...and speaking of anniversaries...

Doug Drown revdoug1@myfairpoint.net
Sun Jun 14 16:02:25 EDT 2009

This is fascinating history.  There must have been a subsequent resurrection 
of WXKW sometime in the '60s, as I vaguely remember a station with those 
calls that briefly operated out of Troy  when I was a teen, on either 1590 
or 1600 kHz.  I listened to it a few times when I visited the area.  It 
actually was a pretty decent station, with a Top 40 format, IIRC.    -Doug

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dan.Strassberg" <dan.strassberg@att.net>
To: "Dave Doherty" <dave@skywaves.net>; <linc45r-n@lincster.com>
Cc: <boston-radio-interest@bostonradio.org>
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: ...and speaking of anniversaries...

> WXKW's array was six towers, all right, but aside from the fact that
> it was a six-tower in-line (end fire) and such arrays are rare (though
> WXKW's was hardly unique), there was nothing especially remarkable
> about the tower orientations or spacing. The array was a beautiful
> sight. Six 300' (just about 90 degrees at 850) Blaw-Knox square
> cross-section self supporters spaced 1/4-wavelength apart. The most
> common form of six-tower array is the 3x2 side-fire parallelogram and
> such an array could have produced a pattern like WXKW's (a narrow
> inverted figure-eight, with a decent lobe down the Hudson Valley
> toward Hudson and Catskill and the main lobe toward the Tri-Cities,
> although Schenectady was enough off center that the signal there was
> nothing special, especially considering that WGY, with its transmitter
> a few miles southwest of downtown Schenectady--just where it is
> today--probably trashed WXKW's fourth-adjacent signal in Schenectady
> on a lot of the cheap All-American-Five tabletop radios of the day).
> The problem with a side-fire parallelogram was the site geometry,
> which was not suited to it (with a full ground system, it would have
> required a lot a little more than 1/3 mile wide from east to west).
> Had WXKW not gone dark in 1953, the plan was to rebuild the array on
> the existing Selkirk site as a 2x3 end-fire parallelogram. Those are
> more common than six-tower in-lines but much less common than
> side-fire 3x2's. Although a 2x3 would have been better suited than a
> 3x2 to the narrow but deep site, the trouble with the idea was that
> WXKW's big problem was KOA, and 2x3's don't null as deeply to the
> sides as 3x2's do. So I think it was unclear that the idea would have
> worked.
> The way I heard the story was that in the end, WXKW's owner, Stephen
> Rintoul, sold the license to WROW's owner, Harry Goldman, for $50,000.
> I assume that the transmitter site in Selkirk was part of the sale,
> but I don't know that. A surprising thing was that, even though WROW's
> studios were a cramped dump in an old apartment building at the top of
> State St, very close to the Capitol building, whereas WXKW's studios
> were a showplace in a bank building on a street off State St near the
> River, Goldman elected not to move WROW to the former WXKW studios.
> Either Goldman was too cheap to pay the rent or he figured that with
> TV coming soon, he was going to have to move to a different location
> anyhow. And move, he did--to N Greenbush.
> I do not believe that any WXKW shareholders made out on the Thruway
> land-taking in Selkirk, but again, I don't know that to be the case.
> In any event, IIRC, it was quite a few years after WXKW went dark in
> the fall of 1953, that the Thruway began work on the Berkshire
> Extension with its bridge across the Hudson in Selkirk. It was that
> project that took the former WXKW property. As far as I can remember,
> work on the Berkshire Extension had not yet commenced when I graduated
> from RPI in May of '56.
> On the other hand, WROW's shareholders (Capital Cities?) probably did
> profit when the Thruway took the original WROW site in Glenmont. The
> Thruway replaced the land and replicated the WROW array but with
> taller, more efficient towers, which imprived the station's already
> excellent daytime coverage. The night power (still nominally 1 kw) had
> to be limited to the field achieved with the original 300' towers,
> however, because there was a Canadian station pretty much due north of
> Albany.
> -----
> Dan Strassberg (dan.strassberg@att.net)
> eFax 1-707-215-6367
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Dave Doherty" <dave@skywaves.net>
> To: "Dan.Strassberg" <dan.strassberg@att.net>;
> <linc45r-n@lincster.com>
> Cc: <boston-radio-interest@bostonradio.org>
> Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2009 9:20 PM
> Subject: Re: ...and speaking of anniversaries...
>> Hi Dan-
>> I had a memo from Healy to the board, and may still have it
>> somewhere. It was from the late 40's or early 50's. In it he said
>> that they could not justify the cost of the buildout in Delmar
>> without a network affiliation. Clearly, it was written when WOKO was
>> at that old site north of Albany, probably in Menands.  I did not
>> know they shared it with WABY, but it was definitely not the site
>> WABY was using by the the late 1960s.
>> Thanks for pinning down the frequency of WXKW. I knew it was
>> somewhere around there.  The CE at WROW in the late 60's, whose name
>> escapes me now, described the machinations they had to go through
>> with that pattern, which according to him never worked right. His
>> opinion was that the construction of the NY Thruway through their
>> transmitter plant was a mercy because the investors got most of
>> their money back on the land taking.  As I recall, the description
>> that came down to me was a six tower array with some really odd
>> spacings and orientations.
>> By the time I worked at WOKO in 1967, the CE was Charlie Heisler. We
>> had a Bauer 5kW main and an ancient Western Electric 1kW aux with
>> mercury vapor rectifiers and TH type power tubes. I don't recall him
>> mentioning an earlier Gates 5kW, but the Bauer was fairly new at the
>> time, and it had clearly replaced something. I just assumed it was a
>> WE 5kW, but I have nothing on which to base that assumption.
>> Many years ago, I saw some other documentation of WOKO's early
>> history. It includes at least one, and I think two, previous
>> locations - prior to Menands - well down the Hudson. One was a
>> shared-time facility, maybe down in Beacon or Newburgh, or possibly
>> even farther south.  One of these may be the site Linc mentioned as
>> "Mount Beacon"
>> -d
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "Dan.Strassberg" <dan.strassberg@att.net>
>> To: "Boston Radio Interest"
>> <boston-radio-interest@rolinin.bostonradio.org>
>> Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 9:51 AM
>> Subject: Re: ...and speaking of anniversaries...
>>> ons in the Capital
>>> District, the ABC affiliate in 1952 was most definitely WXKW 850.
>>> It
>>> was absolutely not WOKO 1460. I don't recall whether WOKO had any
>>> network affiliation at that time. If it did, it would have been
>>> Mutual. In 1952, WOKO was operating from Delmar with 5 kW-U DA-N
>>> (three towers), the same facilities that the 1460 station uses to
>>> this
>>> day. I strongly doubt whether this setup was brand new in '52. The
>>> studios were in a hotel whose name I can't recall on State St in
>>> Albany--about half-way from the River to the State Capital. It was
>>> on
>>> your left as you walked up the hill. I am pretty sure that at least
>>> a
>>> few years before 1952, WOKO had moved from a site north of Albany
>>> shared with WABY 1400. WABY continued at that site after WOKO
>>> moved.
>>> When the two AMs shared that site, the tower may have been diplexed
>>> (AM diplexes existed in the '30s) or there may have been a second
>>> tower. If there was a second tower, it no longer existed by 1952.
>>> From
>>> its old site, WOKO ran 1 kW-D/500W-N ND-U. Scott Fybush may be able
>>> to
>>> provide some clues about when WOKO increased power. Prior to the
>>> move,
>>> WOKO, WHEC Rochester, and WHP Harrisbutg had similar ND-U
>>> facilities
>>> on 1460 and all three increased power and went DA-N at about the
>>> same
>>> time. In the early/mid '50s, WOKO was owned by an eccentric
>>> silver-haired gent named "Colonel" Jim Healey, who was totally
>>> fascinated by the sound of his booming voice. He broadcast Lowell
>>> Thamas-style news and commentary at least once each day (maybe
>>> twice)
>>> on WOKO. The commentaries were ad-libbed and really sounded it;>(
>>> Some more odd facts (OK; recollections--somebody is BOUND to prove
>>> me
>>> wrong on some point--and maybe more than one) that occurred to me:
>>> WOKO's Chief Engineer in the early/mid 50s was an older guy named
>>> Al
>>> Sardi. He had a very thick Swedish accent. WOKO was odd-man out
>>> among
>>> 5- and 10-kW Capital District AMs of that era with regard to the
>>> manufacturer of its transmitter. WROW and WTRY had RCA BTA-5Fs;
>>> WXKW
>>> had a BTA-10F (IIRC, from the front, it looked like a BTA-5F with
>>> an
>>> extra cabinet). Now somebody is going to say, so WOKO, where
>>> budgets
>>> (except those for Col. Healy's cigars) were always very tight, had
>>> a
>>> Gates--the very popular low-priced brand. And IIRC, that would be
>>> wrong. Maybe Sardi--or the consulting engineer who designed the
>>> WOKO
>>> plant--was adamant that he didn't like RCA and didn't like Gates. I
>>> don't know whether Healy owned the station or Sardi was CE when the
>>> 5-kW Tx was purchased, but it was a Collins--the high-priced
>>> spread.
>>> -----
>>> Dan Strassberg (dan.strassberg@att.net)
>>> eFax 1-707-215-6367
>>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>>> From: <linc45r-n@lincster.com>
>>> To: "Dave Doherty" <dave@skywaves.net>; "A. Joseph Ross"
>>> <Joe@attorneyross.com>; "Dan.Strassberg" <dan.strassberg@att.net>
>>> Cc: <boston-radio-interest@bostonradio.org>
>>> Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 12:23 AM
>>> Subject: Re: ...and speaking of anniversaries...
>>>> Very early on wasn't WOKO located on Mount Beacon?  The two tower
>>>> that supported the hammock were still there in the 1970's and may
>>>> still be part of the head end for the local cable TV company.
>>>> Linc
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>>>> From: "Dave Doherty" <dave@skywaves.net>
>>>> To: "A. Joseph Ross" <Joe@attorneyross.com>; "Dan.Strassberg"
>>>> <dan.strassberg@att.net>
>>>> Cc: <boston-radio-interest@bostonradio.org>
>>>> Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:26 PM
>>>> Subject: Re: ...and speaking of anniversaries...
>>>>>I think  WOKO was an ABC affiliate prior to that big swap.  I had
>>>>>some correspondence from the early 50's indicating that the
>>>>>in Delmar was conditioned on a network affiliation with ABC. Prior
>>>>>to that, the transmitter was on the north side of Albany, maybe in
>>>>>Menands. They built the site in Delmar about 1952, so it seems
>>>>>must have been affiliated with ABC - or somebody - prior to the
>>>>> -d
>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>>>>> From: "A. Joseph Ross" <Joe@attorneyross.com>
>>>>> To: "Dan.Strassberg" <dan.strassberg@att.net>
>>>>> Cc: <boston-radio-interest@bostonradio.org>
>>>>> Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 4:14 PM
>>>>> Subject: Re: ...and speaking of anniversaries...
>>>>>> On 11 Jun 2009 Dan.Strassberg wrote:
>>>>>>> IIRC (I think it was in the spring of 1956 but it could have
>>>>>>> been
>>>>>>> a
>>>>>>> year or more earlier than that), CBS radio switched from WTRY
>>>>>>> (AM) to
>>>>>>> WROW (AM) and CBS TV switched at the same time from WTRI-TV
>>>>>>> Channel 35
>>>>>>> to whatever the station on channel 41 was then called (maybe
>>>>>>> still
>>>>>>> WROW-TV).
>>>>>> I think it was earlier than that.  It was sometime in 1956 that
>>>>>> WTRI
>>>>>> returned to the air as an ABC affiliate, and for the fall TV
>>>>>> season
>>>>>> that year, for the first time in that market, each network had
>>>>>> its
>>>>>> own station.
>>>>>>> However, by the time of the switch (or AT the time of the
>>>>>>> switch),
>>>>>>> WTRY (AM) changed hands. I think Channel 35 stayed with the
>>>>>>> former
>>>>>>> owners of the AM but the AM was sold to a Providence RI-based
>>>>>>> group
>>>>>>> that also owned WEAN there. The guy who headed the group was a
>>>>>>> fellow named Mowry Lowe. Lowe was a strong believer in
>>>>>>> independent
>>>>>>> stations and music-and-news formats (later known as MOR and
>>>>>>> Top-40). Instead of picking up the ABC Radio affiliation that
>>>>>>> WROW
>>>>>>> (AM) was dropping, WTRY became an independent and continued to
>>>>>>> do
>>>>>>> very well both in ratings and sales. I think ABC radio then
>>>>>>> moved
>>>>>>> to WPTR.
>>>>>> Yes, there was a big network shift at that time.  CBS went to
>>>>>> WROW,
>>>>>> ABC went to WPTR, and Mutual, formerly on WPTR, moved to WOKO.
>>>>>> The
>>>>>> only affiliation that stayed the same was NBC on WGY.
>>>>>> -- 
>>>>>> A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                   617.367.0468
>>>>>> 92 State Street, Suite 700            Fax: 617.507.7856
>>>>>> Boston, MA 02109-2004           http://www.attorneyross.com
>>> orneyross.com

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