pirate radio WCPR WFAT WHOT RFNY oldies top-40 rock and roll
With the RNI experience now freshly behind us, it was decided that WHOT would return to the airwaves. After a handful of test broadcasts to make sure everything still worked (including US), the first real broadcast of the new era was a Halloween special - October 31, 1987. Thus began what I like to call the "salad days" of WHOT!
Still mindful that the FCC could come and shut us down at any moment, we held nothing back. WHOT took "underground broadcasting" to the limit. Marathon broadcasts ensued, along with listener meet-and-greets at local diners, continued AM and FM simulcasts, contests, giveaways...The Hot One was back, baby - with a vengeance!
The most amazing thing to me was the fact that from the moment we signed back on, the listeners were all there - as if we'd never left. It was like, "Oh, hey welcome back, glad you're back on. Can I hear a song?". It was as if they knew we'd be back eventually. The resiliency of the radio listener cannot be underestimated. They are a loyal lot!
In addition to having Terry, Tommy, Ivan and Chuck back, long-time friends Jay "Balls" McCarty and Joe E. Reynolds started making frequent appearances behind the microphone. After many years of tinkering, WHOT had found the perfect formula. It was probably the closest thing to "full service" radio that you were going to find at that time: rock and roll oldies spanning any era from the late-50s through the 70s; a sprinkling of format-friendly currents and re-currents; humor; personality and most importantly - FUN.
We made it through the end of 1987 and all of 1988 in one piece. As the end of 1988 approached, WHOT was peaking. There were the pre-requisite holiday shows that listeners had come to know and love, a barbecue broadcast, a Christmas party and of course, WHOT's presentation of "A Christmas Carol". Through it all, the only negative element was another "pirate war" that flared up in the wake of the RNI mess that would cause us occasional grief. We definitely could have done without that, but treated it as an annoyance and continued to have fun nonetheless.
The station had morphed into this amazing, unexplainable experience that is hard to properly describe, even after all these years. It's almost as if there was a harmonic convergence of the planets. We were having a blast, the listeners were great and constantly growing, WHOT was simply huge. It was probably TOO huge. Our schedule was increasing to two, three, sometimes even four nights a week by the end of 1988. There's an old saying that you can only go so high before you have to come back down again, and brother, ain't that the truth...
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