PM Drive Composite: Dan Ingram on WABC, Bwana Johnny on WWDJ and Walt Baby Love on WOR-FM | June, 1971
Imagine my surprise when editing this tape labelled, “Dan Ingram 77 WABC 7-71″ and finding out that the afternoon this was recorded, the contributor was going back and forth between the other two powerhouse Top 40 stations at the time: 97 WWDJ out of Hackensack, NJ and 98.7 WOR-FM NYC! Actually, this turns out to be a real treasure! Comparing afternoon shows on these three stations gives one a front row seat to how radio was in 1971 in the nation’s #1 radio market! The only thing missing is 66 WNBC – however, in 1971, WNBC wasn’t doing a Top 40 format, so this aircheck really did combine the three stations that were playing the hits and catering to young people at that time.
Of course, there’s no comparison whatsoever as far as ratings went. While both WOR-FM and WWDJ technically ‘showed up’ in the ratings books, both were far behind WABC. Perhaps it isn’t even fair to compare these three LEGENDARY jocks in the same aircheck. Bwana Johnny was well known in his own right and Walt Baby Love was known and LOVED by so many who followed his career, as he did a fantastic personality-driven presentation in Top 40 radio through the 1970s, then into Urban radio in the 1980s before moving into Gospel. Walt Baby Love was incredible! But neither one of those jocks holds a candle to the wit and humor of Dan Ingram, especially in 1971. Big Dan, arguably, was at the pinnacle of his career (a long pinnacle that would last right up to the end of WABC in 1982), and while great by themselves, neither Bwana Johnny nor Walt Baby Love sound anything close to as personable as Dan Ingram.
This is my personal opinion, mind you. Your mileage may vary.
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Technically speaking, this aircheck sounded ‘ok’ upon my first listen. There were some dropouts, there’s a couple of spots where tape age and wear caused a strange metallic sound over the audio and there was a bit of cassette tape hiss. This also had problems with side one the audio in the left track was 10 db higher than and less noisy than the right, and side two was the opposite. Well, I have a new software toy to clean tapes up. Izotope Essentials 8… now I’m gonna have to buy the whole Izotope package! After processing it through there, this aircheck cleaned up so nicely! Both right and left are now balanced… but a word about that. Obviously, this was recorded from monaural AM radio, so having left and right channels is pointless, right? No, wrong. At the time of recording, there seems to be a small amount of, well, ‘presence’ that seems to open the audio up a tiny bit – more so than if I mastered this down to a mono file from original stereo tracks.
This tape was remastered to -5 db, although there are spots that are a bit lower than that, that I wasn’t willing to compress to normalize everything because that would have made this aircheck sound ‘crunched’.
That might make sense only to audio engineers.
Truly, if you were a fan of NYC radio in the early 1970s and want to get a feel for how Top 40 stations sounded in PM Drive, this is the aircheck for you! Notice that there are no traffic reports and no live meteorologists… just a jock and his music – and World/National and Local News. Listen as WWDJ is doing a call-in music contest – for nothing except certain songs going up against one another (what a way to conduct music testing!). And, toward the end of this, as Dan Ingram promoted several times during his show, Howard Cosell SINGING… caught on a mic singing in the production studio most likely before recording “Speaking of Sports”. Priceless!
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About the Contributor
Steven Green lived in the New York City area and was privileged to be able to record most of the big radio stations of the day. Steven said that WABC was by far, his favorite radio station during the years that WABC was a music station. He was also a big fan of WNBC, especially in 1987-1988 during its weekend and overnight “Time Machine” format. Steven Green has donated dozens of airchecks to this website and is also building his own collection in the national online archives at archive.org.