Tag Archives: Q104.3

Q104.3 Studio Moves To Westport

In his 4 decades in radio — 3 of them as one of New York’s most popular DJs — Ian O’Malley has broadcast from many venues: the top of an Alaska mountain. The Maritime Provinces. A blimp.

Until last weekend though, he’d never done a show from his basement.

The cornoavirus has upended even Q104.3.

O’Malley usually works weekends. The commute from Westport to the Tribeca studio is not hard.

It’s a happy place. Besides the classic rock station, the 6th Avenue building is home to Z100, Hot 97, Power 105.1, Lite FM and WKTU.

But when a worker on the floor below fell ill with COVID-19, the decision came quickly: All shows would now be done from DJs’ homes.

While some colleagues broadcast from closets, O’Malley was lucky. He had already set up his Greens Farms basement for voice-over work. (You’ve heard his voice. Plenty.)

It’s well soundproofed — but not perfect. Last Sunday afternoon, he heard his young sons racing around upstairs.

His many listeners were probably unaware of the noise. Even if they heard it, they would not care. O’Malley was on the air, a familiar presence playing classic rock and telling classic stories.

Ian O’Malley did not have to dress up for last weekend’s shift.

He works mostly weekends now. The rest of the time he’s a very successful real estate agent with the Higgins Group.

He adapted to home broadcasting more easily than some colleagues. “DJs like routine,” O’Malley notes. “This was out of their element. They were nervous.”

He was too — for the first 10 minutes. Then he realized he was doing fine. He and his listeners were having fun. He was back in his groove, easily mixing music and conversation: stories about Van Halen, shout-outs, birthday greetings. “Sitting around the campfire,” he calls it.

Just as in New York, all the songs were pre-loaded into a computer. His laptop showed exactly what he would have seen in the iHeart studio.

Still, he says, this time he was completely in charge. He constantly checked his mic and sound levels.

“I really had to be on top of my game,” he says. “That makes it interesting and exciting.”

Ian O’Malley’s home studio.

Another difference: Usually, he gives away concert tickets. Those have all been postponed.

At any rate, he could not have done it from home. O’Malley did miss taking listeners’ calls.

Many listeners had no idea he was broadcasting from his basement. Those who did, appreciated hearing his familiar voice.

“They said it was calming. It makes you realize that music is important,” he says.

Ian O’Malley tells stories about many famous musicians — including Fairfield native John Mayer.

O’Malley has always enjoyed working in New York. But, he admits, “It was pretty nice to hop downstairs. During long sets, I could grab something to eat. And when I finished my show, I was done. No train. I just headed upstairs.”

He heads down to his basement again this weekend (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday). For those 5 hours — as Huey Lewis sings — the heart of rock and roll is still beating.

In Westport.

And The Winner Of That 1978 Bottle Of Whisky Is…

Last month, I posted a story of a unique raffle.

Ian O’Malley — the New York disc jockey, realtor and Westport resident — offered a 1978 Macallan single malt whisky. It’s worth over $4,000.

Ian bought it years ago. He planned to save it for a special occasion. But he put it on a top shelf, and forgot about it. (These things happen.)

He recently found it — and decided not to drink it, but raise funds for a good cause.

His wife Debbie suggested Experience Camps. The Westport-based organization sponsors 1-week camps for boys and girls after the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver.

Kids laugh, cry, play, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. They feel “normal,” because everyone there has been through something similar.

Ian O’Malley

When Ian was 12, his father died of pancreatic cancer. Decades later, Ian says, “I would have loved an opportunity like Experience Camps.”

Tickets were $104 each — because Ian is a DJ on New York’s classic rock station, Q104.3.

The raffle raised $13,000. The lucky winner is Mark Mangino from Wilton.

And, of course, hundreds of kids who will have the experience of their lives at Experience Camps.

Ian O’Malley’s 1978 Single Malt “Experience”

Ian O’Malley is a busy guy.

He’s a realtor. He’s a longtime New York radio DJ. He and his wife Debbie have 2 young children.

So he can be forgiven — maybe — for forgetting that he owned a very special bottle of 1978 Macallan single malt whisky, worth thousands of dollars.

Ian bought it years ago. When his son was 2, he moved it to a top shelf because — well, you know kids. Over time he placed a couple of other bottles in front of it.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Last year, as the O’Malleys moved from Wilton to Westport, Ian discovered the bottle. He was thrilled, but had the same idea as when he first bought it: Save it for a special occasion.

That special occasion is now. But Ian won’t be drinking.

Not long ago, he told Debbie about a friend who works for Edrington — Macallan’s parent company. He raffled off a bottle; the proceeds went to charity.

And his bottle wasn’t nearly as exclusive as Ian’s. (The cheapest price Ian could find for his 1978 was $3,300 — from an Italian retailer who won’t ship to the US. For $4,600, you can buy it from a store in the UK that will.)

Ian O’Malley

Ian volunteers for a number of non-profit groups, here and in New York. He did not want to choose one to benefit, and alienate the others.

Debbie suggested Experience Camps. The Westport-based organization sponsors 1-week camps for boys and girls after the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver.

Kids laugh, cry, play, remember the person who died, or forget the grief that weighs them down. They feel “normal,” because everyone there has been through something similar.

When Ian was 12, his father died of pancreatic cancer. Decades later, Ian says, “I would have loved an opportunity like Experience Camps.”

A unique raffle needs a unique price. Tickets are $104 each — because Ian is a DJ on New York’s classic rock station, Q104.3.

They’re tax-deductible, Ian notes. And available by clicking this easy link.

The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 14. The drawing takes place at 9 p.m. the next day. It will be streamed on Facebook Live, from his house. (Where the lucky bottle still sits, unopened.)

Yet Ian’s generosity does not stop there. If the winner lives within 60 minutes of Westport, he promises to deliver it personally.

Just thank him. You don’t even have to invite him in for a drink.


Ian O’Malley: Westport’s “Home” DJ, In More Ways Than One

He’s the DJ who introduced Nirvana to New York.

Van Halen brought him and his wife together.

He’s in the “School of Rock” movie, was on the “Big Brother” TV show, and has been a mainstay of the tri-state radio scene for nearly 30 years.

Now Ian O’Malley is moving to Westport.

These days, the Q104.3 jock holds down the Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. spot. That gives him time to indulge his other interests.

And in his “other” career O’Malley is a real estate agent, with Westport’s Higgins Group.

Ian O’Malley

Talking — to listeners and clients — is in his blood. His father recorded talking books for the blind. Insatiably curious, he moved his family around often. O’Malley lived — among other places — in Santa Fe, New England and the Maritime Provinces.

He started his radio career on Prince Edward Island, while still in high school. He worked nights, then headed to classes in the morning.

He asked his boss how to get better shifts. “Get better,” the man replied.

Then it was on to Alaska, for TV and radio work. At 21 he was hired in Boston. He was a DJ and — in the fledgling days of music videos — a VJ too.

In October of 1989, WNEW FM — New York’s reigning rock station — had a rare opening. O’Malley sent in a tape (actually, a cassette), and was called down to do a Saturday night audition show. He got hired Monday, to start the following weekend.

His first day at the station, Tony Bennett walked in. A few minutes later, Jerry Garcia strolled by. “I’m in a whole different radio stratosphere,” O’Malley thought to himself.

After that first day, Ian O’Malley and Tony Bennett became good friends. They often worked out at the same New York City gym.

WNEW was a great opportunity. Scott Muni, Dennis Elsas, Carol Miller and Pat St. John were already legends. Friends with many musicians, they were happy to let the “snot-nosed 25-year-old kid” represent the station at concerts.

“I had the keys to the city,” O’Malley says.

When he added work as a VH1 VJ, O’Malley got to know — professionally and socially — even more musicians. Now he’s got stories galore.

In 2000, WAXQ — classic rock Q104.3 — came calling. He’s been there ever since.

“I love the story-telling aspect,” O’Malley says. “I can communicate with people.” Though satellite radio and apps like Spotify have cut into stations like his, O’Malley says listeners still love the local touch.

He’s happy to oblige. The other day, he gave a shout-out to Westporter Bert Porzio for some great tree work, and his daughter Jennifer, a Staples High School . Both were thrilled.

Westport’s Ian O’Malley and famous Fairfield musician John Mayer.

In his long career, O’Malley has seen plenty of changes. 45s gave way to albums. CDs followed. These days the music is on computers.

When he started, fans wrote letters. Now they email or text. It’s instant feedback — and it keeps his show lively.

It also brought him love.

In 2008, a listener named Debbie emailed that she had not heard any Van Halen lately. O’Malley obliged. They wrote back and forth — longer and longer — for 3 months.

He asked her to lunch. Then he broke his own rule about dating listeners. Two years later, he married her.

They both remembered the 1st song he played on the radio for her: “Dance the Night Away.” Eddie Van Halen signed one of his guitars that way — and gave it to the couple as a wedding gift.

Eddie Van Halen’s wedding gift to Ian and Debbie O’Malley.

O’Malley clearly loves what he does. He’s never gotten jaded. He’s proud that children of his former young listeners now listen to him. “I’m very fortunate to do this for so long in New York — and in a business not known for longevity,” O’Malley says.

Like many DJs, O’Malley does plenty of side work. He’s in great demand for voice-overs. For several years he was the voice of Saab. Commercials, instructional videos — you name it, he did it.

It’s a wonderful life. And he is particularly excited to be moving with Debbie and their 2 young sons from Wilton into his new home: a beautiful house (with a basement recording studio) in Greens Farms.

In fact, real estate is another one of O’Malley’s passions. He got involved in New York City in the mid-2000s, and did well.

Now he’s joined the Higgins Group. He fits in well with Rich Higgins and crew, and has already begun selling the area.

So if Ian O’Malley drives you around to see properties in town, you’ll be treated to many intriguing stories.

While — I’m sure — Q104.3 plays on the car radio.

Ian O’Malley’s “business shot” for the Higgins Group.