Friday, August 10, 2012

Stereo 9 FM and the 1980 DNC in NYC

For the first half of the 1980s, some of the most innovative radio heard in New York City was heard after 1 AM on 91.9 MHz, on those nights when Stereo 9 FM took to the air from its Flushing, NY location.  This station had a directional antenna pattern from its Chanel Master FM yagi antenna.  Most of the time it pointed east toward Long Island, but sometimes it would point westward to Manhattan.  The station was run by Ed Armstrong -- who later became known as Radio Newyork International's own Randi Steele.

I first met Ed Armstrong at the young age of 15.  I was attending a phone phreak convention at the Hotel Diplomat near Times Square in NYC.  A guy came up to me with a microphone and we started to talk.  When I asked him what radio station he was with, he was a little cagey.  Right away, I knew I had chanced upon a real life pirate broadcaster.

As it happened, I lived in Queens, well within earshot of Ed's 1973 pirate station, WQLB.  WQLB was part of the Falling Star Network run by Allan Weiner and Joseph Paul Ferraro.  But WQLB's antenna was damaged during an ice storm in November of 1973 and never returned to the air -- at least under that the late 1970's, Ed returned to the air with a new idea.  And so Stereo 9 FM was born.

32 years ago today, the Democratic National Convention came to New York City for its 1980 presidential nominating convention.  Stereo 9 FM was there to cover it, in true stereo.  We used two EV 635A microphones mounted on a was quite a sight to see.  One of those two microphones is still in service today in my studio.

This off-air recording from August 10, 1980 features Marconi (aka Dan Lewis), Ed Armstrong (aka Randi Steele), and Mr. Tim interviewing folks (including Betty Boop and Dana Beale) outside of Madison Square Garden.  This was pirate radio at its best.  It's somewhat disheartening that many of the issues that faced us in 1980 are very much with us today, unresolved 32 years later.

The fade down and up around the 30 and 60 minute marks are not edits, but where the cassette tape used for the off air recording was changed.

Listen here.

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