|City of license||Albany, New York|
|Broadcast area||New York's Capital District
|Branding||Capital Districts Best|
|Callsign meaning||We are the Capital District's Best1|
|Owner||State University of New York|
WCDB is a college radio station located at The University at Albany in Albany, New York. WCDB currently broadcasts at 90.9 FM with a signal covering the Capital District and reaching parts of Western Massachusetts. The station is staffed completely by students and operates on a 24/7 schedule. WCDB's programming includes a wide range of alternative music programs. The station is now airing worldwide via streaming on their website.
The first traces of campus radio activity at the UAlbany campus appeared in the 1940s when the University Radio Council was formed. This organization made initial plans for the creation of a campus station tentatively called WCFA (College For Teachers, UAlbany's first incarnation) and WSCA. In 1962, the college became a University in the State University of New York system. WSUA debuted on February 22, 1963 as a "carrier current" AM radio station, where the broadcast transmissions are propagated via and confined to the electrical wiring of the college campus. The frequency was 640 kHz. At the time, a school newspaper account specified the station's power at eight watts.
WSUA was located in a janitor's closet in Brubacher Hall in what is today called the "Downtown campus." At the time, the format consisted of news, sports and music in the jazz, classical and Broadway vein. It was somewhat later that WSUA realized it could attract a bigger audience among the student population by playing "rock and roll" music, so a Top 40 format soon ensued. The song "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles is said to be the first song played in the new Top 40 format.
In the mid 1960s, WSUA upgraded their studio space to the basement of Brubacher Hall, where space for more studios and record storage was available. The station's management offices were on the first floor. Around this time, the station's carrier current signal was rolled out to the new "Uptown" campus. The electrical wires used to carry the signal often imparted a buzzing sound on the transmission. In 1975, the station began to use the slogan "Buzz Along With Us" on some promotional items to acknowledge this fact.
A more progressive type of rock music format would be introduced beginning in 1968 and would later become the dominant format, displacing the Top 40 music. At the same time, WSUA began sports coverage of the Great Danes basketball and football teams. One of the more popular programs in 1970 was the Saturday Night of Gold, hosted initially by Eric Lonschein and, later, Andy Baum and Glen Trotiner. The station also featured a daily news digest called Earwitness News beginning in 1973. The news program featured, among others, Anita Bonita, who would later become well known on the New York City radio dial. By mandate of the Student Association, the station would be required to use this specific ID for its top of the hour announcement: "WSUA Albany, subsidized completely by student tax paid to the Student Association of the State University of New York at Albany.2
WCDB moved from the AM dial on to the FM dial on March 1, 1978 with the song "Born To Run" by Bruce Springsteen, spun on vinyl by DJ Jim Saturno. The station operated with 10 watts of power in FM stereo. While WCDB played the record, the same song rang out on the campus carillon outside the campus center (in the fountain). Although WCDB was operating on the FM dial, WSUA continued operating on the AM dial as a training studio for new staff members wanting to work on the FM station. This continued until 1980, when it was decided that the AM signal was no longer necessary.
In 1981, the station applied to increase its transmitter power to 100 watts, and was approved to do so on March 1, 1982. The first song played at the new higher power was "Rock and Roll" by the Velvet Underground. By the late 1980s, dance music was added to the format of the station in the form of a long running weekly show called Club 91 on Friday nights.3
In March 2012, WCDB celebrated its birthday with the WCDB 34th Anniversary Music Festival and Alumni Reunion at Valentine's Music Hall in Albany. Featuring over 15 bands, the festival spanned two nights and two separate floors of the hall. The near-capacity crowd enjoyed many genres of great independent artists that have been the hallmark of WCDB's rock format for over 30 years, including Titus Andronicus, Avi Buffalo, and Brian Dewan.4
WCDB is the broadcast radio station of SUNY Albany. WCDB's format is primarily alternative music. WCDB serves as a venue for matters that are relevant to continued public discourse regarding issues of social importance. The underpinning rasion d'etre for the existence of a student radio station is to provide a viable alternative to mainstream discourse and mass culture.
- Bill Daughtry - 1050 ESPN Radio New York
- Brian Lehrer - CUNY TV
- Larry Berger - MSG Varsity
- Jody McDonald - 1050 ESPN Radio New York
- Holly Schomann - Director, MTV2 - Music Programming and Talent, former Director at Warner Brothers
WCDB has hosted numerous on-air band performances over the years. Notable performances include:
The Kinks - 1979 Television - 1979 Joe Strummer - April 1984 Fugazi - 1993 Cymbals Eat Guitars- October 11, 2010 The Music Tapes - December 10, 2010 Wye Oak- January 30, 2011 Colour Revolt - February 2011 Avi Buffalo- March 5, 2012
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WCDB
- Radio-Locator information on WCDB
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WCDB
- The WCDB Historical Society
- WCDB Sports blog
- The Kitchen (WCDB 80s Show blog)
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WCDB