9 Things We Learned From Q104.3 New York's 25th Birthday Party

Photo: Maria Milito

Q104.3 celebrated 25 years as New York's Classic Rock this week.

On July 1, 1996, at 5 a.m. Q104.3 signed on for the first time as a classic rock station. Thanks to our loyal listeners, we're still here a quarter-century later, broadcasting the greatest music ever made to millions of people in the Tri-State Area and beyond, thanks to the iHeartRadio app.

The on-air celebration this past Thursday lasted all day, as we embraced nostalgia and welcomed back all kinds of wonderful people who've passed through our doors over the years, including musicians, actors, comedians, DJs and staff members, sharing anecdotes from the past 25 years!

1. Billy Joel Thought He'd Be Retired By Now

Like most live performers, Billy Joel has been forced to take a year off, but he'll be back this November to resume his record-breaking residency at Madison Square Garden. Speaking with Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein Thursday, Billy said he never expected his residency to last this long. He was sure that ticket sales would slow down after the initial excitement wore off, but the opposite has happened.

"I said, 'Yeah, I'll play at The Garden as long as there's a ticket demand,' assuming that it was gonna kind of peter out...which hasn't happened," Billy said. "So I'm maybe playing there for the rest of my natural life."

He added that he was as cynical as any member of the press that he could keep the residency going! Seven years later, he's still adding shows to the books.

Listen to the full conversation via the player below!

2. Q104.3 Was The Underground Garage's First Customer

"Little" Steven Van Zandt's syndicated radio show Underground Garage was turned down by "everybody in the country," except Q104.3 when Steven first pitched it! The E Street Band guitarist is now going on 20 years of celebrating the spirit of the '60s on hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

"I sent out the demo and it landed on everybody's desk on 9/11, so that didn't help," Van Zant recalled of the initial round of no's. "It was a big ice breaker when one of the most important stations in the country decided to do it."

3. Our First PD Fired Himself From The Morning Show

Q104.3's original program director, Bob Buchmann, grew up on Long Island and dreamed of working in radio in New York City. He got the job at Q as rock radio in New York was seemingly dying. Bob was sure the format would drive ratings if it was managed properly, and (*fingers crossed*) so far he was right!

Asked for his best moment at Q104.3, Bob said that replacing his own morning show with Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein was one of his best decisions.

"You were the perfect fit for the radio station that would lead New York City in rock," Bob said. "WPLJ, your old home, had gone away from rock and...WNEW gave up the ghost. So I knew that you guys were the right way for New Yorkers to start their day."

4. Eddie Trunk Was Fired, Rehired Within Hours Of Our First Day As Classic Rock

Radio is a notoriously cruel industry and it's said that you haven't worked in radio until you've been fired. Eddie Trunk is a Q104.3 original in the truest sense, having worked here from day one. Eddie was on the air the night we flipped to New York's Classic Rock, having been let go from the previous 'pure rock' station just hours earlier.

"I was, for all intents and purposes, told that I needed to find a job. I was out with everybody else from the old regime, but since I did that last shift [7 p.m. to midnight], they liked me; they saw me handle it professionally, they asked me if I wanted to stay around through the overnight," Eddie recalled. "...It was a pretty crazy course of five or six hours where I went from being part of the old station, to out of work, to part of the new station."

5. Good Ham Is Hard To Find (In TriBeCa)

One of our favorite guests is awfully picky about pork products.

Gilbert Gottfried has been dropping by the Jim Kerr Rock and Roll Morning Show for years, complaining about all manner of things and of course plugging his upcoming projects. Speaking with Jim for our 25th anniversary, Gilbert revealed that the neighborhood delis and coffee shops always leave him wanted more when it comes to the most important meal of the day.

"Every time I go there I ask for a breakfast and I ask for a ham and cheese, and the ham, I swear they put in like a shoe sole," Gilbert said. "Ah, you can't chew on it, you know. ...I've gone to so many different places to get breakfast. It's impossible, I think, in that neighborhood you can never, ever go out to breakfast unless you take a cab to another area."

6. Q104.3 Is Forever Tied To The Sopranos

Sopranos actor Steve Schirripa points out that Q104.3 was featured in so many episodes of the iconic HBO show that as long as people are watching The Sopranos, they'll be hearing Q104.3!

"You were on the final episode!" Steve points out to Jim Kerr. "From now until the end of time, your voice will be there because I honestly believe that The Sopranos will be watched, you know, 50 years from now — 100 years from now."

7. The Big Wheel Keeps On Turnin'

The Black Crowes are older than Q104.3 by about six years, but guitarist Rich Robinson tells Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein that the relationship between the band and the station is still as collaborative and vital as ever.

"I look at it as a giant wheel," Rich explained. "You know the music is the hub and everyone that's around the hub is a different spoke. We're all part of the same wheel. It's pretty amazing that you guys have been around for this long, 25 years, and we're happy to be a part of it as well."

Watch the full conversation below in which Rich reveals more about The Black Crowes' reunion, the band's upcoming summer tour and its plans for recording new music.

8. Jill Hennessy Forgot To Tell Her Husband About A 'Bedroom' Scene In City On A Hill

One of our favorite returning guests, Jill Hennessy was thrilled to announce during our 25th birthday party that her hit Showtime series City on a Hill — in which she stars opposite Kevin Bacon — will be returning for a third season.

While Jim Kerr is a friend of Jill's and a fan of many of her shows, he complained that she should have "called me and warned me about that under-the-covers episode because I really shouldn't have been exposed to that."

Jill replied by saying the person she really should have warned was her husband, Paolo Mastropietro.

"I'm sorry," Jill offered. "That even crept up on me because we shot out of order this last season because of Covid. Then that bedroom scene comes up and I realize I've got my husband sitting next to me, Paolo, here. I'm like, 'Oh, Paolo, this is — Yeah, I forgot about that scene...'"

9. We Had A Rock 'N' Roll Emergency With Dr. Brian May

"Grumpy" Joe Cristiano was at Q104.3 for 16 of its 25 years — he even predates Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein on the morning show.

While Joe left us in 2018 to move to Toronto to take a job with Newstalk 1010, his roots are still rock solid — and so is his memory. He returned to the morning show Thursday to look back at one of his fondest Q104.3 memories: the last time Queen's Brian May visited the station.

"[Jim and Shelli] were on the air and we had Brian outside the studio," Joe recalled. "We're just hanging out and he's sitting there, and he says, 'Guitars are not meant to hang on the wall; they're meant to be played.' And he took down the Tony Iommi signed one. He goes, 'Oh, I know Tony.' And then he starts playing it. Jeff [Smith], the engineer, thought to run down the hallway to the engineering room and grab an amplifier and he brought it back so Brian could plug in and play.' But it was the coolest moment. Here's Brian May holding a guitar and wailing Queen songs on it while we're just waiting to go on the air with you."

Look for the clip at the 3:10 mark of the video below!

BONUS: We're Giving You A Chance To Win $25,000 This Month!

In celebration of 25 years rocking New York, Q104.3 will be giving away $25,000 to one lucky listener.

To win the contest, participants must listen weekdays, starting around 9 a.m. during Q104.3’s Free Music Mornings. When listeners hear the 25th song in the commercial-free set, they must then visit this page on q1043.com and enter the song's title and the artist's name. If correct, they will qualify to win $25,000.

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