The power of William O'Shaughnessy's personality has propelled his wvox(am)-wrtn(fm) well beyond their market of record, New Rochelle, N.Y. And O'Shaughnessy has used their proximity to New York City to fashion himself into an East Coast power broker.
Located in Westchester County, the stations are in "the heart of the Eastern establishment," O'Shaughnessy says. While he claims "no talent as a broadcaster, really," O'Shaughnessy's stations do get the establishment's ear. "Sooner or later, everyone on the make ... they come through Westchester. Westchester is where the money and the influence is."
Lest you think otherwise, look at the blurbs on the back of his 1999 book, Airwaves, which he says has sold 14,000 copies. Quoted are CBS News legend Walter Cronkite, newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who also wrote the book's foreword.
Like their owner, wvox-wrtn are active and opinionated. Indeed, radio stations should "be an instrument of communication," he maintains. They should "strengthen a community ... uplift it." And they should make room for many voices. "I like it when people raise hell on our airwaves," says O'Shaughnessy, who has fully owned his combo since 1974.
He may not be involved in the day-to-day workings of wvox, which airs adult standards and news/talk, and wrtn, which airs adult standards, but O'Shaughnessy is definitely their leader: "I'm a rainmaker and a drumbeater with these two stations."
He intends to continue, even though "I get at least one offer a week now" from someone who wants to buy one or the other. One bid for just one of the stations was for $17 million-and "this is three years ago."
O'Shaughnessy adds, "Most radio stations have fallen to absentee owners and speculators who use radio stations as chattel." These owners "are just asset managers. They're not broadcasters."