Friday, April 17, 2009
I'd like to forget April ever existed. My first television news operation, and my first commercial radio station went belly up in the same month.
A few additional words on WYOU are on the way, but let's start with WARM, the once "Mighty 590."
Apparently, the transmitter is shot and the company that owns the station doesn't want to spend the money to fix it. There is a strong possibility WARM is gone forever. How do you neglect your transmitter? Without a transmitter, there is no radio station. It's like neglecting the engine in your car.
I worked there from 1981 to 1991, and I'm not going to get all weepy over this. Due to years of management bungling, going back to my era, the place where I worked no longer exists. The WARM we grew up with died a long time ago. No one is losing their jobs. The 2009 WARM is a computer in a closet that gets a satellite delivered oldies format on the air. Nothing live. Nothing local. All tragic.
By the time I came on the scene, WARM had lost some of its luster, but it was still better than every other radio station out there. We had seven full time news people, and that's unheard of in a town this size. For much of my employment, I had the greatest job in broadcasting. I took home a company car and a tape recorder. My job was to chase every court case, fire, crash, arrest and big storm in the area. It kept me moving, and I loved it. During a nasty round of flooding in the mid 80's, I just drove around, reporting what I saw. A television news crew later told me they knew where the problems were by listening to me. I had a chance to attend the first ever Red Barons game (in Rochester), Governor Casey's first inauguration, and a long list of other big events. I might not have been the greatest talent out there, but I was certainly the luckiest.
I left because I smelled trouble ahead, and I thought I had gone as far as I could go.
There's a blurb on the back jacket of Bob Barker's book. New "The Price is Right" host Drew Carey says "I'll try not to wreck the car." Lyndon Johnson kept escalating the war in southeast Asia because he didn't want to be known as the first American president to lose a war.
I thought pride and history would be enough to keep WYOU and WARM afloat. I didn't think any broadcast executive or company would want to be remembered as the one who killed a relatively solid news department, or the one who allowed a legendary radio station to die. One suit called the demise of WYOU News a "win-win situation." Tell that to the newly unemployed guy who has to pay his mortgage this month, and who has to feed his kids.
They wrecked the car and lost the war.
Even though it was an occasionally rocky road, I wouldn't trade my WYOU and WARM years for anything.
There's a chance someone will buy WARM and get it up and running again. Unfortunately, AM radio stations with crippled transmission facilities are not a good investment.
It was fun while it lasted.
Happier times... the below photo is Paul Ciliberto and I in the WARM Avoca studio around New Year's Eve, 1989. Notice the sign on the wall over Paul's shoulder. It says "The only difference between this place and the Titanic is the Titanic had a band."
Below is the mid 80's afternoon news team. Guy Randall is on the left. The legendary Terry McNulty is on the right. I'm in the middle. Both Guy and Terry have passed on.
And this is me on the night of April 26, 1989-- almost 20 years ago. It was taken in the broadcast booth of Lackawanna County Stadium-- opening night. We kicked butt that night, leaving the other alleged news station in town, and the station with the Red Barons' broadcast rights, both in the dust.
AT 12:01 AM