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ASP Albany Student Press - Vol. LXV, Extra 1 - March 1, 1978


Debut Of 91FM At 4 p.m.


The long wait is over. WCDB will begin broadcasting at 4 p.m. today.   The installation of telephone lines between the station's studios in the Campus Center and the transmitter in Mohawk Tower was completed yesterday, but members of the station continued working until early this morning in order to correct a weak signal which was broadcast last night in a frequency response test.

The original level of the response was low," said WCDB Chief Engineer Ira Goldstein.  "We has to pump it up by using a stereo amplifier.  "With the addition of the amplifier, a second set of frequency response tests were termed successful and it was determined at 1 a.m. that WCDB would make its debut today.  The station will go on the air with a minimum of ceremony, according to General Manager Paul Rosenthal.   "We will give a chance for all the individuals who worked so hard to get their voices on the air," said Rosenthal.  "But we'll quickly go into our regular broadcasting schedule."

WCDB plans to broadcast 24 hours a day and will feature an extensive programming schedule.  The musical format will be "album oriented rock", according to Programming Director Rich Schenkman.  "We'll be playing albums of familiar artists as well as expanding to new people such as Elvis Costello and Meatloaf.  "There will also be a number of jazz shows each week, according to Schenkman. "I feel that this will be an important thing to the whole area.  "Rosenthal said that there will be an effort on the part of the station to program many hours of jazz.  "There are no regular jazz programs in this area. Albany traditionally has been a fairly major center for jazz musicians.  " Other musical programming will include a "Live Concert" show which will present local musicians performing live in the studios each week and a show called "Front Row Center", which will feature recordings of recent local concerts.   Special programs will include a show called "Radio Free Albany", which will be a comedy/call-in talk show as well as an interview/call-in talk show which will be hosted by Rosenthal.

  The WCDB sports staff, headed by Mark Plevin, plans on covering major Great Danes sporting events, starting with tonight's Albany/Hamilton contest.  "The sports department traditionally has been very enthusiastic," said Rosenthal.  Plevin said this morning that WCDB will have exclusive coverage of the Great Dane's play in the ECAC basketball tournament.  Rosenthal said that the WCDB news staff, headed by Debbie Kaas, will broadcast comprehensive local broadcasts throughout the day.  "We will provide a communications medium that has been needed," said Rosenthal.   "The ASP is the only effective medium on campus. As efficient as a newspaper can operate, one medium is not sufficient on a campus this size.  " Rosenthal added, "We will serve as a medium for information.  Simple things like whether the buses are running during a snowstorm will be broadcast with the immediacy that only we can provide.  "Rosenthal said that WCDB will also feature editorial commentary by members of the stations as well as non-station members.  "We will invite participation.  If there is a specific issue in question, we would like to make ourselves available as a forum of debate.  "For members of the station, the debut broadcast today will be the culmination of years of work which were hampered by what seemed to be a never-ending array of problems.

"There hasn't been one step along the way in which at least one thing didn't go wrong," said Rosenthal.   "Nothing went without a hitch.  " "There are dozens of former station managers who worked hard, but never saw an FM station," said Rosenthal.   "Fortunately, those who are directly responsible are still in the Albany area and will be able to hear the station.  " One of the people Rosenthal mentioned is Eric Goldstein, currently a day announcer at WROW FM.   Goldstein was station manager last year, when the FCC granted the station a building permit.   "Eric is individually responsible for much of the work," said Rosenthal.   Goldstein said last night that he felt good that the station was finally going on the air, but was sorry that it took so long.   "WCDB will be a top sounding station," said Goldstein.   "The management is excellent - Paul Rosenthal took care of the construction.   Seeing that all of the plans are executed is really the most difficult part.   He is probably the most active and competent station manager that place has had and they are fortunate to have someone as imaginative as he to begin programming."

Goldstein said that the first serious attempt to go FM was in 1973 when the station submitted an application to the SUNYA administration which included a technical study by the station's staff.   "Unfortunately, the administration realized that it could never go in as is because it was fraught with errors.  " At that point, the radio station was called WSUA and was piped in via carrier current.   "The problem was that the people looked at our own technical people; we're not a technically oriented school like RPI or MIT and have never had a great mass of engineers," said Goldstein.   "Those people looked at the problem, and it seemed virtually insurmountable."

Goldstein said that a key cog in the progress of going FM was the hiring of a consultant Ed Perry, who specialized in getting college radio stations licensed, and who did the entire technical part of the application.   When Goldstein took over the station, there was a move by Central Council member Rick Meckler to have WSUA closed down.   "The station was pretty old," said Goldstein.   "SA had been hearing promises of going FM since 1969 and were getting tired out.   The size of the budget had decreased.   We realized that nobody would sink more money into a carrier current station and that there was a finite life to AM operations.   We had to go FM.  " Going FM meant having to cope with the bureaucratic channels of SUNY and the Federal Communications Commission.   "It took us six months to complete the FCC application and to get engineer studies," said Goldstein.   "It had to be approved by SUNY Central and because of delays on their part, it took a full six months for the application to get to the FCC.   There was one year.  " Goldstein added that it took the FCC a full year to approve the application - six months longer than the usual waiting period.   He said that the FCC had apparently made SUNYA's application a test case for class D educational licenses and it took them time to write a rationale for granting this license.

During this time, the station was busy attempting to garner the necessary space and funds from the university and SA.   Conference room 315 became the site for the new station after a space allocations committee studied the station's request.   SA then put $30,000 on a budget rider reserved for the construction of the FM station.   That amount however, was not enough, and in September, the station had to ask SA for an additional $17,000 before construction could begin.   After some debate by SA officials the station was granted the building funds on Oct.   5.   Studio construction began on Oct.   14 and the transmitter and antenna were placed in Mohawk Tower in December.   Transmitter tests were conducted soon after.

At this point, yet another headache surfaced for WCDB.   The Atmospheric Sciences Research Center lodged a complaint that the transmission of radio signals from the Mohawk Tower would interfere with research conducted at the weather station there.   Because of this, the station decided to halt construction of permanent cables between the studio and Mohawk Tower.   Temporary telphone lines were installed, forcing the station to postpone broadcasting for another week.   "It's upsetting that I won't have much of an opportunity to be with the station broadcasting," said Rosenthal , who is a senior.   "Personally, I'm in no position to complain.   Eric Goldstein spent several of his life on this without reaping any benefits.  " "My only hope is that they don't take a $40,000 investment and sit down a college kid who plays rock and roll music" said Goldstein.   "For some reason, that's what every other local college station has done and it stinks.   However, with the people on this staff, I'm sure that we don't have to worry about that.  "