Veteran Long Island radio host Steve Harper — who had a decadeslong run on various LI stations until he left to start his own company in 2018 — will return as morning host at Ronkonkoma-based WPTY/105.3 FM ("Party 105") starting Feb. 10, station owner JVC Media announced late Monday. Harper will also be reunited with his onetime co-host, Leeana Costa.
Once one of the most familiar voices on Long Island, Harper left WKJY/98.3 FM in late 2018 to launch his own radio marketing company. Before K-JOY, he had a 26-year run at WBLI/106.1 FM. He started his radio career at age 17.
In its Monday statement, JVC — which owns five stations on Long Island and five in Florida — said that "while many radio stations around the dial have been consolidating, cutting staff bringing in national shows from other markets and terminating jobs, JVC is doing the opposite and going back to what made radio great — live, local and home grown."
In a phone interview, Harper — who currently hosts a nighttime program for JVC's Oldies/98.1 FM — said "one of the reasons I'm returning is that it's easier for me. I live eight minutes from the station [in Holbrook] and the new hours will be 7 to 10 and [for decades] we started at 6. I can sleep in a little bit later, and it's the difference between getting up at 3:50 in the morning and 5:30."
But he said the key reason was to be reunited with Costa. "She left [K-JOY] a year before me to work in the nonprofit area which she had a big passion for, but then told me along the way, 'I'm not being creative' and it wasn't fulfilling."
Both Harper and Costa — who had a long run together at K-JOY — live on Long Island, the release also noted. Then, in what appeared to be a not-quite-veiled dig at Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media, which recently replaced its WALK-FM morning show hosted by Mark Daniels and Jamie Morris with one that originates in Milford, Connecticut, JVC founder and CEO John Caracciolo, said “This is live, local and hometown radio the way it is supposed to be. We’re not phoning it in."
Harper said "it's not intentionally a dig, but stating the facts. I was born here [Harper was raised in Mineola], Leeana lives here." Relating to Long Islanders, he added, "is what we're good at."
Harper began as a teenager with Patchogue's WYFA/1580 AM — now WNYG — and from there went to WBLI, with later stops at "The Beach" 101.1-FM and WEHM (92.9 FM). He and Costa — then Leeana Karlson — got a one-week suspension at K-JOY in 2014 after admitting to have made up a homophobic parent as part of a stunt.
Of the new show, Harper said, "we're gonna relate to people. That's what we've always done — talk about things people are thinking about. We love our listeners and the listener is really the star. We put them on the air, and it becomes people helping out other people with things that are going on. That's what we're most excited about."