HARTFORD RADIO HISTORY
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WZMX (WLAE) (WLVH)
(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.)
A construction permit was granted by the FCC on November 25, 1958 for General Broadcasting, Inc. to build and operate a new FM station at Hartford, CT, at a cost of $22,500.  An application was filed by General on April 22, 1958 for 93.7 MHz., the old WFMQ (FM) frequency vacated in late 1957.  Maxwell Gubin was owner while Samuel Gubin owned 33 percent with a smaller percentage also held by Mr. Goodenhill. WFNQ was built at One South Main St., West Hartford and was on the air on 93.7 MHz. with 7 kw of power January 26, 1959 from a height of 750 feet above average terrain from a tower on Meriden's West Peak.  Station manager was Samuel Stone who also served at the chief engineer.  

On Sept. 1, 1962 the station was sold by General Broadcasting to South Church Broadcasting Foundation, Inc.  Call letters were changed in late 1962 to WSCH (FM) and the station began non-commercial operation from studios at 277 Main St. in Hartford. Richard L. Beach was general manager by 1964.  The station ws silenced by its owners in March, 1964.  Meanwhile the call letters were changed to WLAE in early December, 1964. Paulson Hasting Corporation purchased the off-air station effective April 22, 1965 and returned it to the air.  Paul C. DiSavino was president, Doris T. DiSavino was vice president and A. Donald Fass was now WLAE's station manager.  In 1966, WLAE's studios and transmitter were both located on West Peak in Meriden, changed its licensee name to C. DiSavino individually.  In 1968, the station's license name was changed to Paulson Broadcasting Corporation.  Don Fass became general manager in 1969.

The FCC on Nov. 10, 1969 issued a permit to increase power to 18kw with an antenna 760 feet.  In early January, 1970, the station was purchased by WLVH, Inc. for $160,000.  Jose Grimalt was president and 40 percent owner and received permission to acquire the station on December 3, 1969.  Other owners were Laton J. Lenoce (40%) and Thomas Dolan.  Call letters changed to WLVH in early January, 1970.  In 1971 the power was increased to 18kw. 

A spanish language format made its debut on WLVH in 1972.  In 1973 the license was reorganized when the FCC granted 20% of it's stock from Thomas Dolan to A.J. Lenoce and Jose Grimalt, who owned 100% after.  $25,000 was given to Mr. Dolas for his shares.  

The studios were moved in early 1981 from 750 Main St. to 18 Asylum Avenue in downtown Hartford.  In 1982 Jose Grimalt became both president and general manager.  Power was increased to 21kw.
  






On November 26, 1958, a new station permit was granted for 93.7 MHz. in Hartford.  WFNQ, Hartford, began in 1959 with all storecast music format, music for supermarkets, operated weekly from 9 am to 9 pm and Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm. This format was on several other stations elsewhere in the country in the 1950s, but WFNQ was full-time with it from 1959 to 1962. This service was called the "simplex" system of using the main FM channel for supermarket music, and was later replaced by multiplex where these services were carried on FM sub carrier signals, requiring special receivers.  
    WFNQ's transmitter and antenna were located on "Radio Mountain," West Peak in Meriden. The transmitter was located inside the north end of the original W1XPW Armstrong building with the antenna mounted on Armstrong’s original monopole.









Above:  This is the base of the original Armstrong FM tower on West Peak.  WLVH/WLAE/WSCH/WFNQ used this tower for several decades before morning to another tower on West Peak in the eighties. 2008 photo.

Above:  The original Armstrong W1XPW tower, used by WLVH/WLAE/WSCH/WFNQ in the sixties and seventies. 2008 photo.



        In 1962 WFNQ was sold to the South Congregational Church for $10,000.
        WSCH 93.7 Hartford was commissioned by the Hartford South Congregational Church on Main Street in Hartford

          The call letters were changed to WSCH and the new station came on the air in September, 1963 as an independently incorporated FM station operated church. Their intent was operate it as a public educational FM station.  Early programming consisted of live broadcasts of the Hartford Symphony, and the station was affiliated with the Eastern Educational Network. 
    By January, 1964 WSCH was on the air 98 hours a week.  Daily 15 minute “Viewpoint” editorials of the air were presented by Dr. Gray, who also conducted “Phone-the-Pastor” program on Saturday evening.  The Sunday morning 11 o’clock service was broadcast, and F.M. radios were placed in the homes of all shut-ins who desired them.  The National Educational Radio Network (NERN) accepted WSCH as a member and this enabled the station to present programs from many lands in addition to the quality music which originated in New York’s Riverside Church, and in the studios located in the rooms under the sanctuary, at No. 1 Buckingham St. in Hartford.  Broadcast facilities were on West Peak in Meriden.  Reverend John R. Elmore, Mrs. George Mead, and Mr. J. Harold Williams, Esq., carried major responsibility for the organization and operation of WSCH.  The signal was 7,000 watts in power, heard over CT, Long Island and portions of MA and NY State. 

          A financial statement from January 1, 1963 shows the following expenses:  Equipment, $25,463; salaries, $12,200; transmitter maintenance, $1.806 and tapes and records, $2,251.  The total budget in 1963 was $65,000 with most of that amount going into building the new studios at the church.

          According to the first WSCH Annual Report from 1963, requests for the station’s program guide were being received at a rate of 75 to 100 per week!  The station drew a large audience by broadcasting the UN Sessions live during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The first year that station had five regular employees, a station manager, a secretary, a board operator, a transmitter attendant and an engineer.

  The financial costs on Meriden Mountain were shared with another station, and when that station closed in 1965, giving WSCH only a few days warning, it proved impossible to continue WSCH.

 

 

WSCH Memory:
Contributor Tom Ray writes:    My wife belonged to South Congregational when we met.  She was afraid the minister wouldn’t marry us because I was brought up Catholic.  At our first meeting with the minister, he asked what I did for a living.  At that time, I was CE at WKSS.  The conversation immediately turned to RF, tubes, transistors – because South Congregational owned 93.7 at one point, which became WLVH when South Church sold it.  The minister, Dr. John Elmore, had been their CE at the time.  So for almost an hour, Dr. Elmore and I discussed radio, FM, transmitters, while my poor wife-to-be sat there with her mouth open.  The meeting was supposed to be about us!  At the end of our time, Dr. Elmore asked what we had been doing together as a couple.  My wife mentioned that we were in the process of rebuilding the kitchen in the house I owned so she would be comfortable living there after we were married.  Dr. Elmore stated, “well, you’ve got a good Engineer here – and you’re doing a kitchen.  If you two are still talking in 3 months, there should be no problem with you getting married”.  That was the extent of the conversation about “us”.  My wife, 23 years later, has yet to let me live that meeting down! 


     
On April 21, 1965, 93.7 became WLAE. The studios were located in the transmitter building on West Peak in Meriden, shared with WHCN. Larry Kratka, who worked at the West Peak studio, submitted these recollections:         
    "I worked at the station when it was owned by a Paterson, NJ family during the winter of 1967.  The call letters at the time were WLAE...."Lend an Ear" and broadcast pre-recorded music...mostly the elevator type of stuff.        
     "At the time, the old WHCN studio was upstairs in the corner but not in use.  WHCN was automated and part of my job was to change the 15" reels of tape on the automation system. The WHCN automation (tape) decks were right in the back room.  If you entered the front door, you would be in what was the old WLAE studios.
  
         The 7" tapes used on the air were put together by the wife of the owner.  I can't recall their names but he brought them up every week.  From the studio, where the dirty window overlooked the parking lot and the WDRC-FM tower, there was a doorway into the transmitter shack with the most beautiful FM transmitter with the biggest finals you'll ever see.  They glowed bright orange and red on days when ice formed on the bays.  Turning left in that room brought you to another doorway with the WHCN-FM automation on your left.  To the right was a tiny work area with a coffee maker.  There was a doorway to the outside....looking over the edge of the mountain. IF you didn't go outside, you could either go up those stairs in your photos OR continue on to another room that had the WHCN-FM transmitter in it and a toilet that was not safe to use.

        "The small WLAE studio was just inside the front door of the building, looking out a perpetually dirty window.  The studio had a very small board and two Ampex tape players...nothing more.  The AP machine was next to the old FM transmitter.  There was copper wire on the walls throughout the building.  I was on 6am - noon, another guy came on from noon - 6pm and another from 6pm - midnight..then sign-off.  The upstairs room (former WHCN studio) and kitchen was accessable via the stairs in your photo.  Not in the photo was a lumpy couch used when I had to stay overnight...which happened sometimes since West Peak was unaccessable many times during the winter. 
        "There was one incident in which Connecticut SP showed up at the station and said some radicals were on their way up the mountain to take over the station.  I was put under guard while he kept me posted on what was happening.  Guess they caught some people coming up the long road to the top...who were arrested for something or other.
  
        "Then there was the great tape caper which happened one warm spring day.  As you can imagine, with two FM transmitters with tubes cooking away, it got hot in the building fast.  During one especially warm spring day, I opened the front door to the station and the back door as well to let in a beautiful breeze.  However, one of the WHCN take-up reels on a tape deck on the air failed and all that tape from the feed reel flew out the back door...fluttering in the breeze through the fence and over the edge of the mountain.  Once that reel ran out, the next kicked in and I shut the doors.  I spent a lot of time retreaving all that now useless audio tape and throwing it out." 
        Contributor Hal Kneller recalls his days at WLAE:
    ". . .WSCH became WLAE in 1965 after being dark for a while. Paul DiSavino of WPAT (Chief ENgineer) bought it for I think $75,000 and programmed it a potpourri of music - everthing from light classical to old show tunes to Shirley Temple singing songs from movies when she was a little kid. The studio was in the same room as the cystern tank (room that sort of faces WDRC's building). Then north of that room was the old REL transmitter for 93.7. Then a wall - and on the back of the building facing the cliff down to Southington was the WHCN studio with an old RCA console (at the time, only the kitchen was upstairs, the room where WHCN built a studio was just an empty room). There was a cot up there. Oh, there was also a fireplace between the WLAE transmitter and the WHCH studio as well, on the south wall of that room. I also worked for WLAE and he had the orginal GE antenna (horizontal only) on the monopole and it had no deicers. Paul DiSavino put sunlamps up on the tower aimed at the elements for deicers. It worked pretty well but the RF ate the wiring."

On April 21, 1965, 93.7 became WLAE. The studios were located in the transmitter building on West Peak in Meriden, shared with WHCN. Larry Kratka, who worked at the West Peak studio, submitted these recollections: 
 "I worked at the station when it was owned by a Paterson, NJ family during the winter of 1967.   WLAE stood for "Lend an Ear" and broadcast pre-recorded music...mostly the elevator type of stuff.  "At the time, the old WHCN studio was upstairs in the corner but not in use.  WHCN was automated and part of my job was to change the 15" reels of tape on the automation system. The WHCN automation (tape) decks were right in the back room.  If you entered the front door, you would be in what was the old WLAE studios."

        A February, 1968 Hartford Times reported: "WLAE specializes in "middle of the road music," the original Rudy Vallee, Glenn Miller, all the favorite tunes.  It will be three years old on April 21.  The station is operated by Paul C. DiSavino, who with his wife is a joint liecensee.  DiSavino is chief engineeer at WPAT in Patterson, NJ.  West Peak, in fact, could be known as "radio mountain," since it is the site of our FM transmitters and anteannas, WATR, WDRC, WHCN and WLAE.  West Peak rises high above the town reservoir and when it snows heavily, the WLAE announcer goes to bed on an upstiars cot when his stint is over.  Next day, the snow plow comes around."   
        
WLAE Memory:

John L. Stanizzi

I worked at all three above mentioned. WLAE was like Muzak...was it Carl DeSavino of Long Island who owned the place?...the cinder block building atop Hubbard Park. There were two shifts -- 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. to midnight. Every hour you changed a tape...that was it. "WLAE -- Hartford/Meriden" was what we said. It was a ... See More
terrible place; the boredom was paralyzing. It wasn't "officially" Muzak but it certainly was "Muzak-esque." And WHCN was an automated station of, I want to say, light classical. It's standalone tape deck was in the same room as the WLAE stuff....sort of the front room of this little cinder block affair. I got stuck up there during a snow storm one time...two days, I think.

        By 1969 the call letters had been changed to WLVH, and it became the first minority owned station in the state with Hispanic ownership and full-time Spanish format that lasted broadcast for close to 20 years.  The station had a loyal audience, but Hartford’s (then) relatively small Hispanic population wasn’t enough to allow the station to realize its full potential, revenue-wise. 
1969 to 1986, Mr. Jose Grimalt owned and operated the station.
        Contributor Gene Faltus:
  "
The call letters by the way, in Spanish stood for the voice of the Spanish (La Vos Hispanola, pardon my spelling). Because under the sales agreement, of WFNS (WNEZ), WLVH could not stay Spanish, a sales agreement had been reached with Daytona group (owned by Norm Drubner of Waterbury) to buy WLVH. However, just then real estate took a hit. Drubner decided to get out of radio entirely, so the sale was put on hold. Dave Pearlman had been hired to serve as the head of Daytona group. But, since it was being liquidated, Pearlman had to scramble to find new backers. So, the weather format which was put in place just to be a "placeholder" for a couple of months while the sale to Daytona group was done, instead dragged on until labor day of 1990, when finally Dave Pearlman with his new backers took over. As an aside, when the sales were all announced several things happened. One, there were at least two protest marches to the station. They were organized mainly by the PD of WLVH . . . Second, one of the afternoon announcers locked the air studio door, and went off on a tirade on air, of course in Spanish about the sale. The manager couldn't get him out of there. I had to go pull the electrical disconnect to get him off the air. 
        "In the early spring of 1990 WLVH (at that point WZMX) moved the transmitter from the old site you mentioned to the site where it is now. . .
        " I moved the studios for WZMX over Memorial Day
weekend in 1990. Remember it all too well. The day Pearlman took over he had hired board ops from the just graduated class at CSB. When they got there on Friday of Labor Day weekend, he locked them in the building, not letting anyone leave or talk on the phone until the format switched. Did not want them to let the cat out of the bag.
         Then there was the time Larry Hardy was working for the FCC during the weather forecast "format" days. He heard that and went nuts. Came to the station wanting it off the air at once. There was no rule against it. Had to call Sage, they called their legal people, and called Boston right away. Mr. Hardy was called back to Boston...
         "In the 90s, WZMX went throught several formats, in no particular order, The "mix" format: the 70s station; 70s Sebastian and more; the Point; Classic Hits 93-7; Dancing Oldies, and it's present format."

        In the late-eighties the station was sold to new owners.  The Spanish format was done away with and WLVH rebroadcast audio from NOAA weather radio for close to a year straight!  Back then the NOAA broadcasts were done by the government employees who staffed the weather station, and they were used to giving concise weather reprorts to pilots and therefore had no broadcasting skills.  They also didn't have any idea that their broadcasts were going out on the FM dial on a 50kw station until they were told about it by a local broadcast engineer.  It wasn't long before their on air presentation became much better!
        
In 1991 WLVH was sold to American Radio Systems.      

 

          At some point in the 90's it was determined that the station's  antenna had to be moved from the original Armstrong tower.  There was an ill-fated attempt to errect a new tower on West Peak for WLVH and new foundations for the tower and a new building was even poured adjacent to the WKSS transmitter building but this didn't work out (a generator owned by Clear Channel now sites on the pad that was build for the proposed building). WLVH eventually moved to an adjacent tower owned by the Gilmore family, a tower they share with WNPR.

In 1993 the format changed to Hot Adult Comtemporary with the new calls, WZMX, chosen for the station's Mix format by PD Herb Crowe. The "Mix" format promised listeners a mix of different varieties of music with little talk or DJ chatter, a directive reflected in the slogan "Four Songs in a row - No talk".

        In the 90’s the studios were moved to 10 Executive Drive in Farmington under the ownership of CBS.

Above: It is believed that WLVH operated out of this building on Wethersfield Ave. in Hartford in the 90's.


1968


1969


1970


1971

1990 Hartford Courant Article


In the eighties the owners of WZMX had this huge tower base poured next to the WKSS building on West Peak as part of a planned transmitter move which never materialized.


93.7's studios and transmitter were located in W1XPW/WHCN building on West Peak back in the sixties.  The studios moved to Hartford in the early seventies but the transmitter stayed in this building in the the eighties when they moved next door to the old WATR-TV building with an antenna on a tower shared with WPKT.


Above:  This is the kitchen in the West Peak building, shared by WHCN and WLVH/WLAE/WSCH/WFNQ when they both had studios located up on "Radio Mountain". Notice the hand pump in the sink which brought in water from a roof-collection/cistern system.  The room included a cot which came in handy when operators were snowed in.  2008 photo.


WZMX transmitter building and tower.


Above:  The north end of the original Armstrong building on West Peak.  WLVH/WLAE/WSCH/WFNQ had studios in this building in the sixties and the transmitter was there until sometime in the eighties with the antenna on the silver pole. 2008 photo.

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