The NY Radio Archive

WQIV 104.3

WQIV was a short-lived FM rock station (November 7, 1974 - August 25, 1975) owned by Starr Broadcasting that replaced classical WNCN. Its original studios were located at 2 West 45th Street. The station was called WQIV because it broadcast in quadraphonic stereo sound (although very few people had quad-capable receivers.)

I don't remember all that much about WQIV other than the fact that it marked Rosko's return from living in France to FM radio in New York. I actually applied for a job there as some sort of production/engineering person -- I felt I could help them improve their sound, which I didn't think was up to the quality of either WNEW-FM or WPLJ and even though WNCN was a fine-sounding classical station (I had once freelanced there doing some production work on weekends.) In retrospect, it may have been that there were phase cancellation effects that made the station's production sound seem "weak" when not listening in Quad. I was interviewed by then-PD Larry Miller, but I didn't get the job, probably a good thing in retrospect.

The move to a rock format was highly controversial and was challenged in court. A Chicago group headed by William Benton eventually forced Starr to accept an offer of $3 million from GAF Broadcasting in June of 1976 or risk a license challenge before the FCC. GAF returned the station to a classical music format. However, GAF itself was under upheaval and when a new chairman was elected, he sold WNCN to Viacom in 1996 for $90 million and about a year later, Viacom sold the station to Chancellor for $117 million. Chancellor then sold the station to Clear Channel (now iHeart) in August of 2000.

In December of 1993, the call letters were changed to WAXQ, which they remain today where 104.3 has been the mainstay of the Classic Rock format through all of the ownership changes.

According to radio historian Rob Frankel, the WQIV airstaff included Jim Cameron, Larry Miller, Rosko, Dave Mallow and Allan Morgan (whose real name was also Larry Miller) and Thom O'Hare, who had done stints at KSAN and KMET in San Francisco. Rob also remembers Lisa Karlin and Al Bernstein having airshifts. Larry Miller was the original P.D. and was replaced by Thom O'Hare when he resigned after a dispute with Starr Broadcasting management.

Charlie O'Laughlin remembers the station promoting itself in its final days as "WQIV, a legend in our own time" or something close to that.

Click any thumbnail for a larger image.


PRESS: Quad Radio? Yeah, right..that's the ticket...

FM Guide: Maynard Report - April, 1970

"Youth will love four-channel stereo"

An interesting industry report from FM Guide. Notice the emphasis on Quad broadcasting, which of course failed in spite of rock WQIV-FM, which was to come later.

The problem with Quad was that there was a multitude of formats for LPs which created consumer confusion and people were just getting used to handling two channels - it was premature for four channels, which (at the risk of sounding sexist), most wives or girlfriends weren't about to let into the living room.

One thing they did get right though is the question as to whether AM radio was going to become "all-talk, news, no-music medium". That was a pretty good prediction back in 1970.


AD: Quad

Broadcasting - 1971

An ad from Electro-Voice trying to push Quad recording and broadcasting



October 24, 1974

contributed by Rob Frankel

A few weeks before WQIV launched, Rosko appeared on Adelphi University's college radio station, WBAU with student air personality Ellen Lutzak.

Rosko implies that stations like WNEW-FM no longer had freedom, but most WNEW-FM DJs would state that they had freedom until 1980. But he also states that he was shocked by the amount of government control at radio stations in France, which he implies is the reason he returned to the United States. Meanwhile, it never sounded to me like he had all that much freedom at WQIV either. The interview also featured a few callers and there's some interesting discussion about the ethics of displacing classical WNCN.

The original radio show probably construed 2 1/2 hours of airtime. Rob contributed a one-hour edited version and it's been further edited down to about 38 minutes in two parts.

mp3Pt1 mp3Pt2

AIRCHECK: WQIV First Day (Scoped)

November 7, 1974

contributed by Rob Frankel

Thanks to Rob Frankel, we have a spectacular aircheck of parts of WQIV's first day, including the format flip from classical WNCN. The audio has great quality and sounds to me like it came right off the board.

While many of the tracks played are part of the progressive rock canon, as many are unfamiliar. As we get farther away from that era, all but the biggest hit music is getting lost.

Part One includes the format flip and original PD Larry Miller.

Part Two features Bill "Rosko" Mercer, formerly of WOR-FM and WNEW-FM and recently returned from living in France.

Part Three features a news broadcast. Yes, there was still full-service radio in 1974. Note the news story about a possible recession. Some things never change.

Part Four features Rosko closing out the show with one of his regular bits: singing along to Lee Michaels' "Heighty-Hi".

mp3Flip mp3Rosko mp3News mp3Rosko

And also thanks to Rob Frankel, we now have this addition from the next morning with Jim Cameron.


PRESS: Classical WNCN becomes Rock WQIV

New York Times: November 9, 1974

What looks to be from the editorial page of the New York Times, decrying the change from classical to rock format.


VIDEO: Rosko at WQIV

circa 1974

Posted by videoiptx on YouTube

This is a great presentation by Rosko during his short stint at WQIV talking about the origins of modern music and the influence of African culture on jazz and rock.

While most of his predictions didn't become true (rock becoming more like jazz, then more like classical music), it provides some great insight into his thinking about the art.

There's also some nice shots of the studio and notice the Sennheiser HD414 headphones, which is what we all used at the time.

Thanks to Rob Frankel for letting us know about this clip and to "videoiptx" for posting it.

AIRCHECK: Eisenberg & Miller quit WQIV

New York Times: January 14, 1975

They probably saw the handwriting on the wall and/or they didn't want to be perceived as the bad guys. Tom O'Hare replaced Miller as P.D.


AIRCHECK: GAF Closing in on Deal to Buy WQIV

New York Times: May 17, 1975

GAF makes their move to acquire the station


AIRCHECK: WNCN Returns to the Airwaves

New York Times: August 26, 1975

The classical format replaces the rock format at 104.3. Note that Starr still officially owned the station - the transfer to GAF hadn't been completed yet. It's hard to believe that the chairman of Starr, conservative William F. Buckley, was happy with progressive rock on the station in the first place. But rock would eventually return to this frequency in a variety of formats.