC as a strong contender through at least 1983, assuming that had the radio landscape not changed as radically from 1980-83 as it did, WHTZ might have been delayed in being launched till perhaps ’84 or’85.
Remember, while topography had much to do in San Francisco with KFRC’s huge CHR numbers until 1985, it also was due to the fact that KFRC managed to reinvent itself and stayed the course. The same likely would have worked at WABC.
The single most devastating event which ensured that WABC had to flip to talk was the firings of George Michael, Harry Harrison and Chuck Leonard. Right behind that event, and probably as damaging to the station. Was the FC to Disco, then to Top 40 and within a year to AC. The flip to AC finished all hope of contention.
In my opinion, despite what all the experts say, had WABC simply kept chugging along even when WKTU came along, MusicRadio 77 would likely have kept rocking till the mid 80s. It was the CONTENT and personality that kept WABC’s audience, and once both were removed, the audience simply moved on. Not because moving to FM was inevitable. Because the audience wanted to be where the excitement was.
WRKO Boston could write the exact same storybook.
AM was NOT dead until the 1990s. As proven by 610 KFRC, musicRadio 89 WLS, 84 WHAS, 1050 CHUM, and hundreds of thousands of fans of those stations, who today visit this website to echo the same sentiment.
Peter, Dan Ingram still commanded a huge audience even in 1982. But, the format changed in 1980 to AC. When it first changed, the station was still playing upbeat music, they only took out the hard rock and disco at first. What was immediately noticeable was that the reverb was abruptly cut off, and one Monday morning, there was expanded news and sports reports. Yankees baseball began airing during the former “teen” hours of 7-11 pm. And slowly, the music station’s forward momentum just ground to a halt. Musically speaking, by the end of 1981, WABC was all over the place, from Air Supply to the Carpenters, to the Beatles. It had turned into the radio world’s worst train wreck. So, by December 1981, just 18 or so months after abandoning Top 40, WABC was just a shadow of its former self, and its audience literally RAN for the exits. By then, ABC knew it was time to bail.
All because of a misguided belief that WABC had no hope or future as a top 40 station after 92-KTU beat them in ONE book in 1978.
But, as I wrote in my previous comment, the moment that AL Brady Law, God rest his soul, fired Harry Harrison, George Michael and Chuck Leonard, it was over. Law flipped the station to almost pure disco that same fateful day, and that very day, the pure Top 40 audience abandoned WABC. Disco lasted ONE WEEK on WABC, but the damage was permanent.
Once an audience leaves due to a format change, it is almost always permanent and irreversable.
The story of the end of WABC can be likened to an industrial worker who one day was exposed to a week’s worth of radiation, and five years later died of cancer.
Dan Ingram did not sign WABC off as a Top 40 station. He and Ron Lundy put a terminally ill AC station out of its misery and mercifully pulled the life support plug on May 10, 1982 at 12:00 Noon.
Not only that, but WABC had been soft rock (AC) for almost a year-and-a-half (January 1982) when they abruptly cut off the reverb. By the previous summer if not late spring, the reverb had, if anything, been lowered considerably. Plus, I still remember WABC being straight-up Top 40 18 months prior to December 1981. The change to Adult Contemporary was really in August or September 1980, when the station its nickname from “Musicradio 77” to “New York’s Radio Station.” And when WABC wasn’t airing Yankees night games during the week, it was airing a sports talk show with Art Rust, Jr., followed by “On Track,” a psychology talk show hosted by (and which marked the radio debut of) psychologist Dr. Judith (Judy) Kuriansky (of future “LovePhones” fame). The “On Track” title was dropped when WABC switched to talk full-time (the name sounded too rock-station-ish even though it was on an AC station, I guess). As for the reverb, the station reverted back thereto in the late 80s (about a half-decade into its talk format) and did away with it again in 1990 and turned the reverb back on 2-2 1/2 months ago. In both cases, there was/is only a smidgen of reverb, just like during most of WABC’s AC era.
Steve, thanks for those comments. This aircheck sounds so good. Quality is fantastic. Always love to hear Chuck Leonard.
Very interesting comments above, gentlemen! As a fan of Top 40 radio since I was 11 or 12… I have “mourned” the death of AM radio for years… however I do believe the is HOPE for entertaining radio to come back, once corporate owners discover how they have ruined radio by downsizing staffs… and de-humanizing it with too much AUTOMATION… as FREDDIE MERCURY sang in “Radio GA Ga” …. (Radio…) ‘You’ve yet to have your finest hour’ …I Hope and pray he is right!