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The end of 92/KTU… Here’s a recording made shortly before the station that knocked out WABC was tossed to the dustbin of radio history.

Yes, the logo says “Disco 92”. KTU wasn’t, not at the time of this aircheck, but it was a hot CHR station with a large audience. Not large enough, unfortunately… Creamed in the ratings by then two year old Z-100 (WHTZ), KTU was destined to rock, so it was that on this date in 1985, the station breathed it’s last before returning as WXRK and it’s destiny with Rock and one Howard Stern.

By Steve West

Steve West is a 41 year veteran of broadcasting. His air work as a Jock and News Anchor includes six radio markets and over two-dozen radio stations. Steve is the founder of and - All the BIG Hits!

14 thoughts on “The end of 92 WKTU New York | 1985 Reloaded”
  1. It was cool hearing the scan of the 1985 New York dial. Something I did hundreds of times in 1985 when I lived in Brooklyn.

    WCBS-FM was playing Donna by Richie Valens. I heard a little Jerry Carol doing a Crazy Eddie spot. “His prices are insane.” I could not tell what was playing on WNEW-FM.

    I know that change took place around Memorial Day, so this was a reminder of late May and the beginning of a warm summer in the big town. I love late May in the city.


  2. 92KTU was dead in the water by 1982, let alone 1985. Everyone I knew was listening to 98.7 Kiss FM for rap and that was the “cool” station if you were in 8th grade. Z100 was a monster, and Power 95 did very well with women in their 20s. Hot 103.5 wasn’t yet on the air, I don’t think.

    The history of WKTU’s end was well-documented in both R&R and Billboard. Jay Thomas was “on vacation” and prepping to take over mornings at the new Power 106 in Los Angeles – once Magic 106 was silenced.

    WNEW was New York’s official Live Aid station. Yet a guy named Mel Karmazin had secured broadcast rights for 92.3, and in doing so launched a new station called WXRK – as “K-Rock.”

    Jay Thomas didn’t return from vacation … and it would soon be revealed that Howard Stern, the legendary WNBC afternoon host who had eclipsed Don Imus as the most popular air personality in New York, would be taking over the morning show.

    The rest is history. WKTU died a much-needed death after years of poor ratings and flourished for years as Classic Rock K-Rock.

    92KTU was the Disco station, and nothing could change that image in the minds of New Yorkers who wanted nothing to do with that era anymore.

    This aircheck says it all – savvy teens were tuned to WLIR, city teens were listening to Jam Master Jay on Kiss and the Oxy Wash crowd was listening to Z100 or Power 95. WNEW was the older brother’s station. WCBS-FM was for dad; WLTW and WPIX were for mom.

    WKTU was for no one.

    1. If you meant WNEW-AM, they were for Mom *and* Dad–if both were, well, of a certain age! In the second place, you forgot WYNY. If WLTW and WPIX were for Mom, then so was WYNY. As were the latter three’s fellow soft rockers (although at that time, WLTW was actually MOR with slight emphasis on soft AC) in the suburbs (i.e. WMGQ New Brunswick, NJ; its sister station WCTC New Brunswick, NJ; WICC Bridgeport, CT; WEBE Westport, CT; the late WERA Plainfield, NJ; WMTR Morristown, NJ, etc.) for Mom. (In the NYC suburbs, Mom (and/or her college-age/just-north-of-college-age daughter) had even the full-service AM adult contemporary stations in their particular area of suburban New York City (WCTC, WICC, WMTR [all no longer AC] are–and WERA [which, as stated, no longer exists] was–on AM) to choose from!)

    2. That’s not what I remember. Even though the music that was popular at that time wasn’t disco anymore and they were playing freestyle music, they did great at playing club records till they changed their format to pop. I couldn’t listen to that garbage. Who ever was running the station and changed their music ruined that station. Club music was what the urban people wanted to listen to, not Huey Lewis and the News. I liked going to the Funhouse and hearing a song then a week later it would be on KTU. But they ruined it by not playing what we wanted to hear. WBLS kept playing club records, but they had rap creeping into it. I wasn’t crazy about that. KTU shouldn’t have slippled. I miss their lunch time, no commercial, long playing mixes. I miss Paco and Carlos De’Jesus. I wish I had a time machine.

  3. for those of us that were into disco in the 70’s, 1978 to be exact it was a break through,.. disco 92 was different, they tryed to evolve into a more dance station when they dropped the word “disco”, but they could not keep up with kiss fm or z100 at the time, & they got lost, & lost there edge,.. what they should have done was to try to beat kiss…. that did not happen

    1. Don’t forget, Jon: (The original) WKTU also had WBLS to deal with, as its format was disco-oriented during that genre’s heyday. And IIRC, ‘BLS *also* beat ‘KTU. It was because of the waning popularity of disco and WBLS’ mix of current R&B with not only disco, but jazz, contemporary pop rock/soft rock (and probably straight-up contemporary rock), and sometimes even MOR, that WKTU added current and recent R&B “slow jams” and pop and rock hits to its (up until then) all-disco playlist a year into its disco format. This made both stations Urban Contemporary (particularly by late Seventies/early Eighties standards).

  4. Wow! What a flashback to my pre-teens in the Bronx.

    I honestly forgot about the ‘Disco’ in he title, but I remember the melting radio and the 92KTU logo with the lightning. Yeah, 92 couldn’t live down the ‘Disco Sucks’ movement in New Cork City at the time and KISS was playing Prince, Rick James, Tina Marie, Gwen Guthrie and (the baby at the time) Hip Hop with Red Alert and (I think) the Latin Rascals.

    Those were the days. Real “get dressed for school” days. Didn’t Jay Thomas wind up playing Carla’s boyfriend on Cheers?

  5. WKTU was the absolute best; I was listening to disco in my mid-teens. As the mid 80’s came around, I became very fond of New Wave music … WLIR/WDRE & danced at so many clubs on Long Island & in NYC … Malibu, Speaks, Channel 80, Uncle Sams, Danceteria, CBGB’s, The Cat Club & Studio 54. The best music eras of my life – DISCO & NEW WAVE! WHAT’S ALL THIS TECHNO CRAP TODAY? sounds like s-it!

  6. In the mid 80s, I was through with disco, but had moved on to CHR. I really liked KTU’s take on it. PLJ was just a clone of Z-100, and WAPP’s version just sounded lame. But KTU was a little more unique, playing different mixes of songs, as well as songs from further down the charts, and they often tended to be the first (and the last) to play a song during its hit run. I welcomed K-Rock, but always missed this all-too brief period in the history of 92.3 FM.

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