Tuesday 24 May 2016

Ray Rossi 2
Matt Seinberg

Here's Part 2 of my interview with New York radio personality Ray Rossi, who has been working in radio since 1977.

Matt Seinberg (MS) How did it feel knowing that Y107 was soon going to be changing formats to Spanish? I have almost everyone's last show recorded. Did you know when yours was going to be?

Ray Rossi (RR) I didn't know exactly when it was going to happen, so it was kind of rough. They had moved us from the studios in Hawthorne, NJ to a new 42nd Street location. The problem with that was there was sand blasting going on right outside at 7 am, and every time I opened the mic, you heard all that noise. It was awful. I never knew when my last day was going to be, but it happened in May of 2002.

I did not know that someone has played Garth Brooks "The Dance" as the last song, it sort of happened by chance. It wasn't like the good byes that happened when Y103.5 changed to WKTU.

I may have said goodbye, thanking the audience for being so loyal, and as wonderful as they were.

MS What was your favourite New York City station to work?

RR It would be a tie between WPLJ and WCBS-FM. At WPLJ, management appreciated me for what I brought to the station and how I built a relationship with the audience. At Hot 97, I loved the format and the music, including the house music, which the core Hispanic audience loved.

MS How did you get the name Bobby Valentine at WPLJ?

RR Larry Berger, the WPLJ Program Director said he did a lot of name research. He wanted the perfect name for me. He said that Jewish, Italian and Hispanic names all had Valentines, so that fit like a glove, since I related well to all of them.

At CBS-FM, all the classic jocks were there, including Dan Ingram, Bruce Morrow and Ron Lundy. The “Cousin Brucie” Morrow you heard on the heard was the same in person.

There was one thing I remember Dan Ingram said to me. I'll take that to my grave. Ingram was my idol and a consummate on-air personality. He said, “It sound as if you were talking to one person and making them feel important.”

Ingram wasn't a straight-ahead disc jockey (DJ). He used his voice and his intellect. He had his own style that entertained everyone.

MS What was your next step after Y107?

RR In June 2002, I was hired by WKXW/NJ101.5 to be partners with Craig Carton. We had a wildly successful afternoon show called, the "The Jersey Guys." That lasted until Craig went to WFAN-AM to domornings, with Boomer Esiason. They hired Casey Bartholomew to take over for Craig; the show is still successful and it rattles many cages with politicians and the teachers unions. Our contracts ended in June 2011. Management decided not to renew us. They fired Casey, but opened up the overnight show on 11 July 2011; that's what I've been doing ever since.

MS What is your opinion on the current state of radio?

RR You never know what you're listening to when you're hear a station. In the days before satellite radio, retail stores had a choice of over the air stations for free, or to pay for a satellite service like Muzak. Today, they can stream Internet stations like Pandora, Slacker and Rdio.

There is no longer a farm system for talent in radio. The days of weekend and overnight shows are long gone. That's where everyone got the training and the chance to move up.

MS What is the average age of your overnight listener?

RR I'd say around 43, which is where it should be. Our demographic overall is 25-54. I'm right there.

MS What are some of your favourite topics?

RR I like to do fun things, like what's your favorite television show, video game, movie, favorite food, the song you can't seem to get out of your head, things like that.

MS What do you like to do when you're not on the radio?

RR Work out, go to the gym and spend time with my grandson.

MS What are your favourite vacation spots.

RR Saratoga, NY and Lambertville, NJ.

MS Nothing too exotic.

RR Nope, I'm not into exotic!

MS I think that's a great way to end!

RR (laughing) Okay!

As you can tell, I have a fondness for Ray, because what you hear is what you get, whether he's Danny, Bobby or Ray. A genuinely nice fellow … a Jersey Guy originally from Brooklyn.

Click here to read part 1 of this interview.
Interview edited and condensed for publication.

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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