When listeners tune into WPTR on weekday mornings, they’re likely to hear the Sunshine Superman.
That’ll be Randall Hogue, who co-owns and manages the Schenectady-based station.
“My name on the air is the Sunshine Superman because I refuse to be negative with . . . COVID and everything else that’s going on and the divided politics,” Hogue said. “I’ll play news at the top of the hour but then spend the rest of the hour playing uplifting music to try to get everybody back into the mood again. I feel very strongly that people are what they focus on most. So if they focus on being divided and angry, then that’s where you end up.”
Hogue and his partners, including former Union College president Roger Hull, Randy Hogue Jr., Jeff Clark and Frank Wicks, bought WPTR 1240 AM from Empire Broadcasting at the end of 2019 after it had been dark for some time. From their studio in ViaPort Mall, they jump-started a station that came with a storied past.
It started in the 1940s and changed formats several times during its tenure. In 1968, it was a Top 40 station and competed with other popular stations like WTRY. Then, in 1976, it became a mix of Top 40 and oldies. In the ensuing years, it dedicated airtime to sports coverage, business news, and oldies.
“We’re finding out that a lot of people are tuned into the history,” Hogue said. “When WPTR was the major station in the area, Boom Boom Brannigan was the DJ and it was very well-known. Every day people come by the office and tell us how they remember the old station and how they like what we’re doing now because we’re bringing back some of the old-time radio.”
Today, the station focuses on rock from the 1960s and up, usually played in an album-oriented format rather than Top 40 style.
“We’ll play the entire album from front to back or we’ll play sides of songs that were not usually played,” Hogue said. “We start out early in the morning with the beginning of rock and roll . . . and we progress throughout the day so we get into the 60s and then the 70s to 80s to 90s.” At night, modern hard rock can usually be heard on the station.
A mix of shows and disc jockeys are featured on the station, including “JC’s Afternoon Adventure” with radio veteran Jeff Clark, “Motown Memories” with Carla Page and “West Indian Vibrations” with DJ Sammy, “Hard Rockin’ Nights” with Rockin’ Randy and Joe Sinatra & The Magic of Swing, among others.
While Hogue, who was previously the director of Schenectady Access Cable Council, maintains a positive outlook, the pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench in his plans for the station.
“We ran the station for three months before the pandemic shut the mall down where our studio is,” Hogue said. “We had the same difficulty as everyone else as far as being able to market, going and seeing customers and network marketing like you would do at the Chamber of Commerce, all those things stopped. . . it just wasn’t feasible. So we ended up creating a system of being able to do remotes from four or five different DJs at home, set up the computerized systems so that they can do their shows from where they live. That kept us going.”
Since then, they’ve been able to host shows from their studio on and off. They also found a way to grow, adding 97.1 FM with an antenna in Ballston Spa in October.
“We’ve been able to generate some business from a standstill,” Hogue said.
It was a challenge to figure out where to put the antenna, how to get it there and to get the all-clear from the Federal Communications Commission.
“We tried for probably eight months a lot of different locations, but none of them could get approved. Finally, we got approval for the one in Ballston Spa,” Hogue said.
In the future, Hogue hopes to connect with the community more through events.
“It’s a local community station . . . if it wasn’t for the pandemic we would be doing more live remotes and more interaction with the public, which we want to do anyway. You just have to do it carefully,” Hogue said.
He also wants to work with other small business owners and plans to offer a sales/marketing program soon.
“We want to try to help other companies and start-up businesses and people that are struggling to get back on their feet and get moving again,” Hogue said.
In the meantime, he’ll keep the music going with some of his favorites. “Right now my favorite is Moody Blues from the 70s,” Hogue said. That includes albums like “On the Threshold of a Dream” and “A Question of Balance.”
“If you look at all their albums, they’re all about bringing the world together and focusing on the positive things that need to be done and it’s uplifting music,” Hogue said.
Listen to WPTR at 1240 AM and 97.1 FM or online at wptrradio.com.