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Mark Edwards's Facebook profile

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One of the reasons
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Our Connecticut fans
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WE WILL
NEVER FORGET

ALL ABOUT THE SHOW, HOW IT STARTED & OUR SUCCESS

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT???

It's probably easier to say what the show ISN'T! This show ISN'T your typical, consultant-driven oldies show that only plays the same 300 songs over and over until you are sick of hearing them. It ISN'T robot-radio with a personality-less host and lots of liner cards. It ISN'T a show that tells listeners they can't request a song they want to hear instead of the consultants choice.

What it IS is a unique, weekly oldies radio program that caters to its base of dedicated fans and regular listeners. It's different every week with the ability to draw from a playlist of over 17,000 titles! Its host, Mark Edwards, brings life, personality and interaction to the show. It's an instant memory machine and its fans are loyal followers with many listening from the opening intro to the close.

In a nutshell the mission statement could be summed up as: "It is our intention that at least once each broadcast, that you will roll your eyes back, place your hand on your forehead and exclaim, 'wow, I haven't heard this song in years!'

Sock Hop Saturday Night is heard from 8PM - Midnight on WLNG, 92.1FM from Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, and is currently looking to expand its reach to other areas of the country. Requests make up a key portion of the show and are a major factor in the overall success of the program something Edwards realized over 10 years ago when Sock Hop first debuted to thunderous reviews in Connecticut. If you want to find out exactly what the fans (and some fellow broadcasters) think about the show, visit the fan's comments page and see their exact quotes for yourself.

THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY.....THE GROUNDWORK AT HOME.
Mark's first exposure to the music of the 50's and 60's came primarily from the listening and record buying habits of his older brother Larry and mother Arlene. Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison were the favorites of both, as well as material from Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Fats Domino, Ronnie Hawkins, Dion and many other artists. There were 45's all over the place and Larry kept them cranking on a Webcor record changer.

THE FIRST RADIO ON-AIR EXPERIENCE.
That came in the fall of 1973 when Mark decided to try to get a DJ shift on his High School radio station WCHS at Central HS in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His ingenuity and creativity quickly became well known throughout the school. In December he created an entire Christmas specialty show on a reel to reel tape at home on a borrowed machine, complete with time checks. At one point during the airing of this show he stepped outside the studio to hear how it sounded on the air signal through a receiver in the electronics department. The class teacher saw him standing there, intently listening to his own voice on the air and was subsequently impressed by the effort put into the project.

In the mid 1980's he was volunteering his time as a Junior Achievement Advisor for the local radio station. One of the students at the time was also on WCHS, and his ears perked up one day when Edwards re-told the story. That student came forward to say that the High School radio station was still playing Mark's tape every year at Christmas time! Possibly, they still are.


DISCO DOES THE KINDEST DAMAGE.
For the most part Mark's keen interest in oldies came from his disdain of Disco, which had caused him to literally give up on the radio for about seven years. One day in 1983 he entered a popular record store in Milford, Connecticut, and to his surprise, discovered that they had literally racks and racks of oldies 45's, new and reissues. He casually gave a glance to some titles and found some that brought back memories of the old homestead. He now looked through the selections with earnest and by the end of his visit his purchase of $160 worth of oldies became the catalyst of his ever growing music collection, and a hobby that hasn't stopped since.

THE FIRST DJ GIG.
Mark's friend Gail had decided to hold a fund raiser dance for their local school to acquire computers. Mark was brought on as the DJ for the event and the dance was a great success. At the time he had just started working at the local AM station in Bridgeport, Connecticut as a fill in board operator and Gail suggested he try to sell them on the idea of him hosting an oldies show. Although his ideas were rejected for three years he persisted and persevered and eventually got on the air.

DOO WOP BECOMES THE NEW FOCUS OF ATTENTION.
Since his first day of collecting oldies in 1983 Mark also paid a lot of attention to what was going on on the air, and got back to listening to the radio, specifically to oldies stations. But it didn't take long for him to realize that all these stations were playing all the same songs repeatedly. There was some variety but it was minor, and they simply stuck to the same "safe" records. Mark was now starting to become disillusioned with the oldies market. That was until a fateful Sunday night in 1991 when he tuned in for the first time to a show called The Doo Wop Shop with Don K. Reed on WCBS-FM from New York City. The sounds that came through the air that night completely captivated Mark and he became an ardent fan, writing down the names and artists of songs he liked and would later go out to add them to his collection. It was at that point he realized the basis for the show he wanted to put on the air.

So many so-called oldies stations just played the safe stuff, but what about a 50/50 mix of chart toppers and Doo Wop? He knew he needed a niche like that to succeed since his station was an AM'er. Why would anyone listen to another "safe" oldies show on AM when they could hear the same, worn out stuff on FM? They wouldn't, and Mark began to formulize a specialty show that would attract an audience also looking for relief from the same worn out oldies. Now he just had to sell this idea to his station.


THE ROOTS OF SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT.
For three years, Mark had all his suggestions for an oldies show firmly rejected. However, at the time, this station had been deeply involved with "brokered" radio shows, which is essentially selling one hour blocks of time to any amateur that wanted to become an instant radio "star." Although all this programming was relegated to the evening lineup during the week, one prospective client came along and wanted to do such a show on Saturday evenings from 6-8PM. Mark saw his opportunity and went to the Program Director again, this time with a new angle. "Since this show will just turn people away for two hours, why not give me the chance to do my show afterwards in place of the Mike Harvey show, since now no one will be listening to the station anyway?" The PD agreed, and Mark was given the green light. He would have to be ready to roll in just 10 days on April 2, 1994, in time for the start of the ratings period. Three days after the approval of Mark's show, the prospective brokered show client changed his mind and withdrew his offer, just as Mark had hoped. He now had a show and without the nonsense program leading into it.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?
What would he call the show? Mark had never thought much about that aspect of it and he was in a bit of a bind now to come up with a name and fast. His solution once again showcased his creativity. He took a piece of paper and wrote down the words of several things that were popular during the fifties, and then tore them from the sheet to make little strips of paper with these words. He then simply moved them around looking for a phrase or group of words that would suggest a name. After about two minutes the words SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT lined up.

HISTORY BEGINS ON APRIL 2, 1994.
With the show format down and logistics worked out, Mark began his first show with Fats Domino's BE MY GUEST as the opening theme song. The first full song played that night was ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK by Bill Haley & His Comets. It soon became clear that the "take requests" formula would be a major key to the overall success of the program. The previous oldies show in that time slot with host Mike Harvey was a nationally syndicated show, and it was just about impossible to get through the request lines with a whole nation trying to dial in at once. Now you could call Mark, get through AND get your song played, and it didn't have to be a "safe" oldie. If it was in the collection, you would hear it.

In the winter of 1995, the PD came into Mark's office with some paperwork. He reached out, shook Mark's hand and congratulated him. The paperwork he handed to him clearly showed that Mark's reasoning paid off....it was the results of the latest ratings period, and Sock Hop was at the top of the list.

Thus began a Saturday night tradition that grew with each passing week, gaining momentum and eventually topping the ratings charts for several books in a row, until......


HERE COME THE YANKEES.
In January of 1996, the show was going like gangbusters with fans and the ratings. But that same month came the fateful meeting that would be the beginning of the end. The station had become a New York Yankees affiliate and they would be carrying all their games beginning in April. Mark knew immediately that this would mean his show would suffer from constant interuptions resulting in a huge loss of listeners.

As predicted the ratings began to slide. On nights when there wasn't a Yankees game, the Sock Hop audience was meager in numbers. In addition to this, the station also carried UCONN HUSKIES Basketball games during the winter. Although these interruptions were much fewer in number, when combined with the Yankess factor it spelled certain doom.


THE ARRIVAL OF MORE SPORTS.
By 1998 Sock Hop listenership was off by quite a bit and there was more sports news around the corner. A local, minor league baseball team had come to town and now these games were also being carried by the station. Almost every summer Saturday night was now affected.

Additionally, in January of that year, it was announced that the station would also carry the games of the new minor league hockey team in town, meaning Sock Hop, a proven ratings winner,  would be competing for air time with games from two baseball teams, those of a hockey team and a basketball team. Trying to determine how bad things would really be, Mark checked all the proposed schedules of these four teams. He learned there would be less than 10 full shows out of a 52 week broadcast year. It was time to bring a graceful end to this remarkable show.


THE "FAREWELL" BROADCAST.
Mark decided to bring the show to a close with dignity rather than let it flounder by the lack of available airtime. He announced that the show would end on the 6th anniversary, April 1, 2000. With invited guests on hand and fans calling in from all over the country (and even the UK), the five hour Farewell Show finally came to a close with "Goodnight My Love" playing for the last time following a taped montage of well wishes from loyal fans. For Mark and his thousands of dedicated fans, this was indeed a sad night.

SOCK HOP IS REBORN.
In early January, 2001 Mark was called in and asked to bring Sock Hop Saturday Night back to the station's lineup. They had decided to drop the local baseball and hockey broadcasts, which meant a broadcast calendar with just a handful of sports-affected Saturday nights. On January 20, 2001, Sock Hop Saturday Night returned to the Bridgeport airwaves.

The show tried to regain some of the momentum it possessed in previous years, but it was obvious that the audience could never be totally rebuilt. But in due time the show gained legions of new fans and was back to topping the ratings charts. Things were looking up and the only thing needed would be just a little more time to get things back to normal.

SOMETHING NEW HAS BEEN ADDED.
Namely an Associate Producer. Larry O'Neill and Liz Murphy had been keen fans of the show since 1995 and were as glad as any other fans, perhaps more so, that the show was back on the air. Larry contacted Mark with an offer to help with the show and assist in any way he could. In June of 2002 Larry O'Neill became a permanent and integral part of the show. Besides working the request phones, he also developed computer applications for the website and software that proved to be invaluable for executing all the requests coming in. Larry became Executive Producer in August of that year.


THE SECOND DEMISE.
With Sock Hop finally riding high on the crest of success once again, 2003 would sadly prove to be catastrophic. That summer it was announced that the station would once again be carrying the broadcast games of the local hockey team. Again Mark looked ahead and checked the schedules and from November 2003 - April 2004 there would be only one single Saturday night when there wasn't some kind of sports broadcast to bump off his show. With such a disasterous hit on the horizon Mark wasn't sure about how to maintain the audience he had just rebuilt.

On September 6, Mark and Larry, along with Mark's neighbors Jim and Ingrid, planned a remote broadcast from Mark's back yard. Initially the plans just called for a handful of friends to join the outdoors show and some pizza would be delivered. But Jim and Ingrid stepped up to the plate and offered to do it as a BBQ instead. Close to 30 invited friends showed up for a beautiful Saturday evening under the stars. Food, fun and great music...it was a unique live radio show and another success story. It would unfortunately also be the last Sock Hop broadcast on the station.

On Thursday, September 11, 2003, upon reporting to work that day at 3PM, Mark was called into the PD's office along with the H.R. department head. Due to budget cuts and other internal reasons, Mark was released from the employ of the station. On the surface it was a friendly departure; no bitter words, no explosive exchanges. Mark emptied his office between visits from shocked and saddened co-workers. It took two complete days to remove all his personal belongings and his vast record collection.


But unknown to Mark, or anybody back at the old station for that matter, there was a tiny group of fans listening Saturday nights.....and they jumped right in to make the best of this situation. This group of fans consisted of Gary Sapiane, Rusty Potz and Paul Sidney, all long time veterans of oldies broadcasting giant WLNG-FM. Located just across Long Island Sound in Sag Harbor, Mark's show was listened to with great interest for several years by these men. Knowing a good thing when he hears it, WLNG's President Paul Sidney realized Sock Hop would make an excellent addition to the lineup at the oldest oldies station in the nation. Phone calls followed, a meeting was arranged and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

THE NEW SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT.
MARCH 6, 2004: SOCK HOP IS BACK and doing better than ever on its new home at WLNG 92.1 FM, Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York. America's first true oldies station has been operating strictly oldies since 1963, with Paul Sidney at the helm every step of the way. Mark Edwards and Larry O'Neill were given the same creative license and freedom to bring Sock Hop to Long Island intact and complete, just as it was for nearly ten years on Connecticut's airwaves. would like to personally thank Paul for them to be part of such a prestigious team.


In the summer of 2004, WLNG announced that it would resume its internet streaming audio of all its programming, making Sock Hop Saturday night available to oldies fans across the country and around the world. Some remote locations checking in to the show have included Kent, UK; Manila, Philippines; Melbourne, Australia; Brasilia, Brazil, and those are just the ones we know about. Incidentally, Sock Hop has the distinction of holding the #1 spot for the most listeners to any WLNG show via the stations streaming website audio.


THE SECOND ANNUAL SOUTHAMPTON LIONS CLUB/WLNG OLDIES SPECTACULAR,
AUGUST 28 2004.

Mark was selected to act as Master of Ceremonies for this great show, featuring Kenny Vance and The Planotones, The Excellents and Frankie Lymon's Legendary Teenagers. This was indeed a great honor bestowed upon Mark, whose tenure at the station was less than 7 months! His performance was so highly regarded that the promoters and organizers of the event approached him directly after the concert was over and expressed their deep desire to return again in the same capacity for the next show, scheduled for August 13, 2005.

A BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT....500 BROADCASTS!
On September 20, 2004, Mark Edwards and Larry O'Neill brought SHSN to the docks of Captain's Cove Seaport in Bridgeport, Connecticut to get the show out to the fans for the taping of the 500th show. It was a great night with perfect weather and an enthusiastic crowd that came out to sing the praises of WLNG and SHSN. The show was broadcast on WLNG on September 25, 2004. 500 shows may not seem like a lot, but one must remember that the program airs only once a week, and has spanned more than a decade in time.

ANOTHER BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT,
THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY ON WLNG!

March 5th 2005, and an open house at the Sock Hop studios for specially selected guests and friends as the first anniversary came along ever so quickly. However, that night a snow storm started about two hours before the open house began, and just a handful of die hard friends made the event. But it was a great night, and great way to celebrate a milestone on a great station.

ANOTHER BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT,
THE 11th YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SOCK HOP!

April 2, 2005 marked the exact day that Sock Hop began in Connecticut 11 years before in 1994.

ANOTHER BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT,
THE 12th YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SOCK HOP!

The Elks Lodge in Southampton, LI hosts the 12th Anniversary Show with a LIVE REMOTE. Newspaper coverage and a packed house are testimony to the following that Sock Hop has cultivated over the years. Special thanks to Bob Grisnik of Southrifty Drug, Jagger Lane, Southampton for handling the details to make this broadcast possible.

ANOTHER BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT,
THE 600th BROADCAST SHOW OF SOCK HOP!

The Elks Lodge in Southampton, LI once again served as host as the 600th Broadcast Show LIVE REMOTE takes place on September 23, 2006. It was another triumphant night as Sock Hop fans backed the hall, danced the night away and helped to celebrate this broadcasting milestone. And again, special thanks to Bob Grisnik of Southrifty Drug, Jagger Lane, Southampton for handling the details to make this broadcast possible.

ANOTHER BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT,
THE 13th YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SOCK HOP!

March 31 2007 brought about the 13th anniversary of this landmark radio show.

ANOTHER BROADCASTING MILESTONE FOR SOCK HOP SATURDAY NIGHT,
THE 5th ANNIVERSARY OF SOCK HOP ON WLNG-FM!

March 6 2009 brought about the 5th anniversary of the program on America's original oldies station.

And so it goes. Mark Edwards and Sock Hop continue to bring joy to oldies fans around the world as well as continuing to dazzling the skeptics. Keep listening as the show grows and reaches new audiences and brings back memories to those people who lived during the era of the greatest music ever recorded, the Sock Hop era.

 

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