WWUH RADIO HISTORY
1987 Text

The ECOM consisted of: John Ramsey - General Manager; Stuart Warner, Mark Greenland - Program Director; Don Harris - Operations Director; Stuart Werner, Dana Bugl - Directors of Development; Tanya Weiman - Business Manager; Mark Silverstein - Community Affairs Director.

          Stuart Werner - Music Director, Chuck Dube – Heavy Metal Director.

          STAFF:

Tanya Weiman was appointed acting Business Manager in June.

Don Harris, Operations Director, resigned in April so that he could devote more time to finding work after graduation.  Dana Bugl, Director of Development, also resigned in April, which was no surprise since she was also scheduled to graduate in May.

John and Grant Miller took over the Program Guide from Dana, and they quickly learned the difficulties of graphic design.

Community Affairs programming continued to be a major part of our programming and many specials were aired:

We received a tape from the FBI regarding the Brink’s armored car robbery that had taken place the year before in West Hartford where two guards were killed. Dan King interviewed an officer from the Hartford Policy Department who requested assistance from the public in solving the case.  We used the tape to make a PSA about the crime as the police were stilling looking for information about it.

          An interview with UH Professor Dick Rusack was broadcast in relation to a protest by University faculty members who were unhappy with wages. This was a controversial move on the station’s part as the protest could be considered by some to be against the interests of the station’s licensee.  Prior to the broadcast we offered the university equal time to respond to the professor’s remarks but they declined our offer.  The ECOM was not surprised when there was no reaction from the university to the airing of the program in one of our public affairs slots as the university had always been supporting of our quality news programming.

A series of Jewish Community lectures aired in February, some locally recorded and some syndicated.

Dr. Tohan of Simsbury, a prominent ob/gyn physician, joined the staff and promptly started producing a half hour public affairs program called “Woman’s Health Issues”. The show aired on Tuesday evenings and was produced by John Ramsey. It featured a live, call-in section.

          A special program was aired on the US Bill of Rights and the US Constitution.  It was promoted in the Advocate with a special ad.

The station produced a program on the income tax in cooperation with the local IRS office. 

“UH Presents” featured interviews with Elie Wiesel and Oliver Butterworth.

The station started subscribing to WINGS. The Woman’s International News Service that was used to add a national perspective to the Women’s Music Hour program.

Volunteers Jon Easterbrook, Stuart Christ and Bruce Reicher proposed a new show called “UH Sports Line”.  The proposal was accepted by the ECOM and a 30-minute time slot on Mondays at 12:30 was set aside for the show.  The program included discussions of the sports scene both on and off campus, live guests and live phone calls and it was simulcast on WSAM.  One of the first guests was Arnold Dean, sports director of WTIC radio.  While emphasis was given to UH sports, although other teams were of course covered as well.

For years, there had been an idea floating around of offering a college course over the air on WWUH.  The F.C.C. encouraged the concept. In fact, early regulations required that college stations be involved with “a formal course of study”.  Such programming could be considered early attempts at “distant learning”.   The ECOM discussed this idea with the administration and worked out plans on how it would work.  Obviously, the Ecom wanted the program to have at least some general appeal, and after discussion with several faculty members, the consensus was to offer an existing course, “Introduction to Communications” over the air since this course was nearly 100% lecture and would therefore lend itself well to over the air presentation.  How credit could be offered and how tuition would be collected from those members of the audience who chose to “enroll” in the class would be handled by the admissions office.  Unfortunately the idea never materialized.

Public Service Announcements had always been an important part of our community service programming but it became apparent that not all of the staff agreed on how important PSA’s were.  At least that was the impression that the ECOM had when an audit revealed that approximately one third of the music shows on the air frequently didn’t air any PSA’s at all.  After a series of discussions with the staff, a new policy was adopted that required that each music show to air at least an average of 2 PSA’s per hour.

Community Affairs Director Mark Silverstein sent a letter to university faculty and staff inviting them to come down to the station if they had any unique programming ideas.

Early in the year we finally found out precisely where in the new building our studio and office space would be located.  While the ECOM had lobbied for a top floor location with a view of the campus and the Hartford skyline, or perhaps a high visibility location overlooking a common entrance area, the station's unique requirements meant that a ground floor location was necessary.  These requirements included the need for our own entrance, concerns about turntable vibration, handicap/elevator access and a desire to be close to the TV studio led to the decision to place WWUH on the ground floor in a 2,000 square foot area between the TV studio and a mechanical room. 

With the outside dimensions of the space finally delineated, the Engineering Department spent several months evaluating various floor plans.  They worked closely with architect Tai Su Kim.  Input from the staff was used extensively in working on the lay out and there were many revisions of the plan.   When the floor plan was finalized, it was the 37th revision and provided everything the staff had been looking for, including a dedicated entrance, handicap access, two good-sized studios (for air and production), and lots of facilities never before available to the station.

There was some debate within the station over the desirability of having outside windows in the air studio (i.e. placing the studio where the office currently is), and the staff finally decided against it given the security and acoustic concerns ground floor windows would raise.

The original WWUH layout when the station first went on the air in 1968 consisted of an air studio, production studio, office and (later) engineering shop utilizing approximately 800 square feet of space on the third floor of the Gengras Student Union. The new facility would incorporate three radio studios (one for air, two for production), one recording studio, a recording control room, a large (10’ x 34’ library), an engineering shop and a larger office with two smaller administrative offices!

          Extensive discussions were undertaken with the university administration to work on the budget for the move.  There was no way that the station would be able to afford to pay for the move, and the amount required was much too high to go to the listeners for. Finally, the university agreed to pick up the tab for all of the building construction and inside work, as well as the radio equipment. 

Working closely with the architect and various contractors was necessary to make sure they knew exactly what would be needed.  Even though Gengras had provided a good home for WWUH for twenty years, WWUH had simply outgrown the available space.

The staff was extremely excited about the new facility, which would provide nearly twice the floor space as the present location.  In addition, staff had the following features to look forward to:  all of the records in one room, much more office space, a second production studio, our own recording facility, and direct wired connections to the Hartt recording studio, the campus TV studio and the 225 seat auditorium proposed for the new building.  Many details had to be taken into consideration in the design, and luckily were able to design the space to our liking.  While the Wilde Auditorium was not supposed to be available to us at first (hence the station's own recording studio was included in the design), an arrangement was worked out with the Conference Center whereby underwriting would be swapped for use of the auditorium.

          Moving a radio station without going off the air is a major undertaking, and doing it on a limited budget with a volunteer staff is almost unheard of, but the ECOM felt that the commitment to staying on the air had to be maintained and the station’s staff agreed to help with the project.. 

          Three equipment proposals were submitted to the university: one, a bare bones plan that would have had WWUH off the air for several weeks during the move; the second plan utilized all of the existing equipment but provided for enough new equipment so that the station would not have to go off the air; while the third plan called for nearly all equipment to be replaced.  The plans cost $20,000, $90,000 and $300,000 respectively.  When we approached the university with these proposals, we made it clear that WWUH couldn't live with the first, and that we knew that the university couldn't afford the latter.  WWUH received a commitment for funding of the equipment for the move to the tune of $90,000.

          The only major stumbling block between WWUH, the university and their architect was the placement of our STL antenna, which had to be, located about 120 feet above ground.  Installing a radio tower on the new building was rejected for esthetic reasons, but we convinced them to increase the height of a masonry clock tower planned for the new building to allow it to be used as a support for the STL antennas!  The architect and the University were excited about the prospect of having such a tall land mark on campus, and they had no less than three donors willing to put up the money for it (in return for having it named after them of course).  The cost for this clock tower was estimated at $350,000, and the plans for the tower were scrapped because the funding for the rest of the building was behind projections.   It would do not good to have the clock tower completed years before the building was ready, therefore ECOM agreed to leave the tower on Gengras provided the University renovated some space for the STL equipment in the equipment penthouse atop the building.  While the idea of both radio and fiber optic links was explored, the decision was made to use university owned cable pairs to get the signal from the new studio to the STL in Gengras.

          Marathon ’87 ran from February 15 – 22 with a goal $37,500. This was the first time that announcers facing their first Marathon would be voluntarily paired with station veterans to help improve the sound of the on-air presentations.  This pairing was done on a very informal basis and worked out well.  Mugs were offered as a premium during Marathon and Natasha Rethke, WWUH volunteer, designed the T-shirt.

          Marathon was a huge success with $40,198 pledged from 1855 listeners.

          On May 1 the Geetanjali program was expanded from 60 to 90 minutes with the first 30 minutes of the program to be devoted to Indian classical music.

          Over the years it has been extremely rare that station management has ever had to resort to removing people from the air.  However, two staff members were suspended for 60 days for making disparaging and unprofessional marks about a local club on the air.  The club owner had complained and had sent a tape to the ECOM that revealed that for approximately 20 minutes, the two announcers made remarks on the air that were extremely unprofessional and that disparaged the reputation of the club.  The announcers were heard on the tape engaged in immature banter and chatter and had unauthorized staff members on the air, all in violation of station policy.  In addition, no top of the hour ID was given, a clear violation of FCC rules.  While the volunteers felt that the punishment was too severe and that a simple reprimand was all that was necessary, the ECOM stressed the unprofessional nature of the broadcast and how the program jeopardized the station.

          Staff and listener complaints made the ECOM aware that what some had termed "living room" programming was occurring on some of the late night shows, and the subject was discussed at a General Meeting in May.  The problem was show hosts who wanted to be the center of attention, and who often chose not to abide by the station’s policies regarding programming. The ECOM explained that while station programmers were given almost unlimited freedom in doing their shows, along with that freedom comes the responsibility of doing a good job on the air.  The airing of personal grievances, casual conversations between people on and off mike, and complaining about things such as the food on campus, station policies was not considered good programming.  There was little dissent from the staff on this point.  The few announcers who “didn’t get it” were given several warning for breaking programming policy, and then removed from the air for repeated violations.

          Many college stations played games with the free tickets offered by promoters, but WWUH had a strict policy of documentation each give away and abiding by the request of the promoter donating the tickets whenever possible. Contest rules were discussed at the meeting in an effort to make sure that everyone on the staff realized the importance of sticking to the rules.

          Stuart Werner resigned in February from the position of Program Director.  Stuart had run the department with a thorough knowledge of alternative radio and appreciation for the volunteer air staff. At the same time he felt that being a volunteer at WWUH brought with it privileges and responsibilities.  Stuart had handled his staff firmly and fairly and quickly earned the respect of the staff.   

Student Mark Greenland took over from Stuart.  Mark had been with the station for over a year, and had been serving as the station's music director during most of that time.  Mark was a strong leader with good interpersonal skills and an extensive knowledge of the music business.  He had a tremendous amount of respect for the volunteer staff, but had a “no-nonsense” policy toward volunteers who deliberately disregarded station-programming policy. 

One of Mark’s first duties after assuming the job was to work with Chief Engineer John Ramsey to rewrite the station’s “Sensitive Material” policy dealing with the broadcast of “indecent” material. Incorporating the station’s “freedom of speech” philosophy while at the same time protecting the station’s license was quite a challenge, but a policy was produced that was still in effect fifteen years later!

The programming department developed a list of volunteers who would be called first should there be a "no show" late at night.  This new policy relieved the Program Director of many of the late night calls.

Mark Greenland went to the New Music Seminar in May.  Indecency was the major issue at the seminary, and Mark reported that our new obscenity policy was held up as an excellent example of a policy for a college/community station.

The annual staff picnic was held on July 19 on Gengras patio. Close to sixty people attended.

          One Sunday morning when Susan Mullis was on the air, the power suddenly went out in the Gengras Student Union, followed by the fire alarm and the smell of smoke.  She vacated the building and called the chief engineer from a pay phone outside the building.  Upon his arrival, John was met by a contingent of police and fire department personnel.   A large electrical transformer in the sub basement of the studio building had caught fire and burned out. The only damage was minor smoke damage, but the building would be without electricity for days. 

We made arrangements to have a generator installed on the loading dock and were back on the air in a matter of hours.  However, it took seven days to replace the damaged transformer and get power back on in the building.  During this time the station had no power or running water in the building.  The station operated on portable generators for this entire time. 

          For the first time, the Guide Editor decided to try a Letters to the Editor section added to Guide in the January issue.  This feature continued for several years.

          Dean of Students Dr. Howard Rosenblatt's office hosted a wine and cheese reception for WWUH volunteers during Marathon.  The event was held in Room G in Gengras, and was attended by about thirty volunteers and a number of UH VIPs.

          Arrangements were made with the Hartford Advocate newspaper to trade display advertising for program underwriting.  This would give us one ad per issue for a year.  Ed McKeon developed a clever series of ads, with each ad focusing on a different aspect of station programming. One ad said “We’re Not Number 1 and Frankly We Don’t Care” at the top followed by text explained that to be number one a station has to bow to pressure to appeal to the largest number of people, give up its independence, etc.

          Other ads were used to promote Jazz, Alternative Rock, Ambience, Classical, Public Affairs and Folk programming.

As part of an effort to improve our relationship with WSAM, we arranged for WSAM to rebroadcast WWUH when they were not doing their own programming.  The benefit to WSAM is that they were on the air 24/7 for the first time in their history.  In addition, our engineering department got involved in helping WSAM’s engineers with various projects.

          Susan Mullis took over the Sunday morning Ambience slot from Marianna Evica.

          The ECOM spend a good part of the last year reviewing management policies at other non-com station.

Record theft, often a major problem at college stations, was one of the issues researched to see the various ways that stations deal with the problem.  Some stations locked up each library, and announcers would have to sign out keys.  Other stations required their announcers to do inventories at the end of each shift.

          Since the problem would occasionally arise at WWUH, the ECOM decided to continue the dialog about the issue with the staff during 1987.   There were many different ideas around the station on how to deal with the problem.  One of the things that the ECOM decided to do was to continue to conduct spot checks of staff members leaving the building.  The staff made it clear that they wanted anyone caught stealing recordings to be arrested.

Research reminded us of the importance of collecting emergency contact information for the station's volunteers. Such contacts would be very helpful should anything happen to a volunteer while they were at the station.   Emergency contact information was collected for each of the station’s staff and an “emergency contact” line was added to the staff info sheet.

About a dozen new recruits underwent training and joined the staff in 1987; most of them were affiliated with our neighbor, the Jewish Community Center.  Their goal was to produce a weekly program on Jewish issues.  After being trained and becoming members of the staff, this group received a slot on the air for the “Magen David” show which appeared for the first time in the fall and continued on WWUH for several years.

          The station co-sponsored a concert featuring folk singer Nanci Griffith.  Bill Domler served as the promoter.  The event was held at Lincoln Theater and it was a success.

          Stuart Werner suggested getting underwriting from condom companies, and was assigned the task of contacting them by the ECOM.  Nothing came of this idea. 

          Letters were sent to commuter students in an attempt to let them know that the station welcomed them.

          Artist interviews continued to be an important part of our music programming. Some of the interviews aired during 1987 included the band DADA, who was interviewed by Grant Miller; Grand Master Flash interviewed on Synthesis; Adrian Belew interviewed by Mark DeLorenzo and Gary Levin. Zoogs Rift and Edith Klein also appeared on 91.3.

          A glossy Underwriting pamphlet was created to help with the underwriting campaign that started in the fall.

          The New Britain Herald heavily promoted one of our Lunch Date programs, which dealt with the subject of incest.

          The August 14 ECOM meeting:  "(Program Director) Greenland proposed a policy making it a requirement for a certain number of new artists to be played each hour on all Synthesis, Gothics and All Nights Shows.”

This came as a complete surprise to the ECOM, and they were concerned since it was a major deviation of station programming philosophy. The proposal that Mark submitted at was not well received by the majority of the staff, in part because it mandated the playing of a minimum number of new releases each hour.

Voting was postponed on the proposal at the request of some staff members in order to provide further discussion and to allow all programmers a chance to vote on it. It was suggested that a memo outlining the suggested requirement be sent to all staff members to give them the opportunity to contribute their opinions and suggestions."

Mark’s memo read in part "WWUH distinguished itself by virtue of our DJs ability to combine the best of today's and yesterday's music.  Our CD Library expresses this perfectly:  The Beatles next to Xmal Deutschland next to John Scofield.  Unfortunately, some DJs have not educated themselves enough to exploit this diversity.  The ECOM, because programming a show on WWUH is a privilege and not a right, sometimes has to undertake measures to ensure the best quality programming possible.  Therefore, the Program Director very strongly recommends the following policy to hasten DJ education and ensure program quality:  Rock/Urban DJs MUST play at least eight new artists per show, to include new cuts from the new bins.  Failure to comply with the rules would result in termination of the offender.

The memo continued “The proposed policy will be discussed at the August 27 ECOM meeting, please try to attend . . . as you know, I take this issue very seriously.  You should as well."

Several ECOM members were shocked by the strong wording of this memo and were distributed because they felt that such a "play list" was contrary to the station's philosophy. A number of staff members found this memo to be condescending and/or insulting, and a significant number of volunteers resented what amounted to programming mandates.

          The following ECOM meeting saw a passionate discussion of the proposal, which lasted over 90 minutes.  Don Harris and Gary Levin presented well-written statements against the new policy, and Bill Yousman and Susan also spoke out against it.  Mark Greenland and Stuart Werner spoke for the proposal. Several programmers said that they would quit if the policy was adopted.

The consensus from the staff was that the policy was contrary to the basic philosophy of WWUH programming and that adoption of it would severely interfere with freedom of programming.    The ECOM voted 1-2-0, and the policy was not adopted.  After the vote was taken, Mark Greenland resigned from the position of Program Director in protest.

Stuart was appointed music direction, replacing Mark Greenland.

          The ECOM conducted a survey to find out what the staff thought about the monthly meetings in an effort to try to get ideas on how to make them more interesting, informative and enjoyable for the staff: a number of volunteers requested genre meetings and guest speakers.

          Art Greene was voted in as a full member in September.  Art would soon become a key member of the station’s management team.

Student Kim Eaton from Massachusetts became Guide Editor in October.

          Allen Livermore was appointed Acting Community Affairs Director.

          The station was the host of a meeting of the local chapter of the Society of Broadcast Engineers in November.

          The annual station Holiday party was hold at Susan Mullis’ apartment.

Hartford Woman magazine did a spread on Donna Giddings.

          The station made an experiment in direct mail by sending a solicitation letter to listeners in November.  Response was very good.

                            

ENGINEERING:

          Since we were not able to find a way to increase the height of our antenna at the Channel 3 site we were currently located at, the Engineering Department started looking at other alternatives.  The station approached Channel 18 about renting space on their new tower across the street from our tower on Avon Mountain.  While channel 18’s management initially reacted favorably, after a short period of time they simply refused to give us a yes or no answer.  This lack of communication may have been caused by some financial problems facing the owners of the tower.

A review of the station's logs revealed that the station had experienced an average 40 to 60 hours of off airtime each year due to power failures at the transmitter site in Avon.  After receiving approval from channel 3, a generator was purchased with some of the proceeds of Marathon and installed in July.         The installation was performed by WWUH engineering personnel and the campus electricians connected the electrical wiring.  A tank with enough fuel for about 50 hours of operation was installed.  As luck would have it, after experiencing up to sixty hours of off air time annually due to power failures at the tower site, once the generator was installed there wasn’t a single outage for close to two years!  The first outage after the installation of the generator was a 24 hour outage caused by a hurricane and the station stayed on the air for the duration.

          In the fall, application was made to the Commission to install a new antenna on the existing tower in Avon.  The plan was to install a single bay antenna and feed it with 2,350 watts to maintain ERP of 1,000 watts. 

The engineering department spent many hours working with new building’s electrical contractors to design the conduit runs, and electrical system and grounding for the new studios.  Staff also worked closely with the Architect to configure the studio's acoustic design, and to monitor the design of the rest of the facility.

          FM On Toast hosts included: Ed Savage, Ed McKeon, Wes Wright, John Merino.

          Jazz hosts included:  Harvey Jassem, Monica Capezza, Donna Diddings, H. Mann (Morning Jazz).  Jim Bolan, Maurice Robertson, Peter Michaelson, Laurel Aronstamm (Accent on Jazz).

          Synthesis hosts included: Janet Bilan, Andy Taylor, Bill Yousman, Stu Werner, Carol Stevens, Lee Courtney

          Pubic Affairs Producers included:  GM Evica (Assassination Journal), Carol Bozena (Lunch Date), Frank Butash (Refrigerator Club), John Ramsey (Shortwave Alternative), Keith Brown (Gay Spirit).

          Classical hosts included: Alan Livermore, Vinny Fuerst, Linda Wentworth, Susan Mullis, Dave Agasi (Evening Classics).  Tom Kelly did Suites for a Sunday Morning

          Gothics and All Night Show hosts included:  Gary Levin, John Levine, Chris Watson, Lee Courtney, Bob Orem, Mark Greenland, Barbara, Bart Bozzi, John Duquette, Dana Bugl, Fran Cmera,

          Special Show producers included:  Misashawn (Algonquin Radio), Carol and Alphee Lavoy (Astrology Almanac), John Ramsey (Shortwave Alternative), Keith Brown (Gay Spirit), Susan Mullis and Dave Agasi (Ambience), Ken Karpowicz (Mbira), Wayne Jones (Memory Machine), Nay Nasser and Paul Bezanker (St. Corner Serenade), Felix Viera (Con Salsa), Tony and Carlo Magno (Italian), Henrique Ribeiro (Cultura E Vida), Phillip Mitchell (West Indian Rhythms).

 

Some of the stories making the news in 1987 included: Iraqi missiles kill 37 in attack on US frigate Stark in Persian Gulf (May 17); Iraqi president Hussein apologizes (May 18); US Supreme Court rules Rotary Clubs must admit women (May 4); US Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., retires (June 26); Oliver North, Jr., tells Congressional inquiry higher officials approved his secret Iran-Contra operations (July 7–10); Admiral John M. Poindexter, former National Security Adviser, testifies he authorized use of Iran arms sale profits to aid Contras (July 15–22) and Reagan says Iran arms-Contra policy went astray and accepts responsibility (Aug. 12).

 

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