|City||Albany, New York|
|Broadcast area||Capital District|
|Branding||Magic 590 AM and 100.5 FM|
|Translator(s)||W263CG (100.5, Albany)|
|First air date||September 30, 1947|
|Power||5,000 watts (day)
1,000 watts (night)
(6 Johnson Road Licenses, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WAJZ, WFLY, WKLI, WYJB, WINU|
WROW (590 kHz, "Magic 590 AM/100.5 FM") is a commercial AM radio station in Albany, New York. The station is owned by Pamal Broadcasting (dba Albany Broadcasting) and airs an oldies radio format with some adult standards included in the playlist. The station serves as the CBS Radio News network affiliate for the Albany/Schenectady/Troy media market.
WROW's studios and offices are on Johnson Road in Latham, New York. Its transmitter is off Wemple Road in Glenmont, New York, near the New York State Thruway. Programming is simulcast on FM translator W263CG at 100.5 MHz, with its transmitter off Dennis Terrace in Schenectady.
WROW is historically notable for being the first station owned by Capital Cities Communications which in 1985 purchased the American Broadcasting Company and became one of the largest media companies in existence at the time of that purchase.
On September 30, 1947, WROW first signed on when a startup company, the Hudson Valley Broadcasting Company, acquired the rights to the frequency. At the outset, the station had an affiliation with the Mutual Radio Network, switching to ABC in 1950.
The relationship with ABC was short lived, with WROW taking WTRY's CBS affiliation later in 1950, in a deal to get the rights to the CBS television network for its soon-to-debut co-owned TV station, WROW-TV (channel 41, today's WTEN on channel 10). In 1957, Hudson Valley Broadcasting became the Capital Cities Television Corporation, as Albany is the capital city of New York State. (In 1960, the name was changed to Capital Cities Broadcasting, to reflect its increasing radio holdings, including WROW.) The CBS Radio affiliation has remained on WROW ever since, and was shared for a time with sister station 100.9 WKLI-FM, the original home of the Magic format, beginning in 2001.
WROW carried a line up of network radio dramas, comedies, game shows, soap operas and big bands during its early years. But with the golden age of radio ending in the late 1950s, WROW decided to flip to a Top 40 format (the first such attempt in the Capital District).
The Top 40 format was initially a hit. But Capital Cities's success with the beautiful music format in New York City and other markets led WROW to switch to easy listening around 1963. In October 1966, WROW signed on sister station 95.5 WROW-FM (today's WYJB) which simulcast the AM station. On January 1, 1967, the Federal Communications Commission stopped allowing AM and FM stations in most cities to simulcast, except for 25% of their programming. To get around this rule, WROW-AM-FM began "shadowcasting" which allowed the same commercials to run on both stations, although the music on one station had to be delayed for a short time before it could be heard on the other station. (Most listeners were not even aware of this practice.) The combined signals of WROW and WROW-FM were among the most popular and financially successful radio outlets in the Capital District for most of the 1970s and 1980s.
Switch to News/Talk
In 1983, Capital Cities sold WROW-AM-FM to Dot Broadcasting, a group of local owners. Soon thereafter, WROW would be sold once again to another local ownership group. The aging demographics of the easy listening format led to a split in programming for WROW-AM-FM in 1991, with WROW-AM keeping the easy listening format. In late 1993, the WROW stations were bought by current owner Albany Broadcasting, which soon made changes to both stations. In February 1994, WROW flipped to an all-news format by day with talk programming nights and weekends.
Though a good idea on paper, the news format had low ratings and was a high expense format. In 1996, the station flipped to a full-time talk format. A slow starter at first, the arrival in 1997 of former WQBK host and program director Paul Vandenburgh helped improve ratings and made WROW a formidable second talk station next to talk leader 810 WGY.
In 2007, WROW began overhauling its programming. Vandenburgh left WROW in October 2007 to become part-owner of 1300 WGDJ, a station on WQBK's former frequency. Leaving along with Vandenburgh to go to WGDJ were the Live from the Capitol report with Fred Dicker and a weekly interview show with Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. Mike and the Mad Dog, which had aired as WROW's afternoon show as a simulcast with WFAN in New York City, was dropped at this time as well.
Programming During the Talk Radio Era
As a talk station, WROW's local morning show was co-hosted by Steve van Zandt and Jackie Donovan. Syndicated talk shows heard the rest of the day on the station included:
- The Glenn Beck Program
- The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly
- John Gibson
- Dave Ramsey
- Alan Colmes
- Joey Reynolds
Weekend syndicated programs included Brian and the Judge, Lars Larson, and Bill Cunningham; the first two of which previously aired on weekdays. The audio feed of NBC-TV's Meet The Press also aired one hour after the program was broadcast on Albany NBC-TV affiliate WNYT. (WROW aired the Westwood One radio broadcast.) WROW also held a sports play-by-play contract with the Albany River Rats ice hockey team, and that continued after the format change. Siena College men's basketball was once carried on the station, but moved to WGDJ in 2009.
In the past, WROW has aired other daily syndicated shows including Brian and the Judge (and its predecessor hosted by Tony Snow), Laura Ingraham, and a simulcast of the WFAN-based Mike and the Mad Dog. Past local programming has included "Afternoon Drive with Sherman Baldwin," "Live from the State Capitol," now heard on WGDJ, "The Mark Williams Show," and "The Scotto Show," hosted by Scott Allen Miller.
Becoming Magic 590
WROW discontinued the news/talk format on February 8, 2010, citing the difficulty of competing with WGDJ and WGY. The station then adopted its current format, which was moved from WKLI-FM, and was simulcast on both stations for two weeks, to help listeners adjust to the change. By mid-February, 590 WROW was the exclusive radio home of the "Magic" format, with WKLI-FM switching to adult hits.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-138
- Kim, Michelle (February 8, 2010). "Albany Broadcasting to ditch WROW news talk program". WRGB CBS 6 Albany. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
- Churchill, Chris (February 8, 2010). "WROW abandons talk radio programming". Albany Times Union. Retrieved February 8, 2010.