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Capital Radio

New entry in Arcadia Publishing’s regional radio series focuses on Upstate New York

Reprinted with permission from “Capital Region Radio 1920–2011,” by John Gabriel and Rick Kelly. Available from Arcadia Publishing.

“Capital Region Radio 1920–2011”; is the latest entry in Arcadia Publishing’s regional radio series (Technically these radio history books are part of the multifaceted “Images of America” series).

Written by cousins John Gabriel and Rick Kelly, natives of the region, “Capital Region” refers to the New York capital of Albany and the surrounding Hudson Valley area — notably the towns of Schenectady and Troy.

The area can trace its radio history quite a ways back — thanks to the presence of a major General Electric facility (one which became closely involved in the early radio broadcast industry). With GE leading the way (and providing facilities), one of the first major AM radio stations was born, WGY. Under the early guidance of Kolin Hager the station was a pioneer in programming, broadcasting practices such as remotes and could operate as a test bed for new equipment.

Fitting the “Images of America” theme, the book is heavy with old and more recent photographs. In fact, it’s mostly a picture book with captions. Gabriel and Kelly must have scoured the region in collecting some of the pictures. Gabriel himself could have been in some of the later photos since he made a radio career at WTRY(AM), an area power from the late 1940s through to the domination of FM in the 1980s.

If “Capital Region Radio 1920–2011” has a favorite era, it would be the “Top 40” years when WTRY, WPTR(AM) and others battled it out for music supremacy and names such as “Boom Boom” Brannigan, Rick Snyder, Jay Clark, Dan Martin, Lee Gray and Joe Condon rode the air. The book is strong on the personalities of the time. It’s also strong chronicling the 1950s as stations operated as multipurpose full-service news and entertainment outlets.

The authors acknowledge that those were the years they were growing up, listening to and falling in love with radio.

“Capital Region Radio 1920–2011” is published by Arcadia Publishing and lists for $21.99.