WABC radio in New York City was the biggest Top 40 station of all time. It's booming clear channel 50,000 watt signal was even in the Pittsburgh rating books! In the early 1960s, WABC was committed to network programming like Don McNeals Breakfast Club which aired from 10:00 am - 11:00am every morning and an hour and a half news block which ran from 6pm to 7:30pm. This stopped the music flow and gave competing stations like WMCA 570 am and WINS 1010am an edge because they continued playing music at these times.
After the network programming was no longer a requirement and Rick Sklaar became Program Director and tightened the playlist, WABC's ratings soared and soared so high that it was considered the most listen to radio station in the country! This "high" lasted all the way into the late 70s. As FM became a staple in the radio world, WABC still ranked top in the ratings. So what took WABC down? It was a combination of things but one soft rock station with very low ratings, WKTU 92FM in New York unexpectedly switched to disco. Their ratings soared . The station became known as disco 92 and they eventually knocked WABC out of the #1 spot.
Rick Sklaar left the station and WABC began trying to reinvent itself. They tried adding more disco then cut back and went more adult contemporary concentrating on music that was a bit softer. They lost their ground. They tried to attract an older audience but ratings continued to slide. Their new slogan was "New York's Radio Station" rather than "Musicradio 77 WABC."
In 1982 when most people listened to music on FM, WABC made the switch to talk where it remains a very very low rated station today.
Anyone in the radio industry knows that they must never be complacent. The radio landscape changes all the time and people's listening habits are in a constant flux.