June 26 Celebration to Honor WRNW FM’s Rock-Solid Legacy

Public event slated for June 26 at 2:00 pm in Briarcliff Manor

Former DJs Gary Axelbank and Bruce Figler on the porch of the former WRNW studios in Briarcliff Manor

The leafy village of Briarcliff Manor is best known for its affluent citizenry and sprawling estates with historic ties to the Astors and Rockefellers.

In the 1970s, however, this normally staid community was home to the pioneering free-form rock’n’roll FM station WRNW. This ragtag outfit broadcasting from a shabby building on a dusty side street was the launchpad for the careers of Howard Stern, Meg Griffin and many other radio personalities.

Meg Griffin from the broadcast of the last Patti Smith show at CBGB

“WRNW was a glorious playhouse that enabled hopeful novice DJs to figure out who they were going to be when they grew up,” said Griffin, who started at the station fresh out of college in 1975 enroute to a Hall of Fame career. “At that little station in the woods, I learned the importance of being true to yourself,” added Griffin, now with Sirius XM.

Stern, who was WRNW’s midday host and later program director in the mid-1970s, returned to Briarcliff to shoot scenes outside the old studios for his 1997 autobiographical film “Private Parts.”

Throughout its run, WRNW exposed listeners to a wide variety of sounds through its progressive format. In addition to rock, the station’s “jocks” spun funk, jazz, blues, reggae, and – as the decade progressed – new wave and punk.

Further solidifying Briarcliff’s outsized imprint on rock’n’roll, Wizard Recording Studios, which was just a mile away from the station, was laying down some of the genre’s most influential tracks during those same years.

Days before the wrecking ball demolishes the shack the radio station called home from 1973-1981, The River Journal will host a celebration in memory of WRNW, whose signal — and influence — reached well beyond Westchester County. The station was the precursor of The Peak, which inherited its FM license and 107.1 frequency.

The free June 26 celebration will be held in front of the former WRNW studios. The building, which was also the longtime home of the Yankee Clipper hair salon, was purchased earlier this year and is scheduled to be demolished in early July.

Following a proclamation presented by Briarcliff Manor Mayor Steven Vescio and reminiscences by some of the station’s former DJs, a reception will be held featuring food and drinks (for purchase) from 105-Ten Bar & Grill, and a WRNW-inspired set from Briarcliff’s School of Rock house band. Expressions Studio for the Arts dancers will perform dance routines inspired by the music of Queen.

In addition to the event and documentary, former WRNW jocks (including Griffin) compiled a playlist of songs that best represented their time at the station. The 68-song playlist — called WRNW 1972-1981 —can be found on Spotify or Apple Music.

If you go

What: Celebrating WRNW FM’s Rock-Solid Legacy

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Rain date for the outdoor event is Sunday, June 27.

Where: 55 Woodside Ave., Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510

Information: Event is free and open to the public; food and beverage available for purchase.

Etc.: CDC guidelines for COVID-19 will be followed.

More rock’n’roll features:

Meg Griffin Remembers WRNW FM, Rock’s ‘Glorious Playhouse’ in Briarcliff Manor

Rock to Rubble: Howard Stern’s One-Time Studio Faces Wrecker’s Ball

Rock’n’roll Lost & Found: Briarcliff’s Wizard Recording Studios

Strong Reception – A Q&A with The Peak’s Jimmy Fink

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Robert Brum