Friday, March 25, 2016

WOKO Soap Box Derby

The WOKO on air today went on the air in 1962 as WJOY-FM. The station was also known as WQCR from 1972 to 1990, when it became WOKO, the country station in Bernie Sander's back yard. It is not related to the former WOKO which started in the 1920s in New York City and operated for many years in Albany; that station is now WOPG. Is that that New York WOKO that entered a soap box derby back in 1959.

It is however interesting to me that they chose the British spelling of "Radio Centre."  It's been  250 years since the colonies and United Kingdom were ruled by the crown. According to many sources, it was the either the 1806 or 1828 edition of Webster's dictionary that was so responsible for standardizing these "Americanized" spellings. His dictionary came to be seen in the UK as Americanized and became less popular.  Incidentally the word "Center" passed the tipping point in the US in 1910. SOURCE [HERE]

In 1939 WOKO published a radio guide which highlighted their new Radio Centre on Elk Street. If it was new that year, then it was already 20 years old when that Soap Box racer hit the pavement. SOURCE [HERE]

Harold E. Smith bought 1460 WOKO-AM when it was still a New York City station.  He moved it to Peekskill, NY then later in 1931 Albany, NY. In 1934, he bought 1400 WABY-AM.  When the Radio Centre was complete his CBS and NBC affiliates now shared studio space. (WOKO was CBS, WABY was NBC) Though they never shared a radio tower.  The WOKO transmitter was on Central Avenue, and the WABY transmitter was near Colonie, NY. It is probably one of the earliest instances of radio stations sharing studio space but not programming.