It started as a Rock station in 1971 and, eventually turning Top 40, became one of the most popular radio stations in New York City. Three weeks from tomorrow, after nearly 50 years of delivering music and memories to listeners and fans in the largest market in the country, WPLJ will go off the air. EMF, who purchased the station from Cumulus, will be flipping to its national K-LOVE format. An iconic set of call letters such as WPLJ is a terrible thing to waste. Or is it? Let’s find out.
We reached out to several programming experts to ask them what they would do if they were given those four letters now that they will no longer be needed on 95.5-FM in New York City.
Lee Abrams: “I would build on the legacy. Those stations are this generations’ KMOX and KDKA’s. Grow out the original audience. Take that legacy and move into 2019. The prior owners didn’t do that but new owners need to look at what they have and build upon that foundation. Sadly, the new owners are on a religious mission, so like WLUP, brilliant new generation programming isn’t an option.”
Walter Sabo: “The best use of the calls is to retire them, like a great ball player’s number.”
Jon Quick: “If I could wave that magic radio wand, I would grab the call letters. Find a new frequency. Then, do a marketing campaign. “Despite what you may have heard, WPLJ is alive and well. We’ve just moved. Now on (frequency), WPLJ.”
John Sebastian: This is self serving but I’d procure the WPLJ call letters which are legendary in NYC and put them on another full signal FM in the New York market and debut The Wow Factor on it. The combination of these immediately relatable calls and my new unique format would result in an earthquake in the market’s ratings…#1 6+ by dominating 55+!
Fred Jacobs: “Maybe it’s time to retire call letters like sports franchises do with jerseys. It would be a shame for those calls to end up on AM in Poughkeepsie.”
Gary Berkowitz: Outside of the New York area, I’m not sure WPLJ means much to anyone. Maybe to radio people, but not to ordinary listeners. As call letters go, they do have some punch to them, but again, I’m not sure there is any value outside of New York… I could argue that, at this point, based on ratings, they’re not worth all that much in New York either.”
Jay Stevens: “The only place in the world those call letters mean anything is NYC. So the question is: Would someone buy the call letters and IP and launch either a rock station or an AC station in New York?”
What would you do?