Peter Kanze on
WABC Rewound 2008
by Scott Benjamin
WABC Rewound Producers
Johnny Donovan and Peter Kanze
Peter Kanze, one of the producers for the annual WABC Rewound, said that this year’s tribute to the station’s music radio days will include seven hours of encore presentations from the first nine years, since “we have to remember that not everyone who listens each Memorial Day is an air check collector.”
“I think there are a huge number of people who have not heard these encore air checks before,” he said in a May 3, 2008 phone interview with Musicradio77.com.
“There have been new people joining the audience through the years, and there also are people that tell us that, ‘Gee, I forgot to listen this year,’ or that they only could listen to part of the 12 hours because of family commitments,” Peter said regarding the reasoning for the encore air checks that will be presented May 26 at various times during the show’s run from 6 a.m. and 6 p.m..
He is an air check collector, who formerly served as a music researcher at WHN in New York City in the late 1970’s and as the former faculty manager at WARY at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, N.Y.
Peter and former Musicradio77 air personality Johnny Donovan were responsible for initiating WABC Rewound in 1999 as interest in the station’s music radio heritage took on a higher profile after Allan Sniffen established the Musicradio77.com Web Site in 1996.
Peter and Johnny are assisted each year in the production by tape restorian Rob Frankel and WABC engineer Frank D’Elia, who has been at the station since the summer of 1976.
The production team assembles the show from their own air checks, collections from such former WABC air personalities as Dan Ingram, Steve O’Brien and Harry Harrison, and tapes contributed by listeners.
Peter said that he speaks by phone at least once a week with Johnny Donovan during the year, and that contact becomes more frequent in the weeks leading up to Rewound, which has become a Memorial Day staple on WABC.
Johnny, who has been at WABC continuously since the summer of 1972, hosts Rewound each year.
“There are not as many tapes of Johnny as you would think,” Peter said. “That may be because he wasn’t one of the glory boys. But he was the ultimate fill-in guy and he made things work. And he has outlasted everybody else.”
WABC dominated the New York City ratings from the late 1960’s until the late 1970’s and could be heard at night in an estimated 39 states and some foreign counties.
It is considered by some observers to be the model Top 40 radio station of that era.
“There are also people who have listened every year that I think will enjoy hearing these shows again,” Peter said regarding the seven hours of encore shows that will be presented.
He said the encore presentations will include an hour from a Bob Lewis all-night show from February 1964, virtually coinciding with the Beatles’ first arrival in the United States.
“He is in a really good mood and it is an example of the effervescence of WABC as it was emerging as a major station,” Peter said regarding the air check.
He said that an air check from a Chuck Dunaway show in 1961, less than a year after WABC became a music station, also will be aired again.
There also will be a surprise this year.
“At 9 a.m. we’re going to do something that will be unlike anything we’ve every done in the past,” Peter said. “People will get a kick out of it.”
Peter said that the five previously un-aired shows will include Harry Harrison playing the top 100 of 1975 on his morning drive-time show and former late-night air personality Chuck Leonard playing the Top 100 of 1968.
“The Chuck Leonard tapes are more common than you would imagine,” he said of the late air personality who was at the station from 1965 to 1979. “I don’t have the reason for that.”
Peter said that the Rewound production crew didn’t receive any new tapes of major consequence since last year’s show, although it is anticipating a valuable collection in the near future.
He said that they have had contact with a former WABC engineer, who lived near the transmitter in Lodi, N.J. and whose wife recorded a number of shows.
The tapes haven’t arrived yet, but Peter said there is reason to believe that if they do, it will provide a boost for the Rewound collection, which has “reached the point of diminishing returns.”
He said that WABC’s Saturday Night Oldies show, which has aired since early December of 2005, “has kept the spirit of Rewound alive.”
“It’s a continuing audience during the year,” Peter said of the show that Mark Simone hosts each Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. “It’s been very successful, which speaks well for the relevance of the audience for WABC from its music days.”
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