WGLI AM 1290

History Of "The Mighty 1290 WGLI"

Let me start off by saying, I actually know very little about this station and never
worked for WGLI, but I know people who have.  Credit to those for the information
obtained on this site is greatly acknowledged and given at the bottom of this page.
Updated information was made possible by Richard Ross (Chief Engineer of WADO and WGLI),
along with a detailed e-mail from Edwin Karl, WGLI's CE from back in the early 60's.
All photos were taken by Rick Hall unless credited otherwise.  Most recent posts were
contributed by WGLI's Wally Walters.

Also interesting to note, there were several fire related incidents at WGLI which took place
in the late 60's, long prior to the one that devastated the building in the early 90's.
There is a link to an outside web source detailing these newly unearthed news articles.


Back in 1958, a radio concern headed by William H. Reuman applied to the FCC for a
construction permit for a non-directional AM on 1300 kHz, but instead was granted
an operating frequency of 1290 kHz with a directional signal pattern.  The assigned
call letters were: WGLI which later, according to most of the people I have spoken
with, stood for "Greater Long Island" Communications Inc.

WGLI was the eleventh AM station built on Long Island (WGBB 1240 being the first), but
officially was Suffolk County's first full service AM station licensed for 24-hour operation.
For over 30 years both the studio and transmitters were located in the same building at
1290 Peconic Avenue in Babylon, New York.  

Dick Moore On 1290 WGLI Babylon New York!

Click the ON-AIR sign to hear a scoped mid-70's air-check of Dick Moore on the Mighty 1290!
BTW: Yes, that's the voice of New York's Channel 7 Roger Grimsby doing ABC Radio Network News!

Click Here For Ray Mann On WGLI
(Sinatra & Friends MP3)

WGLI featured lots of specialized programs on weekends.
Click above for a sample of Sinatra And Friends - hosted by
well known Long Island radio personality Ray Mann!

Technical note: Ray's air-check was retrieved from the station's
dumpster after they upgraded to newer cart machines, which
could not play the older, oversized audio carts.  The above air-check
was found on a vintage Fidelipac model 600 cartridge,
which was the second of three popular sizes: model 300 being the
standard cartridge used by most broadcast facilities, model 600 was
a slightly larger middle size cart which required a 6 inch slot.
The biggest cartridge was the Fidelipac model 1200, which was
approximately 8 inches wide and held close to 30 minutes of audio.

Dick Moore Air Check On WGLI 11/11/78 Dick Moore Air Check Pt 2 On WGLI 11/11/78 Dick Moore Air Check Part 3 On WGLI 11/11/78
Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3
Hear Dick Moore On WGLI Parts 1, 2 & 3 recorded Veterans Day 11/11/1978, which includes
Paul Harvey's News & Comments, and more!

WGLI 1962 Music SurveyWGLI 1962 Music Survey WGLI 1963 Music SurveyWGLI 1963 Music Survey
WGLI 1964 Music SurveyWGLI 1964 Music Survey
Click On Any Of The Above WGLI Radio Music Surveys/Air Personality Banners For A Larger View.
Special thanks to WGLI's Wally Walters for sending these wonderful surveys.

 
WGLI's 'Way Back Wally' (Wally Walters)


Jim Gordon worked at WGLI (1971 to 1975), and recalls working with "Big" John Richards,
Frank Holiday, Mike Botty, Chris Michaels, Dick Moore and Barry Landers (sports).
Jim says: "Every evening Barry would rush in with only seconds to to spare
before his sportcast microphone was turned on.  We had his rip-read copy ready
for him and a  small table set up near the studio entrance door for him to plop
down on.  He was amazing!  I can't remember even once him being on-air late.
I think he was a dentist or eye doctor, and as soon as his 5 minute broadcast was
finished, he would rush out just a fast as he came in, with a wave of the hand and
a "see ya tomorrow guys. Everyone loved working there which made
for a happy atmosphere."

Click the cassette to hear an official air-check of WGLI DJ Jim Gordon:

(mp3)


Another noted voice on WGLI was ex-WBAB PD Scott Robbins.  Scott worked in broadcasting
at various radio stations across Long Island, and was on the air at WGLI towards the final days.
 This is Scott later in years at WSUN in Tampa Bay, just before Cox changed the format and
released Scott, who went on to work at Q105 also in the Tampa Bay market.  This is probably
one of the last pictures of Scott in radio before he passed away.  Photo courtesy of Wally Walters.

Hats off to WGLI Engineer and close ham radio friend Carmen DeVito (WA2GYXSK)


Carmen DeVito - Engineer At WABC TV

I found your websites a while back, and thought I would finally email you about my Dad’s time at WGLI. I don’t have any formal “historical facts” but I just
thought I’d send you a quick note, as my Dad, Carmen DeVito, worked at WGLI 1961-1963, as an Engineer.  I remember two of Dad’s friends who worked at WGLI, Frank Steel and Ken Bell.  Ken Bell was an announcer with a nice deep voice (I remember Ken Bell worked for WGSM), who had a southern wife Marlo (with a contagious laugh, she laughed a lot) she was good friends with my mother, too.  My Dad worked lots of nights, and I remember one New Years Eve our family wanted to be together, so my mom brought us to the station and we 3 kids (we were about 5,6 and 8 yrs old) slept in blankets overnight on a studio floor somewhere.  I also vividly remember Dad giving us kids the tour of the radio towers out in a swamp, we had to be very careful not to fall off the boardwalk, it was old and rickety, but amazing fun for us.  I also remember Dad recorded us kids singing the radio jingle “…1290 on your dial!” and we were loud and screechy but someone there loved it and played it once in a while over the air.  One memorable remote assignment Dad brought us kids and Mom to the Bay Shore Roller Rink where Diana Ross was a guest.  After WGLI he went on to a few other local stations, then worked for WABC (member of NABET) until he retired.  My Dad was a Ham, his call was WA2GYX. Dad passed away 6-19-2003 at 77 years old (and mom in 2009); he looked back fondly at his years at WGLI, and I’m sure Dad would have appreciated your website very much!

- Dale DeVito - Luongo
(Carmen’s daughter)

We recently heard from another WGLI voice from the past!  Special thanks to Howie Newman for contacting us and sending in an original
WGLI air-check demo!  Howie was the Disc Jockey who hosted "The Diamond Mine" oldies show on WGLI in 1969 from 10AM to 6PM.
"Barry Landers did Sports during my show. Bobby Jay followed me. I worked with a lineup that included Sonny Taylor, Gordie Baker and
Bob Ottone. Also with me on WPAC were George Flowers (WINS and voiceover King) and Gary Sapiane (WLNG)."


Click The Cassette To Hear
Howie Newman's 1969 Air-Check Demo
(MP3)

Official WGLI Power Change Announcement
Click The Tower To Hear The Official WGLI Power Change Message!
(MP3)

According to those who worked for WGLI, it's management was always considered
to be a bit 'top heavy', especially in the paycheck department, and that the
air staff was considerably under compensated for their true professional talents.
WGLI always sounded very professional, had a polished act with a respectable
major market sound.  No matter how good it may have sounded through the
late 70's and early 80's, it was loosing money... fast.

It was only a matter of time before WGLI ended up with a "For Sale" sign on it.
The buyer was WADO, a NYC based station with intentions of permanently
shutting it down.  Doing this would allow them to apply for a large power increase.
The winner: Big Corporate Radio. The looser: Local Community Minded Radio.

This site shows what happened after WGLI was taken off the air.  The Babylon
Fire Department labeled the occurrence as 'suspicious' and placed the blame for
the fire on vandals (local kids) in the neighborhood.

   

"Shut It Off & Watch It Burn"

  
The WGLI boardwalk out back was surrounded by state protected swampland...
which made an excellent ground system.  It's no wonder WGLI had a great signal!


First view of the fire remains of the WGLI broadcast complex.  This is the main entrance.

 
Main Entrance close-up: you can see the hanging twisted down
letter "W" and what was left of the "GLI" on the doorway marquee.


Please make sure to stop at the receptionist window to get clearance
into the station!  (Actually, this was the news room window.)


View from inside: this is the center hallway leading to the main front lobby.
The Lavatory is the first door on the left (in case you need to use it).


Please step lively, your tour guide is waiting to take you to the commissary.


You are now standing in what was the main air control studio of the once famous "Mighty 1290".


Inside the back transmitter & engineering area.  Note: in the final report,
Babylon fire officials determined this was not were the fire had started.


The rear exit door leading to the towers.

It's a bit unclear how a group of local kids could have caused such a tremendous fire
capable of destroying an entire radio complex, especially when the fire reports claimed
the blaze was started without the use of gasoline or some other igniter.
One interesting note: WGLI was officially off the air and shut down with studios and
broadcast equipment removed prior to the building being set ablaze by vandals.
According to sources at WADO, the removal of the studio equipment was directly
due to technical problems in the station.  Although nothing that could not have
been fixed, management decided to remove all the station's equipment and
apply to the FCC requesting a relocation of the WGLI studios to Mastic Beach.

A year and a half later, the FCC without prejidious denied WADO's petition to relocate WGLI.
At this point, the broadcast complex was already destroyed, so WADO requested more time
from the FCC to re-build the entire facility in Babylon (it's original city of license).


(WADO's mobile unit in front of the main entrance to WGLI and possibly
the last known picture of WGLI's rear tower walk taken before the fire.)

(Photos Courtesy Of Richard Ross)

  Unfortunately, the FCC had placed tight deadlines on all pending construction permits.
Unable to completely rebuild WGLI from the ground up within the FCC's specified time frame,
WADO had little choice but to proceed with handing in the WGLI license, which the FCC agreed
to make conditional, pending the successful completion of the WADO power increase project.
But that's a whole different story!  For better or worse, the Mighty 1290 was officially dark.
Eleven years later, WADO received the FCC's approval for a 50KW power increase.

According to several vintage news articles, the history of WGLI also includes 3 other
fire incidents which occurred in the late 60's, of which all were apparently caused by a station
employee. The articles appear to be genuine, but are provided through an outside web source
not affiliated with WackRadio.com, therefore we've included a disclaimer that advises our viewers
they are leaving this web site to visit an outside source that contains information about the
fires which apparently took place at WGLI in the 60's. Click here to view the articles.

TODAY'S WGLI TOWER SITE:


Well, it's not exactly WGLI's tower...  but it is the new tower on the old property
which is now owned and operated by a prominent cellular communications firm.  And,
if you look closely, following up along the left side of the tower, you can see one of
WGLI's original AM towers with it's red beacon on top in the background.  

In the not too distant past, we received a wonderful e-mail from Mr. Edwin Karl, who
was the Chief Engineer for WGLI from way back in the early 60's, of which we would like
to share his memories with you!  (Click The Microphone Below)
Edwin Karl's E-Mail To Us!  

I wish to thank the following people who helped contribute
information and facts about this once great radio station:

Jim Pierce (photos and history)
Dick Moore (for the great air-check and WGLI Poster)
William Andres (for providing early history information)
Richard Ross (for pictures and clearing up a lot of loose ends!
Chip Ordway (graphics and information)
Wally Walters (for sending us the vintage WGLI music surveys)
Pentax Camera Co. and Fuji Film Corp. (for the wonderful pictures)

I would also like to hear from anyone who, after visiting this site, might possibly
have more information, facts and photos of WGLI 1290 when it was still on the air.
I can be reached at:

 WackRadio@tampabay.rr.com

 Or, you can also visit the following excellent WGLI sites: 

 Jerry Mehrab's WGLI Scrapbook:  http://www.wa2fnq.com/wgli/gli.htm

 The Long Island Radio History Page:  http://www.wackradio.com/lirhistory/index.htm

Disclaimer: The Views and Opinions Of What Happened To This Station Were Not Necessarily Planned By Us...  It Just Sort Of Happened That Way.

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