|City of license||New York City|
|Broadcast area||New York City area|
|Branding||CBS FM 101.1|
|Slogan||"New York's Greatest Hits" and "The Greatest Hits of the 60's, 70's & 80's"|
(also on HD Radio)
101.1-2 FM Adult hits "101.1 ToNY" (HD Radio)
101.1-3 FM WCBS AM 880 simulcast (HD Radio)
|First air date||December 1, 1941|
|Format||Commercial; Oldies/Classic Hits|
|ERP||6,700 watts, Stereo|
|Callsign meaning||Columbia Broadcasting System|
|Former callsigns||W67NY (on 46.7 Mc.) (1941-1943)
|Sister stations||WCBS, WCBS-TV, WFAN, WINS, WWFS, WXRK|
101.1 HD2 Webstream
(HD2 Adult Hits "101.1 FM HD2")
WCBS-FM (101.1 MHz.) is a radio station in New York City, owned by CBS Radio. The station's studios are located in the combined CBS Radio facility at 345 Hudson Street in Manhattan, and its transmitter is located on the Empire State Building.
WCBS-FM was one of the first notable oldies stations in the country, with the format dating back to July 7, 1972. Between June 3, 2005 and July 12, 2007, the station aired an automated adult hits format as "Jack FM". The Jack format failed; WCBS-FM switched back to a personality-driven classic hits/oldies format, with a more broadened playlist concentrating on music from 1964 to 1989, but unlike many other classic hits stations, it also plays selected older hits from the pre-1964 period as well.
In 1940, during the very early days of FM broadcasting, what is now WCBS-FM was allocated an FM frequency and callsign, W67NY, becoming CBS's first FM station. The allocated dial position changed several times before the station finally went on the air at 46.7 MHz on December 1, 1941. On November 1, 1943, the callsign was changed to WABC-FM (for Atlantic Broadcasting Company, the former owner of CBS's AM station, with no relation to the present-day WABC). With the reallocation of the FM band, WABC-FM's new frequency became 96.9 MHz. Finally, in September 1947 the station became WCBS-FM and the frequency moved to the current 101.1 MHz.
For many years WCBS-FM simulcast its AM sister station. From the 1940s until the late 1950s both stations aired a typical network-dominated general entertainment format with comedies, dramas, news, information, sports, talk shows and some music. As these types of radio shows either moved to television or were canceled outright, WCBS and WCBS-FM evolved slowly into a personality-oriented format featuring news, popular music, sports, and information. As rock and roll became popular, the stations limited the music to only softer songs of the genre.
The two stations split in 1966. The AM station retained their personality-oriented Middle of the road format until August 27, 1967, and WCBS-FM broke away with their own programming. WCBS-FM initially programmed a younger-leaning easy listening format known as "The Young Sound", playing soft instrumental versions of current pop music songs. This automated format was syndicated to other CBS stations across the country (including WCAU-FM in Philadelphia) and to AFR (American Forces Radio). On August 27, 1967, WCBS (AM) had to launch its news format (which was not completely full-time until 1972) on WCBS-FM, because a small airplane had crashed into, and destroyed, the WCBS (AM) transmitter just a few hours earlier.
In 1969, WCBS-FM launched a freeform rock format, which was becoming increasingly popular at the time. All the other CBS-owned FM stations picked up this format as well. For the first time, WCBS-FM would have an airstaff. Bill Brown began his long tenure with the station at that time and Don K. Reed began his late in 1971, and both remained there until 2005. Radio personalities such as Bobby "Wizzard" Wayne, Ed Williams, Steve Clark, Roby Yonge, K.O Bayley (Bob Elliott from WOR-FM), Les Turpin, Bob "Bob-A-Lew" Lewis also joined the WCBS-FM "freeform" format for a brief time. Besides Bill Brown and Don K Reed, Bobby "Wizzard" Wayne and Ed Williams also stayed into the early part of the oldies format. Bobby Wayne left WCBS-FM during April 1973.
WCBS-FM was never successful with their rock format, competing with stations such as WPLJ (the other former WABC-FM) and WNEW-FM had most of the rock audience. As a result WCBS-FM switched to oldies on July 7, 1972, becoming one of the first full-time stations in the country to use that format. The change coincided with rival WOR-FM's decision to drop pre-1964 oldies from its playlist a few months prior (as they became WXLO). The first record aired on the WCBS-FM was Dion's Runaround Sue. The entire staff from the rock format remained at the station.
Initially, in 1972, the station focused on rock and roll hits from 1955-1964, and mixed in softer hits of the late 1960s and 1970s, as well as a few currents. They also played a moderate amount of adult standards from the rock era. In addition the station played two current hits per hour known as "future gold". By the late 1970s, however the station dropped most of the adult standards type artists with a few exceptions and added more rock hits from the late 1960s.
WCBS-FM's oldies format weathered many trends and corporate moves. By 1979, three FM stations owned by CBS had gone disco. In 1981 all of CBS's FM stations, except for WCBS-FM, adopted a CHR format known as "Hot Hits". The oldies format on WCBS-FM continued to be a success.
One ongoing favorite feature was a countdown of the top 500 songs of all time, as voted by the station's listeners. The countdown was always presented on Thanksgiving weekend (with a new survey taken once every two years on odd years, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, etc). On even years, up to 1990, the survey from the previous year was played. In the first Top 500, The Five Satins' doo wop classic In The Still Of The Night (I'll Remember) was #1 and Earth Angel by The Penguins was #2. In The Still Of The Night remained at number one every year after that. In 1992, CBS-FM ran a Top 500 Countdown based on all their surveys from 1973 to 1991. They repeated 1993's Top 500 in 1994. Their last listener voted survey was done in 1995 and repeated in 1996. After compiling an "all-time" survey based on past surveys in 1997, the station abandoned compiling any new listener-voted surveys. In 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 they repeated the 1997 all time survey on Thanksgiving Weekend. For New Years Weekend in 1999-2000 the station compiled and played a Top 1001 countdown based on original New York radio charts, with Hey Jude by The Beatles at number one. This survey would be repeated on Thanksgiving Weekend in 2002. In 2003, the station played a Top 500 Countdown covering the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and a couple 1950s songs based on airplay and in 2004 played a Top 500 countdown with mostly songs from 1964 to 1979 with a couple pre 1964 songs and a couple 1980s songs. This survey was also based on airplay. When the station returned to a modified oldies/classic hits format in 2007, a listener voted survey was compiled and played Labor Day weekend. This survey featured mostly songs from the 1960s and 1970s with a moderate selection of songs from the 1955-1963 time period. There was also a moderate amount of 1980s music on the survey.
Joe McCoy took over as program director in 1981 and at that point WCBS-FM began to gradually shift its focus to the 1964-1969 era, but would also feature a more pre-1964 oldies than most other such stations. The station continued also to feature hits of the 1970s and some hits of the 1980s while cutting future gold selections to one per hour. Also in the 1980s, WCBS-FM began employing many disc jockeys who were widely known on other New York City stations (and sometimes nationally), such as Ron Lundy, Dan Ingram, Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, Harry Harrison, Dan Daniel and Jack Spector. Bob Shannon, whose only previous New York City radio experience before coming to WCBS-FM was as a fill-in DJ at WYNY, became well-known himself through his 19-year run as the station's afternoon disk jockey. Bill Brown (who actually started with the station back in 1969 during their rock days) and Don K Reed (who started at the station 6 months before the switch to oldies) remained with the station during their entire first long run as an oldies station.
In 1989, WCBS-FM banished current music to late nights and overnights. While most oldies stations were playing songs from exclusively 1955 to 1973, WCBS-FM continued to play a moderate amount of songs from the late 1970s as well as about one 1980s hit per hour. Most of the 1980s music came from core oldies artists.
The station's ratings increased during the 1990s (and were sustained into the 2000s) and market research studies showed a small and growing audience in the 35-49 year old demographic as a new generation's "songs they grew up with" moved into the oldies format. The station even hit number one overall in the ratings on at least several occasions during the 1990s.
During this period the stations on-air sung idents, 'jingles', were made by the JAM company. Such was the appeal of the packages of jingles that stations around the world wanted that WCBS FM sound for their stations, for example, the UK one such station was Victory FM.
By 2000, as demographics for 1950s and early 1960s oldies started to eclipse the target age groups that many advertisers covet, WCBS-FM began cutting back on pre-1964 songs while adding more music from the 1970s and 1980s. By early 2001, they axed many specialty shows. Eventually, they began to shorten the regular playlist and cut away from pre-1964 and toward 1970-1989 songs even more. In the summer of 2002, Don K. Reed's long-running Sunday night Doo-Wop Shop program was cancelled. The station even began to de-emphasize the phrase 'oldies' in promotion of the station.
The station canceled more specialty shows in 2003 such as the "Top 20 Oldies Countdown". In the summer of 2003, to appease some fans, they did bring a specialty 1955-64 oldies show called "Heart & Soul of Rock & Roll" with Norm N. Nite (another longtime air person who has been there off and on since 1973). Also in that year, Harry Harrison and Dan Ingram both retired.
In the spring of 2004, WCBS-FM narrowed the playlist even more. The station's playlist consisted of music almost entirely from 1964 to 1979 dividing the 1960s and 1970s about equal. They only played a handful of pre 1964 oldies as well as only a few songs from the 1980s at that point. Joe McCoy left the station shortly after and was replaced by Dave Logan.
WCBS-FM's last morning show host before the flip to Jack FM was ex-Monkee Micky Dolenz, who had appeal to this audience segment by virtue of 1970s The Monkees reruns and the mid-1980s Monkees revival. His broadcast on June 3, 2005, was a remote at a Manhattan restaurant to celebrate his 100th day at the station. However, by the end of that day, the station would be changed dramatically.
In a shocking and controversial move, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, June 3, 2005, WCBS-FM 101.1 flipped formats from Oldies to the new "Jack FM", and was self-identifying under that term. Frank Sinatra's Summer Wind was the last song played on the original Oldies era of CBS-FM.
A short introduction was played, followed by the announcing of the new station name. "Welcome to the NEW 101.1 Jack FM, playing what we want." The first song aired was Beastie Boys' Fight for Your Right. The format featured nearly 2,000 unique songs in the playlist.
With this move, WCBS-FM had left the oldies scene after broadcasting oldies continuously for 33 years. In an attempt to cater to fans of the old format, the station created an internet-only oldies station on its website. Initially, the internet-only station was DJ-less like Jack FM was (whose "DJ" was a pre-recorded male voice done by Howard Cogan), but in a letter on the WCBS-FM website posted on June 5, 2005, station VP Chad Brown announced the web stream might try to have most of the original shows and DJ's back and that eventually the station would also be able to be heard on HD radio.
The change left WBZO as the only oldies format in the area. The signal is weak, however, because it is operated out of Long Island, and it operates an outright oldies format, unlike WCBS's "Greatest Hits Format."
Many criticized the change of formats, among them Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, according to the New York Post, responded to the change by declaring he would "never listen to that f---ing CBS radio again." "Jack" picked up on the mayor's comments, making jokes about his quip ("Hey, Mayor Bloomberg. I heard you took a shot at us in The Post. What's with all the swearin' like a sailor? Fleet week is over. It's just music.") in between berating and insulting former WCBS-FM listeners. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Cousin Brucie likened the format switch to "replacing Yankee Stadium with a fruit stand". Cousin Brucie has since signed on with Sirius Satellite Radio to continue spinning oldies tunes.
In a partial nod to the controversy of the sudden flip, on June 14, 2005, it was announced that the station would be unique among those with the Jack format in that it would occasionally include '50s and early '60s songs in its rotation as well as songs by performers like Frank Sinatra that are normally not part of the Jack format, though a later Web update retracted this and songs from before the late '60s were no longer played.
In March 2006, Chad Brown hired Brian Thomas  program director replacing Steve Smith. Chad was replaced by Les Hollander later that year after a big layoff of personnel at CBS Radio. In 2007, Jennifer Donohue (from WWFS) was named as Jack's new General Manager. Later that year Maire Mason was named General Manager.
The "Jack" format experiment at WCBS-FM is widely regarded, inside and outside the industry, as one of the greatest failures in modern New York radio history, as the station fell to the very bottom of the ratings of full-market-coverage FM stations in the New York market. In early July 2007, various websites quoted sources as saying the station was ready to shift from its current "Jack FM" format and return to its previous format. CBS Radio, owner of the station, declined to comment on the much-rumored change. Initial reports about the WCBS-FM format change initially surfaced on July 6, 2007 in the Radio Business Report online newsletter and at CrainsNewYorkBusiness.com.
CBS Radio confirmed the rumors on July 9, 2007 that live announcers would indeed return to 101.1 and the HD1 channel on Thursday, July 12 at 1:01 p.m. EDT. The returning format concentrates on music from 1964 to 1989, with more pre-1995 hits as well as selected older hits from 1955 to 1963. There would be a wider variety of hits unlike the CBS of 2005 which had a limited playlist from 1964–1979.
The final song on Jack FM was Don't Stop Believing by Journey, ending at 12:44 PM on July 12 in the same spot the song abruptly ended during The Sopranos' series finale. Then, after a few seconds of dead air and a few seconds of a "Wayback Machine-type" audio special effect, the oldies format returned with the resumption of the last song played before the flip to Jack FM, Frank Sinatra's Summer Wind (starting out like a phonograph record played very underspeed but quickly accelerating to normal tempo). This was followed by greetings from former CBS-FM DJs Harry Harrison and Ron Lundy. This further lead into audio-clip montages of music, movies, television shows, and events for each year from 1964 through 1979 (followed by a single montage, similar to the aforementioned, which paid homage to the entire 1980s decade), with WCBS-FM jingles interspersed between. Former mayor Ed Koch then welcomed back the format, noting the "mistake" CBS Radio had made with the switch. Then at exactly 1:01pm the legal ID hit and WCBS-FM's oldies format officially returned, with Do It Again by the Beach Boys being the first song played after the flip.
Upon hearing of WCBS-FM's confirmation that oldies would return, Cousin Brucie commented, "I’m thrilled that this music is getting a chance again." He added, "This music has been treated terribly, and people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s are still a very viable product in this society." New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who crudely criticized the Jack FM format after its debut, also welcomed oldies back with open arms, proclaiming July 12, 2007 be known as "WCBS-FM Returns to New York City Day".
Arbitron's switch from diary to PPM facilitated a move back to oldies/classic hits as sister station WOGL in Philadelphia had demonstrated ratings success in the new methodology by landing in the top 5. WCBS-FM as classic hits has also been ranked among the top 5 stations in every quarter of the new ratings for Arbitron. Currently it ranks second among all stations in the New York region, 25-54 and 12+ (Arbitron PPM report, October 2009).
Dan Taylor hosts WCBS-FM's morning show (6-10 a.m.), with Irv 'Mr. G.' Gikofsky providing weather updates. The weekday lineup also features Bob Shannon (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.), Broadway Bill Lee (3-7 p.m. plus Saturdays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.), Ron Parker (Monday-Thursday 7 p.m. - Midnight plus Sundays 3-7 p.m.) and Joe Causi hosts the overnight shift. Weekend hosts include Sue O'Neal (6-10 a.m.), Pat St. John (Sundays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.), Joe Causi (Fridays and Saturdays 7 p.m. - Midnight), and assistant program director Lenny Bloch on weekend overnights. Both Joe Causi's and Lenny Bloch's overnight shifts use voice-tracking. In addition, Fast Jimi Roberts, Big Jay Sorensen, Steve O'Brien, Famous Amos, and Don Geronimo have done occasional fill-ins.
Dick Bartley's syndicated Classic Countdown airs on Sunday nights from 7 to 11 p.m., followed by the Classic Dance Showcase hosted by Joe Causi from 11 p.m. to midnight. These shows replaced the Radio Greats and Top 20 Countdown shows which aired from the station's relaunch in July 2007 until June 7, 2009. Another syndicated show, Dick Clark Presents Rewind with Gary Bryan, airs on Sunday mornings from 12 to 4 a.m.
The Radio Greats program showcased veteran on-air personalities, with music tailored to their era of success. Don K. Reed, Norm N. Nite, Ed Baer, Steve O'Brien, Randy Davis, Big Jay Sorensen, and Famous Amos were regularly featured on the program. Other guests included Ross Brittain, Max Kinkel, Big Ron O'Brien, Bobby Jay, Dan Ingram, Gary Bryan, Harry Nelson, Al Bandiero, Al Bernstein, former CBS-FM program director Joe McCoy, Rick Hunter, Howard Hoffman, Dick Bartley, and ex-morning man and Monkee Micky Dolenz, who finally got to do his long postponed 101st show on CBS-FM. A recording of Wolfman Jack's final radio broadcast from 1995 was also featured on two occasions. The final Radio Greats show was hosted by WCBS-FM veteran Dick Heatherton.
WCBS-FM broadcasts at 6,700 watts. WBEB, an Adult Contemporary station in Philadelphia, also broadcasts at 101.1 FM. WBEB's signal reaches far north into New Jersey, especially along Interstate 287 south of Morristown, and in Northwestern New Jersey. In those areas WBEB interferes with WCBS-FM which also broadcasts on 101.1, and in some spots, WBEB's signal actually seems stronger. This is because WBEB broadcasts at 14,000 watts.
WCBS is simulcast on 105.7 FM (call sign W289BE) in the Hudson Valley region of NY.
A few hours after the flip to Jack, WCBS-FM's '60s and '70s music was brought back online at wcbsfm.com CBS FM's longtime music director Jeff Mazzei was retained as program director of the wcbsfm.com oldies stream . Over the next couple of weeks, the station started playing most pre-1964 oldies again. Additionally, the '60s and '70s oldies became broader and '80s and early '90s oldies were also mixed in, and the format got much deeper. However, it was commercial-free and had no airstaff. WCBS-FM HD 2 also began broadcasting in HD Radio on December 12, 2005 (beating most of the other NY stations, which launched in early 2006).
Air personalities did on-air auditions on WCBS-FM HD2 oldies station on July 11, 2007 as a preview of the impending flip that would take place the next day. The updated classic hits formatted WCBS-FM unit then moved to the analog and HD1 channels at 1:01 p.m. on July 12, 2007. The HD2 station also simulcast the oldies format until 2:00 p.m. that day, at which time Jack FM moved to HD2. At 3:00 p.m. that day, Jack resumed streaming on their website ilikejack.com. In February 2008, Howard Cogan was replaced by Pat St. John as the pre-recorded voice of the Jack character on WCBS-FM-HD2 and ilikejack.com. On May 7, 2008 the Jack branding was dropped from WCBS-FM HD2 and was just called 101.1 HD2 or WCBS-FM HD2 due to the end of a licensing agreement with the owner of the Jack name and slogan, Sparknet Communications. In late June 2009, the HD2 channel was rebranded again as "ToNY", meaning "to New York" but pronounced as "Tony".  The channel continues to feature an adult hits format.
WCBS-FM classic oldies logo
WCBS-FM oldies logo 2002 to 2004
WCBS-FM oldies logo Fall 2004 to June 3, 2005
WCBS-FM JACK FM logo June 3, 2005 to July 12, 2007 (WCBS-FM HD2 July 12, 2007 to May 7, 2008)
WCBS-FM HD2 oldies logo December 12, 2005 to July 12, 2007
WCBS-FM Current "Greatest Hits" logo July 12, 2007 to present