WGY radio station celebrates 100 years on the air

When tuned into WGY Radio, Mike Patrick’s voice is often one of the first listeners hear each morning. A 45-year broadcast veteran, Patrick has been the station’s morning news anchor for 11 years.

” It is always [exciting]”, said Patrick between the news during a broadcast in late February. “That’s the sense of surprise. I have a 45-year-old hobby, a paid hobby, of doing this, and it does part of my love of what I learned as a child.

What do you want to know

  • At the end of February, WGY Radio celebrated its 100th anniversary
  • WGY, which originally launched in Schenectady, was New York’s first commercial radio station and is still among the oldest in the country.
  • On its centennial night, more than 60 people gathered to watch a recreation of WGY’s inaugural broadcast

Along with Patrick, WGY’s morning crew is made up of host Doug Goudie and producer Rachel Davis, whose near-constant juggling between hosts and callers has her playing the role of traffic cop.

“It’s a little tricky, but I don’t know, you get used to it,” Davis said. “That’s a lot of multitasking.”

The trio are part of the rich heritage of WGY, which became New York State’s first commercial radio station in 1922.

“Once in a while it’s in my mind that my grandfather used to listen to this station,” said Davis, who grew up in Rotterdam. “It’s really cool that I work here.”

The WGY format has evolved from music and entertainment to most news and talk heard today. For the past month, the station’s centenary in February has been a big topic of conversation on and off the air.

“What they did with this radio station, there was no plan,” said Goudie, who joined the station about a year ago. “They didn’t know what they were doing and how they were going to do it; they just knew they were onto something.

The historical milestone is more than just news at the station. On the anniversary, Chris Hunter from the Museum of Innovation and Science gave a presentation on the history of WGY, which featured photos and artifacts from the museum’s current exhibit.

“The images bring back a lot of memories for people and they also show the creativity that this area has had for so long,” Hunter said.

“It’s a blast from the past, and I don’t think you get to see historic preservation like this very often,” said Schenectady resident Susan Fedak.

Fedak, one of about 60 people to attend the presentation, said his mother played music on the station as a teenager in the 1940s.

“I remember all those names from my elementary school days when my mom was around the house with WGY in the background,” Fedak said as she scanned the dozens of old photos on display. “We also listened to every Yankees game.”

The evening ended with a recreation of WGY’s very first broadcast, featuring music and a modernized retelling of a comedy-drama starring Patrick and the WGY players.

One hundred years after WGY first aired, Patrick says it’s a great honor for everyone who continues to add to the station’s legacy.

“When you say those three letters, that’s history, that’s legacy,” he said. “I am more than proud to work for this station.”

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