Thursday, December 04, 2008

WNAK is gone

Originally posted on A Blog of Nanticoke, Thursday, December 4, 2008.

A few days ago I received this comment on my post about Nanticoke's radio station, WNAK:*

As a former employee of WNAK it saddens me that Neilson sold the station. I enjoyed the eight years I was there on-air, and the Nightwatch was like saying "goodbye" when the station would go off the air. Mr. Neilson passed away a few years ago but he told me how he made a mistake in the sale and wished we could have all worked together to keep the station alive. Time ran out for all of us and, well under different ownership things changed.

Some good news perhaps, as of Dec 1, 2008, I hear the old sounds could be coming back to WNAK? Let's all hope and prayer!!

I do not know if the format has switched back yet - I haven't tuned in in a very long time. But as of yesterday, the former funeral home that housed WNAK from 1982 until the new owners relocated earlier this year no longer exists.

Former home of WNAK razed for church parking

Published: Thursday, December 4, 2008 4:06 AM EST

The residential Nanticoke building that was home to the small, but popular WNAK radio station for decades and launched many successful media careers was demolished Wednesday.

The building at 84 S. Prospect St. has been empty since early this year, when the station’s new owners, West Chester-based Route 81 Radio, moved operations to a multi-station headquarters in Avoca.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Sadly, when I was taking pictures of the churches in the area of WNAK - including the Nebo Baptist Church, which purchased the building and had it torn down to build additional parking - I didn't bother to take any of WNAK itself. I'm not sure if the sign indicating that it once was home to the radio station - an old-style NBC "N" logo, a holdover from the brief period when the station was an NBC affiliate - was still there. (Owner and broadcaster Bob Neilson would refer to the station on-air as "NBC" long after this affiliation ended, saying it stood for "Nielson's Broadcasting Company.")

Another piece of Nanticoke history is gone.

UPDATE: Yes, it's true. The "old sounds" have returned, at least in the form of easy-listening Christmas music. After the season, who knows? But it will never be the same as I remember it, with Hymn Time (an hour of religious music) every day, and commercial-free Sundays (with the special Sunday jingle "There's something missing from this's WNAK!"), and Bob Neilson giving a daily editorial called "Another Point of View" (with the sound of a chattering ticker-tape behind him) and ending it with the disclaimer that the station would broadcast other viewpoints from "responsible persons," although this always seemed to mean only one person, a woman named Marion Dunstan Karsten of Kingston, PA, and of course, Night Watch ending every day's programming.

UPDATE 2, 12/7/08: Jan Souther, in his column "The Wax Museum" at the Wilkes-Barre Citzens' Voice, confirms that these really are the "old sounds":

The station’s owners realized that what Luzerne County really needs is Adult Standards radio and they wisely kept the music library we listened to for so many years, with a little updating here and there.

*This blog entry was originally posted here.


WMXH AM 750 said...

Well WNAK is really gone, forever. The sale of WNAK to Rt 81 was a mess with switches in format and ownership only to be sold to Bold Gold Media which silenced the station until arrangements were made as to what they would do with the station. After a few months the station was sold to the owners of GEM-104 in Tunkhannock. They decided that WNAK was to be no more, for WNAK's call letters were sent back to the FCC and AM 730 is now known as WZMF, broadcasting GEM-104.
The music is not WNAK's style but at least it does carry some decent music.
Guess it's time to say a final farewell WNAK........Rest In Peace!

AYoungWNAKListener said...

I can still remember relatives visiting from New York a couple of years before 2003 when Bob Neilsen sold the station. They asked if it was a CD I had on that Sunday afternoon and I said no, it's a radio station. They were shocked at the music they heard.

This station was a soundtrack to our lives for so long. I grew up listening to it and actually recorded one of Bob Neilsen's Good Friday programs near the end before the station was sold. If it was Good Friday, it was 730 AM from 12:00-3:00 P.M.. It was our family's favorite radio station for so long. (In line with that, remember WEJL and WBAX when they were standards??)

How well I remember everything others have mentioned, including the signature signoff to Jim Reeves "The Night Watch" and the ticker tape background in the segment "Another Point of View." What I miss the most is the Sunday "Hymn Time."

I still recall my mother telling me that she once sent a Christmas card to Bob Neilsen and received one back.

Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back, I wish the station had not been sold. I was happy when it was picked up on FM and was named PA Adult Standards Station of the Year in 2005. Even in lieu of that, I guess Route 81 had other ideas. Would've been great to have a worthy Northeast PA legacy living on. Not too many radio stations nowadays you can listen to with your kids.

We miss you Bob and we miss your station! We remember what you built. Help us from above to rebuild here below.