It's a dreary morning, but the studio on the 10th floor of 345 Hudson Street is bathed in red. The light is coming from an overhead bulb that illuminates to tell the crew of "The Big Show" with Scott Shannon when a song is about to end, and it's also emanating from a neon sign behind the console reading "40 years, WCBS-FM, 101.1." Next to that is foot-tall inflatable penguin.
I ask Shannon the significance. "When I came to New York in 1983, [the radio industry] was walking in a line, following one other," he says, like penguins waddling along. Shannon is known a something of a radio evolutionist, credited with bringing the morning zoo to radio's biggest market while at Z-100, which is now owned by iHeartMedia. At 70 years old, Shannon is as close to DJ legend as there is, having manned the mic at many stations since he left home at 17. For the last four years he has been berthed at Entercom's CBS, which bills itself as the home of "New York's greatest hits."
"This is our 912th show," Shannon tells me as Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" starts playing. Shannon leafs through a sheaf of papers that contain clips from the morning's newspapers, the New York Daily News and the New York Post, along with his hometown Journal News, to use as fodder for the patter. Today's topics include a coyote found in a museum in Albany; a tape of former senator Al D'Amato screaming at his wife during a hospital visit; and the end of "Sharknado" ("I don't hate anybody, but that Tara Reid is easy to dislike," he quips on the air.) It's openind day for the Mets, so John Fogerty's "Centerfield" spins. It's 8:11 a.m., he tells listeners.