WWUH RADIO HISTORY
1976 Text

1976

 

 

On January 13, GM Mel Yates, using the powers vested in him as the General Manger, declared a state of emergency in the station.  In order to ensure the continued smooth operation of the station, John Anderson and Steve Berian were appointed acting resident Chief Engineers.  They replaced Gene Chapdelaine until the ECOM felt Gene could resume his duties.  Bob Browning resigned as Program Director, and Joe Rudich temporarily assumed his duties.

         

The ECOM consisted of:

General Manager: Mimi Spillane and Mel Yates

Program Director: Bob Browning and Joe Rudich

Chief Engineer: John Anderson and Steve Berian

Programming Coordinator: Tom Gomez

Business Manager:  Steve Berian

New Director: Gary Zenobi

Station Librarian: Sally Noble

In addition, Tom Gomez-Programming Coordinator; Gary Zenobi-News Director; Sally Noble-Station Librarian

Staff (partial): John Anderson, Wayne Beebe, Doug Berghardt, Steve Berian, Bob Browning, Gene Chapdelaine, Henry DeKastrozza, Dave Demaw, George Michael Evica, Joe Ferreira, Tom Gomez, Fred Hull,  Steve Keiley, George Krochin, Jim McGivern, Frank Nowicki, Sally Noble, Chuck Pagano, Neil Portnoy, Mimi Spillane, Joe Rudich, Joel Salkowitz,  Joe Spinelli, Roger Stuass, Larry Titus, Randy Witlicke, Mel Yates, Andy Zeldin, Gary Zenobi.

 Marathon ’76 took place the week of the March 28th with the following activities.  Mark Persky’s “God Presents Adam and Eve’s Cavalcade of Stars” featured the president of the university along with a live broadcast from Max Creek.  Jazz pianists Dave Ramsey performed live on the air from GSU at 11 am on Thursday.  Friday’s 9am to 8pm broadcast was from the Hartford Civic Center and saw performances by The Morgans, The True Life String Band, Joel Blumert, Welling and Wallach and the Golder Age Retrievers. Broadcasting continued from the Civic Center on Saturday with the “Intermission” show featuring Steve Carter of the alternative news group “None of the Above” which was hosted by John Klupsak.  And on the next day the band “Future Image” performed during the first hour of the Soul program.  A live broadcast followed at midnight from the Gengras Coffeehouse.

         Chief Engineer John Anderson moved on to channel 30 leaving a legacy of technical excellence and hard work.

Larry Titus, one of the founders of WWUH, and Chief Engineer of WTIC in 1976, once again came to the station's aid by volunteering to be posted as WWUH chief engineer.  This was extremely important since the FCC rules required that a station have a First Class Licensed engineer as “Chief Operator” and since no staff members had the license the station would have been in trouble if Larry had not stepped in.

          Ward student Jim McGivern took over in the engineering department from John Anderson, although Larry remained the licensed engineer until Jim passed his First Class test at the end of 1978. 

          A fire on the first floor of the student union forced the station off the air for five minutes until the extent of the fire could be determined.   WWUH was falsely implicated by several sources as being responsible for the fire since our announcers were the only people “officially” in the building at the time. 

          The General Manager suspended the talk show format program “Speakeasy” until a delay system could be installed because "sensitive material" was broadcast.

          A proposal was submitted in February for the creation of a weekly half-hour show by and about women.

 

The minutes of the February 22 General Meeting note that WWUH has agreed to be the chief media outlet for the International Students Association Guatemala Relief Fund.  All announcers were asked to play a card and read the promo once each hour.

Mimi Spillane arranged for the station broadcast from the Hartford Civic Center on April 2 and 3.

Inside bus signs were acquired and put into the field in May.

Chief Engineer John Anderson moved on to channel 30 leaving a legacy of technical excellence and hard work.

Larry Titus, one of the founders of WWUH, and Chief Engineer of WTIC in 1976, once again came to the station's aid by volunteering to be posted as WWUH chief engineer.  This was extremely important since the FCC rules required that a station have a First Class Licensed engineer as “Chief Operator” and since no staff members had the license we would have been in trouble if Larry hadn’t stepped in.

          As part of his platform in his candidacy for reelection as Program Director, Joe Rudich submitted the following paper on WWUH programming philosophy and suggested programming changes at an ECOM meeting held in January, 1976:

          The philosophy of WWUH in regard to programming (past the initial first three years on the air) seems to have been “because we've always done it".  (Marcia Simon, a past program director, undertook a survey of the announcers that worked for her.  What she found was most people were dissatisfied with the way WWUH was programmed).  Most programs are in the slot they're in because they were put there and no one bothered to take them out because people just wanted to do them at the time specified.  It is interesting to note, however, that shows were not always in the time they are now in.

          “My recommendations as a programming person, for WWUH, are to find a certain type of programming concept (or format, as the word may be, although I prefer concept) and design the programming of the station after that concept.  In order to design a concept, it is necessary to ask us, WHAT THE HELL KIND OF AUDIENCE DO WE WANT? and then proceed from there.

“As a programmer, the broken up "half quarter, half programming" now is a ridiculous approach to a radio format.  An audience needs a multiplication table, calculator, and wipe'n dries to figure out what's on when.  The Program Guide with its limited circulation is no real help.  We must be a tightly run, total radio station and not a play toy for about 60 people.

          “CONCEPT ONE:  "Contemporary Station".  This would use the resources of the more than 40 people who can do rock 'n jazz very well to develop WWUH as a prime station for people 20-34.  The emphasis on rock during the day, with a variant of contemporary top 40/progressive as the music.  Public affairs would be aired from 9-10 am, when people listen to the radio longer, to get more and steadier listeners for Public Affairs.  Evening Public Affairs would be aired 6-7 pm so that would not be forced to compete with prime time TV shows, which command a great share of the potential audience.  This concept would also utilize a good deal of Jazz, but the major jazz time would be from 7-9 pm, which would enable WWUH to be a major station in bars, (not many) but mostly stores, stereo shops and the like, where we could receive lots of publicity.  Weekends would remain the same.  This format is very free and flexible and enables programs such as the news show to be feasible.  News would be featured on an hourly basis (not on the hour) and be somewhat different than other stations news, while emphasizing "hard news" too.  This concept is most feasible because it looks realistically at staff, records, production capabilities, power and how good we will sound.  This concept would provide the best sound for WWUH.

          “CONCEPT TWO:  WWUH as the ALL-JAZZ station in Hartford.  This concept would include every type of jazz available in the broadcast day.  Early, funky, avante garde, all mixed together with Public Affairs 9-10 am and 6-7 pm.  This concept is unfeasible because of untrained announcers who would take months to gather the necessary knowledge for this type of format.  Also, our Jazz collection is much too small for this type of format.

          “CONCEPT THREE:  WWUH as day contemporary or day jazz, nights same as now:  partially feasible.

          “CONCEPT FOUR:  This is the most unfeasible for WWUH A "public affairs"/classics station.  To begin with, not enough staff to do the shows.  Not enough production time to produce the shows, not enough money to buy shows.  This format would sound the sloppiest, and is fairly dumb with both WFCR and WTIC-FM both taking the lion’s share of the audience.  Under this format it would also behoove us to operate from 6 am to midnight.

          CONCEPT FIVE (fantasy):  We could be the NBC NIS (News and Information Station) outlet on FM.  Ridiculous to even contemplate."

          Another set of suggestions came from Dave DeMaw, who also spoke at the meeting:

          "We have a basic problem of conflicting ideologies at WWUH.  Because WWUH is a college station many think that anything goes.  And, because we bill ourselves as the Public Alternative, an infinite number of interpretations arise.  One faction believes that WWUH exists primarily to serve the public, thus more public affairs shows are requested.  A second faction operates on the premise that students are working at the station without benefit of money or credits in lieu of the radio experience that they will need when job hunting.  

          It is my contention that while we exist to serve the public, we also exist to train students who are interested in a broadcasting career.  By offering the public a non-continuous format, we reap a very small audience. Therefore, we are not serving the public at large.  Granted, we cannot challenge WDRC or WHCN in the ratings, but we can grab a much larger slice of the pie by taking a close look at our format and by making some major changes in programming.  I suggest that we keep the specialty music shows, but air more toward rock and jazz.  We should rid ourselves of morning classics and opera Matinee.  Public affairs should have a wider scope and should cover the Hartford area.  Get rid of the syndicated shows that have no interest but simply fill time.  Public Affairs should be aired on the weekends, as done at commercial radio stations.  Rock shows should contain ample amounts of the announcer's personality, but certain requirements should be met (e.g., a required play list of new releases)."

          Another set of suggestions came from Dave DeMaw, who also spoke at the meeting:

          "We have a basic problem of conflicting ideologies at WWUH.  Because WWUH is a college station many think that anything goes.  And, because we bill ourselves as the Public Alternative, an infinite number of interpretations arise.  One faction believes that WWUH exists primarily to serve the public, thus more public affairs shows are requested.  A second faction operates on the premise that students are working at the station without benefit of money or credits in lieu of the radio experience that they will need when job hunting.  

          It is my contention that while we exist to serve the public, we also exist to train students who are interested in a broadcasting career.  By offering the public a non-continuous format, we reap a very small audience. Therefore, we are not serving the public at large.  Granted, we cannot challenge WDRC or WHCN in the ratings, but we can grab a much larger slice of the pie by taking a close look at our format and by making some major changed in programming.  I suggest that we keep the specialty music shows, but air more toward rock and jazz.  We should rid ourselves of morning classics and opera Matinee.  Public affairs should have a wider scope and should cover the Hartford area.  Get rid of the syndicated shows that have no interest but simply fill time.  Public Affairs should be aired on the weekends, as done at commercial radio stations.  Rock shows should contain ample amounts of the announcer's personality, but certain requirements should be met (e.g., a required play list of new releases)."

          The ECOM election was held on February 4, 1976.

Marathon ‘76 was held in mid March.  Two days of the event (March 28 and 29th) were broadcast live from the center court of Hartford Civic Center! A total of $2,752 was received in pledges.

Station budget figures for 1975/76 showed the station $4,441 over budget, with $23,016 spent with only $18,545 allocated.

The major portion of the station’s revenue came from the university, with $2,752 pledged during the Spring Marathon (only $1,416 had been collected as of the fall)!

          Plans were in the works for a Duke Ellington special to run for four hours during Marathon week, and to have Woody Allen appear during the event! 

          At the September 1976 general meeting, Mimi reported that Gary Zenobi has been appointed acting News Director, and that Sally Noble was the station librarian.  There were open slots are for Program Coordinator, Chief Controller, Director of Development, News Director, Chief Announcer and Business Manager.  She also reported that record theft continued to be a problem at the station and that 24-hour notice is required if a staff member cannot do his/her shift.

The station took out two ads in the Advocate in December promoting the station.

The station’s annual dinner took place at the Terrace Room at Bradley International Airport on May 6. Don Noel, Jr. senior Eyewitness News staff channel 3 was the guest of honor.   Mel Yates GM.

WWUH presented special programs on Chrismas Eve according to a press release sent out by the station which read:
          WWUH will broadcast four features designed for family appeal.  At 6pm students of Hartford’s Annie Fisher School will present Christmas carols by the school choir and band. At 6:30 pm Santa Clause will arrive at the WWUH on-campus station to take part in “telephone talk-back.”  Children may speak with old St. Nick by dialing the the station. At 8:15 pm, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will be broadcast. The annual Advent Christmas Service will follow as performed by the St. James Episcopal Church choir of West Hartford.

“Children’s Radio-go-round” is the name of a show producedby Eric Gordon and other volunteers.  During the live show children recited poetry, played musical instruments, told stories and were interviewed by the host.  The program was open to the public.

Don Noel, Jr., senior correspondent with channel 3 news was the guest speaker at the May 6 WWUH annual dinner held at the Terrace Room at Bradley International Airport.

          The following volunteers were listed as members of the station engineering department as of April, 1976:  John Anderson, Wayne Beebe, Doug Berghardt, Steve Berian, Bob Browning, Henry DeKastrozza, and Joe Ferreira,. Tom Gomez, Fred Hull, George Krochin, Chuck Pagano, Neil Portnoy, Joe Spinelli, Joel Salkowitz, Randy Witlicke, Chuck Pagano, Joe Rudisch, Frank Nowicki, and Larry Titus.

          A report on engineering department activities dated April 1, 1976 included the following notes: New high quality direct drive turntables are being installed, Tom Gomez and Bob Gross are working on Production Studio wiring layout, tour of WTIC studios arranged, along with those of WDRC and WHCN. “The film “On Solder” that described NASA soldering specs was viewed.

The guy wires on the Gengras tower were replaced, and the tower was galvanized.

          In the fall, the ECOM became aware that the owner of WHCN was becoming concerned about what he thought was commercialism on WWUH.  WWUH was accused of blurring the distinction between a promotional announcement and a commercial, especially when it came to concert announcements and ticket giveaways.

Bloomfield native Michael Picozzi wrote a letter to the Advocate that basically mimicked the concerns that WHCN management had about commercialism on WWUH.  (Years later, Picozzi would tell John Ramsey that he wrote the letter to get the attention of WHCN’s management since he was trying to get a job there)!  The letter got Picozzi a full time job at WHCN. (Who now works as Program Director at WCCC.)

 

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Picozzi.

I owe it all to WWUH.
by Michael Picozzi

"The band I was in during college broke up.  I could study with that free time but…well there was a radio station starting up.  I got a shift then became the Music Director then the Program Director.  New college.  Shift then Sales Manager then General Manager (a paid position…$25 a week, thank you.) Straight out of college radio (3 stations, 2 colleges, every kind of music imaginable) into overnights at WSAR Fall River.  Nights and Production Director. Mornings and Program Director.  Now I’m the king of radio.  They change formats to all news.  I’m gone.

Back to the parents’ basement in Bloomfield and now everyone’s got career advice.  “Get a real job”. “You should be on WHCN”.  Wow, I listened to that in high school, they’re WAY too cool for a geek like me. I sent a tape anyway; the Program Director never returned my calls. “Review bands for the Hartford Advocate”.  Now, that made sense.  I played in bands.  I drink.  Go to clubs, imbibe, listen to live music, try and remember enough to write about.  I must be the only guy with that idea, right?  I send the resume; I make the call.  They don’t care about my party plans.  But, they do want to use my radio experience. 

It seems they have noticed WWUH, a free-form college station sounds more and more like WHCN,  (“ugh” said with an upturned nose) a commercial station.  They noticed similar music, “ Why, I think they even did an album giveaway!” I was told in disgust.  They wanted to know why and I was the radio guy to find out.  Off I ran with my little pen and paper.

          The college radio “powers that be” couldn’t wait to tell me their story of success.  “ We tricked the record company”; they said. “Yeah, we’re just college kids we don’t know better” (Insert Dr. Evil’s evil laugh here.)  “What a couple of boobs” I said to myself.  They have the opportunity to play anything they want; say anything they want and they’re playing the same songs commercial radio is.  And doing dumb giveaways.  To myself I said all this because while they were bragging, I was writing.  “WHCN is scared of us,” they blurted out.  Oh my God, are they high!  Then I was off.  “Thanks boobs”.

I’m off to call the Program Director of WHCN to get his side of the story.  Sure, like he’ll talk to me.  Well, there might have been no returned calls to out of work Picozzi, but Picozzi of the Advocate…he couldn’t wait to talk to me.  “Come on in, let’s chat”.  Hey, my new best friend. 

Basically, he agreed with me.  College radio is freedom, no sponsors to answer to, no ratings to mass appeal program for.  What a shame to toss that away. College radio is the time for experimenting.  Finding new music, finding your voice, finding tomorrows commercial styles and stars.  As I was leaving, I said; “by the way…while I’m here…you have my tape.”  He fumphed around cleared his throat and said he’d try and find it. 

The phone was ringing when I got home.  “Come back, let’s talk”  “Ah great, he’s going to bribe me for a favorable write-up in the article”.  He told me my tape was good and he offered me a Saturday midday shift.  I told him I was offered a Saturday night shift elsewhere, he said; “I think you’d be wasted on Saturday night”.  Exactly!  I re-started radio at WHCN, the Advocate printed my story and paid me $15!”

 

Marathon ‘76 was held in mid March.  Two days of the event (March 28 and 29th) were broadcast live from the center court of Hartford Civic Center! A total of $2,752 was received in pledges.

         

Station budget figures for 1975-76:  $18,545 allocated with $23,016 spent, a $4,441 overrun. 

          The major portion of the station’s revenue came from the university, with an additional $2,752 pledged during the Spring Marathon (only $1,416 had been collected as of the fall!)!

          At the September 1976 general meeting, Mimi reported that Gary Zenobi had been appointed acting News Director, and that Sally Noble was the station librarian.  Open slots are for Program Coordinator, Chief Controller, Director of Development, News Director, Chief Announcer, and Business Manager.  She also reported that record theft continued to be a problem at the station.  Twenty-four hour notice is required if a staff member cannot do his/her show.

The station took out two advertisment in the Advocate in December to promote the station.

          The station’s annual dinner took place at the Terrace Room at Bradley International Airport on May 6th. Don Noel, Jr. senior Eyewitness News staff channel 3 was the guest of honor.   Mel Yates GM.

          Thom Gomez was appointed Programming Coordinator by the ECOM on October 17.

          Frank Sturgis, who served in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army and later trained Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs Invasion, spoke about the JFK Assassination in the South Cafeteria in an event that was broadcast live on WWUH on the evening of November 22, 1976.  (Editors note:  Frank Sturgis, (also known as Frank Fioni), had been one of the Watergate burglars. Some speculate that he and E. Howard Hunt were involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.).

          Ten Eighty Corporation, owners of WTIC in Hartford, donated money to WWUH in November to send representatives from the station to the Chicago NAEB convention.  Chase Corporation and WTIC also donated two ITC cart playback units and a cart recorder. 

WWUH applied for a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, which would enable a specific public affairs show to originate from WWUH.

          At one point station management was contacted by an area police department with an unusual request.  They wanted to know what time a certain piece of music was played on a certain night.  The host of the show in question took meticulous notes and was able to provide a precise time the song was on.  The only thing the police department would divulge is that they were trying to pin down the time a crime occurred and they had a witness who said that they were listening to WWUH and that a certain song was on the air when they witnessed the incident.

 

News headlines in 1976 included:

Israeli airborne commandos attack Uganda's Entebbe Airport and free 103 hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers of Air France plane; one Israeli and several Ugandan soldiers killed in raid (July 4); US Supreme Court rules that blacks and other minorities are entitled to retroactive job seniority (March 24); Nation celebrates Bicentennial (July 4); Mysterious disease strikes American Legion convention in Philadelphia, eventually claiming 29 lives (Aug. 4); Jimmy Carter elected US President (Nov. 2).

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