Iconic WPLJ Broadcasts for Last Time

Frank Zappa. Photo courtesy of Jean-Luc.

Since 1971 New York radio station WPLJ has been broadcasting to loyal listeners the music they wanted to hear. Back in ’71 the station entered uncharted territory by being one of the first stations to be AOR (Album Oriented Rock) starting a coolness trend around the country.

The station’s call letters come from the first track of a 1971 Mother’s of Invention album, “Burnt Weeny Sandwich.” The track was based on a song by one of Frank Zappa’s favorite northern California R&B groups called The Four Deuces. WPLJ stands for “white port and lemon juice.”

Then when the time was right, the station moved on to play MTV-influenced new wave music, in the early ‘80s. Finally, the music changed again to be a place to hear adult contemporary sounds.

In February this year WPLJ, along with five other Cumulus media stations, were bought by a California-based religious, non-profit broadcasting company, Educational Media Foundation (EMF) for $103.5 million. EMF will immediately begin broadcasting modern Christian music as an affiliate of the national K-Love network.

At the end of May the station celebrated almost 48 years of broadcasting to its New York listeners. Former DJs and employees broadcasting during the week-long excursion down memory lane, and offered t-shirts sporting the station’s variety of logos it used during its almost half-century run.

The station did go off the air at least once before. At the request of Yoko Ono, the station stopped broadcasting for 15 minutes after the murder of John Lennon in December 1980.

The fans have been expressing their disappointment and sadness on Facebook at the demise of the beloved station.

“WPLJ has been a part of my mornings for the last 20 years and I feel like I’m losing a limb. I will miss you all,” one fan said.

The station signed off for the last time on Friday night, May 31st, at 7pm. In the studio, saying their good-byes were Race Taylor, Joey Krammer, Mike Allan, Melony Torres and others.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)