Every radio format has a DJ that is "It," "The Guy." Anyone who is anyone, in radio, knows this DJ by name and reputation, if nothing else. I've been lucky to know this DJ since I was 17 years old. I'm talking about my long-time friend, one of the greatest rock and roll DJs of all time, the DJ's DJ, Pat St John.
I discovered WPLJ-FM when it was an Album Oriented Rock (AOR) station. I was sixteen or seventeen years-of-age and just starting to get interested in being on the radio. The DJs I loved to listen to, regularly, strongly affected my formidable years. According to rating service, Arbitron, the most listened to afternoon DJ was Pat St John and listened to his show every day.
One of the WLPJ-FM weekend DJs was a woman named, Viv Roundtree. She had the sultriest voice I had ever heard in my life. I called her every Sunday night and we became quite friendly. Viv finally gave me the hotline phone number to the studio, so I wouldn't have to call her via the request line ever again. The hotline number gold, the number everyone wanted, but few had. I felt quite privileged to have it.
I also called morning man Jim Kerr, then midday DJ, “Captain” Geoff Nimmo and the afternoon DJ was Pat St. John. After they got used to my calls, I asked if would be okay to call them on the hotline, explaining how I got it. I usually got silence, followed by a chuckle and then the permission to use it.
Listening to Pat St. John on the radio was like listening to your older brother’s friend talk to you about anyone and anything. There’s only five years difference between Pat and I, but it felt like much more. He was older, worldly and working at the number one FM rock station in the country and I was an annoying high school kid just looking to talk about music and radio.
Pat was on WPLJ-FM from 1973 to 1987, surviving the format change from AOR to Top 40. How could he not? His radio roots started at Top 40 legends, CKLW-AM, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and WKNR-AM, in Detroit, Michigan. If Pat couldn't do Top 40, no one could.
If there is any one thing that stands out in my mind about Pat, it's his creation of what he called "The Big Montage." This came about when he was looking at poster for WPLJ's upcoming "Greatest Music of All Time" weekend. These montages were song clips that made up a theme, including New York City, rain, and, of course, different musical groups. I used to have my tape recorder at the ready to record them off the air and even went as far as call the station to find out when a new one would air.
I finally got it, but over the years, the tape deteriorated and I eventually got a CD copy from Pat. To this day, those montages are among the greatest pieces of radio history I've ever heard. The CD contains over 300 separate music clips, joined by hand. Digital editing didn't exist in 1978. It all done with a razor blade and editing tape.
In 1987, WPLJ-FM programme director (PD) Larry Berger fired Pat. St John says it was the best thing that could have happened, as he moved to former rock rival WNEW-FM. He did mornings, middays, and afternoon drive at one time or another and was even the program director in the early 1990's. He stayed there until the station went to a hot talk format in 1998.
In 1998, Pat went to work for CD Radio, which later was renamed Sirius. In 2002, St John went to work at WCBS-FM until the station switched to the Jack-FM format in 2004. Then he went WAXQ-FM for weekends and fill-ins until 2006. He returned to WCBS-FM in 2007.
The story ends here. On Sunday, 29 March 2015 at 6 pm. Pat announced he was leaving WCBS-FM, with his last show being on April 12 2015 at 6 pm, his last show on complete,. He is leaving New York for San Diego, to be with his daughters and grandchildren. He told me that he and his wife Jan were spending all their vacations in San Diego anyway and started planning this move a couple of years ago.
He'll still be heard on SiriusXM, doing the mid-day live on the “60s on 6” channel, as soon as he gets his studio set up at his new home.
Knowing Pat and his desire to entertain, he'll end of on the air on some station in San Diego. The station will be lucky to have him. New York's loss is San Diego's gain and I hope they'll appreciate him as much as we did.
Good luck my friend, in this next episode of your life. You gave New York 42 years of your life, and we loved every minute of it!
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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