...and speaking of anniversaries...

Dave Doherty dave@skywaves.net
Sun Jun 14 23:57:45 EDT 2009

Hi Dan-

Thanks for filling in a lot of history.

Everything you reported with regard to WXKW agrees with the oral history 
that was passed down to me.

On the subject of the WROW move, though, the Thruway had nothing to do with 
it, as I understand.

The property as it existed in 1967 was alongside the already-operating NY 
Thruway, to the west just below exit 23. A developer traded that property 
for a tract on the east side of the Thruway in Glenmont, a mile or two 
south, and a bunch of cash. Sometime in the mid-to-late-1970s, WROW moved to 
the new site and the old site was demolished.

To this day, the old WROW site has not been developed.


----- 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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