HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WJMJ

Above:  New WJMJ air studio, April 2009. Photo courtesy of Walt Pinto.

(This section is under construction. The text below is a draft history, more information is needed.  Please contact us with corrections, updates and/or suggestions. Email us at: admin@hartfordradiohistory.com.)

 

Research shows that as early as January, 1970, Archbishop John Whealon was corresponding with the FCC informally about the possibility of starting a new non-commercial station in Hartford to be licensed to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. The station was to be used to broadcast ecumenical programs in the open spirit of the Second Vatican Council a decade earlier.
        
It was determined that there were no suitable antenna locations in the greater Hartford area which would fit into the FCC’s allocation scheme as most Hartford area FM stations had been licensed at least a decade prior and the band was pretty crowded by 1970.   Harold Dorschug, the WTIC chief engineer who helped with WJMJ on the air on a pro bono basis, was forced to look outside of the Hartford area to find a transmitters site and he found two suitable sites, one in Burlington and one in East Morris. 

        On April 28, 1970 a Construction Permit (CP) was issued for a 4.65kw station on 88.9 in East Morris, CT. and in September of that same year another 88.9 CP was granted to the Archdiocese for 6kw for Burlington!  We surmise that they never expected the FCC to grant both applications because each would have interfered with the other.  More likely they expected only one to be granted.
         On May 25, 1976 original East Morris CP was amended to Burlington and on October 13, 1976 was Program Test Authority granted.  WJMJ took to the air for the first time from studios on church property on Main St in Glastonbury, CT.
        The antenna location which engineer Dorschug had found for WJMJ was 1300’ above sea level on Johnnycake Mountain in Burlington, CT.  The transmitter and tower were constructed on a 100’ by 100’ tract of land formally owned by the state of Connecticut and previously used for a fire lookout tower. The state gave the land to the station and there were initial plans to suspend the antenna from the fire tower but this was found to be impractical and the fire tower was removed and a metal street light pole installed.  In order to protect WNHU in New Haven on 88.7, WJMJ had to use a directional antenna.
        On May 27, 1980, the studios were moved to St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield.
        On May 15, 1985 the station received a license for a 3 watt translator on 91.5 in Hamden which was built on Water Company property not far from the channel 8 tower.  When a new station came on the air on the same frequency elsewhere in CT in '94 WJMJ was forced to find another frequency for this translator and on March 31, 1995 the translator was moved to 93.1 Mhz with 10 watts ERP from the same location.
        On March 31, 1986 a licensed was issued for a 4 watt translator in New Haven to be built on top of the Knights of Columbus building on 107.1 Mhz.      
        Bob Geckler joined the staff in 1981 and he reports that
Allen Ford was the morning man, Fred Swanson was mid-days and John Masternack was afternoon/evening. Allen was program director until he retired and then Peter Durham came on board in the am shift and Fred Swanson then became PD. John Anderson was Chief Engineer, a job he relinquished to Frank Pingree when he moved out of state.
    Linda Roberts has done the late night show for 25 years.
   
 In 1990, John Ramsey took over as chief engineer from Frank Pingree, and a new transmitter was installed in Burlington.

In 1996 the old pole was replaced with a 125’ tall tower and the 2 bay antenna was replaced with a 3 bay model that incorporated ice protection. An emergency power generator was installed at the same time.

On June 1, “Festival of Faith”, a 14 hour block of radio shows on Sunday which ranged from short inspirational spots to recorded worship services or talk shows produced by an assortment of area Protestant and Orthodox churches was replaced by programming from the EWTN Global Catholic network. WJMJ started carrying live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday afternoons in time for the 08/09 season. The station's new slogan became “Catholic Radio – Where Faith Meets Life”.
        
Walter Pinto was hired as Operations Director in Oct. 2008.

        In early April, 2009 Bruce Stevens was hired to do the morning show which he did from the station's new Prospect, CT studios.
 

Orig employees included:

John Ellinger

John Masternack

Fred Swanson

John Anderson 

 

Addl Employees (incomplete list):

Bob Geckler, Studio Engineer

Steve Brewer, Announcer

John Ramsey, Chief Engineer

Paul McGuinness, Announcer

Ivor Hugh, Announcer 

 
Above:  Fire tower taken down to make room for WJMJ antenna in Burlington.

Above: Former WJMJ Program Director John Masternack,  in the Bloomfield air studio at St. Thomas Seminary in 2008.
John had been with the station since it first signed on in 1976 and retired in March, 2008.

Above:  Old WJMJ Production Studio in St. Thomas Seminary, 2008.

Above:  WJMJ main transmitter (far right) and auxiliary transmitter (right of center), along with equipment racks on Johnnycake Mountain in Burlington. 2007.

Above:  WJMJ's 3-bay ERI directional FM antenna.  Below it are the main and auxiliary STL receive antennas.  2008.


Above:  At 1300' above sea level the WJMJ tower in Burlington gets its share of ice.  This photo is from the November, '08 ice storm.  Radomes on the FM antenna (black objects at top of tower) protect the antenna from ice and allow full power operation.

Above:  St. Thomas Seminary was the home of WJMJ's studios for over three decades. 2009 photo.

Entrance to WJMJ's old St. Thomas Seminary Studio Facility




Empty air studios shortly after operations were moved to Prospect.


Bloomfield studio Record Library

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