Imus in the Morning, 66 WNBC New York | February 5, 1982
New York City AM Radio in February 1982. WABC was hanging on by its teeth, now an information, news and sports-heavy bland music station. WMCA was out of the pop music business. WNEW was a legendary Big Band station. WQXR on 1560 was still playing Classical. WOR was middle of the road. And outside of New York City, contemporary music was hanging on in one form or another. So it was that WNBC stuck with Hit Music. Led by NBCs crown jewel, Imus in the Morning, WNBC was, by 1982, embarking on a three year trek into some of it’s highest ratings since it’s network drama days as WEAF. At one point in the next year, WNBC lead the ratings during its evening and all night time slot, being the only station left playing personality oriented CHR before the launch of Z100. In effect, it took the flip to talkradio at WABC to finally push WNBC to the top.
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I’d like you to compare Don Imus here with his performance three years later in 1985. This was a period of change for Imus. He was competing with Howard Stern in the afternoon, suffering problems with addiction, and for lack of a better term, pigeonholed into this top 40 sticcato style of speech in and out of records that was more akin to a jock at a music station than one commanding 3 million listeners in a slower paced morning show. But damn. Imus WAS funny! Billy Sol Hargis shows up past the midway point. You’ll hear Howard Stern doing a character bit on Imus’ show (and there was not a hint that it’s stern, but we know his accent!) News by Charles McCord. Imus in the Morning is a more music-intensive program than it would be in later years. In many ways, both the I-man and WNBC are in the middle of that period of change from mostly music to personality based shows, comedy and sports. It would take nearly four years to get there but this was the beginning of the change.
If, after listening to Imus do his show here you’re not thoroughly addicted to the I-man, you’re a better man than I. This is GREAT radio!