WBAB BABYLON (1958)
Established and licensed in 1958 by Sol Horenstein, WBAB was first owned by the Babylon-Bay Shore Broadcasting Company, and was originally intended to play 'beautiful music' - big band and orchestral prior to rock and roll. Although the call letters "WBAB" had a short lived prior use at a station in Atlantic City (see clipping below), Long Island's WBAB AM was first licensed to operate at 500 watts, then to 1kw day (500 watts pre-sunrise) in 1962. Rumor has it that around 1969 the original owners of WBAB also owned WDOV 1410 in Delaware before selling out to Capstar, but this still needs to be confirmed.
The AM had simulcast the FM for many years and there was even speculation of starting a regional all-news format in the mid 1960's. Muriel Horenstein ran the radio station for 20 years, and transformed it into one of the most important corporate and cultural icons on Long Island. The radio station was involved in several political controversies over the years, and also helped to propel certain changes. The AM split from the FM in 1976 and became WNYG 1440 (New York Gospel) Radio. Due to financial problems, the FM was sold in 1979 while the AM continued under the original ownership through numerous formats, (Gospel, CHR/14 Gold, Standards and Oldies). When the AM was finally sold, it went Spanish, Oldies, CHR, and once again back to a 'Contemporary Religious' format. The programming history of WBAB FM is indeed interesting, as it was everything from Big Band to Top 40, and finally what most would call "Free Form Album Rock". WNYG's format history also holds a diverse lineup of programming.
Aerial view photo of WBAB's original property, located just south of Sunrise Highway on Route 109 and East Drive in Babylon.
Photo was taken April 25th, 1994, exactly one week after WNYG ended its six-year oldies format.
WBAB Atlantic City Calls Prior To 1958
(Courtesy Of Mike Erickson)
WBAB AM 1440 / FM 102.3 DJ Lineup 1968
Click The Ad For Large View Of Personalities
Source: Suffolk Sun Ad Saturday March 30th 1968
(Above Courtesy Of Eddie Dee)
<1960's WBAB Sales Brochure>
Notice the WBAB Single Prop News Plane and Vintage Remote Vehicle! All these
items were at that time, considered 'state of the art' and WBAB radio exclusives!
Early WBAB Print Advertising For Joe Roberts
(Ad Courtesy Of Sue Martin)
DJ Lineup From 10/21/72
(Above WBAB DJ Lineups Courtesy Of Steve Elliot)
Click above to hear the "HAPPENING SOUND" of WBAB!
Click above for WBAB FM's Christmas Day 1979
News Cast with Marty Curley
A very super special thanks to Rick Christensen for sending us
several mini Reel-To-Reel Tapes of early WBAB Radio (Circa 1970-71),
which he recorded using a portable radio and his mini reel to reel recorder!
Please keep in mind, these tapes are the original mini reels recorded almost
40 years ago. Audio levels and quality vary.
MP3 Or RealAudio
Tape 1: Bob Evans filling in for Mark Alan, the original Mark Alan as himself,
Scott Burke voicing a promo and Steve Elliot on WBAB 102.3 FM. Enjoy Listening!
MP3 Or RealAudio
Tape 2: Marty Curley on WBAB circa 1970 with a network news report
from Mutual News in New York City.
Tape 3: Alan Duke on "Album Rock" WBAB - This file is Alan at the controls and mostly music, but it's
interesting to note that Alan enjoyed experimenting with the music cuts on the air. Listen closely to
U.S. Blues by The Grateful Dead and you will notice he is spinning a second copy of the same song
in and out of phase on turntable 2!
The WBAB FM PD lineage went from Tony James (late 50's to early 70's... and once again in 1981), to Mark Alan (1972?), to Charlie Ambrogio (around 1976), to Marty Curley (1978) and finally to Bob Buchmann (1979). Mark Alan was instrumental in helping Harry Chapin kick off his food for the hungry charity, which even today is widespread. Harry used to come to the station regularly, and he and Mark had a wonderful rapport.
While Tony James was PD (60's/70's), Mike Jeffries was WBAB's official Music Director. Both Mike and Tony came up with "The Happening Sound" format, and in 1968 they officially kicked off WBAB FM as a rock station by airing the Beatles White Album for 24 hours straight. Mike has graciously contributed many vintage photos and recently sent us some newly unearthed audio files from the days when he was the music director for WBAB. Click on his name link above, and visit the Mike Jeffries WBAB photo and audio collection.
Kathy Cunningham is credited as being WBAB's first and youngest female music director, as well as the first female music director for any station on Long Island! Hired at WBAB in the spring of 1972, Kathy takes full credit for being Long Island's very first female Top 40, AOR, CHR, AC and Dance DJ, receiving 2 gold records for breaking "Brother Louie" by Stories and "Uneasy Rider" by Charlie Daniels. The only other female DJ on Long Island prior to Kathy was Jan Anderson, noted for hosting a movie music MOR show. In the spring of 1974, Kathy left WBAB to work at WLIR FM, where she delivered the station's very first Arbitron ratings for AM Drive. Kathy returned to WBAB in 1975, but only for a brief six months before moving her career on to bigger and better opportunities.
Lynne Sinan started with WBAB as a part time secretary in 1972, slowly gaining valuable experience by taking on many different tasks, which eventually helped her reach the title of Station Manager. Lynne worked very closely with Larry Walsh, and is credited for helping coordinate WBAB's sales force, performing sales related customer relations, handling client payment arrangements and collections, as well as developing and overseeing switchboard operations. On one occasion, Lynne was directly involved with making all the necessary arrangements for critical tower service and repairs. Lynne's career with WBAB FM and WNYG AM lasted 10 consecutive years (1972-82), and even today, she is still regarded by her past colleagues as being one of the station's best managers.
A driving force in WBAB's early sales team was Tony Michaels. Tony started working for Muriel Horenstein in sales, and by the time WBAB was sold in 1978, he became the station's sales manager. Tony ultimately joined Franz Allina at the new WBAB FM, and eventually became the station's general manager. After many years of dedicated service, Tony left WBAB and started his own recording business. Many of his past colleagues are curious to know where he is today.
Another noted broadcast personality to grace the studios and halls of WBAB in the early 70's was legendary Long Island broadcaster Barry Neal (WBAB 1969-71, WBLI 1971-76, and again on WBLI from 1981-92). More information about Barry can be found on the "Where Are They Today?" link.
In Memory Of Our Colleagues And Friends
The 'Original' Mark Alan
WBAB program director from 1972 - Mark passed away on Thursday November 16th, 2012 after loosing a battle with lung cancer. He leaves behind his son Mark, daughter Elizabeth and granddaughter Leia Krone. Mark was 73.
Scott, whose real name was Marc Werboff, arrived in Tampa in 1979, ten years after starting his career at several stations in New York, including WBAB, WGLI, WHLI and WPIX. He worked at several outlets over the next two decades including Mix 96 (WMTX- FM), Coast 107.3 (WCOF-FM), WSUN-FM, and U92 (WYUU-FM). While working at oldies station WHBO in 1989, Scott was named “Tampa Bay’s Favorite Deejay” in a contest sponsored by a St. Petersburg newspaper. Sadly, Scott died of a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 54. This is a photo of Scott on the air at WSUN in Tampa Bay before Cox Radio changed the format and released him, at which point he went to his last station Q105, also in Tampa Bay, Florida. This is also one of the last photos taken of Scott Robbins in radio.
Photo Courtesy Of Wally Walters.
John A. Blake (Chief
Long Island resident for more than 60 years, John Blake died on December 26 2009. He was 69. John, who was born in Santa Monica, California on February 8, 1939, served honorably in the United States Army Signal Corps from 1961 to 1964. As the honor graduate of his training, he was assigned as a Radar instructor at Fort Monmouth, NJ. A parishioner at St. Joseph's Church in Babylon for decades, John was a lifelong enthusiast of electrical engineering, which began with his obtaining a "ham" amateur radio license at the age of only 14. He helped to bring joy and quality of life to millions through his talent and skills in electronics, both as an engineer at several popular area radio stations, and through his self-employment as a consultant to the cellular communications industry. He was also an avid boater. John is survived by his wife of 47 years, Ellen; son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Jennifer; grandchildren, Christina, Michael, Alyssa, and Anthony; and brother, Robert.
Jim Genovese 1948-2009
It is with deep sadness we report that our long time friend and WBAB colleague Jim Genovese suddenly passed away on December 16th 2009 in Hicksville NY at age 61. Jim was CEO of the 'Jim Genovese Disc Jockey Company', providing deejays for weddings, parties and special occasions. Jim worked at WBAB, WLNG, WPAC, WSUF, WLIX, and many other stations in NY and NJ, as well as WDUV & WFLA, and a host of other stations in Florida throughout the Tampa and Sarasota markets. Funeral service was held on Monday, December 28, 2009 at Vernon C Wagner Funeral Homes in Hicksville New York, with a second service held the first week of January 2010 in Florida in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Friends of Jim can contact Jim’s sister Rose Mauro at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: Jim "Jimbo" Genovese was not only a friend, he was also a regular contributor to this web site. I personally wish to express my sincerest and deepest condolences to Jim's entire family. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten! - Rick Hall.
Kevin Jeffreys 1949-2008
Sad news arrived on July 17th 2008 that our good friend Kevin Jeffreys had passed away at Stony Brook Hospital of heart failure. Radio alumni and long time friend Bernie Bernard described Kevin: "Kevin was one of the first people I met at WCWP when I entered as a freshman. He was smart, funny, creative and had a great voice. Our paths crossed again at WBAB. We remained good friends for 30+ years. Over the years, Kevin worked for just about every radio station on Long Island... WALK, WPAC, WBAB, WNYG, WGBB, WHLI, WLNG, WRIV and others I can't remember right now. Until a few weeks ago, he was doing voice-overs for a handful of production houses on the Island (mostly narrations and industrials)." Kevin is survived by his wife, Jane, daughters Chloe and Xena, and his parents... all live in Lake Ronkonkoma.
Malcolm Soll (Davis)
After a long illness, Malcom Soll, better known as Malcolm Davis and Austin Davis, passed away on June 4th 2006 at home with his family by his side. Malcolm is survived by his wife Grace (Mastroianni) Soll, to whom he was married for 32 years. He is also survived by his 3 children: Andrea, Robert and Dan. Truly a great loss for the WBAB family tree of air talents.
WBAB 102.3 FM - Early Memory Lane Photos
on this page are dedicated to pre-1980 WBAB alumni. *Some of the pictures shown below were found hidden away in the station's abandoned
basement engineering office, while others were sent to us. A
very special thanks goes to John Bohannon, Eliot Goshman (Steve Elliot) and Mike Jeffries
for graciously donating more vintage WBAB photos
for all to enjoy!
Staff Meeting In The WBAB Lobby
*(clockwise from left) Peter Morrow, Jim Genovese,
Tim Ryan, Barry Neal, Tony James & Scott Robbins
WBAB FM - On The Air With Steve Elliot
Station Manager Lynne Sinan recalls some of the other celebrities coming to the station: "Kiki Dee, Sergio Franchi and Gordon Lightfoot were the recording artists that were a big part of those times!"
The Program Director on the AM side was Mark Alan up until 1976, when the AM-FM split. This was when the AM (WNYG) turned Contemporary Christian for a few years. For a brief time, Malcolm Davis had taken over the AM PD reigns from Mark, before handing them over to ex-FM PD Charlie Ambrogio.
Father Jim Vlaun is the current host of WBAB's "Religion and Rock" program on Sunday mornings, and has been doing the show for over 20 years now! Jim even worked for 'BAB as a kid in the old NYG building. Jim says: "I started hosting the show in the old building on Rt. 109 after the prior host, Father Tom Hartman retired from the show after 13 years.
Considered the "main" breakaway, WBAB FM was purchased on Memorial Day in 1979 by All Shores Radio LTD. Most of the equipment from the old WBAB studios were moved across the street several hundred feet south of Sunrise Highway on Route 109 (in the same building occupied by P.C. Richards & Sons). The original WBAB Gates/Harris transmitter remained in the WNYG complex next to the AM unit while WBAB leased back space for the transmitter and use of the old tower. Audio from the new studios (across the street) was fed back to the WNYG building via dual 15K equalized radio (telco) lines. For the better part of that year, WBAB's RF could actually be heard leaking through the older studio equipment back at WNYG.
We've unearthed a rare WBAB un-scoped air-check circa late 1979, with Marty Curley on the air and at the controls. This rare air-check is from when WBAB was broadcasting from the new studios next to P.C Richards, and includes a Jolly Joint spot, a classic "News Blimp" featuring the voice of Jim Reeves, plus a WBAB promotion for "The Perfect Weekend Of Music", which we think was possibly produced and voiced by a very young Bob Buchman before he became PD. Marty was spinning lots of great WBAB Album Rock music, including Cheap Trick, The Charlie Daniels Band, Hot Tuna, Deep Purple and more. The quality of this tape is outstanding! Click The Revox Reel To Reel and enjoy!
Vintage Sign Once Nailed To The WBAB Production Studio Door
WBAB also aired the award winning "News Blimps" series, produced by Ben Manilla of WLIR FM, where he was production director and on-air personality. Here's a complete reel of original News Blimps dated October 10th, 1977 that aired on WBAB.
The "official" breakaway took place in mid 1980, when at the stroke of midnight, WBAB's Chief Engineer John Blake hit the switch that changed the audio feed to a studio transmitter link (STL) between the WBAB/P.C. Richards studios and a newly constructed transmitter site located on the county water tower in Dix Hills. For the official record, WBAB 102.3 FM had permanently broke loose from all it's ties to WNYG. One week later, the original WBAB Gates/Harris transmitter was removed from the building to be used at the new tower site as a backup. The tower's beacon was turned off around 1989, but for historical purposes the old original 102.3 FM RCA antenna elements (unused since 1979) can still be seen high atop the WNYG tower in Babylon.
Footnote: One year later, All Shore Broadcasting purchased WGBB 1240 AM in Freeport, which became the replacement AM sister station of WBAB FM. But, that's an entirely different story altogether! Soon after the studio re-location transition period, several original WBAB air-staff members were unceremoniously handed pink slips. Some left voluntarily and changed careers entirely, while others returned to work for WNYG. It was during this time WNYG (as New York Gospel) made it's first big format change to CHR under the banner of Long Island's Treasure Chest - 14 Gold WNYG (New York Gold).
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