Six years ago today, on Friday, January 29th, 2016 I worked my last day at WABC Radio in New York City
Well over half my life had passed since that day in 1976 when I walked onto the 8th floor of the ABC Building at 1330 Avenue of the Americas. I started there as a 26 year old single guy, and retired as a 66 year old long time married Grandfather. Over those 40 years, I met and married my best friend, became a Dad 3 times, sent 3 kids off to college, saw my first son get married, became a Grandfather twice, and celebrated our 36th Wedding Anniversary with the same girl I met back in 1977 in the middle of a 5 month long NABET strike against ABC.
Along the way, I’ve worked with some of the best radio had to offer. From the MusicRadio days, there were legends like Dan Ingram, George Michael, and Ron Lundy. On the WPLJ side, there were great folks like Tony Pigg, Pat St. John, Jim Kerr, and Jimmy Fink. When WABC went talk in 1982, I was fortunate to work with great folks like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, John Gambling, plus some characters like Ed Koch, and Joy Behar. There were many great people I worked with, but if I listed them all, this would just be a blog of names!
When I started at MusicRadio 77, WABC in 1976, it was the most listened to station in the nation. It was the pinnacle of radio’s number one market, the place where everyone wanted to work, and the only radio station I wanted to work at. I grew up, and then grew old at that radio station, and the members of the WABC Family were my family, and WABC was my radio station. Over the years, Susie and I had been to countless weddings, even our good friend Rush Limbaugh’s very lavish one in Palm Beach where Elton John was the “after party” entertainment. I’d seen so many folks become parents, helped friends bury their parents, as my WABC Family helped me do twice 30 years apart, and been fortunate to meet, work with, and become friends with so many great people! How could I not think of it as my radio station?
Unfortunately, WABC was not the same radio station it had been when I was 26 years old, but then I wasn’t the same person either. 8 years before I retired, Disney/ABC had decided that radio was no longer a core business, and had sold off the ABC O&O Radio stations. I had already become a Disney/ABC Retiree when that happened, so in 2016 I was just retiring from WABC Radio not the WABC/WPLJ Engineering Department of The American Broadcasting Company I had proudly been hired by in 1976, but the folks I worked with made it special. My last week at work was full of fun events in my honor like a pizza lunch, a full blown-out retirement party at a Mexican Restaurant in NYC, and a very special lunch with the guy that planned it all…Cumulus New York President and General Manager Chad Lopez . Of course, that last week also featured a snow storm that made me 3 hours late to work, thanks to the Long Island Rail Road (FYI….there has not been one day in the last six years that I have missed that railroad!).
After my last day of work, on that Friday night, the love of my life, my best friend, partner in everything in life, and my wife, Susan Lynn D’Elia, gave me a bang-up retirement party at one of our favorite Mineola restaurants with friends, neighbors, and people I used to work with. It was a fitting end to what had been a long anticipated week, really 40 years in the making.
And that was six years ago! Hard to believe it’s been that long, but I did the math and I’m pretty sure I’m correct. It’s been a great six years, filled with relaxation, fun, and lots of wonderful new experiences – look for blogs about this in coming days called Taking Stock. I’m very proud of my years working for ABC, of the friends and experiences, but in reality it was just a means to an end. It was a way to pay for the life of our family. As great a job as it was, it was nothing compared to my job as a Husband, a Dad, a Grandfather, a Friend, a Boy Scout Leader, a Church Elder, and a Member of our Mineola Community. Seeing soccer, hockey, and softball games, Marching Band Competitions, Plays and Musicals, and being a part of my kids’ lives. Yes, it was a means to an end for me, not my life….but boy was it a great means to an end, and was Always Better Than Working For A Living!