107.9 MHz, Bridgeport, CT.
(The 1948 CT State Register lists a WELI-FM, owned by Conn. Radio Foundation, and operating on 107.9 Mhz with 20,000 watts in the New Haven area. This station did not last long).
The frequency of 107.9 MHz came alive again in 1962, this time as WMMM-FM licensed to Westport, owned by Donald J. Flamm and simulcast WMMM AM 1260. The stations broadcast out of offices and studios located above Oscar's Deli on Main Street in Westport. The broadcasting antenna for 107.9 was co-located on one of the two WMMM-AM towers in Norwalk, and operated at 5 kW, minimum for a Class B facility. In 1969 the power was increased to 50 kW at the Norwalk location. The call letters were changed to WDJF. In the early 1970's the antenna was re-located to the highest point (640 ft) in Wilton, a residential zone. To the chagrin of neighbors, the height of the antenna was only 100 feet. Sesame Street was popular and the 2nd harmonic fell near Channel 13 audio. This was in the pre-cable days. While a significant improvement to the Norwalk location, the broadcasting radius of the station was less than it would become when relocated to the UI smokestack in Bridgeport.
In 1984 New York entrepreneur Franz Allina, who also owned WBAB and WGBB, purchased 107.9 WDJF for $2 million and hired Vince Cremona, General Manager of Bridgeport station WICC to run it for him.
A call letter change was needed, so various lists of unused call letters were studied by station management, yet none seemed to pop until Vince Cremona's 14-year old son, Vinny, found "WEBE" on the list, and ran around saying "Wee Bee Wee Bee Wee Bee". Based on this example of powerful appeal and figuring these to be memorable call letters, the call sign WEBE was applied for to the FCC and granted in February 1984. "WEBE 108" signed on the air at midnight on March 1, 1984. Curt Hansen, former Program Director of WAVZ and KC101 in New Haven was hired to program the new station.
WEBE108 moved to 50 Washington Street in Norwalk, 10th floor, and in the fall of 1984 moved to the 11th floor of 50 Washington Street. The station's target was female baby boomers, the idea being to latch on to the 'baby boom' generation, the population bulge, super satisfy them, and grow older as they did. The station's slogan was "Hits of a Whole Generation", playing the most popular hits from 1963 (the Beatles invasion) to the present day.
In 1985, after months of hard work and technical exploration by owner Franz Allina and consulting engineers, WEBE moved its transmitting antenna to the top of the United Illuminating red and white smokestack in Bridgeport harbor, putting out a full 50,000 watts from a height of 386 feet above average terrain.
In 1987 the station was sold to ML Media Partners, led by New York television executive Marty Pompadur and partners, for the sum of $11 million.
In 1989 ML Media partners also purchased WICC (AM) in Bridgeport for $6 million.
In 1990 Cremona moved both WEBE and WICC together under one roof at 350 Fairfield Avenue (2 Lafayette Square) in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
In 1999 the stations were sold for $66 million dollars to New Canaan radio operator Frank Osborn and partners (including Cremona), who in turn sold the stations, along with additionally acquired clusters in Danbury, Westchester, and Poughkeepsie, New York, to Cumulus Media in 2002 for just under $300 million in cash and stock. Under Market Manager Ann McManus, the stations continue to be popular and profitable.
Above: 1967 images of the WICC-FM
transmitter on Booth Hill.
Images courtesy of Xen Scott.
WEBE Antenna on UI Smokestack in Bridgeport Harbor.
Dennis Jackson photo.
Close up of the WEBE antenna. Dennis Jackson photo.