The first two songs ever played on the station were "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, followed by "
America" by Neil Diamond.
The station signed on from its new and still-incomplete studio in Secaucus, transmitting from the old FM tower site near
Livingston, New Jersey,
as their antenna was not moved to the top of the until later in
August. Moving the tower to midtown Empire State
Building Manhattan greatly
increased the coverage area of the station's signal.
Z100 was actually the second station that summer to attempt
to bring the Top 40 format back to
York, with rock station WPLJ having begun the
evolution to top 40 in June.
|R&R's top 25 CHR Hits for 1983|
Within 74 days of signing on, WHTZ had climbed from last place to first in the New York Arbitron ratings book.
FLASHBACK: Here's Quick blitz teaser of the 4 hour 20 minute history of the first 10 years of Z-100 plus their 15th on-air reunion anniversary. Get it at www.vuolovideo.com
Over the years, Z100 stayed with a top 40 format, with WPLJ behind them in the ratings. Scott Shannon left Z100 at the end of 1988 to begin "Pirate Radio" in
Angeles, and Steve Kingston took over as operations
manager and Frankie Blue would become assistant programming director.
By 1991, however, the Top 40 format was in an identity crisis.
A major sign of this crisis came when WPLJ moved to a hot adult contemporary format by 1992. Z100 responded to this by adding some older songs and introducing an evening talk show called "Love Phones." Ratings gradually dropped from 1991 to 1993.
In 1993, Z100 dropped the older songs and began mixing in alternative rock music which wasn't normally being played on Top 40 stations. By the end of 1994, the majority of the station's music consisted of alternative rock with only a few non-modern-rock-based songs per hour. The station still played the current big hits by artists such as Madonna, TLC, Mariah Carey, and others.
When Z100 was sold to Shamrock Broadcasting. Frankie Blue would leave in 1995 and Sam Milkman would move up to his position.
Ratings, though nowhere near the top anymore, remained
steady at the station during much of the mid-1990s, but by March 1996, there
was a steep drop after WKTU signed on at 103.5 FM with a dance music format,
and WXRK adapted a full-time alternative rock format. Both stations took
listeners from Z100.
|R&R's Top 25 CHR Hits 1993|
In April 1996, the station brought in Tom Poleman as its new programming director.
Initially, at that point, Z100 dropped all non-modern rock titles and began playing strictly pop alternative. By May 1996, Z100 began gradually replacing its on-air staff, and the harder alternative songs were phased out.
Though initially it seemed that Z100 was becoming a modern AC station, beginning that summer, the station gradually began to move back to a mainstream Top 40 format, as it added pop music from such formats as R&B, rap, and adult contemporary.
By December 1996, Z100 was a full-time Top 40 station again. Chancellor merged with Evergreen in 1997, making WKTU a sister station of Z100.