Mark Chernoff’s five decades in radio will come to a close when he exits as Program Director and Brand Manager for WFAN and CBS Sports Radio on June 30 – but before he goes, Cherny is gonna spin the hits one last time.
Long a rock and roll disc jockey – going back to his days as a student at Rutgers spinning tunes on WRSU – Mark will return to the rock airwaves one more time, this Saturday June 19 from 7 PM-midnight, taking over that shift at FAN sister station WCBS 101.1 FM.
“I’ve always had a love for classic rock, oldies, classic hits – any kind of rock and roll – and having been a DJ for many years, I thought it would be a lot of fun as my days wind down at WFAN to get the opportunity to be a music jock one more time on our extremely successful classic hits station,” Chernoff told WFAN.com. “WCBS-FM is a station I’ve long admired and respected through the years, having had an array of great jocks and program directors and played a lot of great music throughout all of their formats.”
Chernoff, a Rutgers grad, started his career at WNNJ in Newton, N.J., as a disc jockey and eventually the program director for the small Adult Contemporary station in Sussex County. He moved on to WDHA in Dover as the morning drive host and eventual PD, and in 1985, he marked his first stint at WNEW, then a rock station, as the music director and eventually PD.
Of course, you likely know Mark more for his days at K-Rock as one of Howard Stern’s nemeses and as the leader of WFAN since 1993, but there’s a lot of rock and roll behind those eyes and in those hands – as evidenced by the fact that in his nearly three decades leading the country’s first all-sports talk radio outlet, he has also dabbled in rock by programming both WNEW and K-Rock (now ALT 92.3) at times.
“I’ve always been in these two worlds of music and sports, but for me, it’s getting back to my roots, where my first passion in radio was on the music end,” Chernoff explained. “Things developed nicely into 28 great years at WFAN, but I’ve always loved being on the music end. Having my roots as a DJ from 1976 until even into 1993, I thought a fun way to end my days with the company would be to go back to my roots and play some rock and roll records.”
WCBS-FM PD Jim Ryan was all about it, and while the station’s sound is now centered in the 1980’s, he agreed to let Mark totally break format and go way back into time. Chernoff thanked him and Audacy’s New York VP and Market Manager Chris Oliviero, whom you may know from Boomer Esiason oft-calling him “The Architect,” for allowing him one more on-air shift.
“Jim was nice enough to say you can stay on as long as you like, so I plan on hitting most of the posts,” Chernoff smiled, referring to the radio term for a jock smoothly talking over the instrumental open of a song and timing their exit perfectly to the start of the lyrics. “I’m very much looking forward to playing a lot of songs that are the biggest hits that CBS-FM plays, and adding some flavor to some of the great songs that have influenced me over the years, particularly from the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Chernoff was mum on what those hits may be, nor was he able to answer when WFAN.com put him on the spot by asking who would be the first act he’d love to see in this post-pandemic world – “oh man, so many great acts over the years…it would be great to still be able to see The Stones, The Who, so many I can’t name,” he said.
But one thing is clear: whatever you hear for five hours on Saturday night, Chernoff is going to love the music as much as the chance to play it again.
“I’ve always had a passion for rock and roll music of all forms through the years. I’ve always loved it. When I was a kid I slept with a transistor radio listening to music as a kid, transferring over to FM as that became important in the 1970s,” he said. “After my days at WDHA, certainly a dream job I never expected to get to have was a job at WNEW, working with some of the greats: Scott Muni, Dennis Elsas, Pete Fornatale, Pat St. John, too many to mention.”
And now, after all that plus 28 years at the FAN, Chernoff’s two weeks’ notice includes one last dream sequence on WCBS-FM, whose regular lineup currently includes fellow radio legends Scott Shannon, Race Taylor, Broadway Bill Lee, Joe Causi, and Dave Stewart.
If we can suggest one epic finale…perhaps, as a tribute to Chernoff’s career, a spin of The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road?”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN
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