ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On July 30, 1982, WXXA, Channel 23 began broadcasting in the Albany media market and forever changed television viewing in the Capital Region. And 40-years later, the station is still going strong.
At the time, the only choices for tv viewers were the network stations of ABC, NBC, and CBS or the public broadcast station. But WXXA would be the area’s first independent station. “The tv viewing was not as diverse as today and the competition you have to deal with,” said Jim Boaz, WXXA’s first general manager.
Jim Boaz was hired to make WXXA a reality. He was hired from a network station in Washington, DC but had experience with independent start-ups in Cleveland and Cincinnati. “We didn’t have a plan, we organized the plan as we were going along,” said Boaz.
That plan turned out to be buying $3,000,000 dollars worth of programming. Part of it included syndicated shows such as I Love Lucy and Bonanza. And also more than 2,000 thousand movies. “That’s the one thing we can buy within our budget that we can make headway with,” said Boaz. Melanie Gerig was hired as programming director. “Don’t forget, you couldn’t get video tapes at the time, you couldn’t rent the movie at the time,” said Gerig. She added, “the only chance to watch those movies is some tv station running it.”
Five years after WXXA went on the air, it joined the fledgling Fox Network. Fox23, as the station would be called, had primetime programming and sports to compete with the other network stations. Fox23 spoke with the people who brought channel 23 to the Capital Region in the special hosted by John Gray, titled, “WXXA: The First 40 Years.”