In 1977, Bob Pittman was hired as WNBC’s new Program Director, replacing Mel Phillips. His first decision was to lay-off all of the station’s personalities, some of which were veterans (including Don Imus, Cousin Brucie, Norm N. Nite and Joe McCoy), replacing them with younger-sounding disc jockeys from Boston and medium markets. He also shifted the format from Adult Top 40 or Hot AC to a more aggressively current-based Top 40 format.
Bob Pittman announces the beginning of the “NEW” WNBC – Lee Masters starts the commercial-free hour of music. (28:44)
Bob Pittman @ The “NEW” WNBC (28:45)
Listenership did not go up, but actually went down. By 1979, Pittman would leave WNBC (he would soon become the founder of MTV). John Lund was hired back as program director and Don Imus returned to the morning show. Under program director John Lund, WNBC’s playlist was tweaked back to an Adult top 40 format, and ratings increased by 50% to surpass WABC by the summer of 1980. (Wiki)