Monthly Archives: May 2015

Goodbye Old Friend

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On May 18, 2015, the FCC accepted a letter from Townsquare Media Group requesting the cancellation of the broadcast license for Brewster’s WPUT 1510 kHz. According to the FCC’s AM Query web site: “Deleted facilities cannot be reactivated. Interested parties must file an application for construction permit during the appropriate AM application filing window.” In essence, it’s over. WPUT is history.

1510 AM in Brewster was originally known as WBRW and prospered during the height of popularity for local radio well into the 1970s. It had a good run: 1963-2015 – a full 52 years. Still, today’s silence is deafening. It was simplicity: A 1 kilowatt daytimer with just one antenna stick built into a small yet utilitarian house on less than prime real estate. It still sits at the end of Prospect Hill Road in Brewster directly adjacent to the Metro-North train yard. With low overhead, tight efficiency and strong ties to surrounding communities, WBRW was unstoppable.

Long before the FM radio’s age of popularity and the coming of mass media via computers and the Internet, the station had a virtual monopoly on local news, weather and sports. WBRW was the source of information for the entire area. If snow was falling, every kitchen radio was tuned in for miles and miles. Radio was vital and alive. Good times!

The station was sold in 1968 and the callsign changed to WPUT in an attempt to broaden its service area. Big name local radio talent was hired in. It became an affiliate of the ABC Entertainment Network. 1510 AM remained vital and alive. WPUT changed with the times. Eventually, their news affiliation switched to CNN and the music format switched to adult contemporary.

Their big competition was WVIP in Mt. Kisco. On September 9. 1997, WVIP burned to the ground. Local broadcasters pooled their surplus equipment and got them back on the air. It only lasted a few days. WVIP was off for good.

Just a few months later, on June 7, 1998, WVIP’s legendary owner Martin Stone passed away. All hope seemed to evaporate. After years of silent hiatus, 1310 AM became a re-broadcaster of a Caribbean religious radio service. It remains on the air as WRVP with 5 kilowatts during the day and 33 watts at night. No local content. Another neighborhood station bites the dust.

Unfortunately, WPUT had a similar fate. As time went by, FM radio ate away their audience and local programming could not be financially sustained. Brewster’s 1510 AM reverted to nationwide syndicated programming and eventually became a simulcaster of WINE 940 in Danbury. During the last few years, the station was barely functioning. Now it is gone.

The signs of its demise are quite apparent. WPUT has now been off the air since November. The grass is not mowed. The house that used to serve as its studio complex has fallen into disrepair. Windows are broken. Large pieces of siding dangle from the roof overhangs and the outside walls look fragile. No one is home. How sad.

With both WPUT and WVIP off the air, there is little local radio to speak of serving Northern Westchester County. WLNA 1420 Peekskill simulcasts a satellite-delivered traditional country format 24 hours a day with 1260 WBNR Beacon. WFAS 1230 White Plains has a local morning show but doesn’t really serve Northern Westchester. Only WHUD 100.7 FM Peekskill and WXPK 107.1 FM Briarcliff Manor recognize our part of the county with WHUD serving as the only source for local news and a live local morning show.

It has always amazed me how state lines divide radio coverage. Ridgefield and Danbury, Connecticut are only a few miles away from me, yet you will never ever hear Northern Westchester news, sports or advertisements on any of their 5 FM and 3 AM outlets. I am so close to WAXB 850 Ridgefield that I can almost hear their harmonic on 1700!

WPUT is now silent. The plate voltage will be forever at zero. Not much more can be said. I grew up in local radio. Now it is nearly obsolete. It isn’t easy watching something you love wither away. Where have all the voices and music gone?  Remember the good times. It sure was fun.