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May 2019 Retro Gaming Article


May 31, 2019 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

After 48 years, New York's rock radio 95.5 WPLJ is going off the air

New York's rock radio 95.5 WPLJ
I grew up in the NYC area and lived between WPLJ and WLIR - two stations that shaped the music I came to love.
I"m really sad to hear that WPLJ in New York City is going off the air. I grew up listening to them. Both WPLJ and WLIR shaped the music that I would love for a lifetime. It's crazy to think that WPLJ was still on the air having rocked through a 48 year stint on NY radio, but just as surprising to discover they have come to an end.

Radio is so different today from the freewheeling days of the late 70s and 80s. I always loved the local feel radio had when I was a kid. It was local. You heard ads for local stores and events. There were updates on which bands were coming to your area. You began to "get to know" the DJs. When I was a kid, DJs were heroes!

Pat St. John on WPLJ

Pat St. John was a legendary DJ in New York who had a 42-year career on New York Radio including nearly 15 years at WPLJ from 1973 to 1987. I listened to him all the time and actually met him in a small electronics store in White Plains. It was a store that my Mom would take me to now and then to buy Atari 2600 games.

One day I went in to see what was new for the 2500 and there was a large guy in a cowboy hat set up behind a small table. I wasn't sure who he was, but he was a pretty daunting looking dude, so I went about my game selection. Then he spoke. Instantly, I knew he was Pat St. John! My eyes went wide and I turned to look at him. I couldn't speak. I was overwhelmed. He offered me an autograph on an 8x10 pic of him.

I left the store with a new Atari game and my hero's autograph. I was astounded by his large presence. Having heard him on air for years, I'd never thought about what he might look like. That day has stuck in my memories. Much love for all he gave and how WPLJ introduced me to so many great bands!

New York's rock radio 95.5 WPLJ is going off the air My WPLJ FM card was used at various record stores for discounts. FM = Free Money. The station was sold by it's owner,Cumulus Media, and will become a contemporary Christian music station called KLOVE.
New York's rock radio 95.5 WPLJ is going off the air My WPLJ FM card with Game Boy Color and One of my favorite rock bios - No One Here Gets Out Alive.

As a kid, I had a potable Panasonic radio. After getting over the initial fascination of being able to tune in to discussions and music on a variety of channels, radio became my link to discovering the kind of music that rocked my world. Living in the NY area I listened to the radio at home and whenever I was in a car. There was something about it's live format that excited me.

The DJs were rock stars and the music they played had such a great influence on me. When I hear about streaming music, I admire the technology and the vast amount of music that's available, but radio is a special mix of the DJ's personality, the tracks they play, and a connection to the local area. Streaming music is like listening to CDs, but at a lower quality.

The beauty of radiois it's free. I'm not sure how that suddenly became the model for music itself. Free music? That didn't seem like a winning idea, but that's what they did. There's no better way to devalue something than valuing it a zero (making it free). Now everyone expects to get music for free. Consumers don't want to buy physical media, so they figure they should get music for free. No disc, no charge, right?

Artists have been robed for decades and streaming was supposed to end that, but instead it perpetuated revenue loss for artists. Changes are being made, but it's a slow process. Originally, radio got us stoked about new music and we'd go buy the album. These days no one wants to listen radio or commercials - they just want free music. Society is circling the drain.

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