30 years ago, one of Syracuse’s most popular radio station broadcasted out of an old firehouse

Originally constructed as a firehouse for the Westside of Syracuse, 1022 Willis Avenue served its purpose until 1971, when the city closed the building and transferred the 12 men stationed there to other firehouses throughout the city. The building was quickly repurposed as a bakery and later became headquarters for Twin Trees restaurant. In 1984, the building was purchased by WKFM radio. The company completed $35,000 in renovations before moving into the building. Speaking in support of the project, former Syracuse Common Councilor, Joseph Nicoletti, was quoted as saying, “We hope to revitalize the city by keeping an old structure alive.” The broadcasting company created three studios on the bottom floor and turned the upstairs into offices. Until the mid-1990s, the old firehouse was home to several local broadcasting stations.

In August 2013, Sam Brown, posted this memory of the building:

“The Firehouse” was a fun little place back in the mid 80’s. It was the Hitradio KFM era and then the early KixFM days. Most of that time was pre-WFBL 1390 and it was FM-only. Most of us were young, and were friends, and had an endless supply of station events that we could either work, or just attend free and “hang out” with the KFM crowd. When you walked in, the whole front room was like our living room. It had a couch and couple of chairs. The tiny rooms off the left were the admin office and PD’s office. The little “tower” on the building was an empty space about the size of an elevator shaft, where the firemen used to hang hoses to dry. It was unused space. Upstairs was the sales department, GM’s office, and a conference room. Downstairs there was some audio processing equipment and the locked storage room, known on-air as the “prize vault”; this also served as the engineering shop. Off to the right were the three studios down a hallway. The first was production. The second was the air studio, and the last one used to be news, back when Lois Burns did news on the morning show. In the back of it was the AP teletype machine. That studio became WFBL, and morning show news was done from either air or production (I don’t recall). It was functional and well-kept, neither a palace nor a dump. It was middle-class radio facility that felt like home.