Saturday, May 21, 2016

Rock And Roll Radio: New York

We talked about Baltimore. We talked about Detroit. We talked about Chicago.

Now let's talk about New York.

When all was said and done I drove from Chicago to New York in my Camaro.  I'd been hired to work the morning shift at WAPP. The General Manager was Pat McNally who had been the Sales Manager at my radio station in Detroit.

That helped.

WAPP had announced itself, big time, by going commercial free the summer of 1982, and getting huge ratings in the process. Now they were looking for jocks. I read that, made an audition tape and went east to hopefully get hired. I went to lunch with Pat in New York and at the end of the meal I presented my tape.

"No guarantees," he said as he took it, "I don't do the hiring. That's Dave." Program Director Dave Hamilton.

I shrugged my shoulders in a 'I tried' kind of way, said my goodbyes along with my good to see yous, and left the restaurant. I slowly walked back to my hotel and when I got to my room there was a message from Pat with his AND Dave's work and home numbers.

I got the job.

I found out later why they didn't take me to the station.

Kind of a dump. Kind of didn't care. I was in New York.
With Joe Piscapo

I broadcast in Queens, I lived in Manhattan.
Had to live in the Asphalt Jungle.

Here's something you might not know...people who live in Queens or Brooklyn or another borough, even though they live in New York, call Manhattan the city. Like, I'm going to the city Saturday.

Two memories...if you think you know traffic, you haven't lived till you've been in bumper to bumper New York traffic. Early on I was in it waiting to go into the Midtown Tunnel.

Going nowhere.

That kind of stoppage teaches you Zen also known as how to calm the eff down. I learned a lot about that driving in New York.

As the sun was going down behind the 'scrapers I had a view of the skyline and "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five came on the radio.

Talk about your New York moment.

Second memory...we had a contest at WAPP called Homegrown looking for the best of the unsigned bands. We then would put the top songs on an album. The winner was a band you may have heard of, Bon Jovi, with a little song called "Runaway."

I'd never been fired before, got fired from WAPP. And that's what brought me to Fats and WNEW-FM.

Fats is Scott Muni. He called everyone Fats. AKA Scottso. I used to call NEW the Vatican of rock and roll and Scott Muni it's pope.

Too much?

Consider this...years later, I'm working for CBS and interviewing Billy Joel. I tell him I used to work at NEW and he proceeds to do a spot on imitation of... Scottso. Jerry Garcia told me to say hi to Scott. Bruce spoke highly of Fats and on it went.

Scott hired me after a tour of some of the finest drinking establishments in Manhattan. I won't tell you what we were drinking but tea would be a bad guess.

At first I worked the over night. Let me say something about that audience in New York. It's big. There are as many people listening then, than some cities have at drive time. I once had Angela Bowie (The Angie in Angie by the Stones) in the studio unannounced. Just hanging out.

It was New York.

One time it was a block party weekend and we were playing like maybe two artist blocks per hour and I started one with the New York/kind of punk band, Television. They were not on the play list.

The hot line rang. It was Charlie Kendall (the best Program Director I ever worked for) and he said, "Hey, you're cheating." Pause. "I like how you cheat."

Very cool.

It was big fun working there.

The way I got added to the morning show was...different. They were live all Valentine's week. I'd do my shift, take a cab down to the club they were at, Heartbreak, and be live on their show as well. And try to be funny.

Before I knew it we were a threesome, Richard Neer, Lisa Glasberg (later Lisa G on Howard Stern) and me. We took listener's calls, did a spoof series on Miami Vice, and had guests like Tom Hanks and Rob Halford of Judas Priest.

It was Howard Stern who was responsible for me getting fired the second time. His ratings were too strong and ours not strong enough.

There's a goofy ending to this and here it goes....When I got fired by NEW, CBS was putting together their new morning show. They saw the story in the Daily News about us and brought me in for an audition to be their weather guy.

I passed that audition, so right after their phone call telling me that, I got another one telling me this.

It was Charlie Kendall asking me if I would come back to fill in. I told him no.

"Ok, ok, you drive a hard bargain," he said with a laugh. "How about full time?" When I again said no, Charlie said incredulously, "You must have something big."

I did.

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