WSYR Syracuse Tribute

WSYR AM & FM Tribute Page

In The Beginning…

In 1922 few people saw the possibilities of radio in Syracuse, but Mr. J.E. Page was interested and set up a small transmitter that was to be the original WSYR. On November 24,1923 the license was transferred to Clive B. Meredith, who established studios at his home in Cazenovia, New York. The next three years were witness to great improvement in broadcasting technology. In November 1926 the new WSYR studios were installed in the Hotel Syracuse.

The WSYR Executives

Phil Hoffman…General Manager Dan Dwyer…Sales Representative

   Alan Beckwith…Sales Representative, graduated from Syracuse University. His brother was the youngest Amateur Radio Operator in Central New York.

Clara Bristol…Receptionist, joined WSYR in 1937. She studied voice at Union Academy at Syracuse University.

  Julia Merrick…Receptionist, worked at the Telephone Company until she joined WSYR in 1938.

Thyrsa Fullerton…Receptionist, came from North Dakota.

The WSYR Announcers

   Fred Jeske…known as ‘The Timekeeper’, Fred worked as an announcer and production director from Chicago to Milwaukee to Des Moines to Atlanta to WSYR.

    Bill Rothrum…Chief Announcer, was the most popular Syracuse radio talent in the 1930’s. Bill was the announcer on “The Lone Ranger” in 1939.

Alan Parker, was born in Greece and graduated from Rensslaer Polytechnic Institute. Al started in radio at WGY. In 1937 he came to WSYR.

     Jan Costley, first radio singing job was with  CFLC, Prescott,Ontario then came to WSYR.

    Frank Stuhlman, was a co-captain of the Syracuse University Varsity Crew. Frank started at WSYR on June 19, 1939.

    Florence Cummings… Traffic Manager and Secretary, joined WSYR in 1929.

     Nick Stemmler…Sports Reporter, started at WSYR in 1929. Nick broadcast baseball games and live sports events.

     Ruth Chilton…Women’s Features, In March of 1939 Ruth completed 14 years on the air as a singer, dramatist, writer and commentator. She was awarded four scholarships at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

WSYR Program Features

Local NBC Dance Program

WSYR relays the speeches at the 1939 Syracuse University Commencement

“Uncle Bill Reads The Funnies”

LEFT- Hon. James Farley, US Postmaster General and Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt speak over WSYR at the annual banquet of the Onondaga County Democratic Committee at Onondaga Hotel. RIGHT-Hon. Herbert H. Lehman, Governor of New York, is heard over WSYR from the Empire Court during The New York State Fair.

The WSYR Engineering Department

     WSYR radio operated on 570 kilocycles with a power of 1,000 watts from it’s transmitter located on Valley Drive. WSYR had 9 engineers through the 1940’s. Chief Engineer, A.G. Belle Isle, through his own Amateur Radio Station, W8CNJ, started an interest in commercial radio in the mid 1920’s.

A.G. Belle Isle, Chief Engineer

WSYR Transmitter Site…Valley Drive

Bob Murphy at Transmitter Control Room.
Master Control Room

     Control Engineer, Albert Eicholzer joined WSYR in 1929 and was once a farmer.

     J.R. Blaich, Control Engineer, joined the US Navy in 1917 as a radio operator. In 1921 he turned to selling and manufacturing radios, and came to WSYR in 1930.

WSYR Mobile Short-Wave Radio Car

    The Syracuse Herald American Newspaper Radio Program Guide for Sunday, November 11, 1934. There were only two Syracuse AM stations on the air before 1940, 570 WSYR & 1390 WFBL. WFBL was first in 1922 and WSYR-WMAC in 1924. 620 WAGE (later WHEN) and 1490 WOLF followed in 1940. 1260 WNDR went on the air in 1946. 1540 WPAW East Syracuse, 1050 WSEN Baldwinsville, 1320 WQSR Solvay and 1220 WSOQ North Syracuse went on the air in the mid to late 1950’s. WSEN was the first full time 24 hour a day station to play country music north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Other Syracuse Radio Station  promotions..

AM 1390 WFBL..

AM 620 WAGE (now WHEN) ..

The 1940’s & 1950’s

    The Central New York Broadcasting Corporation, owned by Harry C. Wilder, President, applied for a construction permit in 1940 to build and operate a new FM broadcast station in Syracuse on 46.3 megacycles. The call letters were W63SY. In October 1941, W63SY was granted a modification to change it’s transmitter location from Sentinel Heights Road in the town of Onondaga to Pompey Hills, Pompey, New York. Due to the war, construction had not yet begun until early 1942. In that year, it was decided to abandon the W63SY permit which the FCC cancelled. Harry Wilder applied for a Conditional Grant on January 9, 1946 for a new FM broadcast station on 93.5 megacycles with a power of 7 kilowatts. A 750 foot tower and antenna system was constructed and a new General Electric FM transmitter installed in the new building atop the Sentinel Heights location.

March 1940 (Low Band FM 42-43 megacycles)…

WSYR’s sister station WTRY Signs On (1940) ..

AM 1490 WOLF Syracuse granted modification / Licensed May 1940..

AM 1490 WOLF Syracuse signed on the air two weeks earlier, May 2, 1940..

June 1940..

WOLF Syracuse joins the Mutual Broadcasting System, November 1946..

WSYR’s Fred Jeske, 1943 & Ray Miller 1944..


September 1946..

Syracuse FM stations on the air by 1947..

93.1 WFBL-FM
94.5 WSYR-FM
98.5 WAGE-FM
102.5 WNDR-FM

July 12, 1946..

In 1946, Fred Hillegas joined WSYR radio, where he served as the station’s entire news staff. Later, with a full news staff, Fred became news director of both radio and the new WSYR-TV.

    In 1946, WSYR-FM began a full time simulcast schedule with WSYR-AM. The studios were located on the 7th floor of the Syracuse Kemper Building at 224 Harrison Street. E.R. Vadenboncoeur was Vice President of the first new FM station in Syracuse.

E.R. Vadenboncoeur

The FCC granted it’s first “Class B” license in November 1946. WSYR-FM changed frequencies from 93.5 to 94.5 megacycles and a power increase to 9 kilowatts on June 12, 1946. Power was increased to 10 kilowatts in July 1950 when a new 4-bay GE antenna was installed at Sentinel Heights. In 1952, Wilder retired and Vadenboncoeur became President and General Manager of WSYR-FM and continued to simulcast the WSYR program schedule. William V. Rothrum was promoted to Vice President and General Manager in 1959. Also that year, the FCC granted WSYR-FM a construction permit to increase power to 100,000 watts. New studios and offices were opened at 1030 James Street on September 29, 1959. The broadcast center housed WSYR AM, FM and TV channel 3.

May 1947..


AM 1490 WOLF Syracuse License Assignment, April 1959..

application for WQSR AM 1320 Solvay, NY, April 1959..

The 1960’s

    On July 7,1960,WSYR-FM’s licensee name was changed to the Newhouse Broadcasting Corporation. The station began full time separate programming in 1960 with the FM station running 100,000 watts. In 1961, the FM station began multiplex stereo operation and joined the “QXR Network” for syndicated “Classical Music”. By mid 1964, WSYR-FM operated from 8 a.m. until 12 midnight with a “Good Music” format.

The WSYR AM-FM 1963 Airstaff

The 1970’s-1990’s

 WSYR AM 570 Syracuse 1979-1984 Composite (27:43)

Don Dauer to Ed Murphy 5-16-79, Denny Sullivan 4-5-79, Larry Martin 4-30-80, Rick Gary 2-15-84, Don Dauer 7-19-84, Denny Alexander 12-29-85.


WSYR-AM continued with it’s very successful Middle of the Road format thru the 1970’s with well known announcers like morning man Don Dauer and Timekeeper Ed Murphy. The morning show pulled in a 33 share and lasted almost 20 years, the highest ratings of any Syracuse station.

   David Shurtleff  joined the WSYR stations as their new Vice President and General Manager in early 1972. In 1976,the station’s duplicated hours were reduced to 25 percent. By 1977, WSYR-FM aired an Easy Rock format from it’s new Harris System 90 automation system. Hugh Barr joined WSYR in November 1978 and was promoted to General Manager in 1980. A full time “AOR” music format began in 1980 when WSYR-FM dropped 25 percent duplication of the WSYR-NBC program schedule. The new format slogan was now “94 Rock”. Studios moved from 1030 James Street to 2 Clinton Square in 1981. In September of 1982, WSYR AM and FM were sold for 5.1 million dollars to Katz Communications of Syracuse.

The WSYR-FM 1980-81 94 Rock Airstaff..

   Pictured from left to right are: ‘Big Mike’ (mornings), Louise DiPace, (overnights), Tommy Nast (MD/nights), Andy Albert (weekend/swing), Howie Castle (PD/afternoons), Michelle Michaels (middays), and the late Dick DeLine (news/morning co-host).

 WSYR FM 94.5 Syracuse 1979-1980 Composite (21:16)

WSYR-FM 94 Rock Promotions..

On January 10,1983, programming switched to the “Superstars” adult contemporary music format. Call letter change from WSYR-FM to WYYY. Pictured is Bob Mitchell running the Saturday Night Oldies Show in 1983.

   After 4 decades the call letters changed from WSYR-FM to WYYY-FM. In November 1983,Katz Communications sold WSYR-WYYY to NewCity Communications Inc. in a 68.3 million dollar buyout on August 11,1986. The WYYY studios moved to a refurbished old factory building, named “Bridgewater Place” in early 1990.

WSYR 1988 Calendar

The 2000’s 

   WSYR-AM continues a News Talk format. The weekly schedule includes syndicated talk and financial shows. WYYY FM 94.5 continues it’s adult contemporary format since 1983. The studio and offices are shared at 500 Plum Street, Syracuse.

The WSTM Channel 3 Communication Tower, photos taken June 5, 2005.. 

WYYY FM 94.5 Transmitting Antenna..

The original 1948 WTVH TV 5 / WRRB FM 107.9 Transmitter Tower/Site across the road.