NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Saturday, April 11, 2015, 12:26 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 11, 2015, 12:26 AM
There’s no crying in radio.
At least not this Sunday, 3 to 6 p.m., when Pat St. John does his final New York radio show on WCBS-FM (101.1), wrapping up 42 years on WPLJ, WNEW-FM, WAXQ and ‘CBS-FM.
“I don’t want any tears,” says St. John. “No one should say they’re sad. This is a happy, wonderful moment. I’ve loved my 42 years here and now I’m moving to something else I love.”
Specifically, you might say, he’s chasing Chase.
He and his wife Jan have two daughters, Karson and Tierney, and now two grandchildren, including 4-year-old Chase.
They all have moved to the San Diego area, and now Pat and Jan are moving to join them.
“We’ve been spending all our vacations there anyway,” says St. John. “We’ve talked about moving for a while and finally we decided we were just missing too much by staying here.”
This does not, he stresses, mean he’s retiring from radio.
He will continue doing his daily 1 p.m. show on SiriusXM’s “Sixties on 6” (Channel 6).
“I’ve been doing the show from home for about 10 years,” he says. “Now I’ll just do it from a different city. Our new place has a barn, which I will turn into a studio.
“The best thing about the SiriusXM show is that I’m doing it live now. That just makes a difference. So my New York fans can still hear me. They’ll just need to cough up a few bucks for satellite.”
Still, New York radio fans can be excused for feeling like they’re losing another of the remaining links to a classic era of New York radio: the early FM years.
With Vin Scelsa retiring from WFUV next month, there aren’t many voices left from those years, and St. John acknowledges radio has changed a lot since then.
“The relationship with the listeners has remained the same,” he says. “That’s as solid as ever. What we’re allowed to do for them now is another story.”
It’s a too-familiar story: less personality, more tightly formatted playlists. Much of radio over the years has evolved into shut-up-and-play-more-music.
“I’ve been fortunate,” St. John says. “It isn’t free-form any more, but I’ve been allowed to say things and play some of my songs.”
In fact, that’s one of the things St. John’s fans have always liked most about his radio style. He’ll play a song and talk about a lyric, or connect songs thematically.
He was a record collector before he got into radio, and he remains one today.
My New York fans can still hear me. They’ll just need to cough up a few bucks for satellite.
He was a teenager when he started in radio, at small stations around his native Detroit.
He started at WPLJ on April 9, 1973. He was 22, and he stayed there 15 years.
“It was a good place,” he says. “But I have to say, (program director) Larry Berger did me the biggest favor of my radio career when he fired me.
“I got a call from Mark Chernoff asking me to come to WNEW-FM. I said yes and it was the best place I ever worked.”
St. John did a little of everything at WNEW-FM over the years. He was the morning man for a while. He was program director.
He stayed until the station changed formats in 1998, at which point he moved to the fledgling satellite operation that would become Sirius and later SiriusXM.
He added WCBS-FM in 2002 and after a short stint at WAXQ moved back to ‘CBS-FM in 2007.
Meanwhile, he has also worked on multiple satellite channels.
As for his most memorable New York radio moments over the past 42 years and one day, he acknowledges it’s hard to forget the night John Lennon died.
“But I really don’t want to go there,” he quickly adds. “I want it all to stay positive.”
He recalls introducing Hall and Oates to 750,000 happy fans in Central Park for the Earth Day concert in 1990. He says he loves that Leon Russell, “one of my idols,” came to his show to talk and play.
And yes, after all these years and all that music, he does have a favorite artist.
“I’ve realized it’s the Beach Boys,” he says. “Even more than the Beatles. Brian Wilson is a genius.”
He also has another reason for liking Wilson.
“I was 11 years old, listening to the radio,” he says, “and Brian Wilson was the first one to tell me that California is the most beautiful place on Earth. Which it is.”
As for his final New York radio set Sunday, St. John says he’s keeping it under wraps. All he will say is that “it’s something my long-time fans have been asking me to play for years.”
Then he’s off to the most beautiful place on Earth, presumably with a smiley smile.