The Golden Era of New York Radio

In the ’80s, radio DJs pumped the airwaves with sounds of underground DJs, hip hop and fresh beats for the five boroughs.

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In the 1980s, as New York City recovered from the drug-addled peaks and valleys of disco fever, a revolution in radio made its way on to the airwaves. This short film from Red Bull Music presents an in-depth look at the “golden era” of New York radio.

The creativity of the time stemmed from the freedom of radio DJs to play what they wanted. Frankie Crocker helped open up commercial radio to hip hop, broadcasting the sounds of underground DJs throughout the five boroughs. Mixing was also introduced at this time, as radio DJs like Tony Humphries (Kiss FM) and Merlin Bobb, Body Jarvis (Saturday Night Dance Party, WBLS) and Mr. Magic turned their airtime into full, seamless soundtracks, where one song effortlessly blended into another. “You’re expressing emotion and you’re receiving it back”, said Merlin Bobb, “even if you’re not in the club and you don’t see it.”

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