HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
Your Subtitle text
WKSS (WBMI) Memories
    Listeners and former employees of WKSS are encouraged to submit their memories of the station for possible inclusion on this page.  Send your recollections to admin@hartfordradiohistory.com

Bart Mazarella:

    I was in college, (Cambridge School in Boston), in the Fall of 1967, when I was hired by WBMI FM for a weekend shift on "Radio Mountain".  I was responsible for the 6am - 3pm shift on Sat and 3pm - 12 mid on Sundays.  We played three-hour long tapes with "live" cut-in's, with news at the top of every hour and weather at the bottom of the hour.  The name "Dolly Holiday" comes to mind when thinking back as to the name of the programming at that time.  I was also responsible for chaperoning the Automation system in the back room. I believe that was WHCN. I also remember that we were heard in four states.  Not bad for my first professional, ($1.67 hourly), gig!

Jim Perry (former Chief Engineer):

    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.

     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 rock (1984?).


Paul Michaud (12/09): 

     I worked the overnight shift at WKSS for six months or so in 1971. This was during the Beautiful Music format. The Chief Engineer at the time was Ernie Kirshner. We did 6 hour shifts that included production while the music tapes were playing. The music was on 7 inch reels that ran for thirty minutes each. Barry Grant, who would later work for WDRC FM did the 6 to midnight shift. We had Michael O’Grady in the Noon to Six slot. Terry Branham, who would later do news at WAVZ in New Haven handled the morning show. The morning show music was played off of L P’s, not tapes. Terry was married to Rob Branham who worked at WKCI. One morning I received a call from a woman who said her daughter’s car was seen by her boy friend in the station parking lot. This was like 3:00 am. The woman asked if I could check to see if the daughter was in the
building. I go off looking and find a door that was normally left open closed. I open the door and who should I find but the daughter in a rather interesting situation with (another employee). This resulted in my termination the next day. My next stop in Connecticut radio was as Johnny Walker at WWCO, Waterbury. I am still kicking in the radio biz, doing mornings at a classic country station in Harrisonburg, Va. October 15th 2010 will make 40 years in Broadcasting.


Barry Grant:


     I was Production Director as well as doing an airshift.The music was done by a consultant-it wasn't Schulke-I think the guy's name was Marlin Taylor.
    
The Mansion was a nice place to broadcast from-in fact one of the lines we were supposed to use was "From The Mansion,This is K(i)SS" & "From The Sound To The Berkshires,This KSS"
    
I don't remember any attempt at rock in those early days, but I was lucky to get out there & move on to bigger & better things.

 

 

Kevin Dayton:

     My younger brother in New York City sent me an email with a link to your web site.  Although we are of a different demographic age group than most of the pre-1984 listeners, the format change of WKSS brings back memories that still make me snicker.
     My mother worked at the Old Foundry Gift Shop in Cheshire, and all day long the gift shop (and the associated Bovano Industries/Bovano of Cheshire factory and administrative office) piped in "beautiful music" from WKSS to relax the customers and soothe the employees.  (The artisans played boom boxes to drown it out, and the welders wore Walkmans.)  As a 14-year old in 1984, I wasn't too keen on the WKSS format either, and I had to listen to it when one of the parents in my carpool group drove us to Cheshire High School.  
     One morning in the fall of 1984, we were in that car driving to school when the format change occurred that is on your site.  I couldn't figure out what was happening, as I didn't know radio stations changed formats from time to time.  After school, I checked my radio at home and realized "beautiful music" was gone from WKSS forever.  My brother and I rejoiced.
     Meanwhile, there was much confusion that day at the Old Foundry Gift Shop.  All day long the top-40 music played until finally someone in the Bovano administrative office turned the master radio to WKSS's main beautiful music competitior WRCH, and beautiful music was restored to the gift shop.
     Throughout high school, I used to claim that three people had heart attacks at the Old Foundry Gift Shop that day upon hearing the New Kiss.  I also claimed the Hartford Courant reported that dozens of people in convalescent homes died upon tuning into their daily dose of "beautiful music" and instead being assaulted by the music of Billy Idol.
     Thanks for the memories!
 
Kevin in Northern California
Website Builder