Author: John Ramsey
# of Pages: 128
Over 220 high quality images
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
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Radio broadcasting has been an integral part of the history of Hartford since the early part of the 20th century. WDRC was the state’s first station (1923), and they helped pioneer FM radio technology in the early 1940s. Many Hartford residents learned about the end of World War II via radio, and the medium played a key role in keeping people informed during the floods of 1938 and 1955, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the great Northeast Blackout of 1965. Surprisingly, Hartford, the capital of “the land of steady habits,” saw two stations break from the pack to help bring the British Invasion to the state in the early 1960s. And thousands of schoolchildren eagerly listened to WTIC’s legendary Bob Steele on wintery mornings as they excitedly awaited school closing announcements. Hartford Radio offers a glimpse into the history of the area’s broadcast stations and the people who ran them.
Feel free to share your memories of WTIC AM, either as a staff member or as a listener.
The opinions expressed are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the webmaster.
Paul Gionfriddo wrote:
I'm sure everyone is well acquainted with the two radio battlewagons of the 30's, 40's and 50's: WTIC and WDRC. They both made their debut about the time of the Great Depression, but it was WTIC with the bigger stick: 50,000 watts on AM against poor DRC's 10,000 or so. But while WTIC became a prime affiliate--and supplier--to NBC, DRC went over to CBS which was no weakling in program content with every great comedian, soap and news event you could imagine. WTIC maintained a huge staff of pro's--some were outstanding, some were mediocre--but they were alive to the events of our time: the war news (recorded every moment on 16-inch glass disks which I managed to find tucked away 30 years later in an elevator shaft atop one of the Travelers buildings and promptly broke a few dozen that slipped out of my hands. More on that later. WDRC was a good affiliate, but a passive one. It carried the CBS schedule without letup, while WTIC often broke away for its own inventiveness.
Probably the greatest difference between them was on creative programming outside of the network and, as often reported, programming that made it on the air nationwide from the 6th floor of the Travelers. Dramas under Guy Hedland Players often had a handful of newfound talent like Ed Begley (Oscar-winner for Sweet Bird of Youth), Eddie O'Shea, and dozens of others who later stalked Hollywood like Ernie Borgnine and Peter Falk. A young guy named Allen Ludden created "Mind Your Manners" which went national from Hartford every week and was a big hit. Later he created Password in Hollywood. It was an exciting place to be in the mid 40's through the mid 50's. If you could write a script, if you had some theatre background, you were always welcome. Live music with Hal Kolb at the organ already! Remote broadcasts like the "March of Dimes" from the corner of Trumbull and Main Street, and even a live pickup when the Hartford-East Hartford
bridge collapsed in 1943 or so.
I arrived at WTIC in 1959, a young brat who was intent on doing drama and documentaries before the final curtain which was about to fall. I succeeded because I had a co-partner engineer and brilliant editor, Bill Lobb. Together we spent 5 years producing shows that ultimately gathered enough awards to get me a job at CBS in 1964. We ran the gamut from radio dramas including "Night of Auk," which was made famous by a young actor who later became Captain Kirk. We produced over 100 documentaries and dramas together and it was Bill and mine's finest hour while it lasted.
Bob Steele my hero, simply the BEST, any age bracket he taught us all. Red Sox, Hartford Whalers, UCONN, Hartford Knights, Arnold Dean, George Erhlich, Scott Grayinsightful middays Travelers Weather Service, Traffic Plane