HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WDRC-FM
There is an excellent, unofficial, WDRC tribute site:
http://www.wdrcobg.com/home.html

    Although W1XPW, Connecticut's first FM station, used the call letters WDRC-FM for a while in the forties and fifties, that license continued after dropping the WDRC-FM calls and is now WHCN.  Since WHCN can trace it's license back to W1XPW we believe that WHCN deserved the title "Connecticut's First Commercial FM Station".
    In 1959 the Buckley family purchased WDRC (AM) along with a construction permit for a new FM station on 102.9 MHz. with a transmitter on West Peak in Meriden, for $815,000.
    WDRC-FM signed on for the first time on October 26, 1959 with a program featuring Ct Governor Abraham Ribicoff and several local mayors.    
    On August 31, 1966 WDRC FM received FCC permission to increase output from 7 to 17.5kw effective radiated power.
    In May, 1967, a new 7,500 watt FM transmitter was installed and WDRC studios moved downtown to 750 Main St in Hartford. For the first time, separate programming was broadcast on WDRC FM during certain hours
    In 1973, the station began calling itself "Big D 103," with a Top 40 format. 
    In 1977, the station switched to album rock. Country Paul Payton was one of the announcers. However, by 1979, the station abruptly flipped back to Top 40.
     By 1984, WDRC-FM was an oldies based Adult Contemporary station but only played oldies on the weekends. Due to the positive feedback, in
1986 WDRC-FM became an oldies station full-time.     
    
In 2001, WDRC-FM began playing several songs from the 1970s per hour  The station also began adding about a dozen or so songs from the 1980s by oldies artists playing about one every couple hours.
    
In August 2000, WDRC stopped using the "Big D 103" name and became known as Oldies 102.9 DRC-FM. The station stopped referring to themselves as Oldies a short time later. They later completely eliminated all the pre 1964 oldies and added a lot of 1980s music to the mix, becoming more of a classic hits station. The station also became heavily based in the 1970s. 
    
In the winter of 2007, WDRC-FM slowly phased out most of the 1980s music, cutting that back to about one every couple hours.
    In 2006 WDRC-FM started HD broadcasting, with the HD-2 channel devoted to a commercial-free oldies format of the 50's and 60's.    
    
Currently, the main station identifies itself as "Good Time Rock 'n' Roll", while occasionally throwing in the "Big D" moniker. Its music playlist is once again focused on 60's from 1964 on, while also emphasizing 70's hits and including a few 80's songs. Jingles were also reintroduced in 2008.

WDRC-FM Memories:

John Saville
I remember listening to this great radio station in the early 70's for the first time and loving it! I would buy the Hartford Courant every week just to cut out the top 40 survey and put it into my scrapbook! I was honored to be a small part of this station that was full of broadcast "Giants". Cadillac Man

Dennis Jackson
When they were only 7 kW in the early 60s, we'd put up yagis to get a good signal in Westport and reject WNEW-FM. What a treat it was to hear a Connecticut FM station with big personalities, great jingles, tight production, and a lengthy playlist selected by PD Bertha who was not afraid to try out great new records.

Barry Grant 
     In the beginning of the 70's,Charlie Parker hired me to do a "Progressive Format" 6 hours a day to be simulcast with WDRC AM. It was a radical departure for the very successful station.Charlie never told me what music to play,what to say etc.; and even the contests were my own creation during that time period. I played Rock, Blues, Fusion, Jazz & Oldies and tried to do an interview with every group or artist who passed thru Ct & Western Mass.
     The FM was beginning to become more popular and eventually was pulling in many listeners and overtaking AM.
Charlie Parker was my Mentor and the greatest Genius I ever met in Radio.

Jimmy Koplik
Barry is right...I worked with him and WDRC sponsored our concert series' at Dillon Stadium from 1972-1974. We had Yes, The Dead, Allmans etc. All artists that were only played by Barry from midnight to 6 am. I went over to the studio to hang with him after some concerts. And yes...Charlie Parker was also the best radio person I ever worked with.

Paul Payton
Hi, Jimmy and Barry - Barry, your overnight show was amazingly innovative and immensely well accepted. You really got the pulse of things, and you scared the hell out of us at 'HCN! I'm very glad to have worked with you at D103. Were it not for certain management issues (over Charlie's head), I think the station would have truly happened the way we'd hoped it would. Even so, it was a great experience to work with you and Charlie. And yes, Charlie was indeed one of my radio "gods" - I learned immense amounts of great stuff working with him.

Barry Grant
     Thanks for the kind words. Those were exciting days in radio & music. It's fascinating that many of the artists we played or helped get noticed back then are still around.In the past week and a half I've seen The Fabulous Thunderbirds,Todd Rundgren & Gary Wright - with James Montgomery, Rick Derringer/Pat Travers coming up Mon.& Tues.
      Jimmy was always the best to work with-he knew how to put a show together and make it work in any venue.Paul was just a very talented good guy who we loved working with and knowing as a friend.
     When Charlie brought me back as WDRC FM Program Director we were caught up in the cycle of having Dick Korsen trying to undermine Charlie and run things in a mean spirited way. Once when the air staff was contemplating going on strike for a better contract, Dick told Charlie & I to fire everyone if they did - I could never say anything about this and was very creeped out.
     I was lucky enough to duplicate the WDRC/WPLR success in several other markets. Key to it was having no interference in the programming from management.One of the stations was a Lee Abrams Superstars station. Lee just told me to do my thing and he sat back and watched us become #1 in the market (which he could take some credit for!)
 

John West
Just an aside- Just look at the passion this one stations history brings I went to CSB in Summer '71 and remember sending hours up at the Big 'D on the 15th floor.. I read the comments here from the royalty of CT Radio who all had connections in some way. Barry, Jimmy K. and Paul P thanks for the stories. Charlie P. gave me some sage advice one ... year when I went to discuss a charity basketball game of all things for such a legend to take the time to talk about a game and give me pointers about radio in general.

Barry Grant
Great insight from John & Charles.  Charlie touched a lot of people's lives and there was no way you couldn't feel he was a friend.
     Spooky story Charles about Korsen's final day. We did like his wife UB who we saw at various parties & events.
Korsen hated the people from Record Companies-called them "Record Pigs" . As Jimmy Koplik also would tell you, they were our partners & friends in doing promotions, arranging interviews, and almost all became friends. Korsen would go bullshit if he saw one in the building in Bloomfield.

Paul Payton
I also worked for UB (and indirectly Dick) at the New England School of Broadcasting, which they set up to counter CSB by offering a better and deeper course. It was UB's baby, and she did it too well - the overhead was so high and the student selection so selective (forgive the redundancy) that it collapsed after 3 semesters. The plane crash was both unexpected (a unique way of doing oneself and others in) but also expected . . .  That said, (Dick) was very nice to me when I left to go to WCCC as PD - and a cheap *** when he offered me a gig to return - at 2/3 of the collie wages I'd been making before! (Charlie had retired by then, so I no longer had "a friend in the business" there.) They sure were interesting times....!

Dik Haddad
- Charlie Parker was the best PD I every worked for. I'd venture to say he was the best PD any of us ever worked for. No Charlie, no Big D!







WDRC Collage


Larry Wells on WDRC-FM

W1XPW

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