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the Ingram mess

Forty years ago to the date, this broadcast aired on Musicradio 77 WABC from 2-6pm EST. (Each hour of the broadcast is a separate clickable link.) I don't remember if I listened to the entire broadcast, but there's a good chance I listened to at least some of it, because I listened to 77 WABC regularly back then, especially from Christmas to New Year's Day. They would play the Top 100 hits of the year (out of order, except sometimes on New Year's Eve).

I find this broadcast interesting on a few levels. It's fun for me to go back and relive the past. I like hearing the traffic and weather reports – it was a rainy day in NYC, but the temperature was falling towards 32F, causing hazardous driving conditions on NYC parkways. Further upstate, it was snowing, and sections of the New York State Thruway were closed. I'm not sure if this was a prelude to a big snowstorm like the one that just recently hit the Northeast US. There was a big snowstorm one winter during the Christmas holidays, but it may have been in 1968, not 1969. (I remember it snowed so badly we couldn't open the front or back doors of our house, so my father had to go out through the basement entrance, which was covered, and dig up to ground level. He wouldn't let me dig with him because I was young and he didn't want to risk me getting buried in the snow.) There is also a Howard Cosell "Speaking of Sports" segment where he gives his opinion on why it was not a good idea for the NFL title game to be played outdoors in the Minnesota cold. (Note this was before the AFC and NFC united, and the Super Bowls were moved to moderate-climate locations.)

But what really struck me about this broadcast was that it would not be considered that good by today's popular music radio standards. Leaving aside that the music appealed to a more mainstream audience, unlike many pop music stations that appeal to smaller demographics, the broadcast seems sloppy in some respects. There is too much talking over the music, particularly when the vocals come in. There are also some jingles that run into the vocals. Sometimes, Dan Ingram (the DJ who did the broadcast) announced the wrong song. It's interesting, because this station was not just the #1 station in NYC at the time. It was one of the most listened-to stations in the Northeast US, especially at night, because the nighttime skywave (and lack of interference, because the 770 kHz frequency was required to be cleared for WABC only at night in case of a national emergency) could be heard decently (with a consumer-grade transistor radio) over at least the rightmost third of the US). All sorts of people made efforts to listen to the station wherever it could be heard. And people loved the station, especially for the DJs, jingles, etc. (The playlist was not very large, unfortunately.) But at least on that day, Dan Ingram didn't quite have it. I don't remember listening to radio quite as critically as I do now, probably because I was just an eight-year-old kid. At the time, the WABC airstaff seemed pretty tight. I guess anyone can have an off day. But I do enjoy listening to this broadcast nonetheless.