Thursday, April 16, 2009
590 MIGHTY MEMORY #555
WARM Radio, born in 1940, having come into adulthood in 1958 at the age of 18 as the landmark rock and roll station for a generation was officially declared dead on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009. WARM spent its childhood in Scranton, moved to the center of the Wilkes Barre/Scranton radio market in its legendary years in the small town of Avoca and entered its declining days at 600 Baltimore Drive, Plains Twp. Causes of death were neglect of its power source, changing tastes in music and technology as well as low revenue. Surviving are thousands of avid listeners and fans who grew up with WARM Radio. There will be no calling hours. Private services are up to citizens of WARMland's collective memories and individual schedules.
FROM THE TIMES LEADER'S JERRY LYNOTT:
PLAINS TWP. – WARM, the AM-radio station synonymous with Northeastern Pennsylvania, is off the air after broadcasting news, music and sports for more than 50 years.
The station has been silent and a posting on its Web site thanked listeners for their support. “We love you and we’ll miss you,” it read.
Calls to the Citadel Broadcasting Co.-owned station were not returned Wednesday. “WARM is done,” said Sam Liguori. “Unless there’s a miracle they ain’t coming back.” Liguori, 72, of Forty Fort, hosted a Saturday polka show. He said the station’s backup transmitter had failed. “It’s a big technical problem that would cost a lot of money” to repair, he said.
Listeners found static when they tuned in to the station’s 590 kHz frequency for the past week. Unable to give a final sendoff on the air, Liguori thanked his audience and sponsors. “I hope the four hours a week that I was on the air put some joy in your life. That was my goal,” he said Wednesday. At its height in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, WARM, known as “The Mighty 590,” featured on-air personalities playing the latest Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll records. They populated their shows with signature characters and their antics entertained listeners well beyond the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area on the strength of its 5,000-watt transmitter.
The station changed hands, formats and locations. It billed itself as the “True Oldies Channel” with a playlist containing some of the songs WARM’s “Sensational Seven” disc jockeys spun on 45-rpm records in its Avoca studio. “We had a talented bunch of guys,” said Harry West, 79, of Kingston. He worked at the station from September 1959 through July 1992 and then moved around to other local stations. “To this day I will be someplace and somebody will know me by my jingle,” West said of the catchy intro to his show. The shows were fun. The station was popular. And it won’t be duplicated. “The format was, there was no format,” West said.
Still, the station must adhere to Federal Communications Commission rules. WARM’s owner must give notice of an extended disruption of service for up to 30 days because of events beyond the control of the station owner. “They don’t have to notify us for 10 days,” said David Fiske, an FCC spokesman. If the station fails to broadcast for 12 consecutive months, its license expires, according to FCC rules. Should it come to that, Joe Nardone Sr. said he would have plenty of good memories.“They’re the one who introduced rock ‘n’ roll to the valley,” he said. The station also helped Nardone promote music shows at the Sans Souci Park. He said he did some clandestine market research back then to make sure he attracted big crowds. Nardone said he would send out people with flashlights to the parking lot to shine the lights on the radios inside the cars. “We wanted to know what they were listening to,” Nardone recalled. Nine out of 10 of the radios were tuned to WARM, he said.
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, can be contacted at 570 829-7237.
This blog/site, 590 FOREVER will continue to chronicle the historical aspects of WARM RADIO.