On July 6, 1946 a permit was issued to New Britain Broadcasting Co for construction of a new station at "The (station) carried the NY Yankee games to the extent possible – many more day games then – within their authorized hours. Later they added WKNB-FM-103.7 and broadcast the full schedule as I recall, extending beyond their usual 10P signoff as necessary. (The old St. Louis Browns were then the westernmost venue of the American League.) Live baseball hadn’t yet reached central CT TV viewers, and FM receivers were neither abundant nor inexpensive. Win Needles once told me that, as a WKNB sales employee, he delivered fixed frequency (103.7, of course) FM sets free to many bars in the area. This encouraged fans to come in and listen to the Yankee games while quaffing a few!"
Contributor Bill Davies recalls:
"It was CT’s first post-WWII station, and I remember listening to its inaugural broadcast one Sunday afternoon. A few stations around the country sent audio greetings to be aired, including one from “sunny California,” in which, during the congratulations, the SFX suggested the closing of a window and abruptly ending the sounds of thunder and pounding rain!
"The (station) carried the NY Yankee games to the extent possible – many more day games then – within their authorized hours. Later they added WKNB-FM-103.7 and broadcast the full schedule as I recall, extending beyond their usual 10P signoff as necessary. (The old St. Louis Browns were then the westernmost venue of the American League.) Live baseball hadn’t yet reached central CT TV viewers, and FM receivers were neither abundant nor inexpensive. Win Needles once told me that, as a WKNB sales employee, he delivered fixed frequency (103.7, of course) FM sets free to many bars in the area. This encouraged fans to come in and listen to the Yankee games while quaffing a few!"
One of the original engineers, Charles Portia, contributed the early photos below from 1947 (see also "WRYM 1947" page).
Apparently the studios were located at 218 Main Street in New Britain at some point early on.
WKNB had a sister station, WFHA, "New Britain's only FM station which operated on 103.7 Mhz."
Louis A. Sodokoff was the owner and early FCC documentation lists the first transmitter as a RCA 1-G yet an original inventory from 1948 shows the transmitter as a Gates BC-1T, a unit which was decommissioned from back-up service in 2008.
In 1958, the program line up was as follows:
6:45 - 10 a.m. Phil Hale
10 a.m. Barry Barents News
10 a.m. - Noon Jack Comley
Noon - 1 p.m. Shirley Palmer
2-5 p.m. Chuck Carron
Contributor Mike Drechsler (former Promotions Director):
“When I came to
“Sheldon Smerling was WKNB radio's new owner and my boss . . . Shelly successfully owned drive-in movies in
“In 1959 and into the early 60's familiar voices continued on the WKNB Radio air. Phil Hale, Bill Hennessy, Jack Comely, Barry Barents, Tex Pavel, Ed Liska, and a few others stayed on both radio and separately owned TV. The station manager was Norton Virgein (sp).”
“During Shelly Smerling's watch, we lost a helium weather balloon from the roof of a Berlin Turnpike car dealer and then did it again at the grand opening of the Cinerama (movie) Theater. High winds broke the mooring lines. Shaped like a blimp with streamers, this device was much bigger than the first one, now heading toward Bradley Field airspace with our very large call letters painted on it. We alerted the tower. They were not happy.”
“We broadcast Yankee Baseball and so I borrowed a Yankee uniform from the Bronx Bombers and, wearing motorized skates (yes gasoline powered motorized skates), I skated in a parade in
“One year we won the Greater Hartford Advertising Club's grand award for our jingles – [WKNB has a happy sound]”.
New owner Louis Sodacoff hired a consultant who changed the format and call letters to WRYM.
On January 1, 1960 the program line up was:
7:00 a.m. Phil Hale
10:00 a.m. Bob Leonard
1:00 p.m. Bill Bolte
4:00 p.m. Open Mic
4:15 p.m. Sign Off
In December, 16, 1960, WKNB radio and co-owned channel 30 television transferred from owner National Broadcasting Company to Connecticut Television, Inc. (see article below).
The station had four metropolitan hardtops cars in its fleet.
In 1961, employees of Beacon Broadcasting Company licensee of WRYM, included: Bob Leonard Station Manager and Michael E. Dreschler Promotions Director.
In 1962 WRYM 840 New Britain, “Rhyme”, became the first all-beautiful music station in the state.
In 1962 WRYM received a Construction Permit from the FCC for a new FM station on 100.5 Mhz. The FM antenna was to be mounted on the AM tower on
In 1984 owner Sodokoff passed away unexpectedly forcing an involuntary transfer of station ownership to Hartford City Broadcasting Company.
Barry Kursman was General manager in 1993.
In 1998 WRYM received permission to add night service and a second tower was added to the
In 2004 Hartford County Broadcasting sold
Mr. John Jeski, the host of a Polka show which had been on WRYM for over three decades, died on Sunday August 19, 2007. Jeski's live Polka broadcast from the Polish Home in Newington continues to this day in its forth decade of weekly broadcasting, perhaps the longest running remote broadcast in the history of broadcasting.
In 2008, Lucio Ruzzier, one of the owners of the station passed away. The station is currently owned by Eight Forty Broadcasting Corporation, Walter Martinez station manager.
Bob Leonard Station Manager 61
Michael E. Dreschler Promotions Director 61
Announcers, Barry Barents 58, Bill Bolte 61, Jack Comley 58 , Phil Hale 58, Bob Leonard 61, Shirley Palmer 58, Chuck Carron 58,
(In 1948, WKNB-FM 103.7 started airing the Rural Radio Network, the first fulltime FM format for farmers and agricultural interests.)
1967. John Diskes photo.
If you walked down this hallway in the basement of WVIT Channel 30s New Britain Avenue Studio 45 years ago you would have found the studios of WKNB AM and FM.
1975 image of live WRYM broadcast of the Lithuanian Show featuring Al Dzikas.