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|City||Schenectady, New York|
|Broadcast area||Capital District, Upper Hudson Valley, Lower Adirondack Region|
|Branding||99.5 The River|
|Frequency||99.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Translator(s)||W260CH (99.9, Albany, relays HD2)|
|First air date||February 1, 1939 (as W2XOY)|
Hot Adult Contemporary|
HD2: Country "Wild Country 99.9"
|HAAT||282 meters (925 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||W (Hudson) RiVEr|
(CC Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WGY, WGY-FM, WPYX, WTRY-FM, WKKF, WOFX|
Listen Live (HD2)
WRVE (99.5 MHz) is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Schenectady and serving the Capital District and Upper Hudson Valley of New York. It broadcasts a Hot Adult Contemporary radio format and calls itself "99.5 The River," referring to the Hudson River. The station is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc., one of seven radio stations owned by the company in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy radio market. Studios and offices are at Riverhill Center on Troy-Schenectady Road (NY Route 7) in Latham, New York. The transmitter is located off Pinnacle Road in Guilderland, New York.
Though classified by Arbitron and Mediabase as a Hot AC station, WRVE has a slight lean towards adult contemporary music. Its main competitor is WYJB (B95.5). WRVE broadcasts in HD with its HD2 subchannel airing country music. That format is also heard on 250 watt translator station W260CH 99.9 MHz in Albany.
WRVE is among the nation's oldest FM radio stations and the first to broadcast full-time in stereo. For many years it was owned by General Electric with similarly pioneering sister stations WGY and WRGB-TV. (Both WGY and WRGB are also among the nation's oldest AM and TV stations, respectively.) WRVE traces its history to W2XAD in Schenectady and W2XOY in New Scotland, New York, two experimental frequency modulation transmitters on 43.2 MHz, which began test transmissions in 1937. The two were merged into one station with the W2XOY call sign on November 20, 1940, and a month later, the frequency was changed to 45.7 MHz as the FCC closed the 43 MHZ band. In the summer of 1942, the station adopted the W85A call sign and moved to 48.5 MHz. Just over a year later (November 1, 1943), the callsign became the long-running WGFM. On June 15, 1946, WGFM complied with the FCC's postwar FM band reallocation and switched on a transmitter at 100.7 MHz in the new band; for two years, it operated on both the old and the new bands simultaneously. In May of 1947, the remaining new-band transmitter moved to 99.5 MHz, where it broadcasts to this day. Although W2XOY, W85A and WGFM sometimes duplicated the programming of sister station WGY, considerable effort was made to create programming unique to the FM channel.
On June 1, 1961, at 12:01 AM (EDT), WGFM became the first FM station in the United States to broadcast full-time in stereo. With the switch to higher quality stereo sound, the station no longer duplicated the programming of WGY. At first it aired a classical music format and later it changed to beautiful music.
As FM radio listening grew during the 1970s, the 99.5 frequency played host to several formats. In 1973, it began airing TM's syndicated and automated Top 40 "Stereo Rock" format, calling itself "Rock 99." The same TM format and announcer was used at other FM stations in Upstate New York during this period, including WYUT (now WXUR) in Herkimer (Utica-Rome), WKFM (now WBBS) in Fulton/Syracuse, WNOZ (now WIII) in Cortland/Ithaca, WPXY in Rochester and WBEN-FM (now WTSS) in Buffalo. In 1981, WGFM switched to a live Adult Contemporary format, known as "99 - The Light".
In 1983, the station returned to Top 40 (this time with live personalities) as "99 GFM" and spent much of the 1980s in pursuit of competitor, 92.3 WFLY. By 1985, "99 GFM" had become the dominant Top 40 station in the Albany market. But within two years, ratings began to erode. It was during this period that General Electric sold WGFM and WGY. The stations subsequently changed owners several times during the following decade.
In 1987, WGFM brought in noted radio consultant Mike Joseph, who constructed an updated version of his successful Hot Hits Top 40 format. With the region's long association with General Electric, and many potential listeners employed by G.E., he dubbed the station "Electric 99." The longtime WGFM call letters were switched to WGY-FM. The station repeatedly played only the top 30 songs of the day along with a few cuts from the top selling albums, hosted by lively disc jockeys who promoted the music, ran contests and talked up local high schools and colleges.
With its ratings on the decline, WGY-FM changed its format to Oldies in October 1990. This occurred during a period when two other stations in the market were already airing Oldies music.
99.5 The River
In late 1993, Dame Media purchased WGY and WGY-FM. Dame took control in March 1994, and immediately ended the oldies format. The call letters were changed to the current WRVE and the station began calling itself "99.5 The River." At the outset, the station was branded as "Rock without the Hard Edge" and was musically programmed as an Adult Album Alternative station, though the station's music evolved to become more mainstream. At launch The River was focused on music and offered no contests or promotions, similar to Orlando's, WMMO where DJ's would not talk over songs. When Clear Channel Communications (the forerunner to iHeartMedia) bought Dame Media in 1999, the station's format again moved to a more mainstream sound. In the middle of 2012, the station started adding in more current hits. The slogan became "The 80's to Now, and Everything in Between". At the beginning of May 2013, WRVE removed some of its current hits and began playing more music from the mid 1990s and early 2000s. In order to keep diversity between its co-owned sister stations, 106.5 WPYX (Classic Rock) and 102.3 WKKF (Top 40), WRVE re-branded itself again, this time as "The 90's to Now".
In 2005, WRVE added IBOC digital radio (as did Clear Channel's other Albany stations). On August 17, 2006, WRVE began airing an HD2 channel with an Adult Album Alternative similar to, but more varied than, the original "River" format. This HD2 channel was later replaced with a Smooth Jazz channel which was formerly located on WTRY-FM. On January 14, 2015, WRVE-HD2 changed its format to country music, branded as "Wild Country 99.9" which is also heard on FM translator W260CH 99.9 FM in Albany.
- 1977 Broadcasting Yearbook (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. 1977. pp. C–146.
- Fitch, Charles S. (January 27, 2016). "How FM Stereo Came to Life". Radio World. Vol. 40 no. 2. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- Venta, Lance (January 14, 2015). "iHeart Goes Wild with Country in Albany". RadioInsight.com. Radio Insight. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WRVE
- Radio-Locator information on WRVE
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WRVE
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W260CH
- Radio-Locator information on W260CH