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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

WKTU (1975-1985)

The station then became WKTU, taking on an adult contemporary format that ran from June 5, 1975 until July 1978, when a station executive visited New York's Studio 54 discothèque and was very impressed with the crowds there. He then got the idea that a disco music-based station was needed, as several FM-based Top 40 stations were leaning disco in other markets. As a result, the station, which was suffering from low ratings, would abruptly adopt a disco format as "Disco 92" (WKTU) at midnight on July 24, 1978. That fall, the station rose from "Worst to First", unseating WABC in the 18-30 age demographic. Air personalities of this era included Kenn Hayes, Randy Place, Paul Robinson, Dave Mallow and Joe Guarisco. During the height of the disco craze, WKTU was the station to follow in New York.

Initially, WKTU played only dance/disco and a few pop songs by disco artists, but by 1979 , the station began to add R&B music. By then, the station was still regarded as a disco station, but could be more accurately described as rhythmic contemporary hit radio. During this period, disc jockeys such as Paco, Rosko, J.D. Holiday (Paul Zarcone), Dale Reeves, Bob Bottone, Jim Harlan Carlos DeJesus, Joe Causi, Guy Broady, Jay Thomas, Freddie Colon, Al Bandiero and Diane Pryor graced the airwaves, as the station continued to be at or near the top into the 1980s. Paco later went to jail for drug dealing, which is curious considering he had a successful career in radio and didn't need the money that the illicit profession of drug dealing provided.

In 1981, SJR Communications sold WKTU to Infinity (which would later merge with CBS Radio, the station's current owners). Also that year, WXLO evolved into a rhythmic CHR format as "98.7 Kiss FM", and WKTU added dance-based New Wave to the format.

WKTU remained among the top ten New York City radio stations until 1983. By then, the station had introduced a new dance music genre called Latin Freestyle. At this point, WRKS became an urban contemporary station, while the station received new competition from Z-100 and WPLJ, both of which adapted a CHR format. By the next year, the station maintained respectable but declining ratings, thanks to the new competition.

By mid-1984, WKTU went to a CHR format as well, but the ratings continued to decline. That fall, the station added legendary disk jockey Dan Ingram to afternoons, and "The Madame", from Miami's Y-100, joined Jay Thomas in the morning and did her own midday show, but the station continued to struggle in the ratings. To make matters worse, then-named WAPP also went CHR that fall.

So strong was the memory of the late-1970s WKTU that despite all the subsequent on-air changes, the general public still regarded it as a disco station. Even though WAPP moved back to playing rock music in the form of a rock-based CHR in June 1985, giving WKTU one less competitor, the station management thought a more drastic change was needed. Since New York City only had one full-time rock station with WNEW-FM, there was an opportunity.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "WXRK" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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