UTICA-ROME -- There could soon be new life for the former longtime home of the now-defunct WRUN 1150 and several other local radio stations. Over a decade since the heritage AM signal went off the air for good, its studio at the dead end of Thomas Road in Oriskany is on the auction block.
Many who worked in Utica-Rome radio through the late 90s have memories of the old WRUN building at the dead-end of Thomas Road in Oriskany: how the building would shake as trains passed by on the CSX mainline right behind the building, how engineers would have to carefully cross the tracks and tread rotting catwalks over the swamp between the building and the towers; and how snakes from said swamp would occasionally make their way into the building.
A tip of the hat to Budd Yeman's Utica Rome Tribute Page on Facebook, for finding the old Thomas Road building listed in the latest round of Oneida County property tax foreclosure auctions. Bidding started on September 3 at just 50 dollars, but as of this writing, the high bid from "mamjah2020" stands at $9100 -- that's roughly 5% of the property's assessed value of $181,132. The auction ends this Saturday at 11:14am.
Maps on the listing page seem to indicate the auction only covers the building and its immediate plot of land; according to these maps, the land on which the transmitter towers are located, on the other side of the railroad tracks, is not included.
The listing says the 3712 square foot building is zoned for use as a "media studio," but it seems likely any new owner will be petitioning the town board to get that changed to use the property for another purpose.
After the original AM station ended its long run (as WUTI, after the WRUN calls were taken by Northeast Public Radio during its brief ownership of the station), it eventually had it's license deleted by the FCC. Thus, anyone thinking they might relaunch the facility as an AM station would need to do all the legwork to start over from scratch - and wait for the FCC to open an application window for new AM licenses (don't hold your breath). That's hardly a worthwhile investment in an environment where AM radio listenership has been gradually shrinking in recent years.
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