Sunday 04 Dec 2016

WHN-AM 40th Reunion
Matt Seinberg

Certain things only come around once in a lifetime, and that includes special radio stations. When WHN-AM 1050 was around from 26 February 1973 to 1 July 1987, I was more interested in sex, drugs and rock and roll, as were most men, my age. I was not really in the demographic that WHN-AM was aiming for.

I recently had the pleasure to attend the WHN-AM 40th Anniversary Reunion, at Hill Country, in New York City, on 25 February 2013. I heard about it from my good friend and radio’s best friend, Art Vuolo. Unfortunately, Art would not be able to attend and record the event, so had asked me to do it.

Then I got an email from former WHN-AM program director (PD), Ed Salamon, who also asked if would attend. Ed and I had corresponded over the years by email and phone and I really wanted to meet him and the WHN-AM DJs, so I said ok. The only condition was that I asked him to give me an autographed copy of his new book, “When WHN Went Country.” He agreed and things were set. 

The problem is that I don’t have any sort of video recorder. I do have a 17-year-old Minolta VHS-C camcorder, but no working battery or blank tapes. The other thing I have is a small DGX hand held digital video recorder, with very basic setting. I brought the DGX and hoped for the best, along with my regular digital camera.

I hopped the Long Island Railroad and arrived at Hill Country about 45 minutes before anyone else. My old friend, Greg Monti, was going to meet me at Penn Station, but was delayed on a conference call at work; he wouldn’t arrive until 6:30 pm-ish.

When I got to Hill Country, I asked for Ed Salamon. He wasn’t there, yet. I was told Jessie was there and she would be right up. At this point, I had no idea what was going on and I just didn’t connect this Jessie with the WHN-AM Jessie. Duh.

Here comes up the stairs this smiling red haired woman, looking at me as if she knew me. I must have had the dumbest look on my face. I had no idea who she was.

She introduces herself and thanks me for getting her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RNRHOF). I’m thinking, “Huh?” She tells me that she wrote to me a couple of years ago, asking for any air check I may have of her, so she could give it to the RNRHOF. Finally, a light goes on. I remember that I had given her a WNBC-AM air check and not a WHN-AM air check.

I smile back and say, “Give me a hug!” She does and fast friends are born. She takes me downstairs. We get to talk for a while before she has to finish setting the event up and greeting everyone. Jessie is a director of Hill Country, running both New York and Washington, DC.

The next face I see is Mike Fitzgerald. Mike has been a New York radio institution for many years, having worked at both WHN-AM and WCBS-FM. He is now a special projects manager for Press Communications, in New Jersey.

Anyway, as I see him entering the room, and greet him by name and a big smile, knowing that he has no idea who I am. I tell him that I have a gift for him, something he asked me for back in 2005. He’s trying to guess, but I know he won’t ever get it.

I introduce myself and his light bulb goes on. I hand him on a CD of WLTW-FM. I reminded him he asked me for it all those years ago, but I never got it to him. I was lucky I got it done this time, as I only had an hour from the time I got home that day to when I had to leave.

We talked a little bit before other people started showing up. Around 6 pm, there was a flood of people. Some I recognized, but many I didn’t. One fellow I did recognize was Dan Taylor, the current morning man on WCBS-FM and former overnight DJ on WHN-AM.

I introduced myself and thanked him for helping me out on a couple of air check tributes I produced. He was very gracious and I really enjoyed meeting him. He’s as genuine in person as he is on the radio. Did you know that Dan started in radio while teenager?

Next in was Ed Salamon, for whom I also brought a small gift. It was a vintage WHN-NY Mets bumper sticker. I had also put one on a piece of cardboard and I got most of the attendees to sign it. Now, I just have to get it matted and framed and it will look great.

Salamon thanked me for coming and pulled out an uncorrected proof edition of his book, which he signed for me. It’s funny how I took many pictures at the reunion, but somehow missed getting one with Ed.

How is this for embarrassing? Greg Monti finally showed up and I see this woman rush into the room. I “assumed” it was Joan Chin, as she had told me on Facebook that she was going to be there. I said, “Hi, you must be Joan.” She looked straight at me as she ran by and said, “Nope, I guess all Asians must look alike.” Greg and I looked at each other.

I was mortified. A few minutes later, the same woman joins us and admits she’s Joan. Oy vay. Who can unmortify.

I also met Lee Arnold, the long-time mid-day host at WHN-AM. What a nice fellow, a true gentleman! After I introduced myself and mentioned Big Apple Airchecks, he said, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of the big apple website.” How cool was that?

The other fellow I was anxious to meet was long time morning man, Larry Kenney. Larry and I had corresponded a few years back and he sent me some air checks to digitize for him. He’s as funny and crazy in person as he was on the air and another great man. He introduced me to his wife, Carol, whom I had also talked to on the phone.

My old friend, Steve Warren showed up. I first met at the WNBC-AM and WYNY-FM Reunion in 2005. Warren still hosts the Country Oldies Show and does news on SiriusXM for the Howard Stern channels. He’s busy, busy, busy.

Whom else did I meet? Sheila York, former nighttime host at WHN-AM and WNSR-FM, which was once WMXV Mix 105.1 and is now WWPR Power 105. She’s smart. Many years ago, she got out of radio and into the financial world. Now, she’s also an author.

Ian Karr, another part-timer, later worked with my friends Batt Johnson and Robin Marshall at WQCD-FM. Oh yeah, it took seven years for me to meet Alan Colmes. When I invited him to the WNBC-AM and WYNY-FM Reunion, he said he didn’t do that sort of thing. I asked why he came to this one and he said because Ed Salamon gave him his first radio job. Good answer, Alan.

Another old friend, Peter Kanze, showed up. Peter and I had traded air checks a few times, and he helped me out on some projects. He used to be in charge of phone research at WHN-FM with Ed.

For anyone who followed radio, the name Pam Green would mean something. She was the long-time Music Director, and occasional interim PD of WHN-AM. I don’t think there is anyone that knows more about country music and the artists than Pam.

I saw this tall, cowboy type standing around, so I introduced myself, and found out this was Gary Havens, the last PD of WHN-AM. He’s a sharp fellow; he left radio.

It’s not often we get to meet people that we read about or heard on the radio. I fulfilled this dream all at one time. How often does an event like this happen? Ed told everyone to be around in 10 years, for the 50th anniversary.

Here’s the bad news. The video from the DGX camera was awful. It was dark, grainy and unusable. Sorry about that, Art.

When I got on the train, I started to read Ed’s book. I finished it in about 3 days, and learned so much about WHN-AM that I never knew. Go buy the book, “WHN, When New York City Went Country,” published by Archer Books.

Thank you Ed Salamon and Art Vuolo for convincing me to attend, it was a great night! I saw some old friends and made some new ones.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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