Thursday, May 30, 2024

Clear Channel Can Make NYC’s Historic Local Radio Station WOR Hip and Fun


When you hear Clear Channel has bought a new station, you tremble with fear. But WOR-AM, New York’s last truly local radio station with a neighborhood fell and long local history, needs immediate improvement. Buckley Broadcasting had run it into the ground, proudly. If Clear Channel wants to do the right thing for oncem they’ll listen. WOR has become a weird mixture of crazy right wing politics and a few features of interest. The Queen of WOR is Joan Hamburg. The city can’t live without her. Clear Channel can only succeed if they leave Joan right where she is, for two hours, and promote her.

What else? Either John Gambling has to go or be de-politicized. He’s moved farther to the right than Pat Robertson. He sounds absolutely nuts when he pontificates. I break out laughing sometimes when he goes off on a subject. He sounds nuts, and his “team” loathes him. No more Gambling, rambling, unless he can right the ship. Enough is enough. There isn’t a local politician he doesn’t pander to.

Bring back Joey Reynolds. The great overnight radio show that Reynolds had was replaced by George Koory’s wacky syndicated show about aliens, space travel, and the end of the world. The only good thing about is is the music some producer plays in the bumpers. Otherwise “Coast to Coast”  is also kind of a joke. You know you’re in trouble when Whitley Streiber is your go to guy. Earth to Clear Channel: Joey Reynolds had a wonderful show that showcased local talent and made you feel like you were in New York.

The next best thing is Dr. Joy Browne. Who doesn’t like listening to listeners’ family and sex problems? And Joy Browne is a good combo of feisty and mellow. She has great advice. Give her some prominence.

WOR used to have Joan Rivers. They need her or someone like her back. The station is local–really I mean that local–and should be showing New York’s theater, music, and gossip, movies, etc every night. Maybe Regis would do a show. He and Joy could host it from their apartment every morning, the Fitzgeralds used to. What a goof that would be.

But please: no more hate talk. WABC has that all sewn up. Michael Savage sounds deranged. WOR has a chance now to be hip and fun, on the edge, a destination. But for the most part right now it’s repellant. Clear Channel, thinking out of the box and listening to New York, can fix that.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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