Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Metalshop debuted on 102.7 WNEW in January of 1984, at what may have been the peak of commercial metal in America. In that era WNEW was still an AOR station, and they were mixing in what they at least then called 'metal' but it was the popular fodder. On the program Metalshop they played metal and only metal. It was probably the biggest metal radio program in America and it aired on a 6,000 watt FM radio station serving the New York City metro.It was the only syndicated metal show in America for years. This is such an unlikely outcome let me give you a bit of back story.  More here.

WNEW flipped to progressive rock in 1967, abruptly leaving it's MOR format behind. The new station did a lot of things right to cultivate a rock audience. They championed Bruce Springsteen's rise, and the grateful dead and Emerson Lake & Palmer both visited the station often. In the 70s they were quick to play new wave artists like the Police. It kept the format up to date while steering to avoid the disposable disco singles that were popping up every week. Then in 1983 WPLJ transitioned from AOR to CHR and WNEW reaped the benefits. They became the last AOR station in new York and scooped up some of their DJs, notably carol Miller. This entrenched them as the preeminent rock station in NYC in that moment, and that's when Charlie Kendall made his move.

Kendall was formerly a classic rock DJ with a long resume. But if he hadn't also been the PD Metalshop still probably wouldn't have happened. Charlie championed the show personally... and I quote:
"In 1984 I told a couple radio program producers named John McGhan and Denny Somach that metal was about to explode. I laid out the program for them and told them that the first person back with a great pilot would get the show on my station which was WNEW in New York. John McGhan didnt' do a pilot. He took MJI broadcasting owner Josh Feigenbaum to a Judas Preist concert at Madison Square garden. It was a sold out show. Josh was blown away... John came to me and said I was the only person in radio who even knew what metal was and I had to host the show."

At it's peak the Metalshop program ran for a full two hours late Friday nights and was syndicated old-school, with sending LPs by mail. These albums are very collectible. There are even a few on Discogs. Since Metalshop lasted until 1995 it covered a lot of ground in the history of the genre. They began airing a lot of what was very commercially palatable to the AOR audience. A sub-genre of metal often now called glam, or dismissed as "hair bands."  To a modern ear these were still distinctly rock bands albeit with a lot of face-paint and hair care product. The idea of Glam was more about presentation than a clear and distinct genre. The bands included: Ratt, Saxon, Foreigner, Whitesnake, Dokken, Def Leopard, Cinderella, AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Queensryche, Accept, Judas Priest, Styx, Dio, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Kiss and others. Metalshop played all of them. Later on they played more Metallica, Anthrax, Motorhead, and Megadeth. But by 1990 the landscape had changed. They were now spinning Danzig and Rage Against the Machine. The program kept up with the times and prospered even in times when the rest of WNEW didn't. You can hear some archived shows here.

The show lasted until 1995.  The number of affiliates had dropped to less than 50 from a high of over 250. They changed the name of the program from Metalshop to just "the Shop." Consultants were adding alternative rock and trying to shake the metal out of it. WNEW adopted a new AAA playlist and Metalshop was no more. Charlie Kendall went on to WQMA, a small-market station near greenwood, MS. He stayed there until 1998 and then reappeared on KSLX in Phoenix doing a morning show starting in 2003. He also spent time at WBVX, KDKB, WSHE, WMMR, WBCN, KWST, KZEW, WMMS, and WNAP just to name a few.He is a legend with or without Metalshop.