web analytics

WPLJ Radio Signing Off

By Phantom On May 10th, 2019

New York City FM radio station WPLJ is going off the air at the end of the month. The new owner will play Christian music.

The news stings, but it shouldn’t. I’ve not listened to it since forever. Neither have many others.

Back in the seventies and eighties, WPLJ was one of the ” album oriented, progressive ” stations here that would play better, longer ” rock ” songs, and which would sometimes play an entire album. This was a huge, welcome change from what was before them. Top 40 radio, played on the AM band, with the poor audio that AM gives you.

As rock declined, so did stations like WPLJ. I am told that their advertising revenue in 2017 was a bit more than 33% of what it was in 2010. No future in that.

The larger picture is a terrestrial radio medium in rapid decline. The biggest driver of new radio listeners is music, and very many young people and others get all their music from Spotify or other streaming services now. Teenagers barely know what a normal radio is now. I only listen to standard radio when in the car.

WPLJ is owned by a big company called Cumulus. Cumulus also owns WABC AM locally.

WABC AM I think used to be the most profitable radio station in the US. They have a massively powerful signal, which at night you can hear in much of the eastern US. I heard it in Illinois one winter night. They were a rock and roll station with massive ratings for years. When their audience started leaving in large numbers for FM radio and its better signal, they shifted to an all talk radio format in 1982. This was a smart strategy, and WABC made a fortune for years with the new conservative talk format.

But now talk radio is itself in major decline. WABC ad revenues and ratings are way down.

The primary reason for all these changes I believe is technology. If you can live without a DJ, Spotify is better than any radio station. You can listen to talk radio on podcasts/streaming.

High speed internet makes a lot of unforseen things possible. The radio we grew up follows paper newspapers into decline, much faster than anticipated.

11 Responses to “WPLJ Radio Signing Off”

  1. “I only listen to standard radio when in the car.”

    I have even started streaming in the car now. I usually have my phone mounted on the dashboard doing Google Maps when I am driving so I will put on a podcast or streaming radio through the car speakers. The last time I was driving I was listening to commentary of a Premier League game.

  2. How great is that

    Don’t you lose your internet signal in some places, briefly?

    I will lose internet signal at times on the Amtrak runs to say Boston or Washington.

    I know that new cars are having this stuff built in, including Spotify etc. AM and FM will be just another option

  3. The larger picture is a terrestrial radio medium in rapid decline … But now talk radio is itself in major decline.

    I don’t know what US stations are doing, but UK radio is in good health. Such is how it should be. I don’t care how many Games of Thrones get adapted, radio will always be superior to TV.

  4. Don’t you lose your internet signal in some places, briefly?

    Have only used it in the NYC area so far. I know on longer drives we lose cell coverage in some rural areas so it would probably happen then.

  5. radio will always be superior to TV.

    I agree. I think that a number of us here, including PVR and Paul are fellow radio geeks.

    But is UK terrestrial radio immune from the challenge of streaming music, to name one?

    I don’t believe that your teenagers are listening ” the hits ” on transistor radios as we used to do

  6. As rock declined…..

    Which demographic listens to rock?

  7. It used to be such an influential station. WFUV is the only decent one in NYC now.

  8. I suspect that we have all missed Pete Moore’s Friday night music post. Can I humbly suggest this, Boccherini being played by Russell Crowe in the excellent high adventure movie Master and Commander:


  9. Or this, from Monty Python:


  10. Du bist die Ruh:


  11. Those Progressive album rock stations could have some very good DJs

    I imagine that mahons would remember this one



    Rock and rock radio ran out of ideas, when rock ran out of ideas. But they sure are used to have them