When WGY started broadcasting in 1922, it was one of the earliest radio stations in New York State. The station, established by General Electric (GE), originally broadcast from building 36 at GE’s Schenectady Plant. Station managers recognized the mass appeal of radio and the possibilities of entertainment, and in August 1922, WGY presented the first ever radio drama, “The Wolf,” The performers were challenged to create realistic sound effects and inspire listeners’ imaginations. They used rocks in bathtubs to represent a landslide and walked through crumpled paper to substitute for a chase scene through a forest.

By the 1930s, millions of people across the country owned radios. Locally, three stations ruled the airwaves: WGY, WABY, and WOKO. Each station presented a variety of news, information, and entertainment. WGY, its signal being among the most powerful in the country, courted listeners as far away as Utica and Vermont. Network programming brought a variety of music, comedy, and drama programs into the home, introducing America to Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and “The War of the Worlds.”

By the 1970s, the clearer sound of FM radio, which was actually developed in the 1930s, finally gained in popularity and most music broadcasting shifted from AM to FM radio. WGY transitioned into a talk radio format, which continues today.

 

Magnifying Glass
Microphone Used at WGY
1920s
Metal
Magnifying Glass
WGY Towers on Building 40, General Electric Plant, Schenectady
Published by General Electric, Schenectady, New York
1928
Collotype on paper