GAF, headed by Dr. Jesse Werner and Juliette Moran, invested several millions of dollars in WNCN. New studios and offices were built a block away from the old 45th Street quarters, and Richard Sequerra, a former Marantz designer and engineer and president of his own audio firm, was retained to build the studio equipment, some of it custom designed for classical music needs. At the same time, GAF hired Sedgwick Clark, a music journalist to edit a new arts magazine and program guide, KEYNOTE.
At this time, the station lightened up its music during the mornings, but substantial works (concertos, symphonies, and chamber music) were played after 10AM. We have copied one day's programming on WNCN from March 1977, and included it in the Images page.
Ratings zoomed and soon WQXR, the crosstown rival began to sit up and take notice. WNCN soon claimed the title of the Most Listened to Classical Station in the Country. It is of interest that when WQXR and WNCN were competing actively for audience, they actually increased the size of that audience. Frequently, ratings would show a combined audience of about 6%, yet when WNCN disappeared, the only audience went to WQXR, but rarely exceeded 3%.
WNCN developed a new advertising campaign, and a new slogan "New York's YOUNGER Classical Music Station" which was placed on billboards, and on buses, and in subways.
GAF, the parent corporation, underwent upheavals in the boardroom from dissident shareholders, and soon a new Chairman, Samuel Heyman, was elected by the investors. One of his platform issues was that Jesse Werner had squandered GAF resources on his "baby", WNCN, yet it produced consistent profits and when finally sold in the nineties it fetched a price of $100 Million dollars, over thirty times the purchase price of about $3 Million.
SIDE NOTE: The Chicago group had retained a right of "first refusal" should GAF decide to sell WNCN. A public statement by Samuel Heyman, the new GAF Chairman, trigerred a lawsuit (1981) over the terms of that agreement, and to settle it GAF had to pay $2.6 million to Concert Radio, Inc. as compensation.
In the late eighties and nineties, WNCN on-air personalities included Candice Agree, Bill Jerome, Annie Bergen, Clayelle Dalferes, and Elliot Forrest, among others, most of whom can still be heard on WQXR today
David Dubal, former WNCN Music Director now has a weekly program on WQXR.
Thus WNCN's influence continues long after its demise.
Two universities have collections of WNCN memoribilia and artifacts.
The personal collection of Matt Edwards was donated to the University of Texas at Denton, and the collection of Gordon Spencer Kahn was delivered to the University of Missouri.
In addition, Gordon Spencer's memoir is in the final stage of preparation by his widow, Hannelore, and to be released in August 2020.
"A Musical Offering", the groundbreaking analysis of piano music and techniques, with recorded samples has been largely preserved and is available on YouTube. It was broadcast live daily at 11AM and hosted by WNCN's Music Director David Dubal with announcer Matt Edwards.
Two other long-term programs were NY Tonight which featured a listing of musical events, and included related music selections; sometimes by the performers, at other times the actual piece being played. Broadcast Mon-Fri 5 to 7PM.
At 7PM, WNCN presented Anniversary Concert, an one-hour program which featured music by composers born or died on that date, or the anniversary of a composition's premiere, or other chronological event. Sometimes there were several honorees
The theme was by Stravinsky, his Greeting Prelude, based on the tune "Happy Birthday".
The spoken commentary was written by David Dubal in longhand on legal pads utilizing his fountain pen.