The WOLF 1490 Tribute Site

Part 1


Part 1
Part 2
(Past and Present)

The WOLF Story!

as of 8/30/02

First WOLF Logo

For those of us who have heard the WOLF story, the opening words by Vince Mangiameli will never be forgotten. "On one dark historic night in May of 1940, a WOLF was born to its president T. Sherman Marshall. Years later the WOLF had grown from a mere cub to a powerful awesome force in Syracuse radio."

Radio station WOLF started at 250 watts on 1500 kHz on the AM dial changing to 1490 one year later, March 29, 1941 in accordance with the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement. (See Below)

It was one of the first of its kind to establish a format or certain pattern of music. But from it's sign on May 9th, 1940 to the mid 1950's before the advent of the top 40 format it was Syracuse's music and news station. With the weakest signal until the mid 1960's it competed successfully with the city's four 5000 watt network stations. WOLF originally a Mutual Network station broke that affiliation in 1947. And the beat goes on!

The original WOLF was to begin broadcasting in 1939. A delay moved the date to April 1940, then eventually May.

Syracuse Newspapers April 18, 1940

Then Finally May 9, 1940

Post Standard May 7, 1940

And NOW Ladies and Gentlemen......

Syracuse Newspapers May 11, 1940

WOLF's first program schedule. You'll notice only 3 Syracuse radio stations and WGY (Schenectady) and short wave.

Post Standard May 12, 1940

February 1, 1941, FCC announces frequency changes effective 3/29/41

March 29, 1941, In accordance with the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement, 802 of 893 (or 795 of 883) AM stations shift frequency at 3 a.m. New York time and the band is extended to 1600 kHz. The treaty created Canadian and Mexican clear channel frequencies.

See "A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900-1960" @

Broadcast Yearbooks courtesy of Jeff Miller
History of American Broadcasting

1947 Broadcast Yearbook

* See below for a note on Syracuse Broadcast History*

Thanks to Dusty Rhodes, former WOLF alumni for his rememberances of personnel and program schedules.

From the Dusty Rhodes Collection

T. Sherman Marshall
March 12, 1957
Syracuse Post Standard 3/12/57

June 14, 1959
Syracuse Post Standard 6/14/59

*My thanks to Steve Auyer for these notes about Syracuse Radio History as well. Steve goes on to say he at one time did a series of interviews with John "Jack" Cleary and distilled them into a 2-page write-up covering Cleary's days in radio. "Jack started at WOLF in 1942 I believe and had some interesting comments on the operation of the station. He later moved to WFBL so the write-up is probably about 60% WOLF and 40% WFBL."

"Jack" Cleary WN2Q


In February 1941 I went to Buffalo and took exam for my amateur license. Passed and received call W8VSP. Much of my success was due to Les Schmidt-W8TJK. Les was a transmitter operator at WOLF and a year after I got my license, it was February 1942, Les rapped on my door about 9P.M. one night and asked if I would like to work for WOLF. The next day I walked out to the transmitter, interviewed with Dave Foote the chief engineer, and he hired me.

At that time the transmitter engineers at WOLF were Dave Foote, Les Schmidt, Bert Kelley, and another fellow whose name I can't recall. All these fellows were hams. I was hired to take over at the studio for Stu Green who was going into the army. In July of 1942 Les Schmidt went into the army and I started working at the transmitter. Eventually, Bert, Dave, and the other fellow went into service. That's when Tom Crimmins and Alf Carlson joined WOLF engineering as transmitter operators. The three of us kept things working. As I recall operating hours extended from 6a.m. until sign-off at 2a.m. the next morning.

My starting salary was $20 per week. By July 1946 1 was making $40 per week. In July 1943 I left WOLF for the Merchant Marine. I was getting $22 per week at WOLF working full time at the transmitter. My first year in the Merchant Marine I sailed coastwise and returned to home port of New York City and would come home for a few days and work at WOLF studio and transmitter. Then Id go back to my ship for another trip. In June 1946 I left the Merchant Marine and came back to WOLF studio on the night trick at $34 per week. Started at 6p.m. and ran controls till 2a.m. sign off. Working conditions at WOLF were great and my time with them was the happiest and least stressful of all the places I have ever worked. It was a fun place to be in the early'40s.

During the war Don Muir was chief engineer at WOLF. I think he had come from the police departments radio station. All the transmitter guys were hams. The war had ended and NY became put of the FCC 2nd district so all calls of the fellows working Syracuse radio became W2 calls.

By July 1946 my salary was raised to $40 per week. And in November 1946 it was raised to $48 because I had obtained my First Class Radiotelephone License. Prior to that time I operated at the transmitter on a Restricted Radiotelephone License, which the FCC allowed because of the shortage of operators during the war years. I also had a Second Class Radiotelegraph License for my Merchant Marine service. There was an unwritten agreement among stations back in the 40's regarding hiring engineering or on-the-air talent from another station. In 1947 a job opened up at WFBL for a studio operator and I heard about it. I went to Sherm Marshall, head of WOLF, and told him I was interested. He made a call and I started work at WFBL on January 1, 1947 as studio and field engineer at $190 per month. WFBL was a CBS affiliate station running 5000 watts day and night. At sundown we would go directional. Sign-on was 5a.m. with the Deacon Doubleday Farm Show and sign off at 12 midnight. Jim Kelley was chief, Walt Stonger was studio supervisor and Harold Mabes was transmitter supervisor.

WFBL studios were on the 11th floor of the Onondaga Hotel. The property at 433 South Warren Street had been purchased and was being renovated for studios and business offices. Walt Songer and Bob Aller put full time installing studio equipment on the second floor and I was hired to relieve Bob. I was the only ham at the studio; all the fellows at the transmitter were active amateurs at that time.

Some other items of interest: WOLF transmitter was a 250-watt Collins with associated equipment. One guyed tower and a small cinder block building consisting of transmitter room, small sleeping room with bunk beds and toilet. It was located at Van Rensselaer and West Kirkpatrick Sts. in lowlands often referred to as Oil City.

WOLF Studios: Located on the second floor of the Chimes Building on South Salina and West Onondaga Sts. Business offices and studios consisted of studio A and studio B, a control room, and an adjacent small announcer's studio. This was used in 95% of the days operation. I dont ever remember Studio A being used for on-air programs. Studio B was used for musical and religious programs. On-air programming was 78 r.p.m. records in 15 and 30-minute segments. Pop bands, singers like Bing Crosby, a five minute news break every hour on the hour, a half hour classical program from 2p.m. to 2:30p.m. and a western show for a half hour in the early evening. At 10p.m. the very popular Sandman Serenade program started and ran till sign-off at 2a.m. It consisted of all 78rpm records selected from call-in requests. People would call starting a 9a.m. all day long, even after the night operator left at 9p.m. The announcer and control operator would take the calls right up till 2p.m. RCA equipment included the control board and two turntables. Records only were played, no tapes.

WFBL: The control console and audio racks were Western Electric equipment, custom built, all industrial black. The music library was a file of 16" World transcription discs and two turntables. Two studios plus a small recording studio. Entering from the 11th floor hallway was like coming into a living room. Rugs on the floor, leather sofa and chairs, large monitor speaker, low, pleasant lighting. Programming was all picked up from the CBS network from about 10a.m. with the Arthur Godfrey Show, soap opera drama programs, plus local news, sports, and some music. I would work live remote programs from the Syracuse Hotel Ballroom at 11:30p.m. till midnight signoff several nights a month.

WFBL "On The Road"

WFBL transmitter building on Old Collimer Road

Syracuse Radio History courtesy Steve Auyer

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