In the 70s, radio was still the way we received most of our music, especially away from home. And, if the hits were what you wanted to listen to, WBLI was probably your choice, thanks to its strong signal that was crystal clear throughout Long Island.
Let’s take a look back at the station that provided much of the soundtrack of the 70s to local listeners.
WBLI-FM, located at 106.1 on the radio dial first emerged in 1971, replacing WPAC-FM. They originally broadcast from a trailer before moving to the Wedgewood Building on Main St. in Patchogue, and later from a custom building in Medford.
The station played the softer hits of the decade, meaning you weren’t going to hear a lot of heavy guitars on BLI, but you would hear most of the popular hits.
There were numerous memorable DJs on WBLI back in the day, including Don Nelson, Scott Taylor, Adam Knight, Jeff Thomas, Barry Neal, Randi Taylor, and one of the smoothest voices in radio, Bruce Michaels. In the 70s, the radio station featured a Saturday night disco show called “Club 106,” while Don Nelson hosted the popular Sunday evening program “Only Gold.”
Long Islanders may also remember the Block Party Weekends. Held every Labor Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July, the station would play one artist for an entire hour, all weekend long. So you might hear The Bee Gees from 2-3, Steve Miller from 3-4, Stevie Wonder from 4-5, etc.
Thanks to one of the strongest broadcast signals in the area (able to reach New Jersey and Connecticut), millions tuned in at the beaches, parks and, yes, block parties across the island.
WBLI-FM remains a popular radio station on the island, although much has changed format-wise since the glory days of the 70s – when a steady stream of contemporary pop provided a soundtrack for millions of Long Islanders.
If you have fond memories of listening to WBLI-FM in the 70s, I hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts in our comments section below.
I was there @ the beginning as the station went Top 40 Jan. 1973. I was PT weekends saddled with name DUSTY (yuch) HUDSON. Originally I worked with the late, great George Taylor Morris (WWDJ, XM Deep Tracks), Barry Neal (mornings), PD Jay Mitchell (middays), briefly Lon Fricano & then Paul Radloff (evenings), Brian Quinn news, Mike “Josephs” Scalzi, & the late “Capt. Jack Bligh” Paul Zarcone (WMCA, WBLS, WCBS-FM, WTFM, WKTU PD). I did a 2nd stint in 1973 & worked with “The Real Stoney Brook” now Jim Ryan CBS-FM/FreshFM NYC, Al Bandiero (WPLJ, WKTU, WIFI, WKBW), Mike “Davis Parke” Riccio, Bob McCants news (famous for KISS-FM & now WBLS). I had come back to WBLI from WSVP/Providence & WNHC/WAVZ New Haven. I later went on to do many famous commercials, BIG BARRYS, SPEAKS, HAMMERHEADS, RUMBOTTOMS, DETROIT..hundreds of discos & rock clubs. I live outside of FTL now & still work in the club/hospitality business.
Tony, thank you so much for sharing that wealth of information! So glad you stopped by!
That’s awesome Tony! I wasn’t alive then, but my parents grew up in Long Island.
I believe the station flipped to Top 40 sometime in late 1970 / early 1971.. First song I heard them play was Brewer & Shipley. Don’t forget Jerry McRae (Chuck Mackin – WLNG) and Jim Driscoll (Jim Glascock). I believe Mark Hudson became famous for the Crazy Eddie commercials.
Jack: ouch! Not Crazy Eddie, that was Dr. Jerry Carol of Pix. I did Big Barry’s (voiced by actor Jim Gerth) & ALL of the rock clubs & discos: Speaks, Detroit, Hammerheads, Beggar’s Opera, Penrod’s. Cherry’s, OBI group, etc. –Mark Hudson (2nd tour WBLI)/Dusty Hudson (1st tour WBLI) aka Tony Marzocco of Margate FL.
I was manager of the steer inn in Patchogue, and jeff Thomas and stoney brok used to stop in.. we asked stoney about the name, and said they had to have three syllable names ,as it was easier to use over the air. we loved that station !
Dick clark used to own it.
Lynn Leone here….Found a business card of your’s when you did the voice overs for Phil Basile for our radio ads. Looked you up and found you’re in Margate, Fl. I’m selling my home on Long Island and will reside in Naples, Fl. full time. Hope you are well and happy
Hi Lynn. Wow that’s an old card LOL. Phil Basile, Frankie Basile & Larry Tortorici are long gone unfortunately. My sister lived in Naples for a while. When I retire from FL I’ll be moving to Vegas, baby, my last stop on the timeline. I am well, healthy, organic & in perfect health at 68, although a nit balder. LOL
My sister lived in Naples. Nice place, FL West Coast.
Ooops! I meant January 1971 we went on the air!! My bad
I was the babysitter for Randi Taylor’s (not her real name) son back in 1976-77. They lived across the street from me and I’d listen to her show while babysitting. Any way of finding where she is nowadays?? would love to reconnect! Now my kids listen to BLI!!
Here’s Randi’s linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/randi-bachman/15/40b/843
Bruce Michaels was and always will be the best disc jockey Wbli ever had! His voice was perfect and his comments were always right on spot! Here’s to you, Bruce.
I agree that Bruce Michaels was the greatest voice on the radio in the 70’s Does anyone know where he is now?
I was hired before WBLI went on the air. My friend Sonny Taylor of WGLI, called to tell me about this new FM station WBLI and I should call Jay Mitchell, the PD of this new WBLI. When I called him he said not to send an audition tape, that I audition everyday on the air at WBAB. We kept in touch until it was time to give my notice to BAB. We met frequently & put together the format, songs and hires. We started broadcasting from a trailer until the studios were completed. Thank you Jay, Marty Beck, Jim Champlin, Herb Usenhiemer and all the great people I had the pleasure to work with for so many years. We started something that still continues today.
I remember that you loved trivia, My whole family loved listening to you , Rick Sommers and especially Don Nelson, I met all of you at a softball game on a Memorial Day weekend and got to play for the 106ers for a couple of seasons. Great memories! I hope you are well
Barry, you were amazing. I worked or interned on the Sunday night show with Don nelson. those were the days
Help start my radio career as an intern with John Bachman. Those were the days. Barry, Bruce, Randi, Mike, Mr. Bill, John Allen……
I Believe Bruce Michaels Hosted Solid Gold back then. Bruce was the greatest Dj in that era BLI had period !
I believe Bruce Michaels Hosted Solid Gold for most of its run. Michaels was the GREATEST JOCK BLI ever had !
Is it not wonderful , we can hear our past , Today ?
was famous for advertising rum bottoms (north massapequa and hampton bays). a couple of nyc stations followed through.
wow what a mind blower I was one of the last two interns, me buffalo bob and lucious lea, for only golds last two years on the air. I believe 85- 86 ish. of course the great DON NELSON (he was a hell of a nice guy) was at the helm. 7 to 12 sunday night till he moved to chicago and they shut it down but thanks for the memories.
the program director was bill terry
music director i want to say ruth,
the promotions director my budy mike larkin wow and herb was there to.
ps Iuse to also drive the giveaway van all over the island giving away 106 bucks to peeps with the bumper sticker. went did the colisuem the hamptons, march of dimes the time a dij stayed on the roof of the 7 eleven for 4days to raise money for charity wow. I could go on and on MIND BLOW thanks again
psstehn i move to fla a 20 years old get a gig dj at a bar called flashbacks it was 50’s to the 90’s I did happy hour every day and who shows up. RON GOLD formely of walk program director small world
Update on original WBLI guys: PD Jay Mitchell & his wife Sharon live in the OC in Cali. Jay said original Barry Neal moved to Virginia. The Real Stony Brook is the famous Jim Ryan PD of WCBS-FM NYC. Mike Riccio does real estate on LI. Chuck Mackin took a nasty fall in the studios of WLNG but is recuperating at home. Will he return to the air again? Newman Bob Slade (McCants), WBLS & WRKS legend, passed recently.
Eric Schwartz (P.J. Cassidy), Paul Zarcone (Capt. Jack Bligh), George Taylor Morris (WWDJ, XM Deep Tracks) are all gone. Progressive overnighter Ken Kohl is with MTV in LA, I think. No news on Pauli, Mike Josephs (Scalzi), newsmen Brian Quinn & Ashley Martella (Bob Phillips).
Al Bandiero NYC dj legend was not at the WPLJ Closing Party. Hmm.
Dave Scott (Friedman) also a progressive deejay, no info. Me, I’m still in FTL area in nightclub/restaurant business. Hope to move to LV NV.
I am proud to say that Mike Scalzi is a Catholic Bishop in Pennsylvania.
Mike “Mike Josephs” Scalzi a Bishop ? I would like Last Rights from him if he could solve the “What Has 3 Ears & One Mouth” WBLI first ad in Newsday riddle! LOL
The station one time owned wgli babylon . it was destroyed by fire and moved to wado in n.j. which is now spanish.
Weren’t you also known as Chris Raymond at some time?
Compare Joe Rotolo played italian music on couple stations.
i rember rick and shelly sexton in the morning with the speedy cd and the sold gold lunch hour with scott miller
she was so wackey
I was wrapping up my BLI internship 40 years ago this week, under Bill Terry. I also drove the BLI Van and gave away Free Gas to vehicles with the famous BLI bumper sticker. I was there during the move from ‘downtown’ Patchogue to the custom building on Route 112 in Medford. Barry Neal in the morning, Bruce Michaels in Middays, Chris Tyler (Ed Lenane of EMF fame) in afternoons (then Rick Summers) and Rob McLean in evenings, if I recall correctly. Still owned by Beck-Ross. BTW, MD was Ruth Tolson