HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WKSS (WBMI)

(We’ve been able to find surprisingly little information on WMMW-FM/WBMI, the station that became WKSS, a major player in Hartford radio.  However we have compiled a few notes, below.    If you can help fill in the blanks please contact us at admin@hartfordradiohistory.com.)

 

            The station started as WMMW-FM, Meriden, sister station to WMMW-AM in the early 1960s.

          In 1962, the call letters became WBMI, and along with WGHF 95.1, now WRKI, the station became one of the first stations to broadcast in multiplex FM stereo, the modern day system of stereo utilizing one station and one stereo receiver.
           In the mid-sixties WBMI's studios were located in the CT China and Glass Shop, 122 Charles St, Meriden, which was run by Buzz Shultz, whose son owned the station during that period. Muzak (SCA) kept it alive financially. They were spinning records and were beautiful music most of the time with some block programming like Dan Blume and a few others like Front Row Center which was a broadway show feature.
          Bob Nary was Production Director in 1965.

         The Dan Blume Jazz Show was on from 1963 to 1967.

          The Jay Flemming Jazz Show aired on Wed and Sat evenings from 7-9 in 1967.
        “Tevynes Garsai,” a Lithuanian show (in continuous production and now on WWUH, 91.3 at the Univ. of Hartford), aired on WBMI from 1964  – 1968.

At some point, we believe in the sixties, the studios moved to the tower site on West Peak in Meriden. The studio had a large picture window which faced the southwest which provided for a spectacular view from that elevation.

In 1977, WBMI adopted a Beautiful Music format and shortly thereafter the call letters were changed to WKSS.

For a number of years WKSS operated out of an old house on the corner of Columbus Blvd and Wethersfield Avenue (picture below) which was referred to as "The Mansion" on the air. There was a story that the house was haunted, supposedly confirmed by the “ghost hunting” team, The Warrens. Ray Hard-Station Manager.

        Contributor Jim Perry who was Chief Engineer of WKSS for many years submitted the following:

WKSS "Beautiful Music" Brief History

 

WBMI to WKSS:  Fred Constant bought the Meridan's WBMI  and changed the format and callsign, and moved into "The Mansion" in  Hartford.

     The Mansion, at the corner of Wethersfield Ave and Wyllys St, was the former Borden (Milk Company) town house for  when the family was in the city. A plush red-carpeted curved stairway led the way upstairs from the lobby, past two beautiful  stained glass windows. There were Italian marble fireplaces in every room, including the Control Room, which was in the second  floor master bedroom. The original engineer (Tom?) had set up house speakers in the flues of the (non-operating) fireplaces, and  the "beautiful music" seemed to come from everywhere. The "On-Air" light was an electric candelabra just outside of the studios.

     In the very early days of WBMI and WKSS, it was the Muzak franchise that paid the bills. But when "Kiss" got serious about the  beautiful music format, and hired Jim Schulke of SRP, the beautiful music guru, he insisted that the subcarriers be dropped. The station became "Kiss, 96FM, All music, all the time."

     Owner Fred Constant had a "bachelor pad" on the third floor of the Mansion, complete with water bed and a full McIntosh stereo system. When Fred  was coming to town from his other "pad" (a yacht anchored at Diamond Head, Hawaii), it was the Chief Engineer's duty to turn on the  waterbed so it would be up to temperature by the time Fred arrived.

     Fred sold the station to Insilco (International Silver Company) of Meriden around 1978 (?). During this time, Insilco attempted to update the format by introducing some newer easy-listening vocals, and hiring some former WTIC(AM/TV) alumni such as Dick Bertel  and Mike Ogden. A couple years or so later, Woody Tanger bought the station, and continued the "lite personality" format.

     Woody moved the studios to the (now imploded) office building at Washington St and Buckingham. Experiments at  that site with a satellite-delivered easy-listening format were a failure because the dish installers were never able to completely rid the C-band dish of interference from Telco microwave links.

     At that time, Woody also owned classical WTMI 93.1 Miami, classical WQRS 105.1 Detroit, and classical WFLN 95.7 as well. All through Woody's years at Kiss, there was some discussion changing to a classical format, but the easy-listening format continued until Woody sold the station and the format was changed to contempory hit radio (CHR) (1984).


Audio clip of format switch (courtesy of Bob Mitchell):


WKSS lineup at launch:
Jeremy Savage in AM
Paulie Briggs 9a-12n
Bob Mitchell  12n-3p
Mark Wainwright  3-7p
Curt Monday 7-12m
Tom Casey (Callococci) mid-5a

One year audio composit, 1985 (courtesy of Bob Mitchell):


     In the late eighties or early 90s the studios and offices were moved to 10 Columbus Boulevard in the eighties.

    In the early 90's Gary Craig was the morning host and Jeremy Savage did afternoons. Personnel included Tim Montgomery GM, Jeremy Savage Operations Director, Jaybeau Jones PD, John Ramsey, Chief Engineer and Greg Williams, traffic director.

The station was sold to Capstar and Rick Walsh became chief engineer.

          In 1996 the station was purchased by Clear Channel.

          In 1998 the studios were relocated from the south to the north end of the first floor at 10 Columbus Blvd.

          In 2005 WKSS added HD capability


1978 Hartford Courant

Above: This beautiful old house on Wethersfield Avenue was the home to WKSS during the seventies and eighties.  (2009 photo).


August, 1964


1968


1969


1970


1971 Hartford Times article, courtesy of Ed Brouder

1971 WKSS Dial Card, courtesy of Ed Brouder.

1971 Promotional Album

1972


1974


Old, perhaps original, 95.7 tower on right and newer WKSS tower, built in the eightiesk, on the left.  104.1 shares the top of the tower with WKSS.


The original WKSS transmitter building in the background which once held the station's studios.


Inside the front door during a 2009 tour. That's Rick Walsh, Clear Channel's Hartford engineer on the left.


Judging from the mirror on the wall this room was probably the lavitory.


Charles Street Studio.

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