WVOS, Liberty New York

In keeping with the theme “Take pictures now, because someday these stations may disappear,” I was out at WVOS-AM in Liberty, New York today removing some old studio equipment.  The former studio building is going to be leased out as office space.  The call letters mean the “Voice Of Sullivan” county, where the station is located.  Urban legend has it, the station’s claim to fame is that while Max Yasgur and Michael Lang were negotiating the use of Yasgur’s nearby farm for a music festival at the local diner, the diner staff overheard and called the radio station.  Thus, WVOS-AM was the first to break the story of Woodstock.

WVOS-AM transmitter building and former studios
WVOS-AM transmitter building and former studios

The station originally signed on the air in 1947 from this location with a power of 250 watts.  At some point, the power was upgraded to 1000 watts along with all the other class C AM stations in the lower 48 states.  The original building has been added onto and recently resided.  An FM signal was added in 1967.  These studios remained in use up to December of 2005, when the stations were moved into the co-owned WSUL studio facility in Monticello, NY.

WVOS-AM tower, along NY Route 17, Liberty NY
WVOS-AM tower, along NY Route 17, Liberty NY

This is the original tower, which is 194 feet  (59.16 meters) tall.  As such, it is no longer required to be lighted or painted.  This is the tower that is on the right-hand side of NY Route 17, just as one is entering the village of Liberty.

Lobby, former WVOS studio building
Lobby, former WVOS studio building

The former studio building itself is in remarkably good condition.  Oftentimes, when a studio gets moved, the old equipment is abandoned, the heat is turned off and the place is shuttered.  After years of neglect, these buildings are usually in very rough shape.  Not so with this building.

Nautel Amphet 1, WVOS-AM, Liberty, NY
Nautel Amphet 1, WVOS-AM, Liberty, NY

The transmitter is a Nautel AMPFET 1, short version.  Its serial number 132, which, I don’t know the year of manufacture but I’d bet it was before 1990. At some point, an add-on matching unit was installed to better match the transmitter to the tower.  In my mind, transmitter-to-antenna matching is best done at the tower with an ATU.  I don’t know why the matching unit was deemed necessary.

Gates BC1T transmitter, WVOS Liberty, NY
Gates BC1T transmitter, WVOS-AM Liberty, NY

The backup transmitter is a Gates BC1T, made in 1968.  The nice thing about these old tube transmitters is you can match them to almost anything.  On more than one occasion, I used a Gates BC1 series transmitter with a horizontal wire, while a tower was being replaced.

WVOS 1240 KHz
WVOS 1240 KHz

It looks like the roof might have leaked onto this transmitter at one time.

When I was there, the station was playing some sort of Hot AC format.  There is no mention of the AM station on any company-owned website.  It appears to be changing formats often as several sources have it listed as either Spanish talk, ESPN sports or country music.  Seems to be a throwaway, at this point.

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8 thoughts on “WVOS, Liberty New York”

  1. Good grief! I was just up there today, servicing the WJUX transmitter. Back when I was at Jukebox Radio, I remember the “main studio” we had in the basement with a little BE board, a couple of ancient ITC decks and a reel to reel. We actually used it a few times when the switched 56 was out for a couple of days.

    For a long time, this was about 13 years ago, that thing ran at 1/2 power with the module on the right all blown out. The tuning network was added after it kept popping modules. I’d always check on it when I was headed to the WJUX/WVOS tower site.

  2. My first boss, Bob Gessner (WSGO, Oswego NY, 1979) says he started a station in that region of New York state, and I always thought it was this one. His partner at the time was Sy Dressner, who took a chance and gave Howard Stern his first *really* visible gig, prior to Detroit, DC and NY.

    Bob’s office had pix of him clowning around with Jerry Lewis and Red Buttons — both working the Borscht Belt at the time.


  3. I was a teletype tech for U.P.I. Took car of teletype nat WVOS and many other stations

  4. Any studio equipment left in place? So Paul, what would the the transmitters fetch on the used market?


  5. Wow – that brings back memories. I was on the air there in the early 1970’s. I remember powering up that Gates transmitter in the mornings – it sat right outside the air studio. I don’t know why this particular memory stands out, but when I was there they still had Conelrad equipment in the studio (even though Conelrad had long been replaced by EBS) including Geiger counters and radiation suits (we were supposed to stay on the air if they dropped the “bomb”). And thanks for reminindg me about the UPI teletype over by the bathroom and rip-n-read newscasts on the hour. The boxes from the UPI paper were the exact right size for holding 45RPM records. And Sy Lubin and Harry Borwick – what a pair. And yes, the station did helicopter into the Woodstock festival and provided important coverage as the only radio signal in the area. Oh, I could go on and on …

  6. Tuesday Mar 24, 1987 The Island Packet page 2A
    Monticello, NY-A private funeral service is planned for Harry G. Borwick, 77, of 35 Atwell Lane, a journalist and former owner of WVOS radio station in Liberty, NY. Mr. Borwick died Sunday on Hilton Head Island after a long battle with cancer. He was a winter resident of the island who was vacationing on Hilton Head Island. Island Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
    Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Beverly Borwick; two sons, John Borwick of Monticello and James Borwick of Monticello and Hilton Head, a reporter for the Island Packet; two brothers, Richard and Peter Borwick, both of Washington; four sisters, Mrs. Ruth Wilens of Washington, Miss Mollie Borwick of West Virginia, Mrs. Ann Miller of Brockton, Massachusetts, and Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards of Boston.
    Mr. Borwick was a graduate of University of Chicago. During President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, Mr. Borwick was Washington bureau chief for the New York Journal of Commerce. He had been a member of the White House press corps and the National Press Club.
    Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.

  7. The Geiger counter was there till the 80s! WVOS. AM is celebrating its 75th anniversary in September. Can I connect with you? I realize this is an old post

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