HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WPRX (WBIS)
WPRX, 1120 KHz, Bristol.  Originally WBIS on 1440 KHz.

 

(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.)

    WBIS, Bristol, Ct signed on with 500 watts of power on 1440 KHz with a daytime-only schedule in October, 1948. The owner was the Bristol Broadcasting Corp.  The original studios were at 183 Main Street in downtown Bristol, across from the Bristol Bank and Trust Company. The station was on the third floor of Sam Levison's Men’s Shop. There were the usual offices plus a news studios, control room and large main studio with a piano. 

    The programming was your basic home town radio according to various reports.  WBIS was the flagship station of the Bristol Red Sox, Double A team and the local American Legion had a long running program hosted by Jim Bates.
    The transmitter and single non-directional tower were on Sherbrook St. in Bristol.  The transmitter was a Gates BC-500D which was used until 1966. 
    Actor Bob Crane worked at WBIS in1950.
    During the 1955 hurricane, the Plainville Civil Air Patrol squadron provided a generator that kept WBIS on the air throughout the emergency.

    In the early sixties the station was owned by Eric Stoe Hatch.  Dick Kilbourn was GM, Bob Douglas was the newsman and Justin Ternowski was the engineer in the fifties.

    Lee Steele started in Nov, 1960 as Chief Engineer.

    In 1966 the station acquired a new transmitter, a Bauer 707.  Believe it or not this transmitter was purchased in kit form and it was assembled piece by piece by Lee P. Steele, the station's Chief Engineer.
    In early 1967, the station moved to 1021 Farmington Avenue, next to where Burger King is today. In February of that year Governor Dempsey broadcast remarks pertaining to opening of the new WBIS studios. Tom Ford was the morning man, and was the last voice heard on the air from the Main St. studio; Jay Richards was the first voice from the new facility at Farmington Ave. The Emmanuel Lutheran Church had a show for close to three decades, until the station switch to Spanish language programming.  Brian Dow and Don Gorden were news men.
    Prior to starting WWUH, Clark Smidt worked at WBIS.
    Don Moline was at WBIS from 1976 to 1986 doing the morning drive show and also was the Program Director. He recalls that from August '76 thru mid 77 the format was easy listening.  From 77 through '86 it was Adult Contemporary and the last several years the station was a 50/50 split of A/C and Oldies.  During most of this period Barbara Bukowski was the receptionist/traffic manager.  Pete Liss was the newsman.
    In 1977, David Rogers purchased the station from Robert Baker.  John Hiatt was hired to run the radio station. Rogers sold the station in 1982 to Michael Hassan. Around 1987 Hassen sold the station to Mr. Huber.

    Jack Roberts, a 25 year veteran of the station, did a 15-20 minute (open ended) show discussing various goings on in Bristol and called it "The Roberts Report."  In the early eighties WBIS also had an expanded News at Noon that ran til 12:30 and Jack's show ran at 12:30.  Jack was also Sales Manager at the station for many of the early years, and a regular sales person til he left the station around 1984 or 85. 
    Hark Cleary also worked in sales and became GM. 
    John Ramsey:

    “WBIS was the first commercial station to hire me as Chief Engineer. I took over from legendary engineer Lee Steel who had worked at WBIS since the early sixties.  I have lots of fond memories of working at WBIS, but two stand out.  The first was the tag sale show, "the Neighborly Exchange," with Val McCormick, which that station ran every morning.  I was always amazed to see the four or five phone lines tied up for the entire hour the show was on, it was that popular.  Another time I was working at the transmitter site which was in a residential area on South Mountain.  I had the door to the shack open because it was a warm day and a young boy, perhaps 12 years old, stuck his head it.  He said “I live across the street and always wanted to see what was inside this building.”  I gave his a tour and asked him if he had ever heard of WBIS.  'Oh yes' he said, 'Mom and dad say it’s the only station that cares about Bristol!'  That’s what small town radio was all about.”
    The station went dark (off the air) around May, 1986 and came back on sometime in the '90s with studios were relocated to Bradley Street on Federal Hill. 
    In the '90s the station received permission to go full time. This required a change in frequency to 1120 KHz, the removal of the old tower and the construction of a three-tower, in-line, antenna system. 
    In 1993 the station entered into an LMA with Oscar Nieves and adopted a Spanish language format and the call letters changed to WPRX, which stands for “Puerto Rican Extraordinaire.” 
    Bob Radil:  "After  (new owner) Oscar took control the first 2 studio locations were both on Main St.  in New Britain. In 1998 they moved to studios on West Main St. at the corner of Washington. In the fall of 2002 the studios moved to the Sergeant St. Hartford location. There was that brief LMA in 2004-2005  (with Freedom Broadcasting) . In late 2006 the station was forced to vacate and temporarily located in a factory building on the north side of 321 Ellis St. in New Britain. This was supposed to be only for a couple months while a new space was being prepared on the 5th floor in a building on the south side of Ellis St. 14 months later, January 2008, they moved in."
    In 2000, the studios were relocated to Sergeant St. in Hartford.

In 2000 the WPRX studios were moved to this building on Sargeant St. in Hartford

Above:  WPRX's 3 towers, added when the station changed to 1120 khz and went full time in the '90s.

"Home built" AM transmitter, built from a kit by Chief Engineer Lee P. Steele in 1966.


Transmitter, 1981

New Britain Herald aritcle welcoming WPRX to the city.


Production Studio, 2009 Photo.


WPRX Air Studio, 2009 photo.


Main Street Studio, 1976



Collins 10 channel control board in air studio, 1977.

WBIS/WPRX Memories

Bob Grip
I worked at WBIS in Bristol, doing Sundays sign-on to sign-off. It was the job no one else wanted. As a high school kid in 1970, I was glad to be paid $2.50 an hour, thanks to Tom Ford who hired me. CE Lee Steele was a great guy, too!

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