“THE LINDA” WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, founded in 2002 is a restored 1926 art-deco bank located in the heart of the Central Avenues Business District in Albany, New York. This multi-purpose auditorium and recording studio hosts a diverse roster of performing arts and gatherings including concerts, debates, lectures, films, celebrations, and other activities, many of which are broadcast throughout WAMC’s seven-state listening area and online at wamc.org.
In 2001, WAMC President and CEO Alan Chartock had the idea to expand the station’s ability to provide on-air performances both live and recorded. He envisioned a place that would be a hybrid of performance venue, broadcast studio and cultural arts center that would give individuals, groups and organizations within the community access to its facilities, as well as provide the general public with a unique and intimate concert hall unlike any in the capital region. With this goal in mind, The Linda WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio opened its doors in September of 2002.
WAMC has been a pioneer in public broadcast dating back to its establishment by Albany Medical College of Union University in 1958. Chartered as a public radio station in 1970, it has been a staple of public broadcasting covering seven states. Its decision to base operations in the inner city region of Albany’s Central Avenue was a testament to its belief in the revitalization of the community. Less than 100 yards from the station’s broadcast facilities sat the Fleet Bank, an Albany landmark that had been abandoned and unused for years. Once it had been determined that the building was sound, a grant was obtained to fund the venture.
WAMC was given three years to match the grant, but with the motivation of executive director Alan Chartock, it was raised in just four months. Along with public and private support, donated labor and materials, WAMC converted the old bank and named it after the long time supporter and generous contributor to the station, Linda Norris. The Linda WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio was built with the same commitment to the community that the station has so long been valued for.
Over the years, The Linda has focused on offering a wide assortment of programming provided by a variety of artists. Programming has included individual music, film, workshops, debates and community events and recurring series ranging from those focusing on roots, classical and jazz music, children’s entertainment, film, theater and spoken word. The goal is to increase local exposure to notable and national filmmakers, musicians and actors. Throughout its life, The Linda has become a perfect medium for WAMC to take its content from airwaves to live participation.
Since its inception, The Linda has collaborated and partnered with a variety of organizations to empower and give back to the community. The Linda has nurtured relationships with from all sectors, such as the City of Albany Mayor’s Task Force, the Black Women’s Association of Albany, the Central Business Improvement District and By helping organizations to channel information through the arts, provide a variety of entertainment, and cultivate a broad range of experiences, The Linda crosses cultural, political, social, and economic dimensions. Keeping WAMC’s greater mission in mind, The Linda brings relevant social issues to the public through the performing arts.
The Linda experience is truly unique and the connection between the performer and the patron is unlike any other. The intimate setting paired with impressive acoustics provides the audience with a personal exposure to art and artist on a local, regional and national level. It is much more than a venue as it is a state-of-the-art broadcast studio; it is able to unite the artist and audience both live and over the airwaves. It presents the community with a wide variety of performances and events and in turn provides the artists with a broad and diverse audience. It has been and continues to be a medium for developing artists and empowers local talent by not only providing them with exposure but also access to an enhanced venue for creative growth. By fostering the relationship between the artist, audience and radio, The Linda is the link that brings all three full circle.
The Linda has strived to be of service, advance the arts and support the community. It has provided a public space for art and cultural expression and is constantly evolving to meet the needs and desires of its audience and community. It remains a catalyst for revitalization by generating investment, creating positive change and exciting stimulation to Central Avenue.