History Of "The Mighty 1290 WGLI"
Let me start off by saying,
I actually know very little about this station and never
worked for WGLI, but I know people who have. Credit to those for the
obtained on this site is greatly acknowledged and given at the
bottom of this page.
Updated information was made possible by Richard Ross
(Chief Engineer of WADO and WGLI),
along with a detailed e-mail from Edwin Karl, WGLI's CE from back in the early
All photos were taken by Rick Hall unless credited
otherwise. Most recent posts were
contributed by WGLI's Wally Walters.
interesting to note, there were several fire related incidents at WGLI which
in the late 60's, long prior to the one that devastated the building in the
There is a link to an outside web source detailing these newly unearthed
Back in 1958, a radio
concern headed by William H. Reuman applied
to the FCC for a
construction permit for a non-directional AM on 1300 kHz, but instead was granted
an operating frequency of 1290 kHz with a directional signal pattern. The assigned
call letters were: WGLI
which later, according to most of the people I have
with, stood for "Greater Long Island"
WGLI was the eleventh AM station built on Long
Island (WGBB 1240 being the first), but
officially was Suffolk County's first
full service AM station licensed for 24-hour operation.
For over 30 years
both the studio and transmitters were located in the same building
1290 Peconic Avenue
in Babylon, New York.
Click the ON-AIR sign to hear a scoped mid-70's
air-check of Dick Moore on the Mighty 1290! BTW: Yes, that's the voice of New
York's Channel 7 Roger Grimsby doing ABC Radio Network News!
(Sinatra & Friends MP3)
WGLI featured lots
of specialized programs on weekends.
Click above for a sample of Sinatra And Friends - hosted by
well known Long Island radio personality Ray Mann!
note: Ray's air-check
was retrieved from the station's
dumpster after they upgraded to newer cart machines, which
could not play the older, oversized audio carts. The above air-check
was found on a vintage Fidelipac model 600 cartridge,
which was the second of three popular sizes: model 300 being the
cartridge used by most broadcast facilities, model 600 was
a slightly larger middle size cart which required a 6 inch slot.
The biggest cartridge was the Fidelipac model 1200, which was
approximately 8 inches
wide and held close to 30 minutes of audio.
Part 1 / Part 2 /
Hear Dick Moore On WGLI Parts 1, 2 &
Veterans Day 11/11/1978, which includes
Paul Harvey's News & Comments, and more!
Click On Any Of The Above WGLI
Radio Music Surveys/Air Personality Banners For A Larger View.
Special thanks to WGLI's Wally Walters for sending these wonderful surveys.
WGLI's 'Way Back Wally' (Wally
Jim Gordon worked at WGLI
(1971 to 1975), and recalls working with "Big" John Richards,
Frank Holiday, Mike Botty, Chris Michaels, Dick Moore and Barry Landers
Jim says: "Every evening Barry would rush in with only seconds to to spare
before his sportcast microphone was turned on. We had his rip-read copy
for him and a small table set up near the studio entrance door for him to
down on. He was amazing! I can't remember even once him being on-air
I think he was a dentist or eye doctor, and as soon as his 5 minute broadcast
finished, he would rush out just a fast as he came in, with a wave of the hand
a "see ya tomorrow guys. Everyone loved working there which made
for a happy atmosphere."
Click the cassette to hear an
official air-check of WGLI DJ Jim Gordon:
Another noted voice on WGLI was
ex-WBAB PD Scott Robbins. Scott worked in broadcasting
at various radio stations across Long Island, and was on the air at WGLI towards
the final days.
This is Scott later in years at WSUN in Tampa Bay, just before Cox changed
the format and
released Scott, who went on to work at Q105 also in the Tampa Bay market.
This is probably
one of the last pictures of Scott in radio before he passed away. Photo
courtesy of Wally Walters.
Hats off to WGLI
Engineer and close ham radio friend Carmen DeVito (WA2GYXSK)
Carmen DeVito - Engineer At WABC TV
I found your
websites a while back, and thought I would finally email you about my Dad’s time
at WGLI. I don’t have any formal “historical facts” but I just
thought I’d send you a quick note, as my Dad, Carmen DeVito, worked at WGLI
1961-1963, as an Engineer. I remember two of Dad’s friends who worked at
Frank Steel and Ken Bell. Ken Bell was an announcer with a nice deep voice
(I remember Ken Bell worked for WGSM), who had a southern wife Marlo (with a
laugh, she laughed a lot) she was good friends with my mother, too. My Dad
worked lots of nights, and I remember one New Years Eve our family wanted to be
together, so my mom brought us to the station and we 3 kids (we were about 5,6
and 8 yrs old) slept in blankets overnight on a studio floor somewhere.
I also vividly remember Dad giving us kids the tour of the radio towers out in a
swamp, we had to be very careful not to fall off the boardwalk, it was old and
but amazing fun for us. I also remember Dad recorded us kids singing the
radio jingle “…1290 on your dial!” and we were loud and screechy but someone
loved it and played it once in a while over the air. One memorable remote
assignment Dad brought us kids and Mom to the Bay Shore Roller Rink where Diana
was a guest. After WGLI he went on to a few other local stations, then
worked for WABC (member of NABET) until he retired. My Dad was a Ham, his
call was WA2GYX.
Dad passed away 6-19-2003 at 77 years old (and mom in 2009); he looked back
fondly at his years at WGLI, and I’m sure Dad would have appreciated your
website very much!
- Dale DeVito - Luongo
Click The Tower To Hear The
Official WGLI Power Change Message!
those who worked for WGLI, it's management was always considered
to be a bit 'top heavy', especially in the paycheck department, and that
air staff was considerably under compensated for their true professional talents.
WGLI always sounded very professional, had a polished act with a
major market sound. No
matter how good it may have sounded through
late 70's and early
80's, it was loosing money... fast.
It was only a matter of
time before WGLI ended up with a "For Sale" sign on it.
The buyer was WADO, a NYC based station with intentions of
shutting it down. Doing this would allow them
to apply for a large power increase.
The winner: Big Corporate Radio.
The looser: Local
Community Minded Radio.
This site shows what happened
after WGLI was
taken off the air. The Babylon
Fire Department labeled the occurrence as 'suspicious' and placed the
the fire on vandals (local kids) in the neighborhood.
It Off & Watch It Burn"
boardwalk out back was surrounded by state protected swampland...
which made an
excellent ground system. It's no wonder WGLI had a great signal!
First view of the fire
remains of the WGLI broadcast complex. This is the main entrance.
Main Entrance close-up:
you can see the hanging twisted down
letter "W" and what was left of the
"GLI" on the doorway marquee.
Please make sure to stop
at the receptionist window to get clearance
into the station! (Actually, this was the news room window.)
inside: this is the center hallway leading to the main front lobby.
Lavatory is the first door on the left (in case you need to use it).
Please step lively, your
tour guide is waiting to take you to the commissary.
You are now
standing in what was the main air control studio of the once famous "Mighty
Inside the back
transmitter & engineering area. Note: in the final report,
Babylon fire officials determined this was
not were the fire had started.
The rear exit door leading to
It's a bit
unclear how a group of local kids could have caused such a
capable of destroying an entire radio complex, especially when the fire reports claimed
the blaze was
started without the use of gasoline or some other igniter.
One interesting note: WGLI was officially off the air and shut down with studios and
broadcast equipment removed prior
to the building being set ablaze by vandals.
According to sources at WADO, the removal of the studio
equipment was directly
due to technical problems in the station. Although
nothing that could not have
been fixed, management decided to remove all the
station's equipment and
apply to the FCC requesting a relocation of the WGLI studios to
A year and a half later, the FCC without prejidious denied WADO's petition to relocate WGLI.
At this point, the broadcast complex was already
destroyed, so WADO requested more time
from the FCC to re-build the
entire facility in Babylon (it's original city of license).
(WADO's mobile unit in front of the main entrance
to WGLI and possibly
the last known picture of WGLI's rear tower walk taken before the fire.)
(Photos Courtesy Of Richard Ross)
Unfortunately, the FCC had placed tight deadlines on all pending construction
Unable to completely rebuild WGLI from the ground up within the
FCC's specified time frame,
WADO had little choice but to proceed with handing
in the WGLI license, which the FCC agreed
to make conditional, pending the successful
completion of the WADO power increase project.
But that's a whole different
story! For better or worse, the Mighty 1290 was officially dark.
Eleven years later, WADO received the FCC's approval for a 50KW power increase.
several vintage news articles, the history of WGLI also includes 3 other
which occurred in the late 60's, of which all were apparently caused by a
employee. The articles appear to be genuine, but are provided through an outside
not affiliated with WackRadio.com, therefore we've included a disclaimer that
advises our viewers
they are leaving this web site to visit an outside source that
fires which apparently took place at WGLI in the 60's. Click
to view the articles.
TODAY'S WGLI TOWER SITE:
Well, it's not exactly WGLI's
tower... but it is the new tower on the old property
which is now owned
and operated by a prominent cellular communications firm. And,
if you look closely, following up along the left side of the tower, you can see
WGLI's original AM towers with it's red beacon on top in the
In the not too
distant past, we received a wonderful e-mail from Mr. Edwin Karl, who
was the Chief Engineer for WGLI from way back in the early 60's, of which we
to share his memories with you! (Click The Microphone Below)
the following people who helped contribute
information and facts about this once
great radio station:
Jim Pierce (photos and
Moore (for the great air-check and WGLI Poster)
(for providing early history information)
Richard Ross (for pictures and clearing up a
lot of loose ends!
Chip Ordway (graphics
Wally Walters (for sending us the vintage WGLI music surveys)
Gerald Tcimpidis (for contributing insight on the 1960's fires)
Pentax Camera Co. and
Fuji Film Corp. (for the wonderful pictures)
I would also like to
hear from anyone who, after visiting this site, might possibly
have more information,
of WGLI 1290 when it was still on the air.
I can be reached at:
you can also visit the following excellent WGLI sites:
Mehrab's WGLI Scrapbook:
Long Island Radio History Page:
Views and Opinions Of What Happened To This Station Were Not Necessarily
Planned By Us... It Just Sort Of Happened That Way.
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