THROUGH THE YEARS
Suggestions, corrections, and submissions welcome
John Ramsey, WWUH.
Fax (860) 768-5701
Why would anyone bother to create a written history of WWUH? Only those who have worked at this truly unique station can fully understand the answer to this question. WWUH is and hopefully always will be more than just a radio station. Many of the thousands of folks who have volunteered at the station over the years know what I am talking about, and it is because of this that many consider themselves part of the “WWUH Family”.
Over the years, I have been saving some old documents in case someone needed them in the future, but I never thought of attempting to write a historical document until I was putting together the station’s photo albums in preparation for the 30th anniversary in 1998. In going through the hundreds of pages, I started to put labels on the photos, and it came as a pleasant surprise that I was able to identify a significant number of the unlabeled photographs. Then it started to sink it that due to my “longevity” at the station, I had “saved,” in my mind, bits and pieces of the station’s history that no one else might have. It was a wonderful legacy, but one that ultimately would do no good unless I started to write the recollections down.
From the start, I wanted to create an organizational history that was as factual and unbiased as possible.
Who would have thought that anyone would be interested in reading a history of a radio station? What could one possibly find interesting about a station, a couple of format or call letter changes, perhaps an ownership change or two, or a funny recollection about the time a DJ locked himself out? Well, WWUH is not just a run of the mill radio station, and the people who have worked at the station over the years have shared a love for this unique thing we call Public Alternative Radio.
Many affectionately call Clark Smidt (Class of 70) the “father” of WWUH. His ideas, dedication, and leadership made WWUH a reality and shaped its policies for many years. As one of the largest college radio stations of its time, the first in New England to broadcast in stereo, and one of the first to broadcast 24-hours a day, WWUH went on to become more than a college radio station, serving the greater Hartford area with Public Alternative radio and launching the careers of most who crossed its path. WWUH continues today to offer the community different types of music, from classics to soul , in a non-commercial environment; to provide the
When Clark first developed the idea of starting a radio station at the University of Hartford, his love of and commitment to radio was already apparent with his part-time job at WBIS, a small AM station in Bristol, CT. Years later, Clark would work as Program Director of WEEI and WBZ-FM, both in Boston, before starting his own broadcast consulting firm and later becoming licensee of WNNR-FM in Concord, NH, which, like WWUH, he started from scratch. Here, in Clark’s own words, (with thanks to Bob Paiva and the "The Program Director's Handbook") is the story of WWUH in
"From day one of freshman orientation, I started to ask about a radio station. I was told that people had thought about it before but that nobody had ever followed through. There was an open frequency at 91.3, and WTIC in
“I ran all over the school drumming up support for the project, and at the close of my freshman year, I was given the go-ahead to put together the
“It took nine months to get the application through the FCC and on July 15, 1968, we signed on the station with 1800 watts of effective radiated power and the call letters ‘WWUH.’ It was later pointed out that once you mastered saying “WWUH” you could work anywhere.
“Although we couldn't accept paid commercials, we got a few donations and pulled some fast deals for acknowledged donations. We convinced Lipman Motors to lease a 1967 Rambler station wagon to the station for $1 a year for use as a news car. We announced on-air that the news was compiled through United Press International wire services and the 'mobile team in the Lipman Motors UH news wagon.' The white vehicle with red WWUH NEWS lettering and license plates, equipped with lights on top, was stolen only months later.
“Prior to 1968, Louis K. Roth, a generous Regent of the University, had told the President of the
“In the beginning, we were on the air from 6 pm to 1:30 am. We had an "easy listening" program for 45 minutes, 15 minutes of news, and a feature called, "
“For the first three weeks I had to run the control board for every show in order to train people, but within a year we were broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The response from the community was tremendous.”
Robert Skinner was the station’s first engineer, and is credited by
News Headlines in 1966:
As construction began and plans were finalized, WWUH took over rooms 328 and 330 of the Gengras Student Union, rooms originally allocated for the campus barbershop and valet. The layout of the station's facilities on the top floor of the Gengras Student Union was extensive for college radio. Room 330 was subdivided into four rooms and consisted of an on-air studio (approximately 8’ x 12’), a single small AM studio (approximately 6’ x 6’), and a small passageway which contained the large RCA transmitter and associated equipment, an entranceway /news room containing the teletype. Room 328 became a production studio. The station office was a few doors down the hall. Soundproof walls were built around the studios proper. Later, an engineering shop was added on the first floor.
Major news stories in 1967:
Israeli and Arab forces battle; Six-Day War ends with Israel occupying Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank (June 5).; Communist China announces explosion of its first hydrogen bomb (June 17); the US and USSR propose a nuclear nonproliferation treaty; racial violence in Detroit; 7,000 National Guardsmen aid police after night of rioting. Similar outbreaks in New York City's Spanish Harlem, Rochester, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala., and New Britain, Conn. (July 23).Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black US Supreme Court justice (Oct. 2); astronauts Col. Virgil I. Grissom, Col. Edward White II, and Lt. Cmdr. Roger B. Chaffee killed in fire during test launch (Jan. 27).killed in fire during test launch (Jan. 27).
Executive Committee: Clark Smidt, General Manager and Program Director; Robert Skinner, Station Manager; G. Peter Chamalian, Asst. Station Manager; Robert Haight, Chief Engineer; Elizabeth Mayer, Public Relations Manager; William Crepeau, Personnel Manager; Business Manager; Carlton Graham, Personnel Manager, Randy Mayer, Designer & Major Domo.
Staff: David Alper, Ronald Berger, Edward Bushnell, Peter Chamalian, Richard Cnsolati, William Creapeau, Jerie Dahmer, Frank Danzig, David Goodale, Carlton Graham, Robert Haight, Rober Harper, Stephen Holton, Kenneth Kalish, Kenneth Kilpatrick, Goerge Kirck, Robert Marquis, Betty Mayer, Randy Mayer, Shirle Milner, Neil Portnoy, Charles Prunier, Robert Ranno, Jo Reynolds, Thans Shaw, Robert Skinner, Clark Smidt, Anthony Straska, James Wagner.
Advisors: Dr. M. M. Anapol (Speech and Drama); Dr. W. A. Teso (Engineering).
The station’s programming philosophy was outlined in a “Statement of Policy” written by GM Clark Smidt and Robert Skinner in early 1968:
“Too many times a college radio station is identified with either "diddy-bob" rock or such conservative programming as to be ineffective as a cultural entity.
W W U H was born in a time of social unrest, and considers itself bound to do more than entertain or promote dry academicia. We feel a strong responsibility to the community that we serve, hoping to ease the growth of its tolerance and increase its capacity for understanding, so that the day never comes when the baby is consistently thrown out with the bathwater.
It is not our intention to inflame, but rather serve as a torch bearer for the long, hard conferences which will define and establish human rights. It is hoped that the mainstays of our programming diet will attract listeners to the less bland potions of our programming, where they may partake of well prepared items designed to tempt them away from a fattening, non-descript listening.
Having faced power struggle before, and now being a meeting ground for student, professor, chancellor and community. W W U H expresses its confidence in man's ability to listen to reason, if sufficiently attracted to the packaging. Our domain is the package.”
Robert Skinner recalled in 2005: “While Clark has generously given me credit for being the first station engineer, I think of myself as the general contractor, working with Clark, the Board of Regents, and many people with engineering skills that far exceeded mine to pull together the physical embodiment of WWUH.
Randy Mayer's genius and adventurous nature were prominent in bridging the many gaps between donated (and sometimes superannuated) pieces of equipment and specifying a structure for a foundation that supported the many future extensions and improvements. We also owe honor and gratitude to Peter Chamalian (a ham operator), Robert Haight (
Bill Crepeau served as first business manager, getting us off on a sound basis that helped us quickly attract the first $50,000 public contribution after the Board of Regents' initial $23,000 seed that got us on the air.”
From “Radio Station Progress Report, January, 1968”
The station has successfully passed through the first three stages of its growth, and has embarked on the forth.
The concept of a radio station on campus has always existedin form, but in 1963 the fever overcame the resistance of the student body, and accumulatedenough support over the years followingso that a proposal made before the Board of Regents was passed in April 1967.
The word was out, and the students of the
With the go-ahead in hand, the core personnel recruited assistance from all branches of the university, and Ward School responded wonderfully, supplying intelligent and well-trained technicians, wile other college and schools have contributed to the production staff. There are now about 50 announcers and control men in training awaiting completioin of the station by the technical staff of 16 men.
The detail planning phase of the station growth drew to a close on January 8, with all designs final.
The construction time has begun with the sending our of purchase orders for the equipment needed, some of which is now in hand. The status of each of the systems of which the station is formed is as follows:
AC Power: The source and routing of the main power for the station have been completed by station technicians and approved by Dubin Associated, builders of the
Heat and Air Conditioining: The existing ductwork plus extensions will handle the heat output of personnal and equipment. Extension ductwork will be installed after the walls are erected.
Radio Frequency: The transmitter is in Room 330, and the sub-carrier generator has been chacked out. As soon as the crystal arrives from RCA, we will park up the exciter. The mounting for the antenna tower will be finished as soon as weather permits. We have the filter and plumbing on order. Monitors are being haggled for.
Audio Frequency: The console has been designed and some parts are already on order, with the others being dickered for. Four turntables are in our possession, and we arein the process of buying tape decks and microphones.
Plant: The City of
As the engineering department continued with studio construction and transmitter installation through the first half of 1968, other members of the management team were busy recruiting announcers. WWUH alumnus Charles Horwitz-’70.recalled:
“I clearly remember sweating the audition to be on the air (little did I know that the station was so desperate for bodies that absolutely everyone passed the audition except for the most grammatically challenged). The day I opened the mail and saw my FCC License was the start of a big change in my life.
Because of my enthusiasm (and lack of any social life), I was assigned the Friday and Saturday late nighttime slots. These rock shows followed Mel Peppers (who used the name Maceo Woods on the air) and his Soul Experience. As soon as Midnight arrived and I started playing the loud stuff, the phones died and I could feel hundreds of radios being turned off simultaneously. I quickly learned to ease into the hard stuff by starting with a mix of blues, jazz and oldies.
As Program Director you are occasionally forced into service when someone fails to show up for a show and one early evening classic slot stands out in my mind. I was trying to be the epitome of culture and taste among the rubble of the studios as they went renovation. My two best buddies, Stu Kaufman and John Labella conspired to disrupt the solemn tone of my show by inserting a duck call into the hole where the studio doorknob used to be. But when Stu let out a long blast that sounded more like a fart than a duck, I did the best I could to stifle my laughing, put on my best professional voice and said “excuse me” as my mother has taught me to do and continued on as if nothing had happened. After getting a record on the air I chased both of them down the hall and down the steps to the first floor.
On July 15, 1968,
The students who had worked so hard for three years wasted no time. A receptioin hosted by over 150 students and area dignitaries convened on the top floor of the Gengras Student Union. At 6 pm that evening, after a short ceremony they threw a switch and WWUH went on the air for the first time as The Voice of the
From day one, the station was committed to providing the greater
The first daily schedule ran from 4 PM to 1 AM. Even with this abbreviated schedule, listeners started to take notice. Students produced news and public affairs programs with an emphasis placed on alternative news and progressive issues of concern to the immediate area were produced and aired. Many considered the community affairs programs provocative and even controversial, but people liked what they heard, and the University was very happy about the positive response they were getting about their new station.
Station management included Clark Smidt, General Manager and Program Director; Robert Skinner, Station Manager; G. Peter Chamalain, Asst. Station Manager; Robert Haight, Chief Engineer; Elizabeth Mayer, Public Relations Director; William Crepeau, Business Manager and Carlton Graham, Personnel Manager.
Dr. M. Anapol from the Speech and Drama Department and Dr. William Teso from the
The station staff consisted of, Charlie Allen, Dottie Allyn, David Alper, Tibor Banlaki , Ronnie Berger, Pete Chamalian , Judy Corcoran , Bill and Betty, Ronald Berger, Ed Bushnell, Peter Chamalian, Richard Consolati, William Crepeau Ann Crepeau, Jerie Dahmer, Frank Danzig, Patty Diangeleis, Jon Eppler, David Goodale, Carlton Graham, Bob Haight, Andrea Hancock, Anne Harte, Robert Harper, Stephen Holton, Jon Heller, Kenny Kalish , Stu Kaufman, Kenneth Kilpatrick, George Kirck, John Charles LaBella , Brian Lord, Robert Marquis, Betty Mayer, Randy Mayer, Shirle Milner, Phyllis Molova , Sherman Novoson, Gabby Parsons Mel Peppers, Mark Persky, Neil Portnoy, Chuck Prunier, Robert Ranno, Jo Ann Reynolds, Thayne Shaw, Robert Skinner, Claude Schleuderer, Clark Smidt, Anthony Straska, Larry Titus, David Valfer!, Jimmy Wagner.
Early programming consisted of classical, folk and jazz music, with two newscasts a day. Progressive rock also appeared on the schedule, occupying the “graveyard shift,” which ran from midnight to 3 AM each night. It was called “The Gothic Blimp Works,” a program name that is still used today.
The following description of programming comes from a document entitled “WWUH Summary Report” written in late 1968:
6p.m. Monday-Friday. To start its broadcast day, WWUH presents 45 minutes of the finest stereo Easy Listening music on the dial. You’ll be entertained by music from Herb Alpert to Henry Mancini; from Frank Sinatra to Petula Clark. We’ll also keep you informed about the latest news headlines, weather, sports notes, travel conditions, things that are happening in and around
6:45 p.m. Monday – Friday: “
7:05 pm, Monday through Friday. You won’t find too many jazz shows these days. So that’s why we put one together that we think you’ll like. It’s heard every night in stereo from 7:05 to 8:30 pm. The WWUH record library has a wide selection of the kind of jazz that makes those after dinner hours even more enjoyable. Cool sounds, good talk, great listening.
8:30 p.m. Monday & Wednesday: The finest of today’s stereo Classical music is presented at this time for your complete enjoyment. A little background information, a title, a turntable moves and you’re direct center, about ten rows back. During this segment, the latest recordings will be featured.
8:30 p.m. Tuesday: “
8:30 p.m. Thursday: “Music of Stage and Screen” entertains for sixty stereo-filled minutes. You’ll hear your favorites from original cast recordings of Broadway and
8:30 p.m. Friday: Two full hours of a WWUH change in pace: Folk Music. Whatever the variety: American, ethnic or folk-rock, you’ll hear it on this one of a kind show.
9:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday: To keep you up to date on today’s music, WWUH will take these segments to present the latest stereo releases. Both featured artists of today and tomorrow.
10 p.m. Monday – Thursday: “Point of View”. This series, with the incorporation of concise interviews, deal with interesting topics, activities and people. There will be talk about today’s problems with views from all areas. We’ll look into the realms of education, culture, academics, employment, campus and students. All programming is designed with the emphasis on the Greater
10:30 p.m. Monday – Friday: “The Complete News Report”. A comprehensive, in-depth report of state, national and world news with expanded coverage of the top stories of the day. Using the full facilities of United Press International, and the radio equipped, Lipman Motors-WWUH News Wagon, our reporters will be supplied with first-hand information. In addition, news features on contemporary topics, community events, a sports round-up and weather summary will be included in addition to a play or movie review. And you’ll hear it before eleven o’clock.
11:00 p.m. Monday – Friday: Rock on FM? In Stereo? Yes, it is different. But what a sound! We’ll play a lot of oldies, new album cuts (the ones you seldom hear elsewhere), today’s best sellers and those slow, dreamy ones we were all dancing to just of couple of years ago. Just tune in to 91.3 and it’s guaranteed to have you by the ears. Stereo ROCK with a new twist, every night ‘till 1:30 am.
WWUH's broadcast of progressive rock music preceded the start of WHCN, which calls itself "
The WWUH transmitter, affectionately known as “Mother,” was located in Room 330 of GSU, and the antenna sat atop a 90-foot tower also located at Gengras. The station started out broadcasting 100% of the time in stereo at a time when many of the "major" commercial station were still mono. In fact, WWUH was the first stereo educational (public or college) station in
When school started in the fall, students were treated to a concert by Jefferson Airplane in the
WWUH was dedicated on November 20, 1968 to the memory of Louis K. Roth whose encouragement and generosity, and that of his family, helped make possible the creation, expansion and continued operation of WWUH. It was named "The Louis K. Roth Memorial Station" in a ceremony presided over by University Chancellor Woodruff. The plaque commemorating the dedication hung outside the air studio in the Gengras Student Union building for 21 years. In 1989, the plaque was temporarily removed for cleaning and then remounted outside the new air studio in the
Link: Louis K. Roth
(Portions of the following are from a publication entitled “Hartford Jews 1659 – 1970 by Rabbi Morris Silverman, c 1970, courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society.)
Born in 1896, Mr. Roth was educated at
Mr. Roth was involved in many civic and community organizations. In addition to being a trustee of the
The Hartford Times, in a May 1967 editorial said:
“In the brief span of 23 years Louis K. Roth made an indelible mark on the civic, cultural and business life of this community. He was a man of diverse interests, unbounded energy and willingness to give uncounted hours to non-business activities in which he had a special interest.
“The list of the social and civic agencies with which he was identified in lengthy. They range from those formed to help needy persons to societies of a musical or other artistic or cultural nature.
“Mr. Roth took his community responsibilities seriously. He was generous with his money, time and counsel whenever the call came for assistance.
North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War (Jan.-Feb.); American soldiers massacre 347 civilians at My Lai (March 16). Background: Vietnam War; President Johnson announces he will not seek or accept presidential nomination (March 31); Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, is slain in
Clark Smidt – General Manager; Neil Portnoy – Program Director;
E-Comm elections May 1, 1969...Randy Mayer, Ken Kalish, Neil Portnoy, Bob Kunik-MD, Jerie Dahmer, Bill Crepeau, David Valfer, Ronnie Berger – Music Director; Dave Alper – Special Advisor and Record Procurement, Michael Ditkoff – Traffic Manager.
In a January 9, 1969 memo to the university community, Clark Smidt wrote:
WWUH gained enough listeners to be included in the October survey of the metro
An on campus survey revealed that 100% of the administration had FM radio and that 71% of them had listened to WWUH at least once. 67.5% of the students had FM radios but a total of 90% of them had listened to WWUH!
Right now our schedule is as follows:
Monday – Friday
6-9 am Rock
4-7 pm Easy Listening
7 pm Classics
9 pm Jazz
12:30 pm Progressive Rock
7 am – 7 pm Rock
10 pm Progressive Rock
11am Easy Listening
3 pm Jazz
7 pm Talk
7:30 pm Opera
10:30 pm Progressive Rock
As of February 10, the new WWUH will be on the air with a carefully prepared rock format (with Top 40, Oldies, Progressive and L.P cuts) from 6 am to 5 pm daily, and again from 10pm to 2 am. Although we will remain mostly a stereo station, MONO CUTS WILL BE USED in playing new hits and leaning on good sides that other stations with tighter play lists refuse to play. 5-10 pm will be devoted to quality, stereo programming with the emphasis on news features, classics, talk features and jazz.
I hope we can count on your for continued service in ALL areas, in Stereo when possible…but if you don’t have it, please send mono so we have the record. Thanks very much.
Programming continued to expand as more and more students and faculty became aware of and involved with the station as volunteers. The number of listeners grew as well, as shown by the increasing number of calls and letters the radio station received.
The station’s schedule expanded with the start of the fall semester. Signing on at 2 p.m. every day easy listening was heard until 6 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. jazz was aired. Progressive rock rollowed until sign off at 2 a.m. Press releases of this period refer to the station as “
WWUH was the only station broadcasting live from the October 15th Mobilization in
Live musical performances were a mainstay of the station's programming; with many performances presented live or pre-recorded live. Recording engineer, Bob Katz, was instrumental in making these live broadcasts sound technically superior.
Major News Stories in 1969:
Communist China exploded its first hydrogen bomb (June 17); the
Above: Early WWUH Staff.
Above: WWUH FM Newscast, 1968.