1976 was a heady year in my young life. On January 2nd, 1976 I turned 26 years old. I was a Full Time Staff Engineer at 1050 AM WHN, which I’d worked at since April of 1972. I guess I should have said 1050 Country, WHN, because WHN was New York’s only Country Station, having switched from an MOR station about 6 months after I started there. During the 4 years I worked at the Nifty 1050, I’d worked with New York Radio Royalty, in the person of the creator of the WMCA Good Guys, WMCA Program Director Ruth Meyer. But wait, there’s more, as they say on television! In addition to having Ruth as the WHN Program Director, I’d also worked with a majority of the WMCA Good Guys! I was Jack Spector’s main engineer and worked with Dan Daniels, Ed Bayer, Joe O’Brien, and Dean Anthony. In addition, NY Sport’s Legend Bill Mazer was our Sports Director, and I worked a lot with Bill! We broadcast the NY Mets, the NY Nets, and the NY Islanders, and on days when we didn’t have a sports game on, we did Bill Mazer’s Sports Roundtable from the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel.
Yes, it had been a heady four years for a young college graduate. I was making $333 a week, when some of my fellow Post Graduate friends were working in NY City Schools as teachers for less than $200 a week! But then it all came to an end!! It was time for WHN to negotiate a new contract with Local 1212 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and when the contract was signed, they’d agreed to a reduction of 2 Staff Engineer positions. Unfortunately, other people had come and gone in my 4 years, and when push came to shove, I was the lowest person on the totem pole. Only one person voluntarily agreed to give up their job, but when they needed the second person, it was me, the guy at the bottom!
But don’t cry for me, because I wasn’t really going to suffer! I got a whole year’s salary, and a whole year of medical insurance, and I was single and still living at home! I hated to give up the job, and leaving my new found radio family, but if I had to do so, well it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen!
And what did I do with that year’s worth of salary I’d been given??? I bought a boat!!! I’d always wanted a boat, and a couple of years earlier, when I had a steady job, and started making some good money (for the early 70s), I decided to buy a boat. I’d gone to college with someone who’s uncle owned a boat dealership in Westport, Connecticut, and through her, I met him and bought my first boat. It was a used 17 foot bow rider that had been set up by its first owner as a ski boat. It had a 175 horsepower outboard engine, and it was fast when it wanted to be. I had a lot of fun with that boat, and realized I liked boating. So, when in the Spring of 1976, out of work, and with the proceeds of one year’s salary in my bank account, the 1975 leftover 21 foot Wellcraft Weekender that Irwin had in his showroom looked very attractive! It was a nice boat!
I had a lot of fun setting up that boat, buying things for it, and eventually getting it out on Long Island Sound. It was a great life, but eventually I knew I needed to get back to the real world, and that real world return happened when my friend and mentor Bill Mozer called me one day and said, “Hey…we need some VRs at ABC..you interested?” It was late in July, I’d been “unemployed” for 3 or 4 months, so I said, “sure” and I went in and talked to WABC Chief Engineer Win Lloyd and WABC Assistant Chief and WPLJ Chief Bob Deitch.
I’d spoken to both of these gentlemen 4 years before when I was first looking for a job in NY Radio, but this was different. Now we were 3 radio veterans shooting the shit about the state of the radio business. After an hour, Win said, “So, when can you start?” I replied, “Whenever you need me?”. So, at 11:45 PM, on the night of Sunday, August 8th, 1976, as Hurricane Belle headed towards New York City, I reported to the 8th Floor of the ABC Building at 1330 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, for my first shift as a member of the WABC/WPLJ Engineering Department, and as they say, the rest is history!