Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WLIR - The best radio station ever!

If you lived in New York, esp on Long Island in the 80s, and had the ability to turn your radio dial to 92.7 FM, then you were privileged to hear the best radio station in the world ever! There was no station like it before and there will be no station like it ever. It was college free-form radio at its best before anyone even knew what that was.

It started out in the early 70's as a mellow classical & jazz station in a Garden City basement. By the mid to late 70's it was a very progressive rock station where you could hear Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Hall & Oates and the Clash back to back. They played deep album cuts as well as new music from emerging punk & new wave bands, stuff no one else would touch.

In 1980, they started the Screamer of the Week, wherein listeners would vote on the best new song of the week. Imagine that, a radio station where listeners would have a say in what gets played. The first one, on September 4, 1980 was Rock Hard by Suzi Quatro. A list of all screamers (and shreeks) can be found here: http://www.wlir.fm/screamers.htm.

In August of 1982, the peak years began with a tweak of the format. Now they would only play "New Music First" as their slogan was "Dare To Be Different". And they were and it was awesome. It was the only place you could hear the Cure, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello, the Smiths, U2 and Squeeze. They broke almost every big band of the 80s: Duran Duran, Culture Club, Eurythmics, Thompson Twins, Beastie Boys, INXS, B-52s. Think of any new wave band or song and odds are it was played first on WLIR. And they were always digging for new stuff, for the next great song, for the next great band.

In December of 1987, WLIR lost their license and went off the air. The came back about 6 weeks later as WDRE. They had a similar format, but it just wasn't the same.

This station was my biggest musical influence growing up, not just because of all the great music they played, but in how they taught me to listen to music and how they treated their listeners as the most important part of their station's success and gave them a voice on the airwaves.

Check out www.wlir.fm for more history, pictures, soundchecks and great info.

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