Imagine you were tuning around on your car radio when all of a sudden one station came to you from out of the sixties. I’m not talking music as much as sound and style–right out of the sixties!
There is such a station and Helaine and I listened to it while we drove home along the Connecticut shoreline tonight. It is WLNG 92.1 in Sag Harbor, NY.
While I was still in high school, my friend John Wells and his parents invited me to their summer home, a little cottage on Shelter Island at Long Island’s east end. I first heard WLNG, then on 1600 AM, on that trip. Even in the late sixties WLNG was an anachronism.
No station in the history of broadcasting has done more remote broadcasts from appliance stores and drugstores and tiny parades with few spectators. No station runs more long and tedious public service announcements recorded over the phone. No station has, or plays, more jingles. No station plays more obscure music.
Last night on WLNG we heard “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin and Donny Osmond’s version of “Hey Girl.” There were a few other songs too obscure for me to identify and I was a disk jockey on oldies stations for all of the seventies. This afternoon, while we were heading to Sleeping Giant, they played “Deck of Cards,” the 1950s ‘talkie’ song with a Christian theme by Wink Martindale (listed on the label as Win). I can virtually guarantee no other station in America is playing this song.
WLNG is in mono. Honest. Are there any commercial FM stations other than WLNG that don’t broadcast in stereo? As I understand it, then general manager Paul Sidney wanted the station to sound louder. The laws of physics make mono 3db louder than stereo.
Paul Sidney is another anachronism of WLNG. He is totally unflappable when on-the-air, usually broadcasting on-location, because he’s already experienced every on-air screw-up and failure possible. There is nothing smooth or polished about Paul. As you listen, you might think he’s on-the-air for the first time. Surprise, he’s been on WLNG 45 years!
I can’t think of any station with less employee turnover than WLNG. Many of their staffers have been there since the sixties and seventies. That’s unheard of. The morning man’s been there since 1964, another disk jockey since 1975. Paul Sidney’s been there even longer.
Any time I’ve ever had a friend in radio visit they always want to listen to WLNG. They want to hear 10 minutes of commercials and six or seven jingles sandwiched between two marginal hits that haven’t gotten any radio play in 35 years.
God, I love WLNG.