WPLJ overnight jock Dave Stewart has crossed a generation of fans, starting at the station in 1989. He found his “voice” two years later as the pre-dawn DJ.
As we reported Friday, Stewart was among more than a dozen staffers laid off at WPLJ and WABC-AM.
Stewart says it was harder for program director Scott Shannon and general manager Steve Borneman to part ways with their longtime air personality.
“Steve was heartbroken,” Stewart tells FishbowlNY. “It was harder on them than it was on me.”
His transition from swing announcer to the overnight happened around the same time as Shannon’s debut at WPLJ.
“[Scott] liked somebody with production skills, which I had, for the morning show to help out with them,” Stewart recalls. “We just all kind of clicked.”
Stewart, 44, was the first staffer to get word of his fate, and it came from Shannon at 6 a.m. when Stewart got off the air.
Stewart says being laid off was long expected, not just since Cumulus officially acquired Citadel last month.
He felt that his days were numbered as one of the city’s last remaining live overnight jocks.
“We’re a union shop … it’s expensive to have a live jock on all night,” Stewart says. “…That’s why I was expecting this a long time ago.”
Instead, Stewart built a career in the top market, becoming known in the industry and for his legions of late night listeners.
“I leave on great terms. They were very gracious to me the entire 22 years I was there,” Stewart says. “It was about as much fun as you can have in radio.”
Stewart, hopeful for a New York radio return, is excited at his future prospects.
“I don’t feel blunt force trauma like alot of people do in this situation,” Stewart jokes.
For now though, Stewart is focusing his energy on the syndicated program Retrostars that he owns, produces, and hosts. The show, done from his home studio in New York, will soon get some major expansion.
Moving forward, Stewart pauses to reflect on his nearly quarter-century at WPLJ.
“I’m just surprised I got to milk the ‘PLJ cow as long as I did, because I didn’t think I’d get to last this long,” Stewart admits.