HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WNEZ (WINF)
(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.)
    Originally the 1230 khz. frequency in Hartford was used by WTHT, the radio station of The Hartford Times (see "Silent Station" page for more info on WTHT).
   1230 Khz Manchester, CT has had the following call letters over the years:  WINF, WKHT, WFNS, WLVH, WLAT, WNEZ, WKND, WNEZ.
     WINF, Manchester, came on the air in 1958, with a non-directional signal of 1,000 watts day and 250 watts night. Studios were located in Manchester, CT, which was also the City Of License (COL).  Hillis Holt was the chief engineer.
    The late sportscaster, George Ehrlich, left WTIC in the seventies to work at WINF.  Jeff Jacobs also worked at WINF.  More info on WINF below.
    In the spring of 1984 1230 became WKHT with a country format, filling the format void left by WMLB's switch to talk as WGAB.  Yankees basball was carried.

 Gene Faltus:  "WNEZ simulcast with (co-owned) WNAQ (Naugatuck), except for two occasions. That is when Mets games were on. WNAQ carried Mets, while WNEZ continued the country format. At the time, WNEZ was not the call letters, nor were they WINF, I just can't remember what they were right now. 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.
     "When it was decided to carry Mets on WNAQ . . . the board op would run WNEZ on console program, and WNAQ (the sca feed) on Audition. The formats for both stations were country when I was there up until WWYZ switched to country.  That blew the AMs out of the water, and they switched to business formats. Hence the call letter switch to WFNS (financial news service), while WNAQ became WFNW (financial news of Waterbury). They brought in a manager for just the AMs. It was a disaster, during the less than one year as financial news, I remember very clearly NOT ONE LOCAL SPOT WAS SOLD, except for a local coin dealer who did a daily 10 minute rare coin and stamp "report". (Management's lack of) caring showed, we would run morning traffic reports, the same ones again in the afternoon, as there was NO afternoon board op.     
    "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, I recall that WNEZ would carry University of Hartford mens basketball games. George Erlich who you mentioned on the  website sold, and did the games. Sage sold the station in November of 1989 to a Spanish businessperson who owned a furniture store on Park St. . . He switched the format to Spanish right away and "cherry picked" the staff of WLVH. He kept the studios where they were. WNAQ was sold at the same time, although it was dark, as there had been a fire in the transmitter, and Sage would not buy a new transmitter . . .
     "When Sage Broadcasting bought the station around 1986, it was WINF. They moved the studios to Wethersfield Ave. in Hartford. They changed the call letters from WINF to WKHT. That was to have stood for K(c)country HiTs . . . Then, when they flopped the format to business news, it became WFNS. (When) Dave Pearlman took over WLVH (03.7 FM) he changed the call letters to WZMX. Then Carlos Lopez took the WLVH call letters and put them on WFNS, and then Jeff Dressler changed it to WLAT, when he bought it."


  
 
    On February 13, 1989 the call letters were changed to WFNS and on August 31, 1989 the call letters were changed to WLVH.
    On October 12, 1991 the call letters were changed to WLAT.
    In 1994 the the station was purchased by Atty. Mark Dressler and the studios were moved to the 4th floor of a building on Cedar Street in Hartford. The station operated with a Spanish language format with the call letters WNEZ.  In 1998 Mega's WLAT joined WNEZ on the forth floor location overlooking Hartford.
    Mega Broadcasting, owner of WLAT 910 in Farmington, purchased the station and WNEZ moved again in 2000, this time to 330 Main Street where they joined station WLAT (910) under common ownership with Mega.
     On May 25, 2001 the call letters were changed to WNEZ.
    On August 9, 2004 the call letters were changed to WKND.
    In 2005 Freedom Communications purchased WNEZ and WLAT from Mega.  For a brief time in 2004 the call letters were swapped with WKND in Windsor, CT and the latter station's urban talk format was moved to 1230 but 1230 was changed back to WNEZ and resumed Spanish language programming in 2006.
    On March 1, 2007 the call letters were changed to WNEZ.


WINF Memories:

J. Howard Deme:  I was one of the sons of John Deme who reactivated 1230 AM WINF in May of 1958. I worked several air shifts when the station was 250 watts located in the Manchester Shopping Parkade. Hazel Deme did Homemakers Exhange a daily telephone call in show. I will gather up some items for the new book and frward them to the email listed on this site. WINF had many notables on the air in it's day such as Kathy Godfrey, Cal Coldy, Dick Faye, Bob Bacon, Phil Burgess, Jerry Gordon, Joe Girand, Lief Jensen and many others. Thanks for reading this and more to come soon.

Dik Haddad:
I was there working in sales in the mid sixties...Pat Sheehan was on the air, Jim Duffy, Uncle Jay...it was the first (I think) all talk radio station in the market. Try selling that!

Greg Burnham:
I worked there in 1971 as newsman, salesman, engineer, playing songs, and MC'd Father Nadolny on Sunday mornings. I swear I worked 125 hours a week when I was there.... I went back to being a musician, I didn't have to get up at 5 am, instead I could go to bed at 5 am.... re: the station, it was a M O R , I would have to play Sinatra and got in trouble when I played Riders on the Storm! I also announced "on location" car racing come to think of it!
     When i worked at W.I.N.F. in 1971 the radio station WCCC had Howard Stern, he provided me with lots of competition, well not really, he and i were not competing for sure. i couldn't believe he would hit that ratty snare drum for "accents" Heck I do that now with my drum set!


Barry Grant:
I worked there very early in my career. It was a 5 minute walk from my house! Located in The Manchester Parkade.   I was on 7-Midnight & was the Chief Engineer (talk about cheap labor!)The staff was incredible for that little station. We had Sally Jesse Raphael, Al Gates, Chuck Crouse & no doubt a couple of other very good people I can't remember.As ... See MoreGreg Burnham, I produced the Father Nadolny talk show-my most vivid memory of doing that was that he wouldl hang up on most people who called and had problems or sounded a little screwed up.


Jeff Jacobs:
I joined the Station in 1971 owned at that time by Robert Charnas - My shift was mid mornings - I became Station Manager at the same time Phil Burgess was General Manager - When Phil left I was promoted to General Manager - Still hold an Inter Office memo of congratulations from Robt Charnas on the Station producing the highest monthly sales in the Station's history. Due to my increased responsibilities I had to take myself off air except for my Songs by Sinatra shows aired 7.05 AM and 4.35 PM - Had great assistance from Sinatra with letters and phone calls of encouragement - Remember checking ratings that was unfair because how can a 1,000 watt station compete with the giant signals in that area topped by WTIC AM AND FM. One rating in particular was comforting showing my morning Sinatra show became number 1 when Bob Steele show was completed. 
     Robt Charnas left the Company and Victor Levinson took over as President I remember a breakfast meeting when he asked can the Radio Station do better - Yes was my answer if I have the correct budget to promote - He handed me a check and gave me full authority to make any moves I felt would bring success - I arranged a meeting with the Manchester Herald and signed a barter agreement. They would give me free pages and I would produce Radio commercials for them. I was then able to meet with my sales team to inform them they can sell a package of Radio spots and a newspaper ad in the Herald.- Yes, another duty as we had no sales manager. I take credit that during my spell as GM I stabilized the staff with very little changes in personel - Victor Levinson called me to say sales were never better ratings were good for a small AM Station in the Hartford market now was a time to sell - He offered me wonderful terms that I discussed with my dear wife Iva Rose who advised me not to purchase the Station. I was already working six and a half day weeks as my duties included being a Manchester Rotary Club member and I had speaking engagements in the evenings for service clubs in the area. In 1978 the Manchester Rotary Club presented me with a Man of the Year award with an evening celebration in a local restaurant - A number of prospective buyers came to the Station although I was busy at that time handling a license renewal -           
     Eventually a Joel Thrope from Ohio came to see me saying he had been in the area for a week asking local business what they thought of WINF his summing up was I am buying the Station because of your work every business owner I spoke to had a kind words about my leadership. Then I employed a Mort Fega he was a handful thinking he was God's gift to the Station he introduced Steve Nichols whose on air work was good...  One day one of our sales team Mort Roberts informs me that Joel Thrope was flying in and interviewing for my position as he had spoken to the GM of the Middletown Station who had an interview. This was shattering news as I had devoted my life in hours and efforts for WINF - I called my wife to inform her that I was going to resign - That very day I started to empty my office of all my personal belongings including the Sinatra library that I had purchased - It was a pity to leave as I had fought Victor Levinson who wanted to change the format from easy listening to Country - From a Radio editorial I challenged our listeners to respond did they wish Easy Listening format to continue. I changed the locks in the Radio Station and locked out our President Victor until we had the results. That story made Variety magazine a few days later my Secretary Robin said Tony Bennett is on the phone for you - He said I just read the situation and wish to do whatever I can to help you. That was in Victor's time as President and now we had Joel Thrope who did not have the guts to come and see me - I left WINF in 1981 it hurt to see the very staff I had employed ignoring me as I left the building. Looking back it was the greatest decision I had made in my life. I opened my own Advertising Agency JEFF JACOBS ENTERPRISES in the space of the first few years I added excellent clients that included Shopping Centers Manchester Parkade - Farmington Valley Mall Simsbury - Torrington Parkade - Norwich Town Mall - New London Mall - Copaco Shopping Center Bloomfield plus a number of Manchester accounts that were my clients at WINF - Now I was working around the clock for my wife and I with far more remuneration than my Radio days. I had part time staff assisting me especially for the many promotions I arranged for the shopping Centers - Robin my secretary at WINF had left before me because Robert Charnas refused an increase in her pay scale - Now I was employing her I was able to pay her a much bigger salary than WINF she was a great help as I built the Agency. R.W.Commerford of Goshen CT had tours of the Petting Zoo all over the Country and employed me as the Agency of record. My Agency handled all the Print TV and Radio advertising for many years plus I booked the show in to the Parking lots of many of my clients. 
     Today I am 82 years of age a cancer survivor still enjoying my retirement with my dear wife Iva Rose celebrating sixty-two years of a happy marriage. We have a wonderful home in Bloomfield financially sound no mortgage no bills and enough capitol for another lifetime. If I have one sorrow it is in the thirty one years since I left WINF not one staff member I employed has ever picked up the telephone to say Hi how are you - After all so many I started in Radio. Mort Roberts (Sales) and Bill Callahan (Announcer) did stay in touch for a few years and I advised them to try and find a position more stable than Radio -Unfortunately I heard that both of them had difficulty in their Radio careers Mort in Las Vegas and Bill in Billings Montana - Allow me to say this Radio gave me my start after ten years hard work I realized my future had to be on my own terms -  To hear that Joel Thrope filed for bankruptcy and lost WINF among other stations proved that if you pull behind the scene stunts it comes back to bite you. JEFFJACOBS16@AOL.COM

Rick Melzig:
    I was the contract chief engineer if WINF from 1971 (when I took over from retiring Hillis Holt) to 1975.  Rob Charnas had just bought the station from (??) for the outrageous sum of $600K.  [The story went that the seller drove Charnas around in the daytime (1000 watts) listening on a car radio - never changing the dial and then trying to find WINF again].  Victor Levinson (Charnas' cousin) was beginning to become
involved in the mid-70s as Charnas was not making the monthly nut - largely due to having paid way too much for the station with its marginally useful signal west of the river (and none at night).
    Jeff Jacobs was the GM, Sinatra  jock, sales...  Nobody ever worked longer and harder than Jeff did.  Phil Burgess did sales (along with a day job selling heating oil) and a fantastic sports talk show at dinnertime.  I will never forget his talking about the "Boston Patsies" (who I believe will play in the Super Bowel  tomorrow).  A very odd duck, Sherm Harris, was sales manager through most of the era.  Oh, and
Charnas married his secretary whose name I don't recall.
    My major projects were finally getting the WWII-vintage RCA transmitter to meet then FCC Proof of Performance requirements and the physical move of the studios from the Manchester Parkade to 257 East Center Street. 
     From the looks of the picture the transmitter building hasn't changed - except for the transmitters, generator (gas tank) and the satellite dish.  Still needs paint.
    My day job was with IBM in Hartford.  I moved with them to an assignment in White Plains, NY in 1975 and shortly thereafter became contract chief at WGCH, Greenwich, which continued until 1981 when IBM moved me to CA - both other stories.  I'm now married and semi-retired, living on the Big
Island of Hawaii after having lived in Los Gatos, CA, for 30 years.  My congratulations to Jeff and Iva for having done so well; I'm not surprised.


Phil Burgess:  
I was working my first radio job at WCFR in Springfield, Vt in March of 1958 when I learned that John Deme was starting up a new radio station in my hometown of Manchester, Ct.  I quickly set up an interview for an announcing job and was hired to start when the station signed on, scheduled for late April or early May.  I quit my job at WCFR in April hoping I wouldn't be out of work too long.  It was longer than I had hoped for as the sign on date was delayed for two reasons, first the original tower fell down (it was curved when it was completed, I wish I had a picture of it) and then there was a fire in a shed on John's property that housed important engineering equipment.  A new sturdy tower was erected and the equipment was replaced and we were ready to go on Sunday, May 18th.  I had the honor of doing WINF's first newscast at 8 o'clock that morning.   The only names I can remember that were on the staff at that time are Chief Engineer Hillis Holt, salesmen Alan Gould and Ron Wright, copy writer Ray Winter, a very gifted writer, John's wife Hazel, who was the office manager and did a daily telephone talk show called Homemaker's Exchange, and Jay Deme, John's son who did various jobs including announcing. The call letters, WINF, stood for 'The Information Station'.   I once suggested to John that we hold a beauty contest and name the winner Miss Information.   He quickly shot that idea down.  At first WINF was an independent station but eventually joined the Mutual network.  When WDRC dropped  CBS to make room for their new Top 40 format in1960 we picked up the CBS affiliation. When WRCH dropped ABC for a beautiful music format we contracted with ABC to carry Don McNeil's  Breakfast Club.  WINF had a pretty good network lineup with the Breakfast Club at nine., Arthur Godfrey at 10, Art Linkletter's House Party at 11 and Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney at 11:30.  John bought a TV station in Carlsbad, NM and sold WINF to Sidney Walton in the early 60's.  Alan Gould went with the Demes to NM and Ron Wright was named Sales Manager.
Ron asked me if I wanted to get into sales.  I did and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made.  As time went on Ron was promoted to General Manager and I was made Sales Manager.
When Ron Wright left WINF to open his own ad agency, Sidney Walton appointed me as General Manager.  Sidney eventually changed our format to talk and WINF became Connecticut's first all-talk radio station.  We also were the sports leader in Greater Hartford.  We carried NY Yankee baseball and when the schedules didn't conflict we aired the NY Mets games. In the fall and winter months we had the NY Knicks.   WINF also broadcast the Hartford Capitols basketball games with Jack Warner and Alan Beck.  The Caps held a press luncheon every Tuesday and it seemed like there was a bigger crowd at these than there was at the Caps games in Bloomfield.  WINF carried UCONN football one year with Joe Girand doing the play-by-play.  WINF had two sports telephone talk shows each weekday evening, Phaultless Phil at 6:20 and Jack Warner at 8:15.  We had a lot of well known on air personalities through the years.  I can't remember them all but among them were Leif Jenson, Cal Kolby, Dick Fay and Al Gates from WDRC, Del Raycee from WPOP, Joe Girand from the old WTHT who went on to become the afternoon DJ at WTIC, Kathy Godfrey, Sally Jesse Rapheal, Lou Morton, Tracy Cole, Paul Edwards, Pat Turner, Uncle Jay, Barry Grant, Mike Adams, who went on to bigger and better things in radio and TV sports broadcasting in Boston, Russ Wheeler, Jerry Gordon and even Joey Reynolds, who believe it or not did an afternoon talk show.  As you can tell WINF had a very interesting history for a small radio station.  We started out with 250 watts full time but when the FCC relaxed the rules in the early 60's we increased to 1000 daytime with 250 at night.  
I left the station in 1974 and, after a few years out of radio, joined WMLB in West Hartford as GM in 1979.

Steve Nichols:

I was there from '79-'81, the station was at 257 East Center Street in an old house. Mort Fega brought me in during the days when the station mixed jazz and standards, lots of news and Yankee baseball. Stu McKenna was the sports director, a die-hard Red Sox fan. Dean Pagani, who took a pretty high profile in the administration of your previous (... See Moreand disgraced) governor, did afternoon news. We had a guy named Barry Tuttle doing overnights. It was the most outrageous show in Hartford radio ever, Howard notwithstanding.
Station was owned by Broadcast Management of Connecticut, which was actually based out of Cincinnati and run by a guy named Joel Thrope. Jeff Jacobs was the GM, replaced by a guy named Randy Wilhite when it transitioned to country. George Ehrlich was still there, doing sports and he was also the top biller. Mort Roberts, who wanders around these boards, was there at that time too. Bob Ellsworth had just left when I got there...he was doing a classical show.

John West:
During the years I worked as a freelance everything I covered the GHO for print media, Made friends with George Ehrlich and Bob Rumbold class acts George was a Great sports legend after leaving WTIC, UCONN and the Hartford Knights class play-

Craig Schultz:
  I worked at WINF/WKHT from 1983-1986. I watched a movie with Ted Knight in it last night and remembered that he got his start at WINF and wondered if there something on that station's history and came across your site which I need to spend more time looking at.    
    Anyway I joined WINF in 1983 when the format was Nostalgia and was located in the old building which is haunted btw at East Center St in Manchester. The station was popular locally and we ran Mets baseball Giants football and Boston Celtic baskeball and had George Erlich doing a sports show that was very popular. I was working part time then cause I was still in college. The station was owned locally by Jay Epstein who was quite a character. The station changed to a country format in May 1984 and became WKHT and they brought in Rick Shea to be program Director who had programmed W104 in the 70's and I joined the station full time later that year. WKHT took awhile to come together but our ratings were pretty good back then for a small AM but we were the only country station in the market and both the Mets and Celtics were good teams then so they actually helped the ratings. in 1986 there was a big scam at the station that is too detailed to get into. As a result RicK Shea, myself and the rest of the staff which included talent like Pete Nichols and Big Rich Baker were let go to be replaced by A PD from Denver named Dave something and a very cheap sub par staff and the station went down the tubes. In 1987 the station merged with WNAQ and called themselves CT Country. I moved to Calif by then but stayed in touch enough to know that Rick Shea came back and the station started to sound better but the two station format was a mess in 1988 Jay Epstein got out of town and sold the station to Sage Broadcasting and they moved the WKHT to Hartford and the studios in Manchester became a dentist office. Then WWYZ came aboard and shorttly after the station switched to Spanish.


Members of the 530 Club who got up early to have breakfast at the WINF studios in the Parkade.  The 530 Club was only for those listeners who were tuned in to WINF between 5:30 and 6.  The club was not mentioned at any other time.



A tour of Sikorsky Aircraft.  
Whitney Jacobs of the Hartford Times and Phil Burgess.




Joey Reynolds




WINF and the Manchester Police Department co-sponsored a Jimmy Fund Softball All-Star Game each summer for many years.  A few days after the game we would go to Boston to present a check to one of the Red Sox players. 
L-R:  Unknown, Phil Burgess, Manchester Police Sgt. Joe Brooks,  Carl Yaztrzemski, Recreation Dept. Director Carl Silver.




Phil Burgess, Carl Silvers, Jim Rice, Manchester Policemen Ray Peck and Joe Brooks.



Phil Burgess




Bob Dunn








Merv Amols of Capitol Records, Ralph Kiner, Phil Burgess

WNEZ (1230) studio at 330 Main St in Hartford, 2001.


    In 2007 the station was LMA'ed by Gois Broadcasting and in 2008 Gois purchased the station, along with WLAT, 910, and moved both stations in a new studio on Burnside Ave. in East Hartford, CT.
Above: The two pictures above are of the WINF/WNEZ tower site in Manchester, CT.
Above:  WNEZ's 3 transmitters in 2002.  Far right, BE AM-1 is the main transmitter.  The two MW-1As are auxiliary.


1962


1966 Ad, courtesy of Ed Brouder


1968

1970 Ad, courtesy of Ed Brouder


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1971




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