On Wednesday, July 1, 1987 Emmis Broadcasting invented a new format category as Country 1050 WHN flipped to All-Sports WFAN. Today there are nearly 700 Sports formatted stations in the country thanks to what started in New York twenty-five years ago today.
That was not the only thing born on that date as the launch of that format began a love affair with radio for yours truly that continues to this day. I was eight years old on the day WFAN replaced what had been my parents favorite station (the Country format was picked up by 97.1 WYNY the same day) which perhaps explains my rooted passion for the art and science behind format changes. My beloved New York Mets were the cornerstone of WFAN in its early years.
As I grew older, I began understanding the concept of long distance reception on AM and in seeking some form of baseball programming discovered the full service News/Talk/Sports programming of WWWE Cleveland, WBAL Baltimore, KMOX St. Louis, and many many others. I was probably the last of those who grew up on AM radio as all of my peers were tuned to Howard Stern on WXRK, the developing Hip-Hop format on WQHT, or a Z100 searching for an identity in the early-mid 90’s. I would soon join them there, but not before seeing what was being done in other markets and seeing radio from up and down the east coast.
For a nerdy, socially awkward kid in suburban New Jersey who was an information junkie in the time before the internet scanning the AM dial was the best way to find information from many different sources at one time. If not for WFAN opening the door who knows what would have filled that void. So as many people commemorate WFAN and rightfully so for all they’ve done to change the Sports landscape, I’d like to make a more personal thank you for being the station that triggered my love of this radio medium.