A Harlem faded ad keeps 1970s radio alive

The 1970s Top-40 music scene lives on thanks to this almost perfectly preserved ad, on the side of a building at 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.


I’m guessing it went up in the disco era, when radios all across the metro area were set to 77 AM, then a hugely popular station.

WABC is all talk today—it’s been that way since 1982.

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14 Responses to “A Harlem faded ad keeps 1970s radio alive”

  1. DP Says:

    I remember it well.

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I used to listen all the time, was incredible they played Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, longest song at that time, 4 minutes, I believe, or was it 7 minutes? Whatever it was it was great to hear it on 77.

  3. Bruce Rubenstein Says:

    Having grown up in NYC, and pushing 60, I would say that the golden age of top 20 pop music was in the 60’s. There were 2 stations WABC and WMCA (the “Good Guys”). By the end of the 60’s “Album Oriented Rock” FM stations had taken over for music. WABC was never a “Disco” station.

  4. Frank Lynch Says:

    Long before I moved here I knew about WABC from the opening of Elton John’s three-man live album 11-17-70 (17-11-70 in the UK), recorded in their studio, with Dave Herman doing the intro. It instantly made WABC magic to a Florida teenager.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Right, it wasn’t a true disco station–I just meant that disco in general was huge on the Top 40 playlists in the late 70s.

  6. fdr Says:

    Probably the 60’s with Cousin Brucie.

  7. Bob Says:

    Growing up in New York as a child I did listen to a fair amount of radio. I started listening to WHN, which was the local country station, as my mother was a huge country fan. The other station she listened to was WPAT, which was an easy listening station. These stations are where my love for Tammy Wynette and Tom Jones come from. By the time I was 11 in 1976 I started hearing about pop radio, don’t know how I missed it until then, and the first station I listened to was WABC. I remember hearing the Welcome Back Kotter theme a lot and I think they were also playing Michael Martin Murphey’s “Wildfire” which I had heard on country radio before.

    Within 2 years I was had moved to FM, as almost every kid had back then, and was listening to 99X because they were the only station that was playing Cheap Trick’s “surrender”, which was not the big hit everyone probably thinks it was back then. Somewhere I have cassette tapes of old radio stations and commercials, wish I could find those!

    There is some really great information about WABC’s Musicradio days here:


    There is even a section about how after WKTU, the big disco station New York, hit #1 WABC started playing 8 minute disco remixes to try and compete, so even though they were not primarily a disco station they did flirt with the format for a moment or so.

    Eventually I found WPIX, which ignited my love of punk, new wave, and things that were NOT mainstream, and I was forever changed. WPIX was alternative before there was alternative, and they would even play the odd Eagles or Paul McCartney song, though never the hits so it was still interesting and different. This would be where I learned that Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk was an awesome album before the hipsters attached themselves to it.

    Although WLIR and WDRE helped to fill that void, no radio station could ever replace WPIX and what they did.

    Now enough old man reminiscing and back to work!

    • Ellen Levitt Says:

      In 8th grade I loved 99x. They seemed to play a lot of Steve Miller Band, Fleetwood Mac, Boz Scaggs….and Pablo Cruise. But I also started to hear college radio around that time, so I could listen to punk/new wave.

  8. BabyDave Says:

    Frank Lynch — I believe that Elton John concert was broadcast on WABC-FM, the predecessor of WPLJ. Don’t know if they shared studio space.

  9. petey Says:

    i liked dan ingram, but didn’t like bruce morrow at all tbh.

  10. Ellen Levitt Says:

    That logo was from the 1970s. I had a bumper sticker and maybe also a button with that. On 7/7/77 (July 7, 1977) the station gave away prized ALL DAY and I won 2 tickets to see the movie “One on One” with Robbie Benson. Just the thing for a 13 year old girl! I was so thrilled that I took a photo of the tickets. It was the first thing I’d ever won from a radio station (but not the last!)

    • Bob Says:

      Wow, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention that movie since 1977 or so. I think the first radio contest I won was The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl album, or the soundtrack to Fast Break, a basketball movie that few would remember, starring Gabe Kaplan from Welcome Back Kotter. The movie was a bomb but the soundtrack had a hit. Radio contests back then were fun and winnable, I must have won at least 40 over the years, including concert tickets (The Violent Femmes at Irving Plaza in the early days), LPs, books (the Nancy Spungen biography was an interesting read), and all sorts of other crap and promotional material. I think I had like 5 WNEW t-shirts at one point for answering trivia questions or being the 102nd caller or something. One day I should break out all the old crap and put pics online, but I would probably need a second lifetime to log all the crap I have bought, won or found over the years!

  11. Storko Says:

    Rewoundradio.com is streaming old WABC airchecks all weekend. Tune in!

  12. Conan1982 Says:

    I went down there shortly after the post above but could not find this sign; is it still there.

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