IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: What Happened To WPLJ?

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Our story about former New York City powerhouse WPLJ struck a nerve with readers Tuesday. Many of you took time to comment on the story here and send notes to the experts we quoted. We’re sharing the story again because we thought you’d be interested in reading the comments from your colleagues. And, thanks to BIA, we’ve added WPLJ’s estimated revenue from 2010 to 2017.

2010: $27,100,000
2011: $19,100,000
2012: $17,700,000
2013: $18,600,000
2014: $12,900,000
2015: $ 8,975,000
2016: $10,275,000
2017: $10,475,000
Source: BIA

And here’s our story from yesterday. Take a look at the comments that follow the story.

When Educational Media Foundation takes over WPLJ-FM in New York, once the deal to purchase the station from Cumulus closes around May or June, the new format will be EMF’s K-LOVE brand. There are no plans for an LMA before that and Cumulus is planning a special tribute as the station approaches its final days on-air. That will bring to an end a long and, at one time, very successful New York City radio brands. WPLJ launched back in 1971 and enjoyed decades of success. What went wrong?

To answer that question, we turned to three smart programming minds: AC Radio Programming Consultant Gary Berkowitz, former WABC Program Director and current Salem Media Spoken Word VP Phil Boyce, and www.wowfactorradio.com CEO, John Sebastian, who spent a portion of his long career at WPLJ. We asked all three how a station so successful can fall so hard?

Berkowitz says it was a slow and steady decline for the station. “Slow (but steady) slippage is what worries me most with radio stations. The PLJ fall happened over a long period of time. It really took a turn for the worse when they lost Scott Shannon (to CBS-FM). Losing him both on and off the air affected them negatively. Their morning numbers did not hold up nor did they rebound. I used to frequently hear (about PLJ) that despite the ratings, they had great billing. Well, that can only last just so long and its usually never a good sign for the longevity of the station, its brand or its ratings.”

Phil Boyce

Boyce agrees with Berkowitz that the nail WPLJ’s coffin was the departure with Scott Shannon who retired from WPLJ in 2014 after a 23-year run at the station. “Did they really think WPLJ could withstand the loss of Scott Shannon and survive, or WABC withstand the lost of both Rush and Sean and survive? I didn’t. It took a few years but look what happened. Listeners have a vote in these things. They voted, and the stations lost because at the end of the day, the personalities are bigger than the station, not the other way around.” Shannon was working across the street at WCBS-FM, hosting mornings, one month later.

John Sebastian

Sebastian consulted the station in the 80’s. “The sale of WPLJ and imminent change of format is a microcosm of what’s so very wrong with the radio biz. Through various format changes over the years and neglect of basic station needs for success, this heritage radio station with legendary call letters will be no more. It’s a shame, on so many levels. WPLJ has meant so much to many New Yorkers for decades. PLJ has a full competitive signal covering the market, yet, in recent times it’s been one of the worst performing FM stations in the NY radio market. In many ways, WPLJ’s demise is a tragedy to me personally not to mention to hundreds of thousands of listeners, for many, during their entire lifespan.”

Boyce tells Radio Ink this is what happens when you don’t really understand what makes a station tick. “What has happened to both WPLJ and WABC is sad and was quite avoidable. But it’s not just these two stations. Lot’s of formerly great stations have lost their way, and the stations are not willing or able to make the moves that would fix it. In most of these cases they started to tinker with success, and accidentally pulled the legs out from under the station.”

According to Berkowitz, when Capital Cities/ABC owned PLJ, they took a decided turn to go full speed ahead CHR, against Z100. “At that time, not only were the ratings good, but they had a solid position in NY. As time went on and they decided to “go more adult” that’s where, in my opinion, the trouble started. Z100 was the CHR leader and WLTW was the AC leader. PLJ got stuck in between those two, not to mention what happened when we put Fresh 102.7 on. There’s an expression. “When you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing” and that is what caused the PLJ downturn.”

So how do you prevent this from happening at your station? Berkowitz says by insisting your station have a strong and definitive position. “Hybrid formats are always a problem, especially when you’re in a market like NY where you have many, clearly defined radio stations. Again, the problems really get exaggerated when the ratings are slipping but the billing is good and upper management is ok with that. It puts programmers in “safe mode” where there is a whole different kind of pressure on them.”

122 COMMENTS

  1. This is so sad. I grew up listening to WPLJ. I moved out of the NY area 17 years ago, but I would still listen to WPLJ occasionally online or through Alexa. I went back to NY this past weekend and was astonished and saddened to find out WPLJ is gone. I have so many wonderful memories of this great station. I remember Shadoe Stevens AT 40 as well as Rick Dees AT 40. I remember all those countdowns on the holiday weekends as well as Saturday Night 80s. In fact, I am a child 90s, and I felt very out of place, music-wise, because I couldn’t stand all that awful incoherent depressing grunge that was all over the radio. WPLJ gave me a love for 80s music. Again, this is just so sad.

  2. The Wikipedia entry for WPLJ says “WPLJ became New York’s most listened-to FM rock station for most of the 1970s.” Can anyone find a reference that corroborates this? I don’t doubt it’s true, I’d just like to get hard evidence to that effect; someone I know claims that PLJ was never high in the ratings.

  3. The “Rock N’ Stereo” years were the best for me. When Larry Berger came along in early 1974 and purchased a Dorrough DAP (Discriminate Audio Processor) Model 310 for that station, their sound became instantly recognizable.

  4. I LOVE 9.55 PLJ BUT I DIDNT WANT IT TO BE SOLD THE CEO COULD HAD KEPT IT. NO K LOVE IS ACTING LIKE “POSSITIVE, ENCORAGING 955 “THERE USING 9.55. I PRAYING TO GOD THAT SOMING HAPPENDS TO 9.55 THAT THEY CAN REOPEN ALSO WHAT A USER SAID KLOVE USES YOUR MONEY TO BUY MORE STATIONS THEY ARE SELFISH I HOPE LIKE I SAID EARLIYER 9.55PLJ REOPENS
    ALSO CAN ANYONE TELL ME IF THATS POSSIBLE AND ALSO DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH KLOVE THEY SHOULD GO BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM

  5. Worked with WOLJ for a shole lotta years, from their beginnings to 1994, initially as an engineer with the air personnel (do we say disc jockeys?) and then the production studio. I answered my phone at home “FM2” for months after. Among other things, Alex Bennett (John and Yoko, for one), and, with Pat St John, the WPLJ montages. Also mixed many live concerts from Central Park and other locations, to the final Fillmore East Concert. It was a job I loved and an homor to work with these guys. Sorry to see you go.

  6. This is shocking. I listen mostly in the morning on my way to work. I go way back into the 70s when I got my first car. They played the Doors (waaaay too much, as if they were a current band), and usually kept up with the times. To replace it with a Christian Radio station is an odd choice. I am Catholic and go to church but I find hearing modern rock music with Jesus’ name quite disturbing. They don’t mix. It’s fine when there is an organ in church but distorted guitars and heavy drums and synths do not mix with religeous music. And while there are many Christians in the NY area, I get the feeling that these rating will plummet by 90% this station should be way at the beginning of the very end of the reading dial where it belongs.

    • I don’t think EMF is concerned with ratings as long as there is revenue to support the operation. Ratings are used primarily to set ad rates. EMF is non-commercial, so they don’t sell advertising. Most of their revenue is from listener donations. The programming is satellite-fed from California. No payroll for managers, account execs or local air talent. No rent for studio or office space. The only real overhead is the transmitter. They can likely raise the donations to cover their minimal expenses.

  7. I think wplj 95.5 was a great radio station and it didn’t matter to me who the personalities are. It played many songs especially from the 1980’s and there aren’t many stations like it on FM. Only complaint was that its volume is lower than the other stations.

  8. I wish the morning crew good luck in what ever they do ? They will be missed by me and alot of other people that I know that listened to them everyday . When I was out of the area, I would be on the phone with a friend telling me about the show . I met the morning crew several times over the years.

  9. I too was an avid listener of WPLJ for many years. Scott and Todd and whole PLJ crew were awesome. They often made my day. I enjoyed all their shows, and good times they seemed to have had while broadcasting. Scott and Todd were definitely the team to beat, and will be sorely missed. Even Todd’s solo after Scott left for WCBS. Bye bye PLJ, and God Bless!
    -Brian H.

  10. You can call it what you want. Hot A/C, Top 40, today’s hits, etc. The bottom line is that hey would still play a similar serving of the same songs because they partly applied to the format. When it was classic, album and alternative rock up until 1983, the music served as it’s own entity to the format. But in the end it all comes down to money, as the station lost over $60M to media generated revenue which K Love picked up when they bought the station. It’s all about the almighty dollar. PLJ will be sorely missed.

    • I also was an avid listener with WPLJ. Every morning, noon and night listening to them. From Todd’s phone scams, to Johnny on the streets to their Blown Off segments, everything, to sell it to listen to Christian music all day!!!! Heck NO!!!!

      I could go on and on to talk about WPLJ, how good this station was, the music, the news, the traffic, the weather, the phone scams, the concerts at Jenkinsens, the blown off segment and more but ESPECIALLY the PEOPLE on that station!!! EXCELLENCE at its BEST!!!!

      There will NEVER EVER be a radio station like WPLJ ever even to be compared to them!!!

      They will truly be missed and I AM missing them ALOT.

      God Bless them all in their new journeys!!

      WPLJ should be in a museum and on the walk of fame!!!

      Marianne

  11. Very sad, my go-to NYC station is off the air. PLJ was the ONLY station I listened to for many decades in the a.m. While I might not have always agreed with the dj’s views on everything, I always looked forward to those familiar voices. Got me through a LOT of bad mornings!! The one jingle that was the most uplifting to me, while it aired (and still resonates in my memory today!)
    “Everything’s going to be okay, Scott and Todd on PLJ” Thanks so much.

    • Don’t feel too bad, in Atlanta, WYAY, the only profitable station sold by Cumulus, was also shut down and turned into a Christian music station. Why they would sell a SUCCESSFUL station and destroy (at least temporarily)the lives of dozens that worked there very hard to make it a success, is beyond comprehension. And Educational Media shutting WYAY down is certainly not a very “Christian” thing to do. Kara Stockton, one of the personalities on one of the shows was devastated. It was the best job she ever had. They were profitable. This should have never happened. Educational Media should have built another station from scratch, or bought one of perhaps a dozen rap music stations to change into their format. It was just an effort to shut down conservative talk radio, and they made a huge impact doing just that…. a pitiful travesty. Shame on all involved in destroying WYAY.

    • Give K-Love a chance. It is not called the positive encouraging K-LOVE for no reason.. this also will get you through a lot. But I’m very sorry for the loss of your favorite station.

  12. I have been with PLJ for 38 years, never had a car that was not tuned to their station. I won tickets to shows, went on a boat trip with Scott and Todd. Met then again at the summer kick off in Point Pleasant. Meet them again at Somerset diner on the diner tours, and had two babies always with PLJ on. I never understood why Scott left they had a good thing going, but after he did I felt things were not going right. Todd did not click so well with others he tired but he remain good and steady, he said today he felt to blame he was wrong it was not him but many things. I cried today listened to the very end, my throat and chest felt tight like missing your family, 38 years is a long time, who to listen to now? Farewell my friends I wish you all the very best and hope to hear you all again.

    • With all the media options out there today, the standard radio stations have become a very tough business to make money in. Cumulus was in bankruptcy reorganization and had to get rid of unprofitable stations, PLJ being one of them. Only one of six, WYAY in Atlanta, was profitable, but I feel the reason they sold the profitable one, was to shut down an effective conservative talk radio format, which was very successful after they started it, six years ago. I heard Educational Media offered them money for WYAY that they couldn’t refuse. Some Christians! Destroy lives, putting perhaps dozens out of work. Pitiful! We already have two Christian music stations in Atlanta. We certainly do not need a third.

  13. I understand people feeling lost and upset with the loss of their WPLJ. I stopped listening in the early 1980s, when it went from New York’s Best Rock, to Top 40. I loathe Contemporary Christian music (not because I’m an atheist, which I am, but because CC music sucks), but this change in format is something some of us oldsters went through in 1983. We went to bed listening to Led Zep, and woke up to “Flashdance…What A Feeling!” I mean, we went from Carole Miller to friggin’ Scott Shannon! Talk about a downward spiral.

    WPLJs format fluctuation is nothing new; the radio station changed formats various times throughout its history. The call letters always remained the same. The station never did.

    This new move is just another devolution. (I mean, really? Are there that many Jesus freaks in the NYC area? I guess time – and ratings – will tell).

    No matter what, though, we’ll all have our memories of the radio station we grew up with.

      • Hope you enjoy the station Andrea.. I literally listen to it every day. I’m not a “Jesus Freak” as he called it, but I love positivity.. this station is definitely uplifting, emotional, positive, and supportive to many in need.

    • I hope not. I will NEVER put on a Christian music station. I don’t want to hear a single word about God, Jesus and religion when I’m listening to the radio. Keep your religion to yourself!

      • This is not at all what this station is about. You don’t have to love God or be super religious to enjoy the station. Just give it a chance. This will definitely help soften your hardened heart.

    • Don’t be surprised if K-Love outperforms WPLJ in the ratings, simply because the station will now have a clearly defined format and position in the market, something that PLJ lacked due to the “various format changes” that you mentioned, and multiple better-defined competitors in the Pop/AC music space. I, too, loved PLJ as a Rock station, but also thought that they did a great job through the 90s and into the 2000’s. And Scott Shannon was a huge part of that success. He has taken that success to CBS-FM, where the ratings nearly doubled after his arrival.

      • I don’t know a living soul who listens to CBS-FM. Their ratings had to double, they were in the dumper to begin with and Scott had a following. I stuck with Todd and as many have voiced on this thread, mornings will not be the same without him, Monk and Annie at the minimum. Since they have a huge following, wherever they land, their audience will be waiting for them.

    • Did not quite change from Led Zeppelin to Flashdance overnight in 1983. WPLJ gradually evolved in the course of that year. The original WPLJ in 1971 was not strictly rock. They signed on with artists like Beatles, Doors, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, among others. Mixed in that was 60’s Motown, Billy preston, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkle, Chicago, ELton John, Al Green, etc. The station was 3/4 rock and 1/4 pop. By 1976 artists like ELO, Bob Seger, Van Halen, Little River Band, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Billy Joel, Queen, Kansas, Boston, Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Blue Oyster Cult joined the artists mentioned. They even flirted with a bit of Disco. Though leaning mostly rock they played other stuff mixed in and played about 1/3 album cuts and 2/3 hits. In the course of 1977 they pruned their music. All the Pop stuff was weeded out and WPLJ began sticking to strictly rock artists. Disco was gone. Motown was gone, Billy Preston was gone. Elton John stuck around on a case by case basis. They dropped all Simon & Garfunkle except for Mrs Robinson for example. The early Doobie Brothers stuff remained while the more rhythmic Doobie Brothers songs were steered clear of.

      1977 to 1983 was WPLJ’s best time as an AOR station. As 1980 hit WPLJ added some new wave artists as well like Gary Newman, Talking Heads, Squeeze, Genesis, The Fixx along with Rush, Tom Petty, Joan Jett, etc. Still the classic rock artists remained as well as the later 70’s rock artists. Still WPLJ kept it strictly rock though an exception like Bettie Davis Eyes and Maneater were played. In the course of 1983, WPLJ gradually pulled back on 60’s rock, boosted current product slightly, boosted new wave slightly. Played Billie Jean/Michael Jackson in light rotation a few weeks, then played Beat It in heavy rotation. By April of 83, WPLJ was down to 2 60’s songs an hour. They were up to about 1/3 new wave stuff but still was steering clear of rhythmic pop. Then on June 29 the 60’s songs were purged except for Brown Eyed Girl.

      The next day they added half a dozen pop rhythm currents from such as Flashdance, She Works Hard For The Money, Electric Avenue, Time/Culture Club, Wanna Be Startin Something/Michael Jackson, Maniac/Michael Sembello. Each of these songs were thrown in heavy rotation and played about every couple hours each. They added about half a dozen recent pop hits not previously played and played each of those a few times a day. Other than that all the rock they played before remained. Fourth Of July Weekend they still called themselves a rock station as “New York’s Best Rock”. STill Stairway To heaven was played, Dream ON/Aerosmith remained, all the other predictable rock and new wave stuff remained.

      The station about 3 weeks later began calling themselves the home of the hits and began referring to themselves as a Top 40 station. This was where they were when Z 100 signed on. They added typical CHR songs as the summer went on for current product but did little with the rock product and kept it all on. Then in September of 1983, WPLJ purged their rock songs. They kept some but took out the overly classic AOR cuts. Stairway To Heaven for example was gone in the fall of 83. By then the station moved to regular CHR going after Z 100. By October WPLJ was a CHR with jingles and the AOR songs except for ones you would hear on a CHR were gone totally.

      They stayed a mainstream CHR with a slightly more adult presentation till 1992 when they quietly morphed to a Hot AC. In 1993, they boosted gold product. About 30 60’s hits were back by Motown and Beatles, tons of 70’s hits were back playing that music 1/3 of the time. Currents were down to 2 an hour. The station was an uptempo Gold Based AC by the fall of 93. They focused on the 70’s likely to keep CBS FM from shifting focus and someone else from going 70’s. By mid 94 the station focused more on 70’s and 80’s and got slightly hotter but maintained being uptempo. By 1995 they pulled back slightly on 70’s and eliminated 60’s completely. By 1996 the station was more of a Hot AC with only a couple 70’s songs an hour and a few 80’s an hour but up to about 4 currents an hour. By 1997 the station began mixing in alternative songs appealing to adults. Then in 1999, the station went Alternative but appealing to adults and still positioning themselves as Hot AC. They played nearly all modern rock cuts with a couple exceptions. By mid 2000, while leaning alternative, more pop songs were mixed in again and 80’s hits were back. They stayed the course of being a slightly alternative leaning Hot AC till 2005. Then as a preemptive move 70’s rock songs were put back in along with more 80’s rock and currents were cut back slightly and they increased regular rotation. By 2007 they backed off that approach and played the best rock and uptempo pop, rock, and alternative hits of 1980 to the then present. They still leaned modern AC but were not overwhelmingly as such. They stayed that course till about 2009 when they moved more rhythmic pop back into the format. They pulled back on 80’s a few times while going back to playing 80’s a few times as well. By 2013 WPLJ was an adult leaning CHR with a balance of rock, pop, and rhythm. Their focus was 90’s to now with an occasional 80’s hit. They stayed this course the rest of their time.

      • Nicely put. They reached their heyday around ’79-’80 time frame. I started listening to them a couple of months after they came on air in ’71 when I was a kid. The other station at the time I was listening to was 99X can’t remember their station letters at the moment, might have been WPIX. PLJ had a much better format then. I continued listening till ’81 when I went into the service. The format had changed alot when I retired in 2001. Although I listened on and off to the morning programs the music format wasn’t my thing. It’s sad to see it go but they weren’t drawing the listener ship they once had.

        • Remember the great music mix then on PLJ. We also listened to 99X, calls were WXLO, actually at 98.7. Became WRKS in 1981, now WEPN (ESPN). WPIX-FM was at 101.9, starting in 1963 when aquired by the NY Daily News (“NY’s Picture Newspaper”=PIX). Went through multiple formats until becoming WQCD (CD 101.9) in 1988.

    • I wonder if the people who say that that hate contemporary Christian music have actually listened to it! Just like any genre of music there is great music and not so great music. Before you dismiss CCM, give a listen to artists like Lauren Daigle, Toby Mac, For King & Country, Switchfoot, Lecrae, Plumb and Skillet. You may recognize some of those names because that have had a few crossover hits lately. Also mainstream artists like Tori Kelly, Carrie Underwood and Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum!
      Christian music isn’t what many people who don’t listen to it think it is. It is music about faith, hope, love and forgiveness, and we all need some of that!

      • Amen to that!! And just all about being positive and encouraging to others.. right on John Walker!!!! We need more of that in this world..

  14. You guys KILLED me this morning with the final farewells… my tears streaming, snot running, memories flooding my brain. I just cannot imagine it’s over. If I feel this way, I can only imagine how all of YOU are feeling.

  15. Change is inevitable . Scott was smart enough to see it coming and moved to a station that fit his personality. I tried to remain faithful to PLJ but Todd was almost forcing himself to fit in with the younger generation. He is a tremendous talent but some people work better as a team. And when Scott and Todd split unfortunately so did the ratings. You’ll be missed WPLJ

  16. So sad about Plj. Been listening to the morning show for 29 years!!! I remember when they were trying to come up with a name for the ‘new’ guy Todd Pettingil. I remember there’s a moose in my house and the phone scams to the old man in the Deli. Absolutely hysterical. I will miss my ‘friends’ terribly. I wish them all the best of luck and hope to hear them all again in the radio. 😥😥😥

  17. Whatever the reason, been listening to PLJ for a scary number of years. I remember having to go in to work the day after 9/11 and hearing them on the radio had a calming effect on me so thanks for that Scott and Todd.
    Always know when someone’s been using my car and changed the station even without having to look. They have been my long time driving companions and I will miss them dearly. Best of luck to them all. (Todd’s a blooming genius and his phone scams are legendary, even my kids, now grown, thought they were hilarious and remember them fondly)

  18. RIP 95-5 PLJ. Thank you for 48 wonderful years as Album-oriented Rock (1971-83), Contemporary Hit Radio (1983-92) and Hot Adult Contemporary (1992-2019). May 31, 2019 will mark the end of an era in New York City Tri-State Area radio and the end of an era in radio, period. Beginning two days from now, WPLJ will now belong to the ages. RIP, WPLJ. We’ll miss you. :(- –

  19. I have been a faithful listener to wplj for I can’t remember how long. I was happy when Scott Shannon left. I never liked him and I will never listen to that oldie station, ever! I love Todd,Jayde,Annie,and Monk. They became my morning best friends. My mornings will never be the same. I loved blown off, love’ or leave ‘m, being a part of their weddings, births,concerts, games, advice, hard times and good times. They have been a big part of my life when I needed my heavy heart to be lifted. I will miss them terribly. I hope they can stay together on a new station or just being the best group of friends. I wish all of you the very best in wherever life sends you. Love you all. Thanks for the best memories.

  20. Scott Shannon got forced out because Todd started getting too big of an ego. They should have tried to bring back Rocky Allen (the Rocky Allen Show Gram). It might have helped. But unfortunately they screwed him over too.

  21. I also remember reading something about them tweaking the records so the music played slightly faster. that was back in there “New York’s Best Rock” days. Jim Kerr, Tony Pigg, Pat St. John, Carol Miller, Jimmy Fink, Bob Meroni, Vivian Roundtree, and who could forget Father Bill Ayers (later just plain Bill Ayers) who had the longest running program on PLJ. Best group of jocks ever assembled. Though I have equal affection for the old WNEW crew. The great days of radio are coming to a close.

  22. I have been listening to PLJ since the 70’s. I remember dancing with a hair brush mic to the tune of the Pretenders. They were a great Rock and Roll station. I am not a huge Scott Shannon fan, as I found him mean spirited and racist. I didn’t like the ways he poked at people; and, though I liked the team, I wasn’t sad he left. I think Todd is an excellent radio personality and DJ. He has heart and wit. The rest of the team, Monk, Annie and Jayde were brought on to reach a younger audience. Sometimes it worked, sometimes there was a disconnect. This is probably because I am older now too and tend to appreciate Tod’s perspective. I wish them all good luck and hope they find a new home soon.

  23. EMF should keep the old PLJ format on HD 2 even if no DJs. After the K – love format bombs like Jack FM did they can bring PLJ back to traditional FM/HD 1 with a new and improved PLJ similar to CBS-FM.

    • EMF doesn’t measure success against ratings. So no this company that specializes in religious programming is not going to bring back a secular format under any circumstances.

    • EMF would never run any kind of secular format. They are strictly a pseudo-Christian outfit that makes money from its listeners’ gullibility. Whenever EMF acquires a station, these “good Christians” immediately fire the entire staff and reduce the station to a rack of equipment in the transmitter room. The equipment consists of a satellite receiver, an audio processor, remote control unit that is connected to their headquarters in California via the internet, and an EAS box. That’s it! I was never a fan of WPLJ when I lived in the New York area. But I detest the way that EMF operates, in the name of Jesus, of course. As for Cumulus…could it be that they are slowly getting rid of all their major market stations? Why was WPLJ “underperforming”, to use the words of Mary Berner? Could it be due to lousy management and marginal programming? Perhaps Ms. Berner should go back to publishing a magazine whose main readership is in doctors’ offices and dentists’ waiting rooms?

  24. When Scott started airing white nationalist content like that horribly racist rant from science fiction author Patrick S Tomlinson, I knew they weren’t long for this Earth. And then when Elizabeth Clarke had a segment every week about feminine facial hair care products and shaving methods? Ridiculous. Good riddance.

  25. I always listened to Scott and Todd in the morning and I was sad when Scott left. They were so funny. I especially loved the Dead Star in an Envelope. The things they said and did was so funny.
    But I still stayed with WPLJI will miss Todd, Monk, Jade and Annie.

    • I’m not surprised at the demise of wplj. Was a faithful listener for years until Scott left. I tried to hang in there because Todd was so damn funny but he became practically non-existent as he had to compete with 2 women who wouldn’t give him time to speak. He seemed awkward. Anyway got tired of hearing about non-stop drunken stories from Annie & Jayde and bailed. Sorry they contributed to the station’s downfall. Don’t know what went on behind the scenes with Scott and Todd but on air they had chemistry and that reached listeners. Wished it could’ve continued. Even hearing them today back together reminiscing with phone scams and contests had me laughing like I did back then. It’s still funny after all this time.

  26. I’ve been listening to WPLJ for a song as I can remember. I moved to Montana for 1$ yrs and came back to Jersey 10 yrs ago and the first thing I did was put on ration to WPLJ! Nobody was allowed to touch my radio! I actually won tickets to their studio to see Chris Doughtry and met everyone there! It was so awesome! I will miss them so much! Love you guys! I am so sad!

  27. I always enjoyed this station. I remember Jim Kerr in the early 80’s. This station changed its music with the changing times. Always a fun station to listen too. I enjoy the morning program while driving to work. I really will miss this station.

  28. I am so sad that my FAVORITE morning show is going off the air. I can’t stand listening to Z100.. I don’t care to hear about Elvis’s gay life and Danielle’s laugh goes right through me. I pray that this crew can stay together somehow. They all compliment each other. They have been through pregnancy’s and child births together along with sadness. This is horrible news.
    I follow Anne and Jayde on Facebook and will continue to do so in hopes that the crew will remain together.
    Love to you all <3

    • Agreed. This was one amazing morning show. S&T ruled!
      I will miss Todd but really loved S&T. And I like Z100 but really cannot stand Danielle’s laugh. Carolina was bad enough so good ridden of her.

  29. So many great comments, memories here. I was a PLJ listener back in early, mid 70s, when the Station was billed as ‘ New York’s Best Rock ‘, and it was. You had legendary Pat St. John up against legendary Dan Ingram ( WABC77 ) in the 2-6PM drive time slot. It didn’t get better than that !! When they started tweaking format, changing call letters, I departed. The only FM Station I listen to now is a College Station here in Nassau Cty., NY, WHPC 90.3, Nassau Community College. Commercial free, great format, good signal. Other than that, I m done with commercial music FM Stations, and there promise of more great music after 10 minutes of commercials. I am a SiriusXM listener now, FM is obsolete with all the different offerings out there today. PLJ had a hellava run and second to none, back in the day. Great memories !!!!!!

  30. Say it isn’t so…..
    As many here that have commented, I’ve been listening since the days of Jim Kerr and many other past jocks.
    So very disappointing. Through the years the music, the friendly banter, Shelly’s joke of the week, Todd’s phone scams, Scott’s memories, listening to the personalities from the various time slots develop and hear their personal stories of their families and so on.
    All these things helped get me and many, many others through our days.i just won my first great prize trip from them….so saddened by all this.
    I will be hoping to find you all on the airwaves again SOON!!!

  31. The best days of WPLJ was from 1971-83.

    When the station switched to CHR in June 1983 they should’ve changed the call letters to WABC-FM which would’ve been more appropriate.

    • You talk about irony, when or very shortly before WPLJ switched from CHR to Hot AC in 1992, and began using jingles again (after a year-and-change as “Mojo Radio” (upon morning-drive jock Scott Shannon taking over its programming during the tail end of its CHR era)), it used the melody of WABC’s longtime (beginning in 1962) “Seven-tee sev-en double you ABC” jingle for WPLJ’s new jingle, which it has used ever since.

    • Having worked hard to re-brand WABC-AM as a talk station, about the LAST thing they’d want to do would be to confuse the issue with a “WABC-FM.” PLJ was re-branded as Power 95, and the call letters were even changed to WWPR for awhile.

  32. I am devastated that Todd, Jayde, Annie and Monk won’t be on my ride to work in the morning. They are almost like family. They are the only ones that could get me on the road an hour and a half earlier than I used to go out once I got a job further from home. I knew if I didn’t get in the car by a certain time I wouldn’t make it down the mountain to where I had reception in time to hear blown off. It got me out the door every day and I laughed and cried when I listened. I started out listening to WABC-77 and then WPLJ. I listened to Jim Kerr and Carol Miller faithfully until college when I was too far away to get it. I came back home and started listening again. Moved away for a job and moved back when I had my son and the only station I listened to was PLJ once home. Laughed hysterically along with Scott & Todd but always preferred Todd and even bought his crazy CD’s. I was listening to PLJ while sitting on Rt. 80 watching and listening to the horror on 9/11. I worked in a huge world headquarters that was one of the first tenants in the World Trade Center before building our office in NJ. When route 80 slowed to a crawl while the terror attack played out I heard it first on PLJ and called work who heard it first from me. It helped to have a familiar voice on the radio. I only listen to PLJ in the morning during my commute now and I’ve switched the channel to see what else is on but always come back to PLJ. I wish there could be a different ending to this story. I will listen every morning until the end. I will be the one crying in my car on route 80 that day. Much love to Todd, Jayde, Annie and Monk. I hope you all end up together at a station near me who appreciates what they have. You guys are the best. My heart is broken for you all and for all of us.

    • Aileen, I too am devastated about PLJ and the team going off the air. I have listened to the for years and came to like them even more after Scott Shannon left and Annie and Jayde came on board. I love blown off and all the crazy contests Monk would come up with. I always tried to call in but could never get through. I never had a buzzer go off on my alarm. It was always set for the radio to come on at 6AM and WPLJ on the dial. I even went out and bought a Walkman so I could listen to them on the train on my way to work and stream then in on my laptop when I got to the office. I didn’t want to miss a minute. I remember the birth of Todd’s two daughters and now they are both grown and Todd’s a grandfather. It is also sad that they only play music now after 8:30 am but I will continue to listen every morning until the very end and hope they get to have one more Summer Blast Off at Jenkins. I never made it to one but always wanted to go. If they have one, I will be there this year to say good-bye in person. I hope they get picked up by another station so I can continue my morning ritual. It always made me happy in the morning and my drive more enjoyable and I just feel like I’m losing a part of my family. My heart too is broken for them and I wish them all the best. I’ll continue to have faith that they will turn up again on another station. Oh and I forgot Johnny too! I’ll miss him and his pick hair!

    • That is so funny that you said that about “Blown Off” – I knew I had to be in the car in time to hear blown off in order to make my train to work, and not wanting to miss “Blown Off” probably did more to get me to my train on time than the need to be at work did lol. I will miss this station very much.

      • I liked Blown Off too but my gut feeling is much of it was phony. I am betting on many of the real people were actually low level actors or comedians, just like the Dating Game in the 60s were comedians and not just everyday people. I could almost predict how most of the reactions would go and so many of them were so far fetched. But, I still listened.

    • What a wonderful send off you just gave. Funny how on air personalities help us get through life. They actually do become a part of your family to an extent. Good luck Todd, Jayde, Annie and Monk. I know you will all do well as you go on to the next phase of your careers.

    • For many people, this is how their parents (and/or grandparents?) felt when WPLJ’s now-soon-to-be-former sister station WABC announced that it was going from Top 40 (technically from Adult Contemporary [to which it actually evolved from Top 40 a year to a year-and-a-half earlier, tops]) to talk thirty-seven years earlier to the month. The only difference, really, is, like many Top 40 and Adult Contemporary stations that went to a talk or news format in the late 20th century, WABC’s aforementioned format flip was/is often referred to as “The Day the Music Died” (regardless of whether Don McClean’s 1972 classic “American Pie” was the last song played on either of such stations); the now-quickly approaching end of “95-5 PLJ” (as WPLJ has been called since its ’92 flip to Hot Adult Contemporary) could very well be called…, I GUESS it could be called “The Day the Mainstream (read: secular) Music Died, albeit on New York’s ((by That Time) Heretofore) Other Hot AC Station”! (It’s a mouthful, but that’s the closest I can come to “The Day the Music Died” while describing the soon-to-be end of ‘PLJ.

      • I meant, “…like many Top 40 and Adult Contemporary AM stations that went to a talk or news format in the late 20th century,…”.

  33. Just found this article & so sorry to hear this. I’ve been listening since I got my driver’s license in the late 80’s. Scott & Todd; Todd; Todd & Jade & Annie & Monk (and Johnny). Going to miss them in the mornings!

  34. I am truly so sad about this news. I have been listening to WPLJ since the 70’s. I have such good memories. I never missed a morning show from Jim and Shelly, Scott and Todd and now Todd and Jayde. I wish Todd, Jayde, Annie and Monk the best. I will miss my ride to work buddies. All the best to all of you.

  35. I am so sad. I have listened to this station for 35+ years. It is devastating to me. I am going to miss them all.

  36. From here:
    “God needs money! And He Loves you!” – George Carlin.
    It’s the best scam running – and it has legs.
    Radio, as it turns out, is a fantastic tool for the enterprise.
    Anybody who ties into that one can be taught to believe, ummm…anything!
    Hence…..

    • I am so sad to hear Todd, Jayde, Monk and Annie will be no more. I’ve been listening to PLJ for years and wouldn’t miss the morning show, even getting up on days off to listen. May they end up somewhere in the area so we can all listen again.

  37. I’m going to miss PLJ. It has been my go to station for many years during my ride to/from work. There is no way I want to listen to christian music on the way to work. Very sad.

  38. I don’t listen to commercial radio anymore. Contstant format changes and dumbing down annoy listeners.I listen to NPR or college stations for music. My music tastes vary. There used to be different genres of music on FM. There are some listenable stations in small markets. I stream stations from the internet. A lot of young people are turning to YouTube and other services for music. I remember listening to WNCN the night they flipped. It was a surprise. I enjoy classical and rock. At the time there was 2 fulltime classical stations. Now WQXR is all that is left. Their signal goes as far as Brooklyn then it gets lost. Q104.3 has dumbed down. It is impossible to find good tuners. FM radio is obsolete.

  39. Todd’s new format after Scott “retired” (pushed out) sucked. It was like Dr. Laura. I was so happy to find Scott, Patty Steele and Joe Nolan on CBS FM a few months later.

  40. Go get a copy of the book, How The Mighty Fall by Jim Collins. Five Stages of Decline is a concept developed in the book How the Mighty Fall. Every institution is vulnerable to decline, no matter how great. Collins found that great companies often fall in five stages:

    1) Hubris Born of Success
    2) Undisciplined Pursuit of More
    3) Denial of Risk and Peril
    4) Grasping for Salvatio
    5) Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death.

    Institutions can be sick on the inside and yet still look strong on the outside; decline can sneak up on you, and then—seemingly all of a sudden—you’re in big trouble.

    Get the book, read it for your own brand’s salvation.

  41. EMF always has money to buy more stations, because they ask their listeners to send in a monthly pledge to keep the programming on the air. Very disingenuous on their part, since they use the elimination of the main studio rule — and routinely got waivers of it before the rule was canned — to lower their operating costs to the electric bill at the transmitters.

    But of course, they don’t mention that when their hands are reaching out to their audience’s wallets:
    http://www.klove.com/give/what-is-pledge-drive/

    Because the listeners are coerced into “donating” EMF always has a huge pile of cash around and can make offers for stations that no commercial broadcaster can match.

    Why God needs all these transmitters, I don’t know. I always thought He could speak directly to anyone that He wanted to.

    EMF doesn’t care one whit about the people were actually listening to these stations, and I find it sadly laughable when some of those listeners find their way to message boards and post their dissatisfaction as if it would make any difference.

    All EMF cares about is having more good signals in major markets so they can coerce their “followers” to make regular donations by positioning themselves as being on the verge of going off the air otherwise. (It’s practically a religious version of “The Sting” with God in the role of Henry Gandorf.) Adding these stations will undoubtedly increase their intake of donations (and I wonder how many can actually afford their monthly tithe) so they can overpay for the next big signal, ensuring that no commercial broadcaster can outbid them.

    I keep hoping for some scandal to take them down and/or some future post-Pai FCC to rein them in. I have a few ideas that could be written into the Rules that, coupled with a sunset to the grandfathering of their existing stations, would cut them down to size. And I wouldn’t hire Mary Berner to sweep the floors at the transmitter shack after this.

    • Probably the saddest thing about people giving money to the hucksters at EMF is that this money, if given instead to a local church, might have actually helped someone. Does EMF operate hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, or soup kitchens? No, they are just buying more and more radio stations, spreading like cancer across this country while filling the airwaves with their obnoxious, banal programming. Hey EMF, greed is NOT a Christian virtue. As for those who accumulate riches…doesn’t Psalm 49 say something about that?
      Spread the K-Love, indeed…but don’t drink the Kool-Aid if it smells like almonds!

  42. Todd lost ownership and creative control after Scott left. The replacements Jade – Annie – Monk are the worst or the worst to be part of a ANY radio show. Collectively, they were annoying, childish, mean, and Todd became nothing more than a babysitter. If station had replaced Jade, Annie and Monk with real talent, I believe the station would have survived.

  43. The 80’s were so hot for WPLJ. I remember going in to the station with Willie B. Goode from 10pm-2am. The station was electric. The 3 years he was there, they were #1. Then he went to Z100 and they became #1 again. The entire PLJ staff was red hot and really knew how to be a personality without annoying the listening audience. Why doesn’t someone try doing that today – oh wait, it’s all tracks and automated sweepers. Who the hell can relate to that?

  44. I am so sad to hear of the sale. WPLJ has been a mainstay for me since I was a kid. I thought that when they got rid of that blowhard Shannon it was on its way back to number one. The morning crew is what got me through many many mornings of a long commute and left a smile on my face.

    RIP WPLJ. You will be sorely missed.

    • I agree with you 100%. Scott Shannon was losing it and I had no patience for him on my way into work. Todd and the crew are funny as anything! I’ve been a faithful and committed listener to PLJ and will miss them terribly!

  45. “When you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing”. Those words from Gary Berkowitz resonate completely!! Radio is full of people who are now forced to multi-task, and therefore run the risk of losing focus. The folks running the better NFL Football teams have it right. Get the right number of people, the right KIND of people and let ’em do their job. There can only be one head coach-and ya need a good quarterback. Show me a successful one that’s not following this formula. I make it appear simple and it’s not. Because of the difficulty in focusing, more stations than ever are drifting in a sea of mediocrity.

  46. I feel bad for the people who work at WPLJ. The “Good Christians” at EMF will promptly fire everybody and set up a rack of equipment at the transmitter site containing a satellite receiver (or some other means of piping in their canned programming from California…the WPLJ transmitter is on the Empire State Building, so it may be difficult to install a satellite dish), audio processing unit, EAS box, and a Web-linked remote control unit, thereby turning WPLJ into a glorified translator with absolutely no local programming. And the soon to be former employees of WPLJ will be the beneficiaries of all that Christian love from K-LOVE as they stand on the unemployment line.

    Lousy management under Citadel and Cumulus killed WPLJ. The EMF people are the maggots who are feeding on its rotting corpse.

    • Completely agree. It is so pathetic that “good Christian$” are now polluting the airwaves, and occupying the signals of once-legendary stations, all to prey on gullible victims that they suck every dollar they can from, all in the name of Je$u$. Disgusting, low life maggots who are worse than drug dealers.

      • I drive six hours from Albany to NYC four days a week and PLJ with Todd and Jayde keep me company and make me laugh. This is terrible news.

    • The EMF don’t broadcast from California. They broadcast from like Pennsylvania or Ohio. Our classic rock station in LA was taken over my EMF 2 years ago. We were in shock. Everyone lost their jobs. Everyone. And they don’t pay taxes (EMF) because they are a “foundation !!”

      • EMF broadcasts from Rocklin, California which is near Sacramento. And don’t blame EMF for the lost jobs; blame CBS and Entercom for those in LA. And to top it off, commercial stations make far more $$$ than non-coms.

  47. WPLJ died when Scott Shannon GOT there, not when he left. Actually it died when it changed the calls to WWPR. People still wrote WPLJ, they never got credit, and by the time they changed it back, it was too late.

    Then came Shannon… and in 23 years we got MOJO Radio and at least a half dozen variations of Hot AC.
    Ratings never justified the revenue and it eventually caught up. The station had an identity crisis and was living on a brand that the average listener could not identify. Even the station’s positioning statements were broad and generic, which didn’t help.

    There were so many missed opportunities… the biggest was not flipping to Classic Hits in 2005 when CBS FM went Jack. But now it’s too late.

  48. Conversely, the other station sold to EMF is WRQX. They also dropped a morning host, Jack Diamond, for a short period, but then brought him back. So retaining heritage talent isn’t necessarily a guarantee of anything either.

    I don’t view this sale as having anything to do with programming. It has to do with money. Willing buyer, willing seller. You get the same situation with any other station, and it will happen, regardless of programming. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Cox stations when they sell.

    • EXACTLY this. Everybody is quick to have their expert opinion about what happened, but yes look at WRQX. Different situation entirely, same result. Everybody always thinks they can do it better. Truly obnoxious. Maybe the sales staff from the older days was GREAT and lately, not so much?

  49. RIP WPLJ. I remember WPLJ’s launch as a rock station. They had commercial-free summer, which was pretty mind-blowing at the time. I also remember hearing a commercial for a Yes concert at Madison Square Garden. I was 15 at the time, so I convinced a friend’s mom to drive us to the mall to buy tickets (the power of radio advertising). My parents drove us to the show. Years later, I won lawn tickets from WPLJ to see The Police at Shea Stadium. Many years later I started working in radio. Sad to hear WPLJ lost their way. They had some terrific jocks and turned me and my younger brother onto so many great musicians.

    • “NY’s Apple” 103.5 WAPP-FM had a commercial free summer when it signed on. I don’t remember WPLJ ever having a commercial free summer.

      • It was just WAPP that had the “Commercial-free Summer” promo in 1982, not WPLJ. I know. The latter’s sister station, WABC, went all-talk a few weeks before WAPP’s aforementioned promo.

    • “RIP WPLJ. I remember WPLJ’s launch as a rock station.”
      They were actually free-form rock in the pre-WPLJ days. The call letters were WABC-FM and they played the progressive and album cuts that you would never hear on AM radio. Like all free-form rockers, WABC-FM sounded a little like a college station with commercials, although it simulcast the AM station during some dayparts. It was also automated during some off-peak dayparts, using a Gates automation system. In 1971, ABC launched the “Rock In Stereo” format on all of its owned FM stations and changed the call letters of each station, so WABC-FM became WPLJ, KABC-FM became KLOS, WLS-FM became WDAI, etc. The radio columnist at the New York Daily News surmised that the call letters WPLJ came from the song by that name, originally recorded by the Four Deuces in the 1950s and covered by Frank Zappa around 1970. The WPLJ of the song was “white port lemon juice”, concocted from a cheap white wine and lemon juice.
      “Rock In Stereo” was rather tightly playlisted, but still played stuff that was never heard on AM. The song “WPLJ” was sometimes heard on station WPLJ, while WABC and other AM stations would not touch Zappa by remote control from a concrete bunker in Brazil! WPLJ was also heavily processed…the needle on the baseband modulation meter in the transmitter room barely wiggled away from 100%. It had an entire rack of processing equipment. The room was shared with WABC-TV and the TV people had to take the FM readings every half hour. I was one of those TV people over forty years ago.

      • Not only was the station free-form rock prior to WABC-FM changing call letters to WPLJ, it actually began in 1948 as WJZ-FM. (The call letters–on AM, FM and TV–were changed to WABC five years later. Originally, like at least virtually all FM stations with the same calls as their AM sister stations, the former simulcast the latter for the entire day. It later went to separate FM broadcasts at times, most notably as a forerunner to the all-news format when the New York City newspapers went on strike in ’62 and ’63, and–if you can believe this–an all-Broadway show tunes format for a year or two, max before going to its free-form rock format in the late ’60’s.

  50. It’s dangerous when you tie a station’s identity to a jock — or the station’s brand becomes centered around that one jock. What happens when they leave? Or what happens when they’ve been there so long that they’re no longer relevant. KIIS/L.A. was strategic in passing the baton from Rick Dees to Ryan Seacrest, but for PLJ to pin its entire identity on Scott Shannon was a short-term gain/long-term loss situation.

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