Schenectady, a name unlike any other, has made its way into another prominent and interesting piece of popular culture.
The city on the southern banks of the Mohawk River, Schenectady was the hometown of Trixie's mother on "The Honeymooners," and was also used in the lyrics of "So Long Mary" in George M. Cohan's Yankee Doodle Dandy, well back in the 20th century." More recently it was the hometown of Debra Messing's character in the popular NBC sitcom, "Will & Grace," as well as the setting for the 2013 movie, "The Place Beyond the Pines," with Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling. The list, however, goes on and on.
And, while binge-watching "The Crown" during the holidays, Schenectady popped up again just when you least expected it. During Episode 4 of the popular Netflix series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Schenectady appears on the dial of the old radio — the scene is set in 1959 — while Princess Margaret is listening to gentle music in the background.
It's only there for a couple of seconds and it was easy to miss. But I noticed it, and watched it again to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Right above Schenectady was Zeesen, and above that a name you couldn't make out.
Screenshot from the Netflix series "The Crown."
Chris Hunter, senior curator at miSci, explained to me what I was watching.
"It had to be some sort of shortwave radio that was used for longer transmissions," Hunter said. "Schenectady had two shortwave stations, W2XAD and W2XAF, but I think the radio they used for the show had to be much older than 1959. They started back in the 1920s, and people all over the world would listen to Schenectady for news and entertainment. But they were winding down by 1958 or '59."
According to Wikipedia, Zeesen, Germany, was the site of a shortwave radio transmission mast built just prior to World War II and was closed down in 1945, supporting Hunter's guess that the radio used by "The Crown" producers wasn't historically inaccurate.
While that might bother us historical sticklers out there, it's a pretty small mistake, so I say, no big deal. The show remains a very good piece of quality entertainment.