Don Tandler

WHY POP GOLD RADIO? WHY NOW?
PGR is a dream I’ve had for a long time, & it is a thrill to see it come true. Howard Stern is alleged to have said the future of radio is guys in their basement. I don’t know if he said it, but it’s correct. The new stations & ideas are coming from the hosts & the listeners, not the suits, & that’s the way it should be. With the advances in technology, you don’t need a “bricks-and-mortar” radio station (you know, one with a transmitter) to be an owner in this business anymore. Whether I’ll be able to make a living doing it remains to be seen, but I have the passion, & that will always be there.


TELL ME ABOUT POP GOLD RADIO. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
While it is true that there’s been a return to “Classic hits” on some over-the-air FM stations & “Oldies” on many small AM stations, most are small-playlisted, playing the same 500 songs over & over ad nauseum. While that’s fine for many listeners, probably the majority, there is a substantial minority who want & expect to hear the thousands of medium & “oh wow” hits from the Oldies era. Yes, some internet sources ARE doing that, but in such a haphazard manner that it’s a total turnoff to casual listeners. We’re going to try to “thread a needle”, serve both sets of oldies fans. When we’re done, over 10,000 songs will be in our music library (maybe more). You’ll hear all the big hits, but not individual titles so often that you get sick of them. You’ll hear all the national hits on PGR, PLUS many of the cool regional hits that were heard only in certain markets (ex. “It’s Cold Outside” by The Choir in Cleveland, “Bang! Bang!” by the Joe Cuba Sextet in NYC, “Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Soul Brothers Six in Philly, “Opportunity” by The Jewels in L.A., “I Confess” by New Colony Six in Chicagoland, etc.)

WHERE IS POP GOLD RADIO LOCATED?
Why, it’s in the basement. :-) And it goes to your PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Theater of the mind, little monsters…..OK, OK, I’m in New Jersey, U.S.A. :-)

PLEASE TELL ME “THE TIME MACHINE” IS RETURNING!
Of course! It’s what I’m known most for. Every Saturday at 3pm ET/noon PT, I’ll be featuring not only the national charts, but New York surveys, because that’s where I’m from, and other cities, too, especially Philadelphia, Chicago & Los Angeles, because more of those cities’s surveys have been preserved than most. If you’d like me to do a survey from the town you grew up in, let me know!

ANY OTHER SPECIALTY SHOWS?
Coming soon. Exciting stuff on the way!

HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN RADIO AS A CAREER?
It goes as far back as dancing in my playpen to “Bandstand”, according to my mom! Both my parents were in their 20s when I was a kid, so there was no generation gap musically in our house. Growing up in Brooklyn, we had the great New York top 40 stations to listen to. We were big Murray The K fans until WINS went all Sinatra for awhile in ’62. When WMCA went to the “Good Guys” concept, that was it. We, & I, were hooked. For life. WABC slowly filtered into my conciousness through the decade, especially starting around 1967 (I also discovered WFIL around that time, living on the ocean where I could pick up their signal). That year, I started writing down the WMCA & WABC surveys that I had been listening to for several years, keeping neat lists (like many others did, as I discovered to my delight many years later). Memorizing those surveys, & later, Joel Whitburn’s books on the Billboard singles chart, were invaluable teaching tools for my radio career as the Record Handler.

WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU WERE ACTUALLY ON THE RADIO?
Multi-pronged question. Mother’s Day week, 1967, my 4th grade class from P.S. 90 was visiting NYC City Hall when a reporter for (then MOR music) WHN stopped us on the steps & asked us what we were giving our moms. I mumbled something, so that was my debut! Next time: January 5, 1970, WOR-FM, Sebastian Stone, the “Thousand Dollar Flashback” contest. I was nervous that they wouldn’t let me win as a kid, so I gave my dad Murray’s name (as if Stone couldn’t tell I was almost 13). I lost, but they gave me an “OR-FM Double Golden” album on Post Records as a consolation prize. I still have it. They must have been clearing out the prize closet because it was from 1968, & the DJ photos were almost entirely different (big turnover was a tradition at that station).

FIRST RADIO JOB?
WOR-FM! Actually, they had changed call letters in ’72 & were now WXLO, & had just started using the nickname 99X. February, 1974. I won another contest, this time one of those “scrambled song” things. $350 bucks! When I went to the station to pick up my money, the PD’s secretary just happened to be passing by (luck & timing–always crucial in a radio career), & said, “Hey kid! Thousands of people tried to guess those five songs, & you were the only person to know them all. You really know a lot about music. Would you like a job here?” WOULD I LIKE A JOB HERE???
ARE YOU KIDDING???? LOL. I was 16. Other than the birth of my son, that was the single greatest moment of my life to date.

WHERE HAVE YOU WORKED IN RADIO?
Whew. You ready? Here we go, in order. I’m leaving out the non-radio work in between some of these jobs. Keep in mind, some moves were made because my company transferred me, or I followed the PD to another station, but still. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be DJs. It’s a tough business. 99X/New York, WKCC/Kingsborough College Brooklyn, 99X (again), WTNL/Reidsville, GA, G105 (WHCG)/Metter, GA, WNNJ/WIXL/Newton, NJ, 13Q (WBQW)/Scranton, PA, WILK/Wilkes-Barre, PA, 92 Rock (WHTF)/York-Harrisburg, PA, Q102 (WTLQ)/Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA, Y107 (WMJY)/Monmouth-Ocean, NJ, WBLI/Long Island, WPST/Trenton-Philadelphia, Q102 (again), New Jersey 101.5 (too many markets to list), Great Gold 1260 WBUD/Trenton, NJ, Great Gold 1410 WHTG/Monmouth-Ocean, NJ, Sirius Satellite Radio (both “Totally 70s” & “Sirius Gold”, 2001-2007), The Breeze (WWZY-WBHX)/Monmouth-Ocean, NJ, K98.5–Thunder 98.5–Thunder 106 (WKMK)/Monmouth-Ocean, NJ, Great Gold 1410 WHTG/Monmouth-Ocean, NJ (again), New Jersey 101.5 (again), Pop Gold Radio. The place I’m most well-known for has certainly been New Jersey 101.5, where I worked for 14 years the first time around, & have been with again since Nov. 2010.

WHAT MUSIC DO YOU PERSONALLY LOVE THE MOST?
That’s easy: much of the music on PGR. If I had to name a favorite year, it would be 1965, but I once wrote out all my personal faves, & it turned out that 1969 had a few more on that list. That said, I can easily name at least 50 songs I love from every year we feature on PGR. I love songs of any genre with melody, a beginning, middle & end, not too long. A pop song! Believe it or not, there are STILL songs in “our” styles being made. It’s just that top 40 radio stopped playing those styles a long time ago. To name a few current artists you’d love & should seek out: Raphael Saadiq, She & Him, The Black Keys, Adele, Fitz & The Tantrums. My all-time favorite song: “Tell It To The Rain”–The 4 Seasons. Close below it: “Keep The Ball Rollin”, The Night Before”, “Seventh Son”, “Broken-Hearted Melody”, “Sweet Surrender”, “She’d Rather Be With Me”, “Poison Ivy”, “Opus 17″, “I Say A Little Prayer” (Aretha), “(We Have) No Secrets”, “Moon River” (the Ice Man) and soooo many more.

PERSONAL INFO?
Is mainly personal! LOL. I have a wife & a son, who’s in 4th grade, & keeps me hopping as an older dad, for sure! I already had white hair (premature runs in my family), but I REALLY have it now! :-)

FAVORITE FOODS?
Too many to list. Oh, what the heck: crab cakes, pasta of any kind, greek salads, bagels (my downfall), Indian food, great New Jersey diner omelets. I’ll throw in Rita’s Italian Ices! And Wilson’s Ice Cream (Long Branch, NJ).

TV?
I don’t watch anywhere near as much as I used to (I suspect many of you are the same) with the advent of the internet, but mainly sports (baseball, football, a little golf & tennis) & news. Still a Letterman guy (I stopped liking Leno in 1992). In the past: The Honeymooners, American Bandstand, What’s My Line?, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, Wonderama, Combat!, The Fugitive, Password, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream Of Jeannie (Barbara Eden was my main early-teen crush), Bewitched, Get Smart, Batman, The Monkees, The Avengers (especially Linda Thorson), Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Carson, Cavett, Room 222 (Karen Valentine: crush #2), The NOW Explosion, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MASH, The Paper Chase, Letterman (daytime & nighttime), Moonlighting, L.A. Law, Our World (Linda Ellerbee & Ray Gandolf), Thirtysomething, The Days & Nights Of Molly Dodd, China Beach (Dana Delany: OMG), Later with Bob Costas (my all-time favorite “serious” talk show), Twin Peaks, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Northern Exposure, Seinfeld, Law & Order (the Jerry Orbach years), The Larry Sanders Show, Mad About You, Friends, Sex & The City, Ally McBeal, Unhappily Ever After (guilty pleasure; see: Nikki Cox), Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the most underrated show EVER), The Sopranos, Everybody Loves Raymond (laughed every single episode), Frasier, Sports Night (an undiscovered gem), Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (the Regis years), Angel, Once & Again (a child of divorce-it made me cry), The West Wing, American Idol.

MOVIES?
WAY too many to list. A few: The Wizard Of Oz, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Woman Of The Year, Laura, It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Vertigo, Some Like It Hot, North By Northwest, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, West Side Story, The Great Escape, Charade, It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, The List Of Adrian Messenger, A Shot In The Dark, A Hard Day’s Night, What A Way To Go!, Goldfinger, Help!, The Ambushers, The Graduate, In The Heat Of The Night, Bullitt, Charly, The Party, The Producers, The Sterile Cuckoo, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Summer Of ’42, Bananas, Pretty Maids All In A Row (guilty pleasure), What’s Up, Doc?, Harry In Your Pocket, American Graffiti, The Sting, The Way We Were, Chinatown, The Parallax View, Blazing Saddles, Shampoo, Nashville, Network, Airplane! (Funniest. Movie. EVER.), E.T., Tootsie, The Big Easy, Broadcast News, No Way Out, Crossing Delancey, JFK, Sleepless In Seattle, Clueless, To Die For, The Bridges Of Madison County, The American President, Jerry Maguire, Austin Powers, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, You’ve Got Mail, Out Of Time, Arlington Road, Dick (it’s a comedy, and the title refers to the President….lol), Notting Hill, Love Actually, Mean Girls, Sideways, Casino Royale, Michael Clayton, The Dark Knight, Baby Mama, Pirate Radio, Toy Story 3, The Descendants.

HOBBIES?
The Mets. Sigh. Don’t get me started (Jets too). And the JFK assassination, the greatest mystery of all time. Endlessly fascinating to me. The easiest gift in the world to get me is anything Mets, Jets or JFK assassination.

LIKES AND LOVES?
My family (of course), the hobbies mentioned above, music, the Jersey shore (especially in September & October), fresh-squeezed lemonade, miniskirts (1969 was heaven both musically & for the fashions! LOL), remembering the good old days, enjoying & using new technologies, my friends (you!).

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