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Ten Years of CNYRadio: Our Thoughts and Yours

CENTRAL NEW YORK — If you’ve been away for awhile, CNYRadio.com is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this week.  The site went live on March 1, 2001… and we’ve been running a series of special articles this week to mark the occasion.  Today, we finish up the series with our reflections and yours, on ten years of CNYRadio.com.

Scott Jameson founded CNYRadio.com in 2001.  In addition to reminding your editor of the site’s anniversary, he also took time to provide his reflections on how he came up with the idea for the CNYRadio.com and what it was like to run the site for the first four years.

With my broadcasting degree from Oswego State in hand, I landed my first full-time radio gig in the summer of 1985. Morning drive at WOSC-AM in Fulton. $125 a week with no benefits. A few months later I took over middays at WSEN (country format then). After six months, I followed Jim Asker to Richmond, Virginia and took over the midday shift at WRNL (country). While my career was not what anyone would call meteoric at that point, I had my own place, a car with no rust, and my own show on the radio. Things were moving along well. Then a Nashville consultant came to town, I was bumped to evenings, and later that year, when the station went automated, the entire air staff — except for the morning man, Large Larry, and a couple part-timers — were out on the street.

After packing up a U-Haul and moving back to Syracuse, as much as I loved my time in Richmond, I decided that “market jumping” wasn’t for me, and there wasn’t much available in Syracuse at the time. So, having “given radio a try” I fell back on my “something to fall back on” career which was computer science. But, like anyone else who has caught the radio bug, it is a hard habit to break. While my software engineering career was keeping me busy, I kept my headphones at WSEN, working weekends and the occasional night-time fill in.

In late 2000, with blogging and web news aggregation still in its infancy, I saw an opportunity to combine two of my main interests (radio and software programming) and developed what was, at first, designed to be a simple radio guide for the Syracuse radio market. Lists of stations, personalities, schedules, etc. But what would really keep readers coming back on a regular basis was ongoing news about the market and/or open forums for the public to discuss local radio. Forums were a touchy subject for me. There were a couple of fairly popular message boards at the time that were home to a good deal of inane and immature discussions which come with the territory of open and anonymous forums. And since I had been employed at WSEN for the previous ten years, there was the issue of editorial slant and the appearance of station bias.

So I decided to leave the sticky business of moderating forums to those message boards that were already established and “alive and well” and focus on aggregating and reporting in as fair and objective way I could the news of the Syracuse radio market. In the months that followed after the site’s debut, we expanded to the Utica-Rome, Watertown and Ithaca markets.

It was all great fun, and as the site grew in popularity, so did the list of program directors and jocks who contributed content behind the scenes. Kathy Rowe gave me the idea for what became the popular “Beyond the Studio” personality profiles. Big Mike would offer a kind word or news tip from time to time. And Peter Naughton became an excellent contact for what was shakin’ in the Utica-Rome market, just to name a few.

There were a few bumps along the way. They always seemed to be centered around pictures that we posted. After I “re-published” a photo that appeared in a local paper, an email appeared the next day from one of the paper’s editors that included words like ‘copyright’ and ‘lawyer’ and ‘possible legal action’. And after a ‘Picture of the Week’ was posted which showed one station’s jocks placing their banner over another station’s van, I got a phone call from a program director who was, in the PD’s own words, “livid!”

But overall, managing the site became a labor of love. And even though voicetracking was taking hold, consolidation wasn’t going away, and listeners were slowing shifting over to satellite, the radio business still had what lured me to it in the first place: it was fun!

But to everything there is a season. After four years of running the site, and as other demands began to take over, the time I could dedicate to the site was at a premium. Having not a clue what the next step should be for the site, I didn’t want it to disappear forever. So after I put up one of those “This domain is for sale” pages, when I received an email from Peter Naughton offering to turn the lights back on, I was very grateful that cnyradio.com would be in good hands. Peter has done a wonderful job with the site. I frequent it often and enjoy keeping up on the happenings up and down the dial from afar.

And it truly is from afar now. Just over a year ago, my part-time on-air work and 24 years with WSEN came to an end as the station became one of the last in the market to finally embrace voicetracking and syndicated shows for a good portion of its schedule.

Where to begin?  Well, I’d like to thank Scott for his kind words and for all the countless of hours of work he put towards building a strong foundation for this site.  I never could have come up with the concept on my own, and I wouldn’t have been able to “take over” without the approval, technical support or moral support Scott provided during the transition.

Peter Naughton and Scott Jameson cross paths while waiting for Bike New York's Five Boro Bike Tour to begin in lower Manhattan, May 2010. Each knew the other was going, but never expected to actually spot each other among 30,000+ cyclists!

In some ways, my post-college career path has been similar to Scott’s — right out of Oswego (in 2001), I spent several years in broadcasting.  But as many colleagues have said, “broadcasters are in it because they love it, not for the money.”  Not wanting to become a “market-jumping nomad,” I came to the tough conclusion to exit full-time broadcasting in 2009.

Today, my primary job doesn’t deal with journalism, broadcasting, web design or graphics — so this website provides an outlet for me to practice those skills, while staying in touch with everything that’s going on in local broadcasting.  Fortunately, when the first station I worked for — Lite 98.7 in Utica — celebrated its 20th anniversary in late 2009, I was invited for a special “reunion weekend,” which turned into an “every other weekend” shift.  So, much like Scott when he first shifted careers, I’m grateful for the chance to stay active in radio part-time.

But perhaps the thing I’m most grateful for is you, the audience.  Without an audience, there wouldn’t be any motivation to write articles, to track down photos for Picture of the Week, or anything else on this site.  And without the segment of the audience who provides news tips, there would only be a fraction of the news you see here.

Keeping track of the happenings in three radio markets and two television markets is no easy task — I’m sure there are plenty of things which go unnoticed by me.  Tips from readers really make a big difference in the news coverage offered by CNYRadio.com and CNYTVNews.com.  To all of you who’ve sent in tips — big or small — I thank you very much, and I hope you’ll continue to keep me in the loop!

Where is CNYRadio.com headed in the next ten years?  It’s anyone’s guess!  Just as other priorities in Scott’s life eventually led him to cease running the site, I’m sure the same fate will befall me someday.  Only time will tell.

Enough from me — let’s hear what some of YOU are saying about CNYRadio.com on it’s 10th anniversary!

From morning co-host Amy Robbins at 93Q (WNTQ):

Congratulations on your ten year anniversary!  That is wonderful and I know your service is very much appreciated in the “business” – you always seem to have the scoop, even sometimes about us before WE do – not sure how you do that!

From her co-host, Ted Long:

Happy anniversary! I’ve read CNYRadio.com since it’s inception 10 years ago, and you’ve done a great job since taking over from Scott.  […] It’s always been great to have CNYRadio.com to keep us all up to date on what’s happening locally. I think you need to feature more “Picture Of The Week” flashbacks to when I was thin and had hair.

From “Big Mike” Fiss, morning host at Sunny 102 (WZUN) and Mix 102.5 (WUMX):

CNY Radio has become my source of what’s going on in our biz locally.  I check it everyday. Thank you Scott for starting it (and for some fun lunches at the Chinese buffet) and thanks Peter for the great job you are doing keeping it up.

Happy 10th anniversary to CNY Radio!!!!

Coincidentally, my own 10th anniversary at Sunny102/Galaxy is coming up this year too.  My first day here was September 11, 2001. You can imagine how excited and happy I was waking up that day but by 9AM the world changed with the attack on the WTC. New job happiness quickly went away and for a long time I shared in the deep sadness we all felt. What was going to be a great day for me personally didn’t matter anymore in the big picture. Yes, it’s been a fun ten years at Galaxy; still it’s hard for me to celebrate on that day. So as much as the world hates Bin Laden, I hate him more!

From Don Wagner, GM at Leatherstocking Media Group:

Really liked the site focused on CNY.  Sorry to see it go [in 2005] but […] happy to see the site come back and since you’ve taken over it is very current on news and issues. Good Job!

From Tom Owens, morning co-host at B104.7 (WBBS):

A good resource for local talent and station updates.  Good job, please keep up the good work.  Good luck on the next 10 years!

That’ll wrap up our special series of articles on CNYRadio.com’s 10th anniversary.  It’s been a hectic week, as we put this all together fairly quickly.  I know I had responded to a few people individually for taking the time to answer email interviews for the special stories we ran this week, but as deadlines approached and time ran short, I didn’t have time to say thanks to everyone.  So a big thank-you to everyone who responded.  And to those who weren’t contacted, please know it wasn’t intentional (and also check your spam folder — maybe it fell in there by accident since I sent the same set of questions to many people at the same time).

If you’d like to add your own reflections on the past ten years, feel free to post comments below.  If you don’t have a CNYRadio.com username, which is required to post comments, it’s free and fast to sign up.

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