Bill Cosby helped rejuvenate the sitcom genre in the 1980s. It was in the same era that Scott Shannon gave a much-needed boost to Top 40 radio in New York. Shannon was charged with turning an inconsequential signal at 100.3 FM into a flamethrower frequency. WVNJ was playing a mix of beautiful music by day and jazz by night, when Cleveland-based Malrite Communications purchased the station. Studios were in Secaucus, New Jersey, and licensed to Newark, but to make it attractive to listeners across the Lincoln Tunnel, a transmitter was built atop the Empire State Building.
Thirty years ago today, Z100/WHTZ was born. But Shannon knows any birth needs a gestation period.
Tuned In sat down with Shannon recently at his office high above Madison Square Garden. The Hall of Fame broadcaster was initially reticent to discuss the early days of Z100.
“You still have to be respected for what you’re doing today, not what you did yesterday,” Shannon says. “I really don’t spend a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror. If I have a sucky show today, then I feel sucky. I don’t care if I had a great show at Z100 28 years ago. It’s not going to help me.”