UTICA-ROME -- Longtime residents of Rome remember when WKAL's studios were located within the Capitol Theatre on West Dominick Street. The theatre and the radio station were both originally owned by the Kallet family, hence the call letters. Rod Foote worked for WKAL from 1967 to 1972, and he recently discovered a treasure from his days at "Radio 145."
Rod tells CNYRadio.com, "I was cleaning out (very) old files and found this promo sheet." He was gracious enough to scan it and send it to us! From reading the flyer, you can see WKAL 1450 had, at the time, referred to itself as "Radio 145," and identified itself as an affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System. Perhaps a bit too small to see near the bottom of the page, is the station's phone number, which begins as "FF 6," rather than 336, from the days when it was common for the first two digits of phone numbers to be written as letters, rather than digits.
Curious to see if there was any information about WKAL and its history online, Rod says he started searching and eventually found CNYRadio.com. Specifically, he found our April 8, 2011 Picture of the Week. The article featured a vintage "ON THE AIR" sign which had then-recently been discovered "stashed away in the rafters" of the Capitol Theatre. At the time, officials had been asking for help from anyone who might remember exactly where the sign was located, back when it was in use.
We are pleased that Rod found the article because he has the answer to the mystery: "That would have been over the last door down the corridor upstairs at The Capitol Theater. The studio looked over the top of the marquee (the tracker lights would drive you nuts in the evening.)"
Rod Foote and his wife Janet have owned and managed the Chatham Theatre Company of Rome since 1982, and they produce the dinner theater operation at The Beeches Restaurant in Rome. And another tie-in to the Capitol Theater -- in 2007, Rod and Janet were inducted to the Rome Arts Hall of Fame, which is located inside the Capitol.
Unfortunately, we can't offer a comparably happy ending to WKAL's story: the station remains silent, more than four months after its California-based owner, Tune-In Broadcasting, LLC, filed a "request for special temporary authority" with the FCC. Prior to that, the station had signed-on just long enough to satisfy FCC requirements for Tune-In to avoid losing its broadcast license following several previous months of silence.
Thanks again to Rod Foote for sending in this great piece of local radio history. We love these "blast from the past" items. We're always interested in those vintage items, as well as having the chance to take a look at what's happening today inside your local radio or TV station. Every week, we feature another reader-submitted photo ... and if you want to get in on the action, just email firstname.lastname@example.org, send a private message through our Facebook Page, send us a link via direct message on Twitter, or just upload your photo through our Contact Form here on the site! There's a new Picture of the Week every Friday at 7:00am.