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N.Y.'s Cousin Brucie off to satellite radio

Famed DJ is dumped off air as station changes format
/ Source: The Associated Press

Cousin Brucie belongs to a new family.

Veteran New York disc jockey Bruce Morrow, ignominiously dumped last week when WCBS-FM switched away from its oldies format, signed on Thursday with Sirius Satellite Radio. Morrow, whose radio days predate the Beatles, will host three shows: two with hits from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, and his own talk show.

“This was probably the most unusual, frightening, exhilarating week of my career,” said the 67-year-old Morrow, known as “Cousin Brucie” to his loyal New York listeners. “I had no idea a week-and-a-half ago that this was going to start.”

Back then, Morrow was one of the mainstays at the nation’s No. 1 oldies station, WCBS-FM. A phone call last Friday from management informed him that after 33 years as a New York institution, the station was going to a “Jack” format with a new playlist.

“It was like firing the New York Yankees,” Morrow said.

But the Brooklyn-born DJ, who introduced the Beatles at their 1965 Shea Stadium concert, quickly found his nightmare dismissal turn into a dream come true. When Sirius offered him a talk show along with the music programs, Morrow jumped at the chance.

“I have the world at my fingertips,” said Morrow, adding that he will work without a playlist of any kind. “I have a national audience. This has been my dream.”

'Riding on a rocket ship'The announcement came on the same day that Sirius took out full-page newspaper ads in Chicago and New York plugging its satellite service to customers upset by Infinity’s format changes last week at oldies stations in both cities.

“If a radio station has suddenly abandoned the format you love, come to Sirius,” read the ads’ invitation. It specifically mentioned Sirius stations dedicated to music of the ’70s and the ’80s, as well as another that offers Elvis Presley music.

Sirius provides more than 120 channels of commercial-free broadcasts for a monthly subscription fee of $12.95. Morrow’s debut was set for the July Fourth weekend, with a special broadcast from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Morrow is the latest big-name signing for Sirius, which already features stations created by Eminem and Jimmy Buffett. Shock jock Howard Stern is set to come aboard in January.

Morrow seems an unusual convert to the world of satellite, given that he started on terrestrial radio back in 1959 at WINS-AM in New York and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988. But he’s quickly adapted to the new world.

“I feel like I’m riding on a rocket ship,” he said. “Or should I say a satellite?”