column written by Art Vuolo, Jr.
Recently, progressive-talk WDTW (AM 1310) added The Joey Reynolds overnight show 1 am-6 am. WDTW-AM (once the mighty WKNR Keener 13 in the 1960's) is one of a number of AM signals in Detroit (Dearborn technically) which is unknown to most local radio listeners. Joey was one of only a few programs that actually got this 5,000 watt station noticed. Sadly that is now coming to an end.
The radio station where Joey's program originates, WOR-AM (710) in New York City has decided that the bottom line is far more important than the all-night audience who listened in droves to the last overnight radio show that was actually entertaining! They will pull the plug on Joey's show on April 2nd. He did it for just over 14 years. Reynolds, often referred to as a "radio rebel" had 38 jobs prior to joining New York's oldest station, which has been doing talk for 88 years. He is considered to be the father of "shock radio" years before Howard Stern was ever heard from. His style today, however, is 180 degrees from those days. He also did the first simulcast on both radio and TV at KOA-AM (850) in Denver and KOA-TV Channel 4. It was innovative and wildly entertaining. He broke the first hit by the Four Seasons "Sherry" in 1962 while working in Hartford, CT. His opening theme song was a custom creation by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons as a token of appreciation.
So, now after nearly a decade and a half, WOR has decided to push fun radio out the door in exchange of George Noory's AM Coast-to-Coast. Interestingly George is a Detroiter, who has spent much of his career in St. Louis. Noory's show centers heavily on the paranormal and extraterrestrial topics. It is also carried on over 500 stations across the country. It was on in New York, opposite Joey's show, on WJR's sister station WABC-AM (770). Joey did very well. It was a national show that was VERY entertaining and very New York. The studio was often jammed with people even at 2 or 3 in the morning!
When WABC had a new overnight show called "The Red-Eye Radio Show" hosted by former KABC Los Angeles morning host Doug McIntyre, it pushed AM Coast-to-Coast off the powerful Citadel talker. That move sent shock-waves throughout the NYC radio community. Most figured it would only be a matter of time (and of course money) before Noory's show would resurface on another station. Sadly for fans of "fun radio" it was at the expense of losing Joey Reynolds. It's easier and cheaper for stations to plug in a syndicated national show than to do a live and local program. So, once again, the listeners are the losers. Radio keeps drinking the Kool-Aid and wonders why it has a stomach ache.
There should be enough room on the radio dial to do the big nationwide broadcasts AND a local show which, although Joey is nationally syndicated as well, was heavy on New York based stars and entertainment. The theatre-community, in particular, will be upset by this action, since Reynolds featured Broadway cast members, singers, musicians, comics and a plethora of big stars on his show every night. Rarely (if ever) were politics discussed and he very rarely used the phones. His was similar to TV legendary Ed Sullivan Show of the 1950's & 60's.
If you spin the AM dial overnight you will hear George Noory, who is a nice man and has a big audience, on literally dozens of stations, but now we won't hear one of the most creative and innovative broadcasters to ever grace the airwaves with the absence of Joey Reynolds. My personal hope is that some savvy radio company picks him up before he even hits the ground, but for now, the last FUN show on radio will broadcast for the final time on Friday April 2nd....and that's no post April Fool's Day joke. Good luck Joey...radio needs you.