Sunday, April 14, 2024

Radio Out: Legendary New York Deejay Harry Harrison of WABC and CBS FM Fame, Has Died at 89


The legendary morning radio disc jockey Harry Harrison has died at age 89. He was in ill health for sometime. I woke up to Harry for most of my life, certainly from the late 60s on 77 WABC until his retirement from oldies station CBS FM (this was when it was really oldies and not the current crap from the 1980s).

Harry’s death means that all the great jocks from the most classic lineup are now dead: Harry, Ron Lundy, and Dan Ingram. Even Chuck Leonard is gone. They are survived by “Cousin Brucie” Bruce Morrow.

Harry started his career in 1959 as a WMCA “Good Guy.” But it wasn’t until he joined rock station WABC, 77 on the dial, as morning man, that his career skyrocketed. As the so to speak lead hitter in a line up of stars, Harry ruled the airwaves from 6am to 10am from then until 1980 when he moved to WCBS FM. The writing was already on the wall for WABC, and by the mid 80s most of the jocks moved to CBS FM. He left his daily position in 2003 but returned to a weekly slot in 2004. When the station collapsed in 2005, Harry retired for good.

Yes, Don Imus was popular being shocking. And he left a big footprint in New York. But Harry was where you went for comfort, positivity, and a jump on the morning. You could get through your day with the sound of Harry’s reassuring voice mixing the best pop songs of the day with the headlines. And think of those headlines– Vietnam, Watergate, student riots.

WABC, I should note, played hits of all kinds. This will seem odd to anyone who listens to radio now. Pop, rock, country, R&B were all in one place. It was a magical time. Isn’t it interesting that race relations are worse than ever now that radio is fractured into “genres” — aka segregated by color. WABC was overtaken by hateful conservative talk shows like Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage. What a shame.

Harry, you will never be forgotten.

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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