Country is alive and kicking on Cumulus’ NASH FM, a first in 17 years on New York. It was also a rare flip to Country 40 years ago today, February 26, 1973. The WHN call letters started in 1922 at 1050. But country would have to wait several more decades and format adjustments.
By the 1960s, Beautiful Music was in full effect as WHN was resurrected for the second time. Owner Storer made the move to Country. Like today with Cumulus’ NASH FM, Country was never a hotbed for New York listeners. Nearby WJRZ in Hackensack, New Jersey, was one of the few area Country/Western spots. But it was gone by 1971, setting the stage for WHN to fill the void.
The station was sold to the Mutual Broadcasting System in the late 1970s. It got its strongest format competition when WKHK was born in 1980. By 1984, it would become WLTW. WHN prevailed, but the heyday was in the rear view mirror. Two years later, in what was the final nail in WHN’s coffin, Emmis purchased the station. It added sports talk programming to the Mets baseball games, which started in 1983. The Mets also called WHN home in the early 1970s.
On July 1, 1987, WHN’s Country format ceased in favor of the nation’s first all-sports format–WFAN. THe last voice on WHN was Dan Taylor, now WCBS-FM morning man. He talks about the station’s success, and credits program director Ed Salamon for making the difference.
At its height with Salamon at the helm, WHN rose to number two in the market, behind only perennial leader WABC.
Yesterday, Salamon led a panel discussion at Hill Country in Manhattan, to commemorate the distinct anniversary. He was joined by Jessie, the first female Country DJ, Taylor, Larry Kenney (a familiar voice to Imus in the Morning fans), Mike Fitzgerald, and Alan Colmes. Salamon was also there to promote his new book about the glory days at WHN.
Also on the dais was Lee Arnold, an original air personality at WHN. The longstanding midday announcer predated the Country format. It discusses WHN’s perfect programming ingredients.