If you have ever seen the movie “Patton” with George C. Scott, there is a scene toward the end where his character, General George S. Patton, has been relieved of command of his unit in the final days of World War II. While saying goodbye to his senior staff, he says, “Well, gentlemen, I guess all good things must come to an end.” In radio, that happens a lot.
This blog pays tribute to 95.5 WPLJ-FM in New York City. Earlier this year, its owner, Cumulus Media, announced the sale of the station to Educational Media Foundation (along with other stations in other markets) for nearly $104 million. With the sale to EMI, the WPLJ that native New Yorkers have known for years will cease to exist and become part of American radio history.
Over the years, it had two previous call letters: WJZ and WABC-FM. In the 1960’s, you could hear personalities such as Dan Ingram and Chuck Leonard (who also did shows on WABC-AM). By 1968, ABC started programming more youth-oriented programming on the FM band, specifically progressive/underground/hard rock, songs that their AM counterparts would not play. I used to travel to New York in the early 80s for my first radio/TV employer, and I loved listening to WPLJ.
By 1983, the station dropped its hard rock format and with contemporary hit music (CHR) format, similar to what Z100 (WHTZ-FM) does now in New York. As a side note, the station did use the call letters WWPR in 1987 but not for long. Z100 launched its moniker in 1983 of “New York’s Hit Music Station.” During this time, ABC management hired Scott Shannon for mornings (he now does that same shift at 101.1 WCBS-FM).
By 1992, PLJ became more of a hot AC station and has remained that way until now. Todd Pettengill joined the station in August 1991 and was teamed up with Shannon for the “Scott & Todd In The Morning” show which lasted until a few years ago when Shannon announced he was “retiring” from WPLJ but in fact was moving to CBS-FM to do mornings. Pettengill and his on-air partner Jayde Donovan will complete their run when WPLJ signs off next Friday, May 31, with its current format, with EMF planning to start the new religious format the next day.
What a fabulous history for PLJ. And for years, their jingles were produced in Dallas at TM Century, a company that I was familiar with and knew their management. And the new morning man at KLUV-FM in Dallas, Jeff Miles, used to work at PLJ!
Thank you WPLJ for the great memories.