Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review of WHN: When New York City Went Country

Radio is so much different today than it was from 1973-87 when 1050 WHN played country music in New York City.  Between internet radio, SiriusXM, and HD radio there are so many choices.  Today, I listen to more radio on my computer than I do on my radio.  I can tune in almost any AM or FM station over the country and even over the world by putting in the proper URL in my browser.  Regular readers of my journal know that I am all over the place listening to different stations in different formats.  Back in the 1970s and 80s we only had access to the local AM and FM station.  During that time frame music radio was making a transition from AM to FM.

During the 1970s and 80s I was not quite the radio enthusiast that I am today.  For the most past back then I listened to WABC, WYNY and WCBS-FM.  Back when I was a student at the University of Rhode Island from 1972-74 I just loved Salty Brine on WPRO.  I have always been interested in the history of radio broadcasting and the many personalities who have graced the airwaves over the years.  I read the various radio message boards, but only occasionally throw in my two cents in to the discussions.  I found out about the following book:

Salamon, Ed. When New York City Went Country. Los Angeles: Archer Books, 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

As soon it became available I bought it for my Amazon Kindle.  I really don’t like schlepping books on the subway any more.  Since I had several newspapers, magazines, and books to read, it took me a couple of weeks to get to it.  Today, I had a few hours, so I turned off my radio and computer and took the time to read this book which I enjoyed immensely.

The first thing I realized was that I should have listened to WHN more often back then.  I would listen to the Met games on that station, but I rarely listened to country music since I was so much into rock ‘n roll radio.  Ed Salamon gives a prologue discussing the history of WHN from its inception to the adoption of the country music format in 1973.  He was the program director during most of the stations’ country music era and thus the book reflects his experiences with the on and off the air personalities.  I certainly enjoyed the anecdotal and chronological approach that he used.  I found out much about the station.

Since one time WMCA was the program director for a while at WHN many of the former Good Guys including Jack Spector, Ed Baer, Joe O’Brien and Dan Daniel were on both stations.

  • Several WCBS-FM personalities including Dan Taylor, Mike Fitzgerald, and Gary Clark (Gary Semro) appeared on WHN.
  • Many country music personalities were guest Djs.
  • The station sponsored many country music concerts in the NYC area.
  • WHN was actually the second biggest radio station in the world with adults 25-49 behind WABC

I enjoyed the book and recommend it for radio enthusiasts like myself and for people in the business.  Most radio listeners are likely not aware of what goes on behind the scenes at a major radio station.

Ed Salamon properly credit’s the people he interviewed for this book.  In the text he mentioned a few articles that discussed the station.  As an academic librarian I noted that there was no bibliography at the end of the book.  It would be useful to supplement the interviews with information from trade magazines.

There was a reunion for the 40th anniversary of the country format at Hill Country Restaurant.  Photos may be seen at Matt Seinberg’s Facebook page.

There was also a reunion on WFDU radio.

The publication of the book also coincides with the return of country music to New York City radio on WNSH (94.7 FM)

1 comment:

Ed Salamon said...

Thank you for your good words about my book, and moreover about WHN. As for the comment by your librarian friend, most historians write from information that has already been published, so a bibliography is important. Since this book is based primarily on first hand accounts, a bibliography was not deemed necessary.

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