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WDCD
City of license Albany, New York
Broadcast area Capital District and Southeastern Adirondacks
Branding Life 1540 AM
Slogan Life Changing Radio
Frequency 1540 kHz
First air date August 8, 1948
Format Christian radio
Power 50,000 watts
Class B
Callsign meaning W Donald CrawforD (company founder/CEO)
Owner Crawford Broadcasting
Website www.1540wdcd.com

WDCD (Life 1540) is a christian radio station licensed to Albany, New York, USA and serving New York's Capital District, Adirondacks, and much of western New England. The station is owned by Crawford Broadcasting, and broadcasts on 1540 kHz at 50 kilowatts from a three-tower directional antenna array adjacent to the station's studios in Colonie, New York.

History

AM 1540 signed on August 10, 1948 with 10,000 watts of power from its current location in Colonie, New York. The original call letters were WPTR, requested as such for owner Patroon Broadcasting Company. In 1953, the station gained the ABC radio network affiliation from exiting WXKW, and primarily programmed a mix of popular & country music along with news & sports. It was during this period that 1540 increased power to 50,000 watts full time to combat nighttime interference from co-channel stations KXEL in Waterloo, Iowa and ZNS-1 in Nassau, Bahamas (although the official explanation to the FCC was the "poor ground conductivity" at the transmitter site).

WPTR also had a partnership with a local FM station (W47A/WBCA, the first independent FM radio station in the United States) to produce pre-recorded programming in WBCA's state-of-the-art Schenectady studios.

On September 16, 1953, American Airlines Flight 723 flew between the north and center towers of the station's 3 tower array. The aircraft crashed about 1/2 mile away, just north of Central Avenue (NY route 5) killing all 28 persons on board.[1] To date, this is the worst aviation accident in the Albany, NY area.

By 1957, the studios were located in the Hendrick Hudson Hotel in Troy, N.Y. In an effort to become more competitive with the more established stations in the region, a new 'Top 40' format was introduced to Capital Region listeners. WTRY also had Top 40 programs at the time, but did not devote the entire broadcast day to it. Popular hosts on WPTR included Boom Boom Brannigan, Charlie Brown, and Bob Badger. Brannigan would stay with the station until 1974. The popular rock-and-roll format had a loyal following among listeners both locally, and throughout the Northeastern U.S. as well as a good portion of Eastern & Maritime Canada. In fact, WPTR had a stronger (skywave) signal in the western Boston suburbs, than Boston's own top 40 station, 1510-WMEX. By the early 1960s, WTRY had switched to Top-40 music programming full time, and a ratings war of sorts began between the two stations that lasted throughout the 60's & 70's. WPTR was the #1 rated station many times during its Top 40 heyday. In 1960, the studios were moved to the more prominent 1860 Central Avenue location in Colonie, where they remained until a fire severely damaged the interior of the building in 1964. A new 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) broadcast facility was constructed at the transmitter site, and programming originated from what became known as the 'Gold studios' until 2005 when the building was demolished. Programming now originates from new digital facilities inside the transmitter building.

With FM stations becoming increasingly popular with younger listeners, WPTR's ratings entered a steady decline in the mid-70's, and by the end of the decade the station's owner Rust Communications (who also owned Top 40 WFLY-FM) finally submitted and flipped WPTR to country music in 1980 with veteran jock J.W. Wagner at the helm during morning drive. The station regained some popularity, and when ownership did some improvements (including adding AM Stereo), the station stayed relatively successful. However, competition by FM rival WGNA led WPTR to leave the format in 1988, subsequently trying different talk, sports, and news formats with meager results each time. In 1995, Albany Broadcasting sold WPTR to current owners Crawford Broadcasting with the sale closing that September. Albany Broadcasting decided to retain the WPTR calls with them resurfacing at 96.3 WCDA in February 1997.

The new owners, Crawford Broadcasting Company, changed the call sign to WDCD, in honor of founder Don Crawford. The format was changed to Christian Contemporary music and related Christian programming. In 2000, the company brought its secular "Legends" adult-standards music format to AM 1540, along with the classic WPTR call letters and Boom Boom Brannigan as morning host. That format was a ratings success (putting AM 1540 back in the top 10 for the first time in 15 years), but a financial pitfall. The situation was greatly complicated when WKLI-FM entered the nostalgia format in late 2001. In 2004, Christian programming returned to AM 1540, with the WDCD call sign. The WPTR call letters were moved to their sister FM station on 96.7, briefly with the 'Legends' format, then changing to the current Christian Contemporary music format.

AM 1540 began broadcasting in HD digital radio in 2006, the second AM station in the area to do so.

References

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