HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WFIF Memories


Larry Kratka:  "I worked at WFIF in Milford, CT briefly under the name Larry Kaye, between 1968 and 1970.  I don't remember who the station was owned by but it was a daytimer at 1500 khz with the studios in the old Connecticut Post Shopping Center on Route 1. At the time, the shopping center was NOT a mall like it is today.  It was regular shopping center with a wrap-around parking lot and the WFIF studios located in the shopping center's Community Room.  The AM studio had a large window facing the Connecticut Turnpike.  We had a speaker outside the window and shoppers would stop by to wave and watch the DJ's on the air.  The station had ONLY the AM studio with a production studio and a newsroom.  Offices for the station were also included on the other side of the Community Room.
    
I don't remember last names but the program director at the time was a guy name of Todd who ran a good ship.  Like today, the station was a daytimer...signing on at local sunrise and signing off at local sunset.  I did the afternoon show and was manning the board that historical July Sunday when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  
     
While there, I joined Junior Achievement and was adviser to the WFIF group of teenagers.  WFIF programmed country music at the time and it was fun to watch how local high school kids handled country music.  The WFIF kids eventually won a few awards for their work. 
    
We used to do remotes with a Collins remote unit complete with two turntables.  That's when remotes were just that....remotes.  The transmitter site with 3 towers was located at the end of Kay Avenue.  The studios have since moved to the transmitter site."

Bob Radil: "In the late 70s the GM was Tom Shovan and PD was Randy West. Blair Walliser was the original owner, selling the station in 1980 to Walter Curly, Ted Jones and I can't remember the 3rd name.
     In June 1982 it was again sold to Bill Blount who owns it to this day and has used it for religion programming." 

William Barnett:  "I was there from 1987 to 2007. I worked under at least 4 diferent managers during that time, and a number of part-timers. I really can't put them into a chronological order, and I don't remember their actual years of service. All I have are my own sketchy recollections.
     Here is what I know for certain:
    
Bill Blount bought the station in 1982. It was already operating 100% from the site at 90 Kay Avenue. (It had left the mall some years prior to his ownership.)
     
When the transfer of ownership was consummated on June 14'th of that year, he changed the format to Christian teaching and music. In 2008, most of the music was dropped from their format. In 2010, the format became 100%
Christian talk and teaching programs, with no music. Mr Blount still owns WFIF, along with 5 other stations, in the Blount Communications Group:
WARV, WBCI, WDER, WNEB, WVNE.  WARV was his first station. WFIF was his second. Then came WVNE, WBCI, WDER, then finally, WNEB.
     
I started at WFIF in July of 1987 as a part-time announcer. I became full-time in May of 1989. From Feb 1990 to Aug 2007, I was the music director and
morning announcer. From about 1995 until Aug 2007, I was the Chief Engineer.
     Due to the Economy, I was "downsized" on Aug 31'st, 2007.
   This is a job I loved from day one.  From the start the day (sign-on permitting) with an hour of music at 6am, called "Morning Light". The listeners always had positive and encouraging comments about that program. I encouraged them to call me at the station with prayer   requests. These were then prayed for on the air, at the close of each day's program. Many listeners commented over the years that they sincerely appreciated this. They also commented positively about the teaching and preaching programming
throughout the day.
    
The original transmitter was a CCA AM5000-D. I believe it served from the original sign-on in 1965. It was replaced in 1996 with a Harris Gates 5, which continues to serve them well. WFIF uses a 3-tower directional array, and continues to operate Daytime only, due to the "clear channel" station on 1500Khz in Washington DC."

Randy West:  I was Program Director of WFIF under General Manager Tom Shovan. Tom had an impressive resume in the region that included WPOP and WPTR. We were hired by owner Blair Walliser in February 1976 when Tom and I were running WHVW, Hyde Park/Poughkeepsie, and we remained at WFIF until November 1979. Although in his advanced years, before retirement Walliser had been a director of several notable dramas in the "golden age" of radio before serving as an executive at the Mutual Broadcasting System. He retained an office in the Time-Life Building in New York as a financial consultant. Ironic, considering that WFIF was chronically under-financed and occasionally scraping to meet payroll.
     The station was in the shopping center as described, with a Gates Yard Board, 2 TTs and 2 cart machines. The production gear consisted of the 2 TT and board remote package with a recording cart machine and ancient Ampex 350 reel-to-reel in the hallway leading to the air studio. The transmitter facility was manned, usually by Chief James Elmore, whenever the station was on the air; it was a daytimer without pre-sunrise authorization.
     Using the WHVW production facilities I recorded two image campaigns - IDs and promos - in advance, to help transition the station from country to what we referred to as "American Music" in the bicentennial year of 1976. It consisted of Adult Contemporary music with a heavy mix of country crossover hits. The format was the subject of a front-page write-up in Billboard magazine.
     I hired an airstaff that included the wonderful and well-known CT radio pro Pete Salant who worked mornings under the name Mike Stone. Cliff Kenyon, who had rocked at a number of CT stations, loyally held the afternoon slot for years. I hired Mike Evans (Jerry Palmentier) for middays from Vermont, and later brought down his buddy Marc Goldberg to do mornings as Jay Scott. Early on, a college radio buddy, Dennis Murray, was brought in to augment the Mutual Network with local news content. 
     Eventually we had a great many pros generously sharing their talents for survival salaries. At the moment the other most memorable include WPTR alum Roy Reynolds, CT local Ken Cunningham, Steve Kiley and NY-er Glenn Sauter, although many others deserve recognition and appreciation for contributing to the effort. Radio legend Joey Reynolds returned to the CT airwaves over WFIF on several occasions as a personal favor to help us generate word-of-mouth.
     With other plans for the storefront, by mid-1976 the shopping center had served notice that we were to vacate. Tom Shovan arranged to build a cinder-block, single-story structure adjacent to the transmitter building. A fully-finished modular home was lifted atop the newly constructed first floor, and the home's bathtub was removed to accommodate a staircase to connect the two levels. Unfortunately there was no budget for equipment, but Poughkeepsie radio station engineer and owner David Groth generously provided cast-off hardware and refurbished what we had to keep us operational. Incidentally, owner Blair Walliser was proud that his original transmitter shack was actually a geodesic dome, a futuristic building design popularized by Buckminster Fuller.
     To find a niche for sales as well as programming in the shadow of Bridgeport and New Haven stations, WFIF was targeted to Milford, Stratford, Orange, West Haven and the other under served communities. That included a heavy schedule of local remotes, community service campaigns with the United Way, and high school sports. A trade out with Milford-based BIC Corporation allowed us to flood the market with pens, lighters and shavers sporting our logo and slogans. Although national sponsors including Borden and the U.S. Army bought participations in some very creative sales promotions, it became increasingly frustrating as the small operating profits were being siphoned by the owner. 
     As operating without an adequate budget appeared to be an endless challenge, Tom and I left on October 31, 1979 for California to join Joey Reynolds to start-up Aries II, a recording and entertainment enterprise funded by Wayne Newton.

Vinnie Roberts:  During the country music days the Program Director was Vinnie Roberts, who was also the morning announcer, followed by Frank Derak and Rick Shea, Dan Walker was also on staff....We were the originals on the air when the station signed on.  The chief engineer was Jim Elmore also on the engineering staff was Jerry Verderosa.  The transmitter was at 90 Kay Avenue, Milford, where the station relocated  from the Connecticut Post.  Weekend programming consisted of a Polish program with Dick Yash, an Italian show, Hungarian and religion programming. The original office staff consisted of Gale Anderson, Pat Rooney, and  Part time  Laurie Waldeck.....The station was owned by Blair Walliser.  The station manager was William Calvert.  After a few years Vinnie and Frank left the station to go to WICC.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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