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In 1959, brothers Maxx and Bill Savitt, the owners of WCCC (AM) decided to gamble with the new technology known as FM.
WCCC (AM) Morning Man Jack Brooks:
(In 1959 we had an) “unexpected visitor early one morning. It was the burly truck driver who popped in while I was on the air and wanted to know where to put the FM antenna he had on his truck. Assuming he was talking about some rooftop job I suggested that he could bring it down and leave it the hall. When he told me that it was 40 feet long on a flatbed truck outside on
WCCC-FM came on the air in either 1959 or 1960. A Hartford Times article lists the WCCC-FM start up date as June 7, 1960 but numerous former staffers confirm that the station actually went on in ’59 and that the article was about the station’s “official debut”
The station was licensed to Greater Hartford Broadcasting, Inc., owned by the Savitt brothers, Bill (a well known
In speaking about the new FM station, Maxx Savitt said that he hoped to maintain or even improve on the standards of the station’s AM counterpart. The addition of FM would allow WCCC’s programming to be heard after hours since WCCC AM was licensed as a daytime only station. “We have great hopes to eventually do cooperative programming with area music schools and colleges in an effort to bring the best and greatest music to our listeners,” Mr. Savitt said in a newspaper interview.
Ivor Hugh described what it was like to work at WCCC (AM) in the Hotel Bond in the early days:
“The station was in the Hotel Bond's basement, which Savitt would refer to as the “lower mezzanine level." We were one of the first stations in the state that had music and news, and we sold “T N T” to our advertisers, which was time, news and temperature, which was a big thing on the radio in those days, believe it or not. We were quite successful . . . Radio was the only form of in-home entertainment back then. We’d tell the kids where their presents were on Christmas Day because their parents would let us know via mail in advance. We had a huge listening audience in the late forties and early fifties.
“The call letters, WCCC, stood for “We Cover Connecticut’s Capitol.” Bill [Savitt] would do his commercials for his jewelry store live on the air once in a while, and if we didn’t do them right he’d let us know. We had a wonderful staff. We’d get everyone together to do all of the commercials on Friday afternoon. Everything was done in-house then. There wasn’t any ad agency stuff. We recorded directly on 12” blank wax discs, and we would cut the records from the wax. It was a good time in radio.
"The WCCC studios were located along the left-hand side of a basement hallway, within aroma-reach of The Bond Hotel’s downstairs kitchens. The largest room featured a glass paneled wall from which visitors could view whatever was happening during studio usage. The studio contained a grand piano and an RCA cutting lathe for making 10, 12, and 16-inch disc recordings. The studio had a doorway that led to a much smaller step-up studio that also had a doorway that led into the control room. Each room had windows looking onto each other. The small studio was used for newscasts and/or celebrity seating during live interviews. However, nearly all of the on air originations emanated from the control room. It had an RCA console with RCA rim drive turntables: 2 facing the large studio and one on the opposite side. The announcer sat in a roll-about chair at the console mike and behind him were storage slots holding acetate discs filled with locally produced commercials plus factory made vinyl discs supplied by ad agencies. Above the shelving were two Magnecord PT-6J tape recorders, placed side by side. The control room studio was adequate, but jam-packed.
Live bands performed regularly at The Bond ballroom in the penthouse, Ivor Hugh recalls interviewing many of the artists since most of them were staying in the hotel.
1960 - 1969
Ivor Hugh recalled the early days of WCCC-FM:
“Opening up...the FM on the mountain was something. Up until that point I was also on WHCN, which at that time was a Classical station doing the Hartford Symphony on the Hartford Concert Network. We put WCCC-FM on the air with a good staff, all pros, so it was routine. I remember having to fill in for up to a half hour when the symphony concert started late. Had to ad lib in a way that would not offend the classical audience who had different sensibilities than our [regular] audience who tuned in for popular music.
There was a time when no one was listening to FM. Even as late as 1968, AM was still king. Even WTIC-FM’s classical format didn’t last too long.”
In Sept 1960 WCCC-FM joined the QXR Network of the New York Times, the largest FM radio network at the time. Russell Naughton was appointed as station manager in 1960 and Ivor Hugh, who had been with the station since 1948, was program director. FM is on 18 hours a day. In 1961 Mutual News was added to the schedule.
A July 1962 newspaper article described WCCC-FM’s programming on that date to include music for light summer listening, featuring Norman Luboff Choir, singing such favorites as: "My Ideal," "You're My Girl," "Sleepy Time Gal.” In October 1962, the "Golden Sound" Concert broadcasts were added to the FM schedule, along with Jazz at night which was also piped in to city parks. Interestingly, there is a newspaper, WCCC was the first to respond when a TV set was stolen from St Francis Hosp by donating another set.
In 1963 WCCC-FM aired a series of live broadcast of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
The FM programming line up that year also included Light Music from 7 am to 9 am, John Circhard’s “Golden Sound of Jazz” from 9 am to 11 am and John Birchard's "Golden Sound of Jazz” along with a brand new program, "Golden Sound of Theater" which was added in November, 1964. That same year the AM line up included the “Early Bird Show” followed by current popular and Broadway show tunes, standards by top stars and big band music as well as semi-classical fare. Special features included "This is Wall Street", "Capsule Community Calendar," "Know the Law" and the Golden Call Quiz.
Personnel in the early sixties included:
In 1965, with the Hotel Bond in decline and with the station in need of more space, WCCC moved to new studios on the 5th floor of
In 1966 Mr. Eisenberg was General Manager of WCCC. Other employees between that year and 1969 included announcers: Jack O'Neil, Dick Haddad, Ernest Schauss (the host of the German Show), George Freeman, Julian Brownstein, Margo Prudy, Ken Elliott, Al Warren, Steve Capen (Cane) and Jim Raynor.
George Freeman was appointed GM in 1968. He recounts: "Once I was on board the staff one of my hires was Julian Brownstein of WPOP. We were friendly competitors at
WCCC-FM made the news in 1968 by airing the famed “War of the World” Mercury Theater broadcast. The manager at the time was Mr. Boudreau.
In 1968, Savitt sold WCCC (AM) and WCCC-FM to Elektra Broadcasting (Elektra Records) for $325,000. George Freedman was appointed general manager, Julian Brownstein was appointed Sales Manager and Margo Prudy was appointed Public Relations director. Along with new management came new programming. The AM format was changed to “middle of the road” music and the FM format was changed to top forty popular hits. These changes resulted in several letters to local papers from listeners complaining about the new formats.
Interestingly, this is one of only a few instances where a record company owned a radio station, probably because of the lawsrules against payola and plug-ola. It was around this time that FM radio started to become successful in part because of its role in the underground Rock music scene and the fact that FM radio sets were becoming less expensive and more common, especially in cars.
Oct 22, 1969 Electra announced the sale to Sy and Al Dresner and on April 3, 1970 the FCC approved sale. When Sy Dresner’s Greater Hartford Communications Corporation took over they changed the FM format to “All Request Radio”. One of the most popular DJs was Rusty Potz, who can still be heard on the air on WLNG in Sag Harbor,
1960 FM Coverage Map
1970 - 1979
A May 4, 1973 WCCC-FM music survey showed the following music in the top slots: 1. Frankenstein by Edgar Winter, 2. My Love by Paul McCartney, 3. Hocus Pocus by Focus, and 4. Cherry Cherry by Neil Diamond. Printed on the survey was “Triple C puts the fun back into radio. Rusty Pots, Ed Mitchell, Dick Booth, Johnny Midnight, and Cliff Kenyon; the wildest guys in town.” There was a major change in programming in 1973.
Staff in the early seventies included announcers Al Green, Dan Hayden "Racoon Charlie", Bud Fisher "Gary Hunter," Mike Kirven, Tracy Garneau, Steve Fox (Al Green), Big John Little, Tom Jones and Jay McCormick.
Rare photo of WCCC 11 Asylum Street studio during the "All Request" era, the mid-seventies. Photo courtesy of Dan Hayden.
Contributor Robert Paine: "One thing I remember happened in 1975. I was on duty with the Army Guard in Niantic when I learned the studios had had a fire. I called and offered some records but told them my music tastes were a bit different from what they played. As I recall, they were very gracious and thanked me, and agreed my tastes and theirs were pretty different. But, they were very grateful I called. I think they used a mobile studio parked at the transmitter."
“In 1973, Rusty Potz hired me to do weekends at Triple-C. At the time, the station was failing to grab any real numbers with its all request format. Rusty convinced Sy that the station needed to go to a super-personality format to compete with WPOP and WDRC. Rusty wanted to launch the new direction with a real bang so he and I talked about having me come in one morning, allegedly to fill in for him on his morning show, and to lock myself in the studio until the station agreed to hire me full time.
"The 35 Hour Boston Bill Marathon was born and I played Bitter Bad by Melanie for 35 hours until finally, the station "agreed to my demands" and I was given the 7-Midnight show. During the marathon I was interviewed on the phone by Imus at WNBC, Larry Glick at WBZ in Boston, and several New England newspapers. Even WTIC-TV covered the story on their late news. It was quite a circus!”
In 1977 the line up on WCCC-FM was 6A-10A Dave Scott, 10A-2P Bill Nosal,2P-7P, Paul Anderson, 7P-12A Red Beard, 12A-6A Ted Labner.
Howard Stern joined the staff July, 1979 and left over a pay dispute in February, 1980.
Program Director Paul Payton:
“Howard Stern joined WCCC-FM in early 1979. It was his first personality gig and he certainly made a splash in the market. He left in the third week of March, 1980. He was replaced in the morning by Ted Labner, a mirror opposite personality, sweet and gentle vs. Howard's edginess, although both were very intelligent and knowledgeable gentlemen. Ted was to be a placeholder until I could land a morning man, although he occupied that post for several months until Mike Adams came on board for the then princely sum of $250/week, at least, princely to Sy, who had refused that amount to Howard in exchange for his staying with the station.
'The rest of the line up in 1980 as I remember it, was me in the midday, Peter Cole in the afternoon, Brian Battles in the evening, and The Lich overnight. I really wanted Lich in the evening, but he wouldn't do it, holding out for either staying on overnights or doing afternoon drive and I wasn't about to uproot Peter Cole, who was going a good job and who refused to work evenings, too.
'After (Brian) left, Fred Norris (real last name: Nukis) filled in the evening slot. Fred was on the verge of suddenly "finding his voice" at the time, but hadn't done so yet, so I went on a talent hunt for an evening guy, bringing Bob London (real last name: Levy) in from Utica.
"Literally, while Bob was on the road, Fred suddenly "got good"; it sounds preposterous, but I'd heard it happen elsewhere with someone else who would up having a long career in a top 10 market. Somehow during his few weeks of every-night broadcasting, Fred put his wry sense of humor and the rhythm of a show together, and it clicked.
"Sadly, it was too late - as I said, Bob was already on the road, having packed up his life and his wife and moved to CT, and I was duty-bound to honor the commitment. It turned out to be a mistake - Sy and Milt Anninger, the GM, never liked Bob on the air, and it came down to a "you fire him or I'll fire you and then fire him" moment. It was truly a low point in my personal life as well as my career, and a bunch of folks besides me got hurt, or at least significantly dented. I now forget who I had in place afterward, but I extend my apologies to anyone who got caught up in that mess; I was only trying to do the next right thing, but life has a way of upending the best-laid plans, and it has a field day with the lesser ones!
"We were trying to be the best album/progressive rock station we could be, offering a wider variety of music and artists to compensate for our excessive spot load (I entered a rating period where we were logging 17 minutes of commercials, news and PSA's per hour not counting any kind of promotions vs. WHCN's 9 units, and our ad budget of $0 vs. their $25,000) and their more limited programming (the stupidly-successful but conceptually-lacking Abrams Superstars format). Unfortunately, it didn't work for WCCC come ratings time, but I'm not sure I wouldn't attempt that goal again. I do know that I'd sure execute it differently; while experience is a great teacher, it only teaches in hindsight."
1980 - 1989
In January, 1980 owner Sy Dresner purchased a building at 243 South Whitney Street in Hartford. Studios and offices were constructed and on July, 1980 WCCC-FM went on air from their new home in Hartford’s west end. Prior to the start of construction special permission had to be secured from the FCC to allow the AM and FM stations to simulcast since there were laws in place at that time that required a certain percentage of separate AM and FM programming.
Chief Engineer John Ramsey:
"I was hired in April, 1980 to build the new studios and to coordinate moving the two stations from Asylum St. to S. Whitney St. My enthusiasm for the project quickly changed when I discovered that management did not plan on purchasing any new equipment for the new facility. That would have been OK if the existing equipment had been up to date, but such was not the case. None of the equipment was less than ten years old and some of it was twice that age. The cart machines were mono, as was the production studio, which was built around a board with only four channels! Despite my efforts to make the best of a bad situation, management give me very little control over the project which resulted in a number of mistakes, including having studio furniture which was so low to the floor that one could barely put ones legs under it.
"Somehow I managed to get the new studios ready by July, and the changeover took place with zero down time over the July 4th weekend. Peter Cole played the last record at 11 Asylum and Brian Battles played the first song from S. Whitney St.
"I regret that I missed working with Howard Stern by just a few weeks, but I did get a chance to work with Fred Norris, a wonderful guy and a production genius.”
Paul Payton continues:
"(The owner) was notoriously watchful over any money spent, and more than once told me that he would sign off for a day rather than operate for that day in the red; as a result, I was competing with stations that were paying about $100 more a week for comparable talent. Still, the great dream of several of the PD's who helmed the place in the album/progressive years was to take that 50kw signal (with the 1kw "bonus" on AM) and really kick butt throughout New England, but the stations were always limited by whatever variety of issues were around at the time - money, talent, even facilities. The production studio at 11 Asylum Street was mono, not stereo; even in 1981, with the move to South Whitney, the new production studio was still mono. By the time I got fired (on my vacation, by the way), I was as much relieved as frustrated. But that's a whole other story, and you've put up with enough of my moaning for now. The happy epilogue: I went to WPLR and WWYZ after 'CCC, and basically had a great time at both of them working with remarkably talented people, a couple of whom overlapped both stations.
“During [Stoneman’s] "hiatus" from 'PLR, 'CCC hired him for one book. Their evening [ratings] slot shot from a 2+ to something like a 10 share. 'PLR saw this and hired him back, and 'CCC returned to the 2 share.
“One of the things Sy always held against me was that I couldn't find another Stern to do mornings for $225 a week or a Stoneman to do evenings for $200 a week. Hey, I did get Mike Adams for the morning shift, but he was arriving up to 90 minutes late for his shift. [Of course, it's tough to be on time for your 6 AM show in Hartford when you're waking up at 6:05 AM in Enfield!] Mike was a brilliant guy…”
“Stern and I always got along, he left because of Sy and Milt, not me. He worked for me for 3 days. He had given Sy and Milt one week notice the Friday before I got there, and had his wisdom teeth out after his Wednesday show, necessitating taking his last 3 days as vacation. I survived at 'CCC for 16 agonizing months, finally getting fired on my vacation. Had Stern stayed, I think things would have been a lot better for me. I certainly wouldn't have started so far behind the line of scrimmage. But in retrospect, I'm glad I had my shot at the place, even though it really upended and scrambled my life.”
Stern made national news on June 17, 1979 when he promoted a two day boycott of Shell Oil.
Staff in the early eighties included Milt Anninger, Station Manager, Jacki Gilligan, Traffic, Lorna Lamana, Traffic, Denise Hatch (Receptionist), Brian Battles (Production Director), John Ramsey, Chief Engineer; Chris Warren (Production Director), Marissa Donza (Traffic), account executives Merle Holden, Jim Coulter and Ted Griffin and announcers Peter Kilman "Peter Cole", Ted Labner, Mike Adams (Mornings), Stoneman, Scott Hartley, Nick DeNemetrius, Paul Rotella, Stephen David, Mike Devin, Mary Lou Sullivan.
Jerry Kristafer joined the staff doing mornings in August, 1980.
By the mid-80’s the WCCC-FM programming was also carried on WCCC (AM) all day long thanks to the recently relaxed FCC rules regarding simulcasting.
Gregg Neavin did afternoons 1983-1985 (in between Litch stints) and was production director under Nos and
Music Director under David Grossman.
Brian Battles became PD when Dave Grossman left in late 1985. The FM line up included Mornings with Rick and Suds, Midday with Steve Cormier, Lich in the Afternoon, Angie in the evening and Albie D. overnights.
1986-88 saw Chris Rivers in the morning, Bill Shultz Midday, Lich in the afternoon, Angie in the evening and Carol Vassar and various part timers covering overnights.
Other staff in the period 1985 – 1989 included Harve Alan (Program Director), Brian Illes, Steve Cormier, Dee Albie and Phil Marlowe.
In 1989 WCCC made headlines when the Sebastian morning show told listeners on April 1, 1990 that a volcano had erupted on nearby Avon Mountain.
The FM studio in 1983.
The original tower and FM antenna on Avon Mountain, c 1980. This tower was replaced in 1990 when WCCC-AM moved to the site.
WCCC-FM's main and auxiliary main transmitters, c. 1981
1990 – 1999
In 1990 the original FM tower, put up in 1959, was replaced with a new tower that could also be used for WCCC (AM) since that station was going to loose its lease on the AM site on S. Quaker Lane in West Hartford.
Howard Stern returned to WCCC-FM via his nationally syndicated program in May, 1996. To celebrate Howard’s return to the station management rented an auditorium at the
In February, 1998 Mr. Dresner sold WCCC to
Marlin brought in a new management team which included Boyd Arnold as GM, Jay Schultz as SM, Michael Picozzi as PD, andJohn Ramsey as CE. They also acquired the first of three Hummer H1’s to represent the station’s slogan “The Rock”.
In 2001 a complete rebuild of the AM and FM transmitter site was undertaken with a new tower, new building and new transmitters installed.
WCCC –FM was one of the first stations in the state to broadcast in HD, starting on April 1, 2005. Howard Stern left the WCCC-FM airwaves at the end of 2005 and he was replaced with Sebastian.
In April 2007 the programming of WCCC (AM) was added to the HD-2 channel of sister station, WCCC-FM (106.9 MHz). This was possible using the new HD Radio technology which allows a properly equipped FM station to transmit three or more separate audio programs on a single frequency. In this case WCCC-FM will continue with its Active Rock format on its main channel, and will carry Beethoven Radio on its HD-2 channel.
1970 Ad, courtesy of Ed Brouder
Howard Stern's Paycheck!
August 21, 1971 Survey
1984 Hartford Courant article
I worked at WCCC (part time/ fill-in) and WEXT (fulltime slot) in the early 1970s using the air name Gary Allen. WCCC had an all request music format, and while one song was being aired, you had to record an incoming telephone call (on a reel to reel tape recorder, of course), locate that song in an impressive music library, cue it up to be aired next. It was really difficult. Rusty Potts made it look easy, proving what a pro he was. WEXT had a country/western music format with studios on Farmington Ave. in West Hartford. Mort Roberts was a strict boss to work for, but the music was great. I have very fond memories of living and working in Connecticut.
Just ran into this site and wanted to say hello. Did mornings from November 84 to July 85 at WCCC-FM. Also, checking your list -- I did mornings at WEZN - 1990-93(?), Mornings for a few months in 1990 at WAVZ, Afternoon Drive for the Spring book in 2008 at WEBE, Part of the morning show at WKCI in 89-90 - Mornings at WLAD from 2006-2008, Saturday mornings at WWYZ in the Mid 90's, and a few fill-in morning shifts on WICC. Yikes - that's more than I care to remember -- and I probably forgot a few
Paul Resnik: After reading some of the blogs on WCC-FM, I noticed very little from the late 60's to early 70's. I was hired by Rusty Potts when he was putting his "All Request" format on the air. The most popular song at the time was "Rubber Ducky". There were times when it was played 8 or 9 times in a row if that was what was requested. God, I hate that song! Anyway, I'll never forget my first staff meeting. Rusty introduced me as "Sandy Nichols", not a very good jock, but a nice guy and the staff should have at least one nice guy. (So much for talent). I didn't last very long there and eventually ended-up at WKCI in Hamden doing seques of MOR music and announcing the station ID twice an hour. The PD was Jerry Fisher, one of the nicest people I ever met in my 30 year career. From there, circa 1971, I went to WNHC-FM/WPLR . Burt Sherwood and Bill Hennes hired me at WSVP in W. Warwick, R.I. and then took me to WMEE-AM in Ft. Wayne, IN. After about a year I moved on to St. Louis, Honolulu, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale and a few stints back in Ct. (WAVZ, WHCN, WPLR). I really miss the people (or most of them) I worked with and have seen many of them on this website. We were lucky to work at a time when radio was creative and exciting. I miss that