WOWW in Naugatuck started broadcasting as a daytime only station with an easy listening music format in the late 1950s.
WOWW-AM, originally on 860 khz, changed their frequency to 1380 and became a 24 hour station in 1968. It became WNVR (Naugatuck Valley Radio) in the late 1970s, then WNAQ, and is now Spanish language WFNW.
Contributor Gene Faltus: "WNAQ simulcasted with (co-owned) WNEZ (Manchester), except for two occasions. That is when Mets games were on. WNAQ carried Mets, while WNEZ continued the country format.\ Also at night, when there was not Mets games, there was a small studio at WNAQ where someone in Naugatuck would do a local Portuguese show. One board op back in Hartford would run both the country format on WNEZ, and the Mets on WNAQ, on the same console. In order to do that, we had to put in an actual STL from Hartford to Manchester. Before that, both WNAQ and WNEZ got fed using an SCA off of WLVH (FM).
"The AM "staff" consisted of a two man morning show with Rick Shea (later at WBIS) and a news person, one sales person . . . and the manager. . .
"In the 80s, WNAQ went dark and was sold after there had been a fire in the transmitter, and Sage would not buy a new transmitter . . ."
1973 photo courtesy of the Waterbury Time Machine
The station was purchased by Al Primo in late 1977. Al bought the station from Frank Stisser, the man who ran the Pulse radio ratings company. Frank also owned WEST AM/FM in Easton, PA. Frank and Al knew each other since both lived in Old Greenwich, CT.
Al I did community ascertainment interviews during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day 1978. I prepared the FCC paperwork with the attorney.
When Frank sold the Easton combo, he took the EMI plat reverb unit and moved it to the Naugatuck studios of then-WOWW. We ran that when the new personality-AC format debuted on July 4, 1978 accompanied by a TV campaign on WTNH New Haven and the then-WATR-TV. Channel 20 was on the small stick from Prospect running paid religion and NBC network programming.
WOWW became "14-NVR" for Naugatuck Valley Radio. Peters Productions "Someone to Turn To" jingle package was added.
For one week before the new format went on, all one heard on 1380 were teases and the old, all-over-the-road music format. Modulation was REDUCED five per cent each day leading up to the new format. On the day before the switch we were at the legal minimum modulation. Next day - BAM - in your face!!
The technical plant was improved concurrent with the sign-on: new board, six cart machines, processing, Sennheiser MD-421 microphones. Tom Osenkowsky served as CE for a period of time. Tom had 1380 sounding like an FM! That was the cleanest AM signal I ever heard. Part of the genius was to isolate the 421 from the rest of the audio chain. The 421 went into a UREI-LA-4A in the rack. Music was separately processed. The combination then went into a Durrough DAP 310.
Steve Thomas, now CT AP bureau chief, was hired away from WWCO as News Director. ESPN star Chris Berman was hired for his first job in broadcasting. He drove a red Ford station wagon around greater Waterbury in morning and afternoon drive times giving live traffic report on the two-way. He then co-hosted "Calling All Sports" with Bob Sagendorf who would later become Production Director at WCBS-FM.
The programming was second to none under the guidance of the legendary Joe McCoy. Joe had left 99X. We hired him. The rest is history. Joe did middays and was PD. He racked up MAJOR numbers for the station. Morning guy was Sebastian of Hartford radio fame. He was selling insurance when we hired him.
Primo hired three full-time news people. Two, thirty-minute news blocks aired at Noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Local news ran seven days a week.
By the way, the studios used to house a day care center. An addition to the building was constructed in 1979. A new control room and a sales area were added at the time.
Seventies images below:
Music was played out from these reel to reel machines.
1976 Greg Loehr at the controls.