Denis McNamaraDeejay, Program Director | 2010
Garden City-based radio station WLIR was the first U.S. radio station to play bands such as The Cure, U2, The Smiths, and New Order, launching the music of the 1980s and changing the national musical landscape. The station also nurtured the Long Island club scene, broadcasting concerts from artists, such as Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne—many of them live from Long Island Music Hall of Fame inductee My Father’s Place—before they became household names. Steering these trend-setting moves was program director Denise McNamara, who joined WLIR in the mid-1970s and helped the station change formats in the 1980s from album-oriented rock to New Wave. (WLIR is the subject of a 2017 documentary Dare to Be Different.) McNamara’s career began at NYU where he was the general manager for WNYU and a newswriter at WNEW in its early progressive rock days. After WLIR became WDRE in 1987, McNamara continued to refine and develop his innovative new music format. When WLIR finally folded in 1991, he moved over to the record label world, becoming senior vice president for the Universal Music Group and international A&R director for Polygram and Polydor. His final work there was in the Broadway soundtrack genre. He currently is president of NYM Inc., a radio consulting company for artists, music labels, and assorted media.