John Gabriel and Rick Kelly, two cousins who grew up together listening to radio in the Capital Region, have written one of Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series books entitled Capital Region Radio 1920-2011. The book tells the history of Albany region radio programs and personalities from its early days to recent years through more than 200 vintage images.
The General Electric Company, with one of its main plants in Schenectady, began experimental broadcasts in conjunction with Union College in the early 1900s. Using many culled from the miSci Museum in Schenectady, and others, this new pictorial history shares the story of when WGY officially began broadcasting in February 1922 and General Electric started a long and storied history of pioneering radio technology and programming, which ultimately set the pace for worldwide broadcast development. Capital Region Radio pioneer WGY provided entertainment and news nationally during World War II, WTRY kept listeners updated during the blackout of 1965 and WOKO introduced rock and roll to the area.
The authors also share stories of how broadcasting in the area affected locals. For example, thousands of schoolchildren from Utica and Pittsfield woke on snowy winter mornings to hear WGY’s Bill Edwardsen read the school closing announcements, and listeners enjoyed entertainment from Boom Boom Brannigan and Don Weeks.
John Gabriel is a well-known radio personality in the area, and Rick Kelly operates a website featuring airchecks from Northeastern radio stations. The material for this book was gathered through John and Rick’s long-standing connections with Capital Region radio personalities, professionals, historical archives, and miSci, the Museum of Innovation and Science.
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