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NYC 80’s CHR Wars: Bill O’Brien on WHTZ


The late 80s and early 90s saw one of the hottest competitions among the hit music stations in New York City history. The last time there were this many stations locked in battle for the top 40 audience was the early 1960s when it was on the AM band between WMGM, WMCA and WABC. But, this was a different era which, from many perspecitves was even more exciting than the first.

Enter WHTZ. Licensed to Newark, NJ, this station proudly announces broadcasting from the TOP of the Empire State Building (both then and now), where the actual transmitting antenna is located. Regardless of where the signal eminates from, Z-100 has been the Big Apple’s preeminent contemporary music station since its sign on in 1983.

Profiled here by the trademarked East Coast Airchecks service and graciously donated to our collection by Robyn Watts, here’s a great 6 minute glimpse of the Bill O’Brien show on Z-100. We’re guessing the year on this aircheck (and this whole series) to be approximately 1989.

During this era, Z-100 had two main competitors: 95.5 WPLJ “Power 95” and 97.1 WQHT “Hot 97”. There were other stations of other formats which had higher ratings but different demographics, but this was the exciting CHR war which these three stations were waging. The war was waged over the airwaves and the weapon of choice was the incredible personalities heard on all three stations. This war was great for listeners, and for the quality of radio heard in New York in general. Its a period of time that is now just a part of history, but you can relive that history right now!

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