And just like that … we’ve gone to 11.

It didn’t even last a week.

But it served its purpose

Last week, I noticed that classic radio station WPTR was back on the air, operating at the 1240 AM frequency once populated by the former WSNY / WVKZ / 3WD portal.  The current station played a mix of 1970’s and 1980’s pop hits, along with classic 1960’s WPTR jingles.

It also contained a mysterious voice inbetween songs – a voice that only said “12.”

Oh … kay…

Yesterday, that station went silent again.

But the mysterious radio broadcasts have shifted down the dial – to 1160 AM.  Again, more 1970’s and 1980’s pop hits … and inbetween those recordings, a voice now says the word “11.”

And after talking with Capital District radio station legend John Gabriel about the situation, I now understand what’s happening – now, and most likely next week.

What’s happening is that Empire Broadcasting – which owns several radio station frequencies – turned these stations on for one week apiece, just to maintain ownership of the frequency bands.  It’s a case of “use ’em or lose ’em,” and if they didn’t at least broadcast SOMETHING for a week or two, the signal would fall out of their hands and into complete dissolution.

A perfect example of this is the original WPTR 1540 station signal, which neither exists nor can ever restart.

So Empire Broadcasting is essentially doing the least amount possible – some music, a station ID or two – and once they’ve established that they still essentially “operate” the frequency, they’ll close it down for a while until they can either secure a buyer for the channels or find a format that works in monaural AM.

And that’s becoming tougher and tougher to achieve.  All the AM stations we used to love in this area are now simulcasting on FM bands.  And unless you own a car from the 1960’s and you haven’t bothered to swap out the old push-button AM radio system on the dashboard, what need have you for AM Radio?

So this is a case of holding something until it possibly becomes valuable in the future.

Oh, and after this week’s “broadcasts” on 1160 AM are done, I suspect that Empire Broadcasting will turn on their signal at 900 AM – the one that used to air audio from Capital News 9 newscasts – and play a mix of 1970’s and 1980’s songs, along with someone blurting out “9” once in a while.

One of the weird anachronisms of Capital District radio, I guess … I suppose … I marginally wonder …