UTICA-ROME -- Sixty-six years ago today, on May 2, 1947, federal regulators gave WIBX the green light to move to its current home at 950AM. Thanks to a former WIBX broadcaster, we're pleased to share an aircheck of the switch from 1230AM to 950AM.
"Surprisingly, I wasn't born yet," jokes Jerry Reed, who shared the recording with CNYRadio.com. Between the mid 1960s through the late 80s, Reed worked at a number of radio stations across the country, including Utica-Rome's WTLB and WIBX.
The following clip is about three and a half minutes long. As you'll hear, the station made a pretty big deal about the move down the dial. The announcer talks about how the "new" 950 frequency will provide a stronger signal, covering more territory than the original 1230AM signal. And in the moments leading up to the changeover, the announcer continually repeats the new frequency, making sure listeners can make no mistake in retuning the station.
When Reed first sent this clip to us a few weeks ago, he said the original tape indicated this changeover happened on May 2, 1947. However, he just notified us this morning, that May 2 was the date the FCC approved the change. After sifting through various newspaper articles from the time, Reed reports the actual frequency changeover date was April 28, 1948. So, we're on the money for the 66th anniversary for the authorization, but just a few days belated on the 65th anniversary of the actual move.
According to Wikipedia, WIBX was limited to 250 watts on the the 1230AM frequency and its even older 1200AM frequency. The relatively low power level made it impossible for listeners in Rome to hear WIBX at night. WIBX asked for permission to move to 950AM so that it could increase power to 5,000 watts day and night. The article says WIBX requested the power boost in response to a new upstart in town -- the Rome Sentinel Company's WRUN 1150, which was also authorized for 5,000 watts.
From 1948 to the present day, WIBX has been broadcasting from four towers along Clark Mills Road in Whitesboro. The studios moved from downtown Utica to the transmitter site in the early 1960s. A decade later, WIBX would add an FM sister station, WIBQ (now Lite 98.7 WLZW). When radio ownership regulations were relaxed in the 1990s, the AM/FM pair would eventually be joined by 104.3 WFRG, 96.1 WODZ and, ironically, WIBX's most senior competitor, WRUN.
Five stations in a building originally designed for just one proved to be quite a squeeze. Although the WIBX transmitter remains in Whitesboro, former owner Regent Communications moved the cluster's studios and business offices to brand new facilities in Marcy in 2003. Since then, WRUN was sold, then sold again and later renamed WUTI -- and present owner Townsquare Media took control of the four-station cluster in 2010.
Our thanks again to Jerry Reed for sharing this aircheck with CNYRadio.com. These days, Jerry is retired from full-time work, but he continues to operate his own voiceover studio. You can check out his work at http://jerryreed.com/