Home Celebrity New York’s WOR Radio Unceremoniously Dumps Last Vet, Legend Joan Hamburg

Last Thursday I was supposed to do a taped segment for the weekend with Joan Hamburg, the last remaining veteran star of what used to be WOR Radio here in New York. At the last minute I was advised something was wrong, the show wasn’t being taped, and I’d get a call. (Same thing happened to my pal Jill Brooke, who was going to talk about her book, “The Need to Say No.”)

This morning, Cindy Adams reports in the New York Post that Joan was fired on the spot on Thursday, and told to leave the station. After nearly 40 years, Joan Hamburg is out at WOR for no reason except that she’s too old, has too much experience and too loyal a following. Shame on them.

Clear Channel is replacing her with infomercials. The station is already jam packed with pre-paid sponsored ad shows pitching non FDA approved “health” products and all kinds of other crap that doesn’t work and you don’t need.

The only actual human being on the air is Mark Simone, whose show I’ve enjoyed being on for the last year. Otherwise, WOR is now all syndicated. Their morning show is a mess since the failure of replacing another vet, John Gambling, with a horrible show from Washington DC called “Elliot in the Morning.” It was cancelled almost immediately. The morning show now limps on without direction or ratings.

Clear Channel has miscalculated WOR. It was the station that made New York a small town. Listeners were loyal to Joan, to Gambling, to Dr. Joy Browne (gone a while now), cooking experts like Arthur Schwartz, and so on. You could call in to find out how to cook a turkey or find a restaurant for your wedding. WOR made a big city accessible, and created a community. That is now all but destroyed.

Joan Hamburg wasn’t just giving out recipes, by the way. Her topics ranged from literary to intellectual to Broadway, local politics, movies, whatever was of the moment. She’s part of a very with it family: husband Mort is a well known attorney, son John is the screenwriter of “Meet the Parents,” daughter Lizzie has regularly filled in for her. Joan’s first cousin was the legendary Iran-Contra lawyer Arthur Liman. His son is Doug Liman, director of the new Tom Cruise movie “Edge of Tomorrow.” These are not small potatoes.

Before Clear Channel bought Buckley Broadcasting, the station prepared for the acquisition by cancelling Joey Reynold’s popular overnight local show and replacing it with George Noory’s “Coast to Coast.” Noory mostly entertains wackos, but they’re all fun, discussing alien abductions and UFOs. Noory also plays excellent music at the top and bottom of each show. But now even that’s gone, as the station has made some deal with the Devil for Mets games. They actually repeat these little tragedies in the middle of the night. I’d laugh if it weren’t so sad.

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6 replies to this post
  1. Wor was a great broadcasting radio station broadcasting in the truest sense not narrowcasting to a specific audience leaning one way or the other politically WOR has the right formula and the right people…..as far as what to listen to I bought a load if not all of the Bob and Ray tapes and and disks over the years so at night when I need something to listen to and I don’t want to be bombarded by the normal tripe that the news stations seem to want to pump out I pop in one of the Bob and Ray disks and I am transported back to a better place and time certainly a more humorous and a much more good-natured one….just what I need for pleasant dreams.

  2. I used to listen to the morning show when John Gambling was on. Ii never really cared for him or his politics or even his ignorance on some subjects, climate change for one. Nevertheless, I mostly listened for Joe Bartlett. Now,on my way to work, I’ll tune in to hear Joe but the show is So Shallow! That Barsky lady is not fun to listen to and even though Joe is on that show, he can’t raise the value or quality of that program. THe rest of the day is horrible.Very disappointing to say the least. Man, have they gone downhill!

  3. Well, I found John Gambling on 970 AM at 11:00 am. He said the offer was too good to refuse and I respect that he didn’t go on up against his old time slot. 710 is okay – I am getting tired of the fill ins for John but they cannot find an equal – or never will. This Hilarie that is filling in – I resent all her dialects of Italians,jews and New Yorkers. It is offending.

  4. The death of the great historic talk station WOR is a very sad loss of Americana…
    Through the early 2000’s this was the greatest talk station in the nation…
    Bob Grant, Dolans, Hamburg, Sodsmith, Barry Grey, Joan Rivers, Gamblings, Joey Renolds…

    The station is now reduced to a hodgepodge of Met games and junk…
    I even miss the beautiful homey WOR jingle….
    The GREAT WOR model of 10 short years ago probably wouldn’t work anymore because look at the scary putrid demographic change of the listeners in the WOR area…All the Americans GONE (passed away or ran the hell out of here) replaced with third world illegal aliens…

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