HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
Your Subtitle text
WLCR

(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.)



Click on the player below to listen to an interview with Joe Clark, Author of "The Last Days of WBZY", a book about the last days of Torrington's first station, WLCR (later WBZY). This interview was conducted in July, 2012 by Barrie Soucy, program director of Torrington's first non-commercial community station, WAPJ 89.9, which happens to have studios about half a block from the old WBZY studios in downtown Torrington!




 
    
WLCR ("Litchfield County Radio") first signed on in 1947 as Litchfield county’s first broadcast station.  It operated daytime only on 990 Khz and was owned by Litchfield County Radio Corp. and represented by Sears and Ayer.  There are several reports that legendary broadcast engineer Hillis Holt and his brother Roger were involved with the station, perhaps as owners, but this has yet to be verified. The studio was located at 23 Main Street in Torrington.  
     Early station personnel included: J. Richard Dobbins, Pres.; James E. Cipriano, General Manager; John Ward, Commercial Manager; Jay Norman, Program Director; Joseph Storm, Promotion Manager and Joseph J. Pasakarmis, Chief Engineer and Fred Bieber, formerly of WTHT.  
     The station signed on with a one hour inaugural proram at 2pm. Governor James L. McConaughy appeared on the air and commented on the value of radio service to the county. Mayor William A. Kilmartin of Torrington and Winsted Mayor Francis Hicks also spoke.

     The station had a single 240' tower and used a 1,000 watt Gates transmitter located atop Highland Avenue in Torrington.  The station had INS news. 
    A 1955 Waterbury newspaper column listed WLCR’s programming: 
2:30 pm-Symphony Pops;
3:00-News: Waxworks;
4:15-Hillbilly Hoedown;
5:30-Twilight Moods, News
6:00-News.

    
Contributor Joe Clark accounts that he "Worked at the station through 1964. I threw the last plate voltage that year." His book, "The Last Days of WBZY" (Wicket Grounds Publishing) is available online at www.josephclark.mysite.com 
It is highly recommended.

    In the early fifties the studios were located above a fashionable furniture store at the corner of Main and Water Streets in Torrington which gave the station lots of visibility.  Early announcers included Ed Cream, Hal Norman and Phil Drumheller (known later as Phil Dee). The intersection was flooded in the big flood of 1955 and the studio were moved to the new location on Main St. above the Torrington Savings Bank.Later, the call letters were changed to WBZY and the station called itself “The Voice of Litchfield County”.
By 1963, Howard Mendel was the station manager and his wife Edith did sales and produced a woman's show.  The station was owned by Mr. Zucker, a Waterbury accountant.  Mary Riley was the receptionist and announcers in the mid sixties included Joseph Clark, Gene Braden, morning man Barry, Stan Key, Phil D., Jack Lennhoff (“John Clare”), Richard ``Dick'' Galiette and Ross in the afternoon.  Norm Leavitt was the engineer.  The station has a UPI teletype but had no network affiliation.

          There were two studios at this point.  The main studio consisted of a table with a RCA mixer on it along with several RCA ribbon mics and three turntables.   To the right were two racks, one holding Magnicord and Ampex tape decks and the other holding the transmitter remote control and modulation and frequency monitors.  There were no cart machines and all spots and production were played back from reel to reel tapes.  The other studio was a large room which just contained some mics for the talent.  A lobby, closet for the UPI teletype machine and a managers office rounded out the facility.

     In 1963 the station petitioned the FCC for permission to move to West Hartford but the request was not granted.  
    A two hour weekday remote broadcast was undertaken in 1963 from the Winsted Furniture Company.  The thought was to make WBZY Winsted’s station which made sense considering that Winsted had a busy business district and the other area station, WTOR, was too weak to serve Winsted properly.  Owner Howard Mendel and his wife Edith produced and hosted the Winsted show which lasted a number of months but was only mildly successful in generating new advertising. During this time Stan Kay was on in the afternoons          In 1963 the station featured ethic programming on the weekends, including Ada and Ernie Randazzo, who played Italian 78s and Alfanso Misakowski (Al Maski), who produced a Polish show. From 1960 – 1962, a "Bluegrass Ramble" was produced by Bill Knowlton.  After he left Randy Hawkins took over the bluegrass show.  In addition, Phil Chapper did music of the 40s and 50s and Johnny Palmer did a Saturday night be bop show.         
When the largest employer in town, Torrington Company, went on strike in mid-63 the station experienced a significant reduction in advertising which forced them to reconsider a proposed move to the new parkade. 

Competitor WTOR was granted a frequency change from 1490 to 610 which gave them a much stronger signal than WBZY.  Within five days of WTOR making the change in January, 1964, WBZY was taken over by WTOR who purchased the WBZY equipment and closed down the station since it was their only local competition, on January 23, 1964.
The FCC deleted the 990 Khz frequency allocation. Two years later the frequency was reassigned to Southington, CT, Michael Rice acquired the rights to the Construction Permit and put WNTY on the air.    Other than the frequency there is no connection between the former WLCR and WXCT (formally WNTY). 


WBZY Memories:
Edward Creem:
      Programming was pop/standards from a very meager record library and what ever records we brought from home. The very last job I performed there during a Christmas Break was to set up a Music Rotation based on the Record Library in an effort to limit repititon of songs. Over a two year period, I worked everything from fulltime mornings, to part time weekends, to writing copy -- but only when I was home from college. Staff was minimal and so was advertising. Station was already approaching death!
Studios were at 127 Main Street -- it was nearly 50 years ago but it seems to me it was upstairs over a bank.

 

Photo below:  Original WLCR transmitter building on Highland Ave in Torrington as it looked in 2007.  Broadcast engineer Charlie Brown reported that he was nearly killed by lightning while painting that building back in the seventies when the tower got hit by lightning!   Part of WLCR's original, army surplus tower can be seen in the lower photo.
 

WLCR AdsEarly WLCR AdsWLCR

23 Main Street 

WLCR's studio at 23 Main Street in Torrington

WLCR

WBZY Rate Card

 

WBZY Coverage M

Coverage Map, early '60s.
 

WBZY Contract


2010 view of the same building.

WLCR Memories:

WLCR I found the WLCR/WBZY piece very interesting and it jogged a few brain cells as I wasa just a kid. But this soon to be 58 yr old remembers that WLCR's signal was top notch and went quite the distance from the top of Highland Ave. thanx for the memories.

Website Builder