WWUH RADIO HISTORY
1979 Text

1979

 

ECOM:  Patty Kurlychek-General Manager, Marty Peshka-Operations Director, Rick Virello and Rich Aubin-Program Director, Tina Podlowski-Development Director; Doug Maine-Business Manager, John Ramsey-Chief Engineer, Bruce Smith-Community Affairs Director

          Paul Zulpa-Assistant Chief Engineer; Jim Fifield-Music Director; Rich Aubin-Program Director; Joanne Bilotta- Classics Director; Paul Robertson, Jim Fifield-Music Director, Andy Winters and Lisa Polski, co-News Directors, Jeff Wynn & Chris Watson-Program Schedulers.

          Staff:  Charlie Allen, Laurel Aronstemm, Rich Aubin, Deji Ayinda, Joyce Bass, Jeff Becker, Pat Beckford, Joanne Bilotta, Eric Bloom, Bob Bowser, James Brown, Sharon Burchfiel, Dave Burkhart, Burrito, Carolyn Carlson, Tina Colada, Martha Cohen, Mike Crispino, Phil DeAngelis, Ron DeFord, Dave Demaw, Vijay Dixit, Bill Dougal, , Jim Dopuglas, Bob Edgar, Ron Elliot, GM Evica, Mike Farrell, More Fega, Jim Fifield, Carol Fournier, Howard Frydman, Tom Goehring, Diane Goldsmith, Tony Grant, Lee Green, Hector Hannibal, Shelly Hassman, Joan Hoffman, Sue Heske, Ruth Howell, Fred Hull, Margaret Johnson, Wayne Jones, Bill Kaplan, Rick Kelman, Brian Killiany, Mike Kirven, Dan Kriwitsky, Patty Kurlychek, Marsha Lasker, Doug Maine, Gary Margolin, Leo Matos, Jim McGivern, Peter Michaelson, Walter Miskin, Peter Moon, Scott Munsey, Steve Nichols, Nat Needle, Greg Paternostro, Paul Payton, Jackie Peart, Abe Perlstein, Roger Perrin, Marty Peshka, Tina Podlowski, Lisa Polski, John Ramsey, Alison Rasmussen, Wally Remes, Mark Rinas, Mark Roberts, Maurice Robertson, Paul Robinson, Sam Rodgers, Gordon Roland, Joel Salkowitz, Billy Samboy, Dottie Shami, Bruce Smith, Mark Smith, Mike Soltoski, Lee Sparapani, Roger Stauss, Ed Steivender, Joe Terzo, Brian Twiss, Terry Weichand, Helen Wassel, Chris Watson, Jeff Winn, Andy Winters, Roger Wright, Vic Vince, Rick Virello, Dave Von Kleist, Andy Zeldin,

As usual, there were a number of personnel changes throughout the year. Jim Fifield was appointed Music Director, and he put in an enormous amount of effort through August when he had to step down.  Paul Robertson took over the MD job from Jim. Chris Watson took over scheduling from Jeff Wynn in September and became Program Director in January. Bruce Smith resigned from the Community Affairs Director position in August citing lack of time.  Ward student Tina Podlowski was appointed acting Development Director and Joanne Bilotta was appointed Classics Director in August.

During the spring, a group of volunteers started producing a weekly program called "Myth America".  Ed Steivender and Eric Bloom, among others, made up this group. This program featured original dramatic, satirical and comedy works, and featured some excellent production techniques.  One of their most memorable productions was a song entitled "Nothing Ever Happens in Hartford" which we started airing immediately after the collapse of the Hartford Civic Center roof.  This satirical song quickly became a favorite among our listeners, and for a while was the most requested song on the station.

          The Saturday programming line-up as of April, 1979 included Focus on Jazz from 11 am to 4 pm, Myth America from 4 pm to 4:30 pm, African Worlds from 4:30 pm to 5 pm, Portuguese programming from 5 pm to 6 pm, West Indian Rhythms from 6 pm to 8 pm and Sounds of the City from 8 pm to12 midnight.

Geetanjali, a program of Indian music, was scheduled for the Friday 8-9 pm slot.

The annual WWUH Banquet was held at the Ramada Inn in East Hartford. Arnold Klinsky, New Director of Channel 30, was the guest speaker.

During the summer a new poetry show “Poesis” was created by student Margaret Johnson.  The first shows featured poets Helen Swarts and Charles Lipka.

Live broadcasts of the CRT jazz concerts again took place during the summer, with one of the concerts featuring Betty Carter.  WWUH had been doing live broadcasts from Bushnell Park for several years prior to 1979, but the quality of these broadcasts left much to be desired.  This was due to the poor quality of the remote equipment, the previous staff's unfamiliarity with the technique of live sound broadcasting, and the tendency to treat these remotes as parties by station staff.  All felt that these live broadcasts should be something to be proud of from both a programming and technical standpoint.

          Operations Director Marty Peshka and Chief Engineer John Ramsey, along with Jeff Winn, Doug Maine and other volunteers, produced 14 live concerts from Bushnell Park during the summer of 1979. Included in the line up were such diverse artists as Stephen Grappelli, Maria Maldaur, John Hartford and Doc Watson. The last two concerts included a live simulcast with Connecticut Public Television!  The station also aired the 6th Annual New England Fiddle Contest from Bushnell Park on May 26th.   

          At the start of one of the live broadcasts from Bushnell Park, there was an interesting “incident”, that is humorous in hindsight:  John Ramsey writes:

“During summer, the air studio was undergoing renovation so all programming was being aired out of the Production studio. There was a live, call-in show on the air right before the start of the remote broadcasts from the park, and everything was fine at first. The board operator at the studio got the park feed on the air just fine, and on-site announcer Doug Maine was just starting to welcome the listeners to what he was sure to be an outstanding evening of live jazz. I was the engineer at the site, and I was listening to the first minute of the broadcast on the air when I heard in my headphones "Hi, WWUH" followed by a listener asking a question about when the station's music director would be in! It didn't take more than a second for both Doug and I to realize what was going on, The board operator had forgotten to turn off the phone feed in the studio after the last show, and he was taking routine phone calls and putting them on the air by accident!

Poor Doug, there he was trying to do an ad-libbed live introduction, and all of a sudden he was hearing a telephone call loudly in his earphones. I was worried that he would stop talking, which would be a natural reaction, but which would have made the problem even worse since the listeners would be hearing just the phone call, and silence when the caller hung up. Doug did not stop talking which would have been a normal reaction. He didn't even stumble as he described the show that was about to begin. Doug did something that only a seasoned veteran announcer would ever think of doing. He simply took off his headphones (so that the phone call wouldn't distract him) and kept on with his announcement!

I grabbed the phone and started calling the station hot line number. As the phone was ringing, I was thinking of the best way to get the board op to realize what had gone wrong. I had to identify myself, and then tell him specifically what the problem was and how to correct it. Trouble was, with such a common first name, I realized that I would have to give my last name as well so that he would not think that I was a prank (the board op didn't know there was a problem since he had turned down the speakers in the studio at the start of the broadcast to answer the phone).       

As I was thinking all of these things, with the telephone to one ear and one side of my headphones to the other, I heard the op say "Oh, I've got another call, I've got to go" in the phone ear followed almost immediately by "Hi, WWUH" IN BOTH EARS (both on the phone and on the air!). I used the board ops name and said "Dave, this is John Ramsey, the phone is on the air, turn off pot ten". Both the listeners and I heard this, and they heard his confused reply, "What did you say?” I paraphrased myself and said "Dave, this is John Ramsey, this conversation is on the air, turn off pot number ten" to which he responded "Oh Shit!" before he turned off the phone feed. This entire exchange was heard by the thousands of WWUH listeners who were tuned in for the evening's jazz performance. It was not uncommon for listeners to record these live broadcasts back then, if anyone has a tape of the start of this broadcast, I would love to hear it.”

In addition to the CRT Monday night jazz concerts, the station broadcast the Peace Train concerts on alternate Thursday nights.

In the fall, arrangements were made with the Talcott Mountain Science Center to provide weather reports to the station!  It was arranged for their meteorological department to call the station twice a day (at noon and at 4 pm) to feed weather reports over the phone for use over the air These segments would provide basic weather forecasts developed by the students at the school along with commentary on any interesting astronomical events.   These feeds were recorded for playback during the afternoon and evening. 

          In June, WWUH acted as the point of origination for an interview for the Australian Broadcasting Company on the topic of Franco-Russian writer and revolutionary Victor Serge.    Dr. Richard Greenman, assistant professor of French at the University and an authority on Serge, was in our studio for the program, while the interviewer and host of the program were in his studio, in Sydney, Australia!  The two stations were interconnected via phone lines and satellite circuits.

In December, the station started a series of live evening jazz broadcasts from the 880 Club in Hartford called "Jazz Alive!"  Volunteer Mort Fega was the host, and the series featured such performers as trumpeter Ted Curson. Gene Bertoncini and Bobbi Rodgers, and audience reaction was very favorable to the Monday night broadcasts.

The Metropolitan Opera will began its 40th season in the fall.

An interview with rock drummer Bill Bruford was recorded via the phone and aired on both the Synthesis and Jazz programs.

          Because of concerns about staff moral, a questionnaire was handed out by the ECOM at the November general meeting, with the request that it be filled out candidly (and anonymously) by staff volunteers. 

          A review of membership on 11/28/79 listed 10 members eligible to vote in station elections (to be eligible to vote, volunteers had to be full time UH students who had attended the last two general meetings.

          Students Andy Winters and Lisa Polski were appointed co-News Directors in November. They worked well together and shared the responsibilities of the position.

Bill Domler approached the ECOM in November about doing a weekly folk show.  The ECOM was very enthusiastic.

During the spring, the station was given the opportunity to move its offices from down the hall to the area directly across from the studios.  While this move didn't increase the usable space that was available, it did provide two more rooms.  The room directly across from the studio was designated the office, and the small room attached to this the inner office for the General Manager and Business Manager.  Just down the hall was a newsroom (later to become the jazz library) and another large room, which became the large classical library.

The station moved into the new offices on July 1st, 1979.

A champagne reception for WWUH Classical listeners was held at the A.S.K. house on Prospect Avenue on February 16th.

          Marathon goal was set at $20,000.  Premiums included yellow with blue sign wave logo T-shirts for a $5 pledge, and Guide Subscriptions for a $10 pledge.  As part of Marathon, Myth America appeared live on Monday Accent on Jazz, the Hartt Jazz Band appeared on Tuesday, Dave Ramsey and his big band played for the wine and cheese party in room G, the Hartford Arts Ensemble was aired live on Thursday and live bluegrass was carried on Saturday. The event ended with a party on Sunday featuring the band Talking Drum in the Cafeteria.

          Marathon returns total $22,500!

          Throughout the late seventies and early eighties, the Marathon phone room was located in Gengras room D, which provided a great view of the Hartford skyline.  

          At the April general meeting, the candidates for the various ECOM positions presented their platforms:

          Marty Peshka, running for Operations Director, spoke of his knowledge of non-commercial radio.  He said that he wants to smooth out the problems and get everyone working together.

          Doug Maine, a sophomore in the Communications Department, who running for the Business Manager position, admitted that it was a tedious job, but felt that he could handle what needed to be done.

          John Ramsey, running for reelection as Chief Engineer, stressed preventative maintenance of the equipment, and said that he would run on his past performance.

          Rich Aubin was nominated for the Program Director position and felt that he would be “good for another 12 months”.

          Marsha Lasker, one of the two candidates for General Manager, said that she wanted to keep the station ideal the same:  WWUH should be a place to learn radio.  She would work for a more creative learning environment.  She was against a paid management for the station (something that had been discussed in passing during the past year).

          Patty Kurlycheck, the other candidate running for the General Manager position, spoke of four pressing issues she would address if elected:  The proposed rewrite of the Communications Act in Washington, the long sought after power increase for WWUH, eliminating the crisis management mentality of the ECOM, and improving the communications among ECOM members and with the staff.

          Randy Borowsky withdrew his name when it is determined that he cannot run because he is not a student at UH.

          Student Bruce Smith, who was running for the newly created ECOM position of Community Affairs Director, spoke of the station’s tradition of serving the local community, a tradition that he hoped to continue.

          The election of the following ECOM members took place on April 5, 1979:  Patty Kurlychek-General Manager, Marty Peshka-Operations Director, Rich Aubin-Program Director, Doug Maine-Business Manager, John Ramsey-Chief Engineer, Bruce Smith-Community Affairs Director (Bruce became the first person to hold that newly created position).

          In an open letter to the ECOM dated April 12, 1979, Steve Berian summarized the stations last year and looked to the future:

          ". . . In the previous year, we were saddled with a GM who chose to function as a committee chairman.  That had both positive and negative effects:  it caused or at least opened the door for achievement by and acknowledgement of sub-ordinate ECOM members.  Operations of the station fell squarely on the shoulders of the Operations Director.  She handled it the best she knew how, albeit sometimes with haste, sometimes without consulting all the other ECOM members, sometimes missing appointments and meetings.  DON'T forget--she was learning! 

          "Mark (Smith) did the organization a tremendous favor by being Business Manager.  He added a crystal clear facet of logic to its operation.  He is to be credited with keeping us solvent . . .

          "Patty came up through the ranks and radiated her capabilities from the start.  She mastered the Development Department in the shortest time I've seen it done.  She too asked questions:  acquired knowledge.  She demonstrated a marked ability to learn - FAST.  She was integrally involved in Marathon - to the station's clear benefit.

          "John and Marty stepped into an engineering department with Jim McGivern that was a shambles.  This trio, later to become a duo with the loss of Jim to WTIC, was responsible for implementing the cleanest signal with the cleanest paths that we've known in several years.  John and Marty compliment each other . . . They work as a team - a point to remember and apply at several levels of thought concerning UH as an entity.

          "We knew Rick Virello as Program Director for only a short time.  He came out of the shadows - an untried leader - one that had not, at the time, demonstrated but a fraction of his capabilities.  Leaving us, Rick was replaced by Rich Aubin . . . a fast learner who can be counted on for good, well thought out decisions.

          "Throughout the year, two people have been ever hovering in the not-too-deep background.  Walk Miskin and I have tried to teach our comrades how to cope with the intricacies of their respective positions, their relations with one-another and those with the outside world.  We have explored the microcosm of station management with them as well as the macrocosm of its effects.

          "At some points we were told to go away:  something that we had expected, indeed wanted to have happen.  However, we never went so far that we couldn't be reached. . .

          "We have lost considerable ground in some areas of University politics in that we are being viewed as more of a "student" organization despite our cosmopolitan membership.  Though a delicate issue, we must face it and regain our posture as an organization non-dependent on the office of the dean of students.  We have demonstrated capability to manage our own entity, not without faults, but considerably better than some other university departments over a ten year record of volunteer staff and management.

          "We must come out of our holding pattern style media membership and again assume the point position.  We have come to be regarded as leaders in area radio - not merely college radio or public radio.  We are an acknowledged threat to all radio in this market.

          "We must continue in that frame - strive to be alternative to all radio commercial and non-commercial; strive to enlarge our audience base; strive to improve radio programming.

"I am confident, as are my colleagues, that we can do it."

Steve Nichols, the outgoing station GM, wrote this in his last issue of the Program Guide. 
         “After this year, I can only say that I am so proud to be involved with something so many people believed in!  I was taught more about radio, music, people, etc. than I thought anybody could learn in one year.  Although it required much work, long hours and no pay, if I had it to do over again I would not hesitate.  Your response has always been heartwarming and well worth any effort.”

Incoming GM Patty Kurlychek wrote the following in the Guide:

“This year I am anticipating a change in the focus of our priorities.  We have tried to develop our musical offerings to the point of unique diversity which we feel is unequaled in our listening area.  Now that our music has reached a point where it can stand on its own, I feel that the station must reach out and development itself in terms of talking to people.   We need more programming that talks to people who live in West Hartford, Hartford and in Bloomfield, South Windsor and so on.  WWUH will be trying to develop our liason with these and other communities so that we can keep an ear to the heart of the public.”

 

         

There were technical problems with the remote broadcasts from Business Park during the summer due to the limited quality and flexibility of the remote equipment.  Realizing the programming value of these broadcasts (no other station in the state was doing live music on a regular basis); management felt it was important for the station to acquire better equipment.

          In keeping with goals, parts were purchased in the fall of 1979 to build an eighteen-channel microphone splitter that would allow interfacing with the stage microphones so a broadcast "mix" could be done.  Hours were spent building the splitter, which cost close to $1,000 in parts!  In the following three years, renting the splitter to Connecticut Public Television during those periods when we were not using it brought in more than twice that amount.

          Motto, a fusion band, and Cocinando, a Latin-jazz band were chosen to play at the summer picnic, which took place on the lawn in front of the Gengras Student Union.

          The Hartford Courant ran an article that praised the efforts of the station and mentioned the excellence of the remotes from Bushnell Park (and the convenience of being able to listen at home, as Owen McNalley, the writer, was sick and had no other way to review the performance).   

With the goal of improving the fidelity of the station's signal while at the same time installing as much redundancy as possible, it was decided that the air studio had to be completely rebuilt from the ground up.  Not only was the equipment and wiring in poor condition, but also the carpet, the walls and ceiling were in terrible shape.  Since the renovation of the air studio meant operating the station out of the production studio for several months, the renovation of the production studio became first priority.

          A new 10 channel Autogram board had been installed in the production studio in mid 78, but because the station was pressed for both time and money, the installation left much to be desired.  The new board sat on an ordinary table, and the studio lacked such basic features as direct drive turntables and a patch bay.  The ECOM decided that the renovations should be done right this time, with adequate time and money allocated to the project.  The station's staff was easy to convince, and thanks to a successful Marathon 79, money was made available.

          The actual construction work on the production studio took place during the Christmas '79 school vacation.  The station was very lucky to have Paul Zulpa, an EE student at UH, assist Chief Engineer John Ramsey with the work. Paul's previous electronics experience, his ability to see a job through to the end, and his incredible ability of producing, on a moment's notice, just about any tool or part that was needed, helped the project along.  Paul convinced a friend to donate his time and woodworking abilities to the project.  The result was professionally built counters to hold the equipment.

          Since most of the major equipment was on hand already, the station only had to purchase a few pieces of equipment (two direct drive turntables, a distribution amplifier, a small microphone mixer, and JBL monitor speakers).  The studio was designed and built to be functional and rugged, with enough flexibility to allow for future expansion.  Ease of maintenance and repair was of primary concern, as was simplicity of operation.  All of the wiring was fully documented.

          Along with the equipment and wiring renovation, a suspended acoustic tile ceiling was installed and fluorescent lights were replaced with incandescent lights on a dimmer circuit.  This was in keeping with the philosophy of making the studio esthetically pleasing as well as functionally efficient.

          The station was off the air for 48 hours toward the end of the year because of major transmitter problems involving high voltage bypass capacitors in the final stage.   This long duration outage, along with several other STL-related equipment failures around the same time, made staff realize the importance of equipment redundancy.  The engineering department set out to specify, design and install back ups for all major sub-systems:  transmitter, exciter, STL, processing and studio.   Since the station's volunteer staff was making such a major commitment to the station, management felt it was only fair to commit a portion of its financial resources to ensuring redundancy, so volunteer efforts wouldn't be wasted should a major piece of equipment fail.

          As part of the station’s arrangement with WTIC about Classical Programming, WTIC had offered us a used 5,000 watt FM transmitter for us to use for our power upgrade.  The transmitter was very old, and it was unlikely that we would ever need it, so we asked WTIC to sell it for us.  They did so and we received $2000 for it. 

           The UH Radio pub night held in October netted $215 for the station.

          Realizing the importance of students to the station's mission, the ECOM would undertake a recruitment drive on campus each fall.  Student recruitment efforts in 1979 included a meeting for interested people that was attended by close to 60 students, a campus WWUH “Pub Night” featuring the band Sol Rubin, and participation by the station at the Student Leader's night and the Student Organization night.

          During the period when the production studio was being rebuilt, most public affairs programs were aired live out of the air studio.  For those programs that had to be taped in advance, a reel recorder and mikes were installed in the office to allow programming to continue almost interrupted.

          Over the years WWUH had garnered a lot of support with area commercial broadcasters.  WTIC had been a supporter for years, but WDRC, right next door in Bloomfield, also helped WWUH from time to time.  The following story is an example of WDRC’s generosity:

          In July, we were given only 12 hours notice that WWUH would have to vacate the building for at least 24-hours so that it could be fumigated (apparently the cafeteria was having a bit of a problem with bugs).  Rather than leave the air for more than a day, WDRC came to our rescuer with a loan us their mobile studio for the weekend!   WWUH broadcast from that studio, which was parked in front of the student union, for over 48 hours.  Because the record library couldn't be moved, all the announcers had to pull their music in advance.  The fumigation also happened to coincide with the annual WWUH birthday picnic causing numerous additional complications but one big plus – we were able to broadcast from right in front of the crowd that was attending the picnic!

          Because of time limitations, staff could not get the transmitter remote control to work from the portable studio, so an operator had to be posted at the transmitter site for 48 hours!  Staffers Bruce Kampe and Tom Bolan volunteered for transmitter duty, and spent many hours sleeping in the woods "babysitting" the transmitter!

Some of the major news stories of 1979 included: Shah leaves Iran after year of turmoil (Jan. 16); revolutionary forces under Muslim leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, take over (Feb. 1 et seq.); Carter and Brezhnev sign SALT II agreement (June 14); Iranian militants seize US embassy in Teheran and hold hostages (Nov. 4); Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stirs world protests (Dec. 27); Ohio agrees to pay $675,000 to families of dead and injured in Kent State University shootings (Jan. 4) and Nuclear power plant accident at Three Mile Island, Pa., releases radiation (March 28).

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