Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
In this week’s installment of Site of the Week, we stick close to the border – in this case, the state line between New York and Pennsylvania, where there’s always something new to be seen on our frequent drives from home in Rochester down to New York City.
At the southeasternmost edge of that border, where New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all meet up, we find our friend Bud Williamson’s home base in Port Jervis, N.Y. His Neversink Media group has been growing in recent years, and it was just in the process of adding a new station when we stopped in for a visit in October. But before we get to that new site, here’s a quick look at his facility in Port Jervis, located right on Neversink Drive just a mile or so from the village center.
This building goes back to 1953 as WDLC (1490), Port Jervis’ original station. WDLC is still here, now as “Country 107.7,” augmented by a translator on the tower out back. The studios here went vacant for a while when WDLC and its FM sister, then WTSX (96.7), ended up in the hands of Nassau and then Clear Channel; for a time, the Port Jervis stations then became simulcasts of WGNY in Newburgh, NY before Bud acquired them and returned them to local operation. This is now also the studio location for a much newer AM addition, WYNY (1450), licensed to nearby Milford, PA and itself augmented by a translator at 106.9.
There’s a third studio here as well, originating “Hudson Valley Public Radio,” WJZZ (88.1 Montgomery NY), which is heard via a string of translators across the region.
And that brings us to the new Neversink entry 30 or so miles to the east in Middletown, where Bud swapped several translators to get his hands on WALL (1340), the local AM that has a storied history but had fallen on some rough times in corporate hands.
One constant in recent years at WALL has been morning man Mark West, who’d been leasing his airtime from Townsquare. When Bud took over in late 2015, West became a key part of the new WALL airstaff, broadcasting along with his menagerie from a new studio in a cozy two-room suite in an office building just off Route 17. (In addition to its historic spot at 1340 on the AM dial, WALL is now heard on several translators around the Hudson Valley, and at a new website designed by our colleague Lance Venta.)
Let’s hit Route 17 westbound (or, as it will soon be known, I-86) and head for Binghamton and another studio move that was underway just as we stopped by in late October.
WLTB (101.7 Johnson City) is a rare bird, a standalone commercial station that’s locally owned and fiercely competitive with clusters belonging to big companies including Townsquare and iHeart.
Over the years, “Magic 101.7” has operated from several locations, migrating from the Vestal Parkway on the south side of the Susquehanna over to the village of Endwell, where it was just about to leave a second-floor space above a Chinese restaurant.
These are some of the very last images of that second-floor space, which was being dismantled even as we were there. (Not shown here are the office computers that we helped Steve load into his SUV for the short drive down Main Street to the station’s new home, which went live just a few days after our visit.)
“Simple but functional” is as good a description as any of the old space, which included a production room with a vintage rotary-pot board and an air studio where afternoon guy Dana Potter was doing his very last shift before the move.
We’ll have to see the fully finished new studios on a future trip, but we at least got a peek at the new layout, which occupies a storefront in a strip mall. Steve’s office is right up front, sales desks line one wall going back, and the new studios line the other wall. And yes – they were on the air from here within just a day or two after this visit.
Thanks to WDLC/WALL’s Bud Williamson and WLTB’s Steven Gilinsky for the tours!
And don’t miss a big batch of upstate New York IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: Warsaw, Indiana