The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Farewell to WPLJ 95.5 FM

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 31, 2019 20:47

1 user

One of New York City's most enduring rock and pop radio stations, WPLJ 95.5 FM, went silent today. (A new station began at that frequency.) It is the end of an era: ruminations on the role of radio in the life of New Yorkers.

For many of us, our favorite radio stations are a part of our everyday lives. Even if we enjoy listening to streaming music services and prerecorded music, radio is a powerful media component. We listen at home, while commuting, at work, while at restaurants and so on. 

Typically we rely on radio stations for updates on news, weather and sports. People set their watches and clocks to certain radio stations, which highlight the hours, in particular. We grow used to radio stations and have expectations for them. We enjoy (or dislike) the patter and shtick of certain on-air personalities. When radio stations change formats, long-time fans gripe or even become upset. 

The so-called golden age of radio may be long gone, with other sources of media having supplanted it to a great extent, but radio continues. It still entertains and draws fans.

Today one of New York City's most enduring radio stations ended its run, and many people in the region are unhappy and waxing nostalgic. WPLJ at 95.5 FM began in 1971 as a rock 'n roll station, featured various format changes over the years (with forays into pop, Top 40, and varieties) but typically remained a popular station. Dee jays on the station were well known personalities. WPLJ ads could be seen just about anywhere: on TV and on billboards, on the sides of city buses and trains. 

WPLJ was not necessarily a cutting-edge station for most of that time, and snobs turned up their noses. But nearly everyone knew WPLJ either because they did listen to it, or avoided it.

When I was a kid and a teenager, I listened quite a bit to WPLJ. As an adult, it was not my main station, but if I wanted to hear some pop music in the car, I would turn it on for a while. I liked certain dee jays such as Jimmy Fink, Pat St. John, and the sometimes fascinating Tony Pigg, who was especially well-regarded for making musical montages based around themes: these were musical journeys, legendary for their creativity and humor.

In 9th grade I did a term project which involved contacting, visiting and interviewing people at two major radio stations. I was so fortunate that WPLJ and WCBS-FM responded to my requests. I recall sitting at a conference table at WPLJ with Jimmy Fink and a few behind-the-scenes staff members, and asking them questions for my report. And while in high school I also got several band badges with the WPLJ logo.

So when I heard that WPLJ was going off air at the end of May, to be replaced by a religious music station, I felt saddened. An old friend was retiring! I made sure to listen for almost the whole day (until 7PM) to hear the final hours of the music mix and the voices. It was a more powerful experience than I'd anticipated. Memories and a shared sense of farewell. 'Bye.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on May 31, 2019 20:47

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - This month in 1972, WCBS-FM in New York City became the place for New York's Greatest Hits....

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest