big changes


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.