SYRACUSE — New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Famer Albert “Bud” Wertheimer, who founded The Lincoln Group, which once owned at least one radio station in Syracuse, has died. Wertheimer passed away on Friday at the age of 75 in Syracuse.
We first received word from a former employee of Wertheimer’s, who says he worked for The Lincoln Group for 13 years. An obituary published in the Syracuse Post-Standard on Saturday and Sunday said Wertheimer was surrounded by family when he passed peacefully at home, and full service arrangements would be announced later this week. Our source says Wertheimer succumbed to a long illness.
Wertheimer was inducted to the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007, where much of his success was attributed to being in the right place at the right time — and perhaps most importantly, making the right moves when that time came along.
When Wertheimer joined the family business in 1963, “FM Radio was still in its dark ages,” says his Hall of Fame profile on the NYSBA website. The Wertheimers owned a few FM radio stations primarily because they operated a Musak franchise. Back then, there were barely any communications satellites in orbit, and FM was still considered “inferior” to AM radio, so Musak feeds were provided to subscribers through FM radio subcarriers.
NorthEast Radio Watch points out that Musak’s requirement for FM subcarriers led to the launch some new FM stations across the region, including WDDS in Syracuse (now WNTQ) at 93.1 FM. During his time in charge at Functional Broadcasting, Wertheimer is credited with transforming his stations from merely providing background music to creating the Empire State FM Network, with affiliates in Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Albany.
When FM radio started to gain popularity in the late 1970s, Wertheimer partnered with Jack Palvino to form The Lincoln Group, Ltd. The company continued to grow its portfolio of stations, especially after the FCC started to relax ownership limits. In 1996, Lincoln was sold to American Radio Systems.
In recent years, Wertheimer was Chairman and CEO of Normal Communications, a Rochester-based advertising agency which specializes in mass transit advertising, like the “wraps” and signs affixed to Centro buses throughout Central New York.