77 WABC changes format from Top 40 to Talk

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There’s not much to really say about this one. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s WABC was New York Radio and nationally known to the point in the early 70’s it was consistently ranked in Pittsburgh’s ratings. The 50kw Top 40 machine in America’s biggest market. In the late 70’s the radio landscape began to change nationwide as FM became a bigger player. In New York “Disco 92″ WKTU and 107.5 WBLS reached the point where they battled WABC for the #1 slot in the ratings. Corporate Ownership saw the success they were having with an all talk format at KABC in Los Angeles and in what has become known as “The Day The Music Died”, May 10, 1982, WABC changed from Top 40 to Talk.

The WABC legacy lived on at 101.1 WCBS-FM, whose Oldies format played much of the same music WABC did in its heyday with many of the same DJ’s. It took a little over a year for Top 40 to return to New York, but when it did “Z100″ made sure the mantle was in good hands.


  1. Artie says

    77 WABC was the best radio station back in the hey day of radio,they had great jingles and good personalities,I always had my radio,and this was what I had it tuned to!If I could bring anything back,I mean anything on the radio,it would be 77 WABC,I miss it still today.They had a certain style all their own,and thats the way it out to be,NY’s style 77 W-A-B-Ceeeeeeeeeeeee.No doubt,radio done right.Thank you to all the DJs!

    • David says

      Wow, Artie! You just quoted from one of WABC’s Adult Contemporary-era’s jingle packages! Specifically, the 1981-82 jingle package “You’ll Like Our Style” (the final jingle package both as an AC station and as a music station in general. I used to love the aforementioned jingle in particular. (By the way, did you know that at least a couple of jingles in that package were briefly revived (in terms of airing) in the summer of 1986?

  2. Joseph says

    I live near Boston, and that morning, I had to turn up my best AM radio’s volume all the way up to hear the WABC transition (since it had been well publicized).

    However, if my memory is correct, there was almost a full minute of silence between the final WABC Musicradio jingle and the beginning of the first WABC Talkradio jingle.

    WABC has now been a talk radio station for 30 full years and min fact has been a talk radio format longer than it was a Top-40 outlet (about 22 years).

  3. Large Lee says

    What the article doesn’t mention is when Disco died, so too did WKTU. It is often overlooked that it was another AM on 66 that took over as #1, long before Z100 came to town. WNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNBC.

  4. David says

    Technically, WABC modified its Top 40 format into Adult Contemporary in the late summer/early fall of 1980 (concurrent with its branding change from “Musicradio 77″ [after literally 10 years] with “New York’s Radio Station”), first Nas what would now be called Hot Adult Contemporary, then as a straight-up AC station. But because Adult Contemporary is a softer version of Top 40 (and is an all-soft-rock version of Middle of the Road, for that matter), WABC’S AC format tends to get lumped in with its Top 40 format (for historical purposes, I’m *SURE*). So Joseph, not only has it been talk longer than it had been rock (22 years, as you said), but both its Top 40 format had and its talk format has lasted longer than its Adult Contemporary format.

  5. David says

    1:55 to 2:07: Dan Ingram refers to his recorded legal ID throughout the Seventies: “WABC!, New YORK!”

    4:17: Probably the last time WABC was announced as “New York’s Radio Station” (its full-service soft rock branding). (And after the first WABC Talkradio 77 jingle played for the first time, no less!)

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