WWUH RADIO HISTORY

2003 Year In Review

2003

 

Managers: John Ramsey – General Manager and Chief Engineer, Bonnie Hast – Operations Director, Susan Mullis – Director of Development, Colin Tipton and Chris Heerema – Program Director, Mary Dowst – Business Manager, Mike DeRosa – Community Affairs Director  Andy Taylor – Music Director, Ed McKeon – Folk Music Director, Marissa Lindgren, Rock Music Director, Kevin Shivley – Classical Music Director, Jazz Officer Spaak – Jazz Music Director, Brian Grossjean – World Music Director, Peter Rost -  Blues Music Director, Chris Larsen – Web Master and Recording Studio Director.

 

 

 

McNal Allison, Keith Barrett, Denise Basture, Larry Bilansky, Bart Bozzi , Keith Brown, Michael Carrol, Bob Celmer, Mark Channon, Jim Christensen, Deborah Conklin, Mark DeLorenzo, Dave Demaw, Mike DeRosa, Amy Dement, Scott Deshefy, Steve Dieterich, Vijay Dixit, Bill Domler, Mary Dowst, Marsh Dubaldo, Chuck Dube, Al Dzikas, George Michael Evica, Stu Feldman, Dawn Finnemore, Mario Greitti, Donna Giddings, Nicole Godburn, Brian Grosjean, Bonnie Hast, Pretlow Harris, Gilberto Heredia, Dean Hilderbrandt, John Holder, Harvey Jassem, Wayne Jones, Rick LaBrie, Chris Larsen, Gregory Laxer, Gary Levin, Rohan Long, Kevin Lynch, Tony Magno, Doug Maine, Chris Marti, Mike Marti, Ed McKeon, Bill Measom, Gail Meyers-Jaworski, Peter Michaelson, Phillip Mitchell, Susan Mullis, Nay Nasser, Ted Neihay, Chuck Obuchowski, Kevin O’Toole, Stephen Petke, Anthony Price, John Prytko, Johnny Prytko, jr, John Ramsey, Henrique Ribeiro, Maurice Robertson, Katherine Rossner, Peter Rost, Mark Santini, John Scott, Jack Seidl, Kevin Shively, Kapil Taneja, Andy Taylor, Steve Theaker, Dwight Thurston, Colin Tipton, Rob Turner, Terry Weichand, Lloyd Weir, Dave Zaluda, Andy Zeldin.

The ECOM consisted of John Ramsey, General Manager; Susan Mullis, Director of Development; Mike DeRosa, Community Affairs Director; Colin Tipton and Chris Heerema, Program Director; Bonnie Hast and Kris Powell, Operations Director; Jim Christensen, At Large member.

Jim Christensen was voted in as At Large Ecom member at the April meeting.  Andy Taylor, Music Director;  Marissa Lindgren, Rock Music Director, Chris Larsen, IT Manager and Kevin Lynch, Webmaster.

Work study students included Ben, Jake and Kate HorriganoHorri.

 September saw some changes in the station's management team, the Executive Committee (ECOM).  Two key members of the ECOM Colin Tipton, Program Director, and Bonnie Hast, Operations Director, graduated last May, and student volunteers Chris Heerema and Kris Powell took over their respective positions.  The rest of the ECOM was made up of the following individuals: Jim Christensen, At-Large Member, Mike DeRosa, Community Affairs Director; Mary Dowst, Business Manager; Susan Mullis, Director of
Development and John Ramsey, General Manager.

          Marathon ’03 took place March 2-9

          On March 7, the station sponsored a concert at the Konover Campus Center on campus.  The bands The Silent Groove, The Sawtelles and The Naomi Star performed along with DJ Real. Volunteers Kris Powell and Kevin Lampins hosted the event.

          The July 3, 2003 issue of the New Haven Advocate said of WWUH  An aural oasis where you can still hear bluegrass on a weekend morning, ecstatic jazz on the late-night drive home, or hauntingly beautiful music of the Renaissance while doing the dinner dishes. Oh yeah, no commercials either.”

 

COMMUNITY AFFAIRS:

Community Affairs Director Mike DeRosa arranged for BBC reporter Greg Palast, an outspoken critic of President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, to speat at a station event in July.  The lecture was held in Auerbach Hall was was sold out!  An review of the event appeared the following day in The Hartford Courant

“At a fundraiser for WWUH Radio, best-selling author Greg Palast railed against network news outfits, made fun of Big Media and likened President Bush to a lesser primate. An American-born investigative reporter who works for the Guardian newspaper of England and the BBC, Palast spoke to a crowd that filled Auerbach Auditorium. Another 50 people watched the proceedings on a monitor set up in the building's lobby.”

The Hartford Advocate did an interview with Palast for a preview story on his talk.

Hartford Courant writer Kevin Canfield Reviewed Greg Palast’s appearance on the UH campus:

Journalist's `Lovefest For Democracy'

Palast Takes On Bush, Media Before Enthusiastic Crowd

July 13, 2003

      Greg Palast is not afraid to throw a rhetorical haymaker. During an hour-long talk at the University of Hartford Saturday, the best-selling author railed against network news outfits, made fun of Big Media and likened President Bush to a lesser primate.

An American-born investigative reporter who works for the Guardian newspaper of England and the BBC, Palast was greeted in rock star fashion by a crowd that filled the college's 199-seat Auerbach Auditorium. Accompanied by another 50 people who watched the proceedings on a monitor set up in the building's lobby, audience members rose to their feet and applauded heartily when the late-arriving writer ducked in out of the sun and reached the lectern.

It would be tough to describe him as an impartial journalist - he suggested that a chimp might have greater cognitive skills than George W. Bush - but Palast is a serious reporter. His book,

Still, as Palast wrote on his website recently, his career is "only a rumor in the U.S.A." But in England he is a respected voice of dissent, a reporter who often comes up with the documentation to back his claims, never taking a government official's "word for it."

Palast arrived at the event, a fund-raiser for radio station WWUH, carrying documents that he said show a far-reaching effort by Bush loyalists to unlawfully tip the balance of next year's elections in the direction of the Republican Party. The scheme is similar, Palast claimed, to one that the writer said illegally prevented thousands of black people from voting in 2000.

Palast said he hoped his reporting on the matter would appear on one of the major American news networks, but conceded that a CBS producer told him his story did not hold up. Palast said the network did a shoddy job of checking out his claims.

Judging by the length and frequency of the cheers that greeted him, Palast's audience shared his skepticism about Beltway power players and corporate-owned media entities. Men and women wearing T-shirts announcing their support of liberal magazines, media watchdog groups andthird-party candidates hollered like students at a pep rally when Palast described the last presidential election as an "auction" won by the richest contender.

The whole thing had the feel of a 1960s rally. Palast was preceded by a young female singer who, accompanied by a guitarist and two bearded bongo players, covered a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young number and supplemented the rhythm section with small cymbals attached to her fingers. On stage sat a large vase of sunflowers. All the while, grassroots organizations handed out leaflets and sold T-shirts.

         It was, said Mike DeRosa, public affairs director for radio station WWUH, "a lovefest for democracy."

Bald and slight of build, Palast came prepared to skewer the locals, too. He said his claims are typically ignored by mainstream American news organizations such as The Courant.

Later, Palast tried unsuccessfully to access his laptop computer and display a document that he said would drive home one of his points. The computer, however, was not cooperating. Without irony, the investigative reporter said, "You'll just have to take my word for it."

          July 11, 2003 Censored News: A preview of Greg Palast's Speech at the University of Hartford. "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," has been on The New York Times paperback bestseller list for the past four months.

Greg Palast addressed election fraud in the 2004 election, the Help America Vote Act and spoke about Bush's plans for Iraq.

Here is an example of some of the issues covered by our locally produced Community Affairs program “New Focus,” hosted by Mike DeRosa in 2003:  Dean Baker talks with Mike about the state of the economy, the recession and the Bush tax cuts.  Dean also examines the real estate bubble and the devaluation of the US Dollar.

On June 02, 2003, the FCC relaxed ownership restrictions on television, radio and other forms of regulated electronic media.  Robert McChesney talks with Mike about the imminent danger posed by this regulatory change and how it will further concentrate media power.

 

PROGRAMMING

          On February 17th, the area experienced the worst blizzard in over a decade.  Storm Daniel, deposited 18+ inches on the Hartford area in less than 24 hours.  Four student volunteers, Colin Tipton, Kriss Powell, Bonnie Hast and Chris Heerema, kept the station on the air the entire time, from noon on the first day to 3 am the following day.  Chris Herema filled in the schedule from noon to four, Colin from four to nine pm, Powell from 9 pm to 3 am. The snow was so deep outside the station door by 12 noon that our volunteers realized that they could not open the door. 

On Monday, October 6th, Mark DeLorenzo did an interview with Kevin Richard, Rich Devin and Eric Keith of the band Domestic Casualty.

`        "Polka Madness" continued to be a popular Saturday morning program on WWUH.  Johnny Prytko and Ted Niehay co-host. Billed as a polka show for the next century, PM  features a variety of polka music styles, humor, visits from Dr. Polka and Dr. Aklop Kerebo, a polka lonely hearts corner, polka jeopardy and other points of interest.

          From the West Indian Rhythms web site

The West Indian Rhythms Program has been in full effect since the very early beginnings of the radio station WWUH  itself . The style and flavor has inspired many other programs in and around Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The combination of Caribbean influences Calypso and Reggae gives the program not only it's flavorful name , but also it's presence. Every Saturday from 9pm till midnight a variety of Calypso and Reggae music , news ,sports and other information is disseminated to the northern Connecticut and southern Massachusetts area , the listening audience is kept in tune with local and international happenings.

The Program hosts Phillip E. and Magnum serves up for your listening pleasure the Caribbean mix of Cultur Calypso, Dancehall and Soca with the interjection of news with Jacqueline and also story lines of "interest segments" for added flavoring.

The ECOM undertook a study of the number of CDs received per genre each year.

Librarian Dean Hilderbrant advised the ECOM that there was room for about one-year's growth in the existing library. Expansion options were limited to either having the library "take over" the Recording Studio, or expanding it into the smaller inner office.  The ECOM agreed that the Recording Studio was a valuable asset, since it was used for studio sessions, as a phone room for fund raisers, as a meeting space and as a work space when sending out premiums.

        This left the smaller inner office  as the only possible are that the library could expand into.  The staff agreed at the April meeting.

The station took part in the campus-wide "May Day" celebration, with  Colin broadcasting from the front lawn of the HJG center during this Thursday Synthesis show  on May 1.

Chris Heerema was chosen to train for the PD position that would be  vacated when Colin graduated in May. Kriss Powell would be in line for the Operations Director position when Bonnie Hast graduates at the same time.
   In September of 2003, we went on line with our new in-house computer server system.  This allowed us to migrate the wwuh.org web page to our own server, and greatly enhanced the quality and quantity of our audio streams.

We have fine-tuned our RealAudio streaming Encoder to allow up to 500 simultaneous listeners. Audio quality has been improved as well.

In December, we put a new system on line … Listeners can now, for the first time, get information about the song that is currently being played on the air (and on the web) on WWUH on the station's web page. The "Now Playing" block at the top of the home page displays the name of the selection, album title, artists and label along with the name of the show and the host of the program.

In addition, listeners can research what was played on WWUH during the last 30 days by clicking on the "MUSIC LOG" button on the left side of the home page. This link brings up a list of music played, listed by day and time.

 

ANNIVERSARY On Saturday evening, November 15, 2003, over  one hundred people go together to celebrate WWUH's 35th Anniversary.  The party was held in the University of Hartford's 1877 Club, directly above the WWUH studios in the Harry Jack Gray Center on the university's West Hartford campus.
    The evening's festivities kicked off when WWUH founder Clark Smidt took the podium.  Clark, who is now a radio programming consultant, was a student in 1968 when WWUH first went on the air and was the person responsible for the radio station project at UH.  He was able to pull together a large group of students who would become the people who actually put WWUH on the air. Clark. who was the station's first General Manager, spoke for about twenty minutes about what it was like to be involved with the "birth" of a radio station, and said how proud he was with how the station had turned out.  
    The night's next speaker was WWUH's current station manager and Chief Engineer, John Ramsey.  John spoke about WWUH's history of excellence and the wonderful legacy that Clark and the thousands of volunteers who have kept the station on the air over the years have left.  "Who would have thought in 1968,  when the station first went on the air, that localism would be all but gone from the radio dial 35 years later, and the public's trust of the electronic media would be at an all time low."
    Steve Berian (class of 1979) followed John at the lectern and, along with Clark Smidt, announced the creation of a WWUH Scholarship Fund that will help ensure the future of the station.
    Susan Mullis, the station's current Development Director, presented John with a plaque honoring him for 25 years of service as WWUH's Chief Engineer.
     No less than four former WWUH General Managers were in attendance at the reunion, Clark Smidt ('69), Judy Corcoran ('73), Patty Kurlychek ('80) and Dale Maine ('81).

          There was a moment of silence for lost alumni, Randy Mayer, Ken Kalish, John LaBella, Bill Domler, Luis Feleciano, Justin Campeu.

 

CONCERTS:

          Bruce Pratt, a station supporter and co-founder of the Folk Next Door with Ed McKeon, submitted the following recollections for the anniversary:

When UH committed to a five-morning-a-week acoustic format, I believe the station began an unprecedented era in non-commercial radio. Until then, most stations programmed folk or blues only on the weekends. To have drive time folk, and drive time ratings, no less, still amazes me. With Ed McKeon, Wild Bill Cunningham, Tom Bowman, Bill Domler, and the station’s other personalities—and I mean personality in every sense of the word—listeners in the UH area not only heard the widest variety of acoustic music possible, but were informed of the hundreds of opportunities each year to see these performers live. The station’s countless live in studio appearances has to be unmatched in southern new England. When UH also began to promote shows, one can argue with conviction that the Golden Age of Connecticut Radio had arrived.

          If a Golden moment has existed in this Golden Age it was when Ed McKeon and I first figured out how to make The Folk Next Door work.  As boastful as that may sound, I believe it to be true. The idea was simple. We’d invite as many of the best acoustic performers as we could to a concert, charge the public a reasonable amount, and record the show for a compilation CD. The artists would donate their time, but would receive the very tangible benefit of being on a CD that would be played on stations across the country. The concert appearance itself was an added benefit—often the first big stage performance for some of the artists.

The first artist selection process was arduous and fraught with discord. Besides the ancient arguments about what constituted folk music, and the internecine quarrels between the folk, singer/songwriter, bluegrass, blues, and traditional camps, there were arguments over the quality of certain artists suggested by members of the staff. Though Ed had done all the work, everyone at the station and in the folk community felt they had a stake in deciding who should appear. Ed made a sincere attempt to be democratic: we had meetings, voted on suggestions, argued for favorites, and some nearly came to blows. When the project seemed to be sinking in its own turmoil, with a patience unmatched by Job, Ed pushed on. Tempers rose, noses were put out of joint, but in the end as fine an evening of music and spirit as I have ever known ensued. I cherish the CDs and the memories of this venture. If I am ever in a really tight spot and need help I can absolutely stake my life on, one of the first people I’ll call is Ed McKeon.

          The Folk Next Door’s run astonishes me. There is a saying among musicians that goes, “Everyone remembers a funeral, but not always the wedding.” Translated, this means if the first attempt fails, you don’t get a second shot. There are many more, “First Annual” events, than there are “Tenth Annual” ones. Like most great ventures, The Folk Next Door, came to an end as an annual event, but its legacy is remembered in every one of the projects that have imitated its success over these past many years.

          For more than a decade now, I have lived out of range of the signals of my two favorite stations, WHUS and WWUH. Save for WERU, an excellent community radio station here in Maine, and the offerings on NPR, I am Beyond The Pale, beyond the reach of the vibrant community served by WWUH. I am a radio person. I have traveled a good bit of this land, and have encountered nowhere else the richness of radio in greater Hartford. Now I get NPR reruns, packaged shows—but I do love American Roots—and, when I can get it, the good programming at WERU. What I don’t get is the sense of community I once knew. As the old blues line goes, “You sure don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry.”

          I hope to be able to add notes to UH’s one hundredth anniversary celebration.

           

 

FINANCIAL:

          Fall Fund Drive in end of October.  $20,000 goal.  A denim baseball cap was the premium.

          Marathon goal was $70,000.  The t-shirt was light gray with a 45 rpm record design.

         Also discussed at the meeting was the idea of paying a nominal fee to the volunteers who have been doing sound for our concert series for the last five years.  When they do sound (using the station's sound system) for the Music for a Change series, they are paid a total of $100 to split between them, but they have been doing the station concert series without pay.  The volume of concerts has started to take it's toll, and the Staff agrees that the station should pay them $100 per show as independent contractors, with the expense being taken out of the overhead as an expense.

          Chris Heerema was chosen to train for the PD position that would be  vacated when Colin graduated in May. Kriss Powell would be in line for the Operations Director position when Bonnie Hast graduates at the same time.

 

ENGINEERING

New transmitter for WDJW in Somers.

         A computer was installed in the Air Studio for the first time in March.  This was met with a very favorable response by the staff.  Initially used for email and Internet access, the PC will eventually be used for playlists.

A digital audio workstation was installed in the Production Studio.

New station emergency power generator installed.

        We have fine-tuned our RealAudio streaming Encoder to allow up to 500 simultaneous listeners. Audio quality has been improved as well. RDS installation on the FM signal.

 

On November 1, 2003, WWUH announcers started beta testing a new paperless playlist system in the WWUH studio.  This system, when fully implemented, will allow us to publish on our wwuh.org web page and in real time, the name of the song currently being played on the air, along with the artists name, album title and record label. 

Listeners will also be able to go to our web site to research songs played on WWUH within the preceding two weeks.
  

LIVE BROADCASTS

          The station took part in the campus-wide "May Day" celebration, with Colin broadcasting from the front lawn of the HJG center during this Thursday Synthesis show  on May 1.

Michael Ditkoff wrote to the station in 2003 to provide some more details about the large safe that was kept in the WWUH office in the early years”

To answer your question about the safe, Ken Kalish and Charlie Allen would go on buying sprees at the State of Connecticut Surplus Warehouse. The safe came from there, as well as an old adding machine that was passed down to me from Phil Cabot. I don't know what else came the State of Connecticut. More about the safe -- how did Ken get it up to the office. I and a few other station members pushed it off a truck or pick up at the loading dock onto the elevator that's around the corner from the book store in Gengras. (At least where the book store was. I don't know if it's still there). Any way, there's only ONE elevator in Gengras. The elevator lifted the safe to the 3rd floor.

However, there was a problem at the 3rd floor. Due to the safe's weight, the elevator cable was stretched a few inches and  the elevator never came up flush against the floor. We just couldn't push it out of the elevator. We had to prop something under it to get the wheels onto the carpet. Not many people know that. It would be interesting to ride the elevator today and see if it comes all the way up to the third floor, meaning the cable was replaced.

From what I remember, only Ken and Jon Eppler rode up with the safe as everybody couldn't fit in, which was probably a good thing. In fact, Kenny told me that after the door closed, the elevator first went down instead of up.

 

In November 1968 WWUH was dedicated to the late Mr. Louis K. Roth.

Born in 1896, Mr. Roth was educated at New York University and Columbia University.  He began his career in 1924 as an independent distributor of radios.  In 1935 he joined Radio Corporation, Victor Division as production manager of their electronic division.  In 1944, he set up, with two partners, Radio and Appliance Distributors in Hartford.  This firm eventually became one of the largest radio wholesalers in Connecticut.

Mr. Roth was involved in many civic and community organizations.  In addition to being a trustee of the Connecticut Opera Association, Mr. Roth was a trustee of the Julius Hart Musical Foundation here at the University of Hartford.  He also served on various university committees and served on the Board of Regents of the University of Hartford from 1961 to 1967.

The Hartford Times, in a May 1967 editorial said:

“In the brief span of 23 years Louis K. Roth made an indelible mark on the civic, cultural and business life of this community.  He was a man of diverse interests, unbounded energy and willingness to give uncounted hours to non-business activities in which he had a special interest.

“The list of the social and civic agencies with which he was identified in lengthy.  They range from those formed to help needy persons to societies of a musical or other artistic or cultural nature.

“Mr. Roth took his community responsibilities seriously.  He was generous with his money, time and counsel whenever the call came for assistance.  Hartford will recall Louis Roth with the warmest recollection as a civic-minded citizen of the highest quality.”

With the 35th Anniversary rapidly approaching the ECOM started making plans.  .

 

MUSIC

The ECOM undertook a study of the number of CDs received per genre each year.

Librarian Dean Hilderbrant advised the ECOM that there was room for about one-year's growth in the existing library. Expansion options were limited to either having the library "take over" the Recording Studio, or expanding it into the smaller inner office.  The ECOM agreed that the Recording Studio was a valuable asset, since it was used  for studio sessions, as a phone room for fund raisers, as a meeting space and as a work space when sending out premiums.  This left the smaller inner office  as the only possible are that the library could expand into.  The staff agreed at the April meeting.

 

MISC

At Large Member Jim Christensen started giving tours of the station during the intermission of our various concerts. He reported that the reaction from those who took the tour was very positive.

On June 02, 2003, the FCC relaxed ownership restrictions on television, radio and other forms of regulated electronic media.  Robert McChesney talks with Mike about the imminent danger posed by this regulatory change and how it

In September, 2003, the students returned to campus and along with them came lots of enthusiasm and new ideas for WWUH.  These students are currently in the process of being trained and you should start hearing some of them on the air by mid-fall.

September 2003 also saw some changes in the station's management team, the Executive Committee (ECOM). Two key members of the ECOM Colin Tipton, Program Director, and Bonnie Hast, Operations Director, graduated in May, and student volunteers Chris Heerema and Kris Powell took over their respective positions.

Volunteer Jim Christensen, a carpenter by trade, donated a wonderful engraved sign for the vestibule.

Volunteer Jack Sidel painted the vestibule and station halls.   

On the evening of October 29, 2003, over seventy listeners took advantage of a WWUH Open House. These folks were able to meet the staff,

tour the station and partake in refreshments in the station's offices. By all accounts, the event was a huge success. We hope you'll accept our future invitations and join us for this annual event.

Fall Fund Drive in end of October. $20,000 goal. A denim baseball cap was offered as a premium.

In May, long time student staffers Bonnie Hast and Colin Power graduated.

WWUH alumni Charles Horowitz and Steve Berian had been tossing around the idea of a station scholarship for a number of years. In 2003 they approached the ECOM with the idea which was received enthusiasticly.  With the help of the University’s Gift office, a special fund was set up for donations for a future Scholarship. One the fund reacses $10,000, it would become a full scholarship. This scholarship would provide a grant to a student or student(s) who were WWUH staff members and who were in a leadership track position, or already on the station’s ECOM.  The Scholarship was formally introduced in November and within two months $700 had been collected towards the goal.  Charlie Horowitz and Steve Berian were fittingly the first people to donate to the fund.

On the national scene, Soundexchange, a company set up to collect webcasting royalties for musicians, reached a blanket agreement to cover small non-commercial web casters!

 WWUH Scholarship discussed.

In May, long time student staffers Bonnie Hast and Colin Power graduated.

    The following volunteers received certificates at the December 8th General Staff Meeting for their service to the station.

Five Years of Service: Alan St. Laurent and Rob Turner.

Ten Years of Service:  Larry Bilansky, Greg Laxer, Chris Marti, and Chuck Obuchowski

Special Plaques were presented for Fifteen Years of Service:

Bob Celmer, Ted Neihay, John Prytko, Kevin O'Toole, and John Scott and for Twenty Years of Service to Gary Levin and Phillip Mitchell.

Twenty Five Years Awards went to Doug Maine and Peter Michaelson

In addition, “Above and Beyond" awards were presented to: Mark DeLorenzo, for his assistance in training staff members to use our new Digital Audio Workstation; Dave Nagel, for his dedication and service over the last decade in the WWUH Training Department; Justin Rockafello and Ben Young, for their unending efforts to keep our huge LP and CD library organized and to  Andy Zelden, for his help in the jazz and rock departments.

         

“A Look Back” by John Ramsey, from the Sept/Oct 03 Guide

WWUH’s winding existence began in the fall of 1966 as a concept in the minds of Clark Smidt, a University of Hartford freshman, and a small group of fellow students.  These folks, along with a handful of UH faculty and staff, believed not only that the University of Hartford deserved its own radio station but that such a station could provide the campus and surrounding community with programming every bit as good as what was being aired on commercial stations of the day—maybe even better!  For the next two years, Mr. Smidt and this original staff of core “UH Radio” volunteers would face the challenges well known to those who have elaborate dreams that carry a generous price tag.  Pulling together funds from a couple of sources and relying on the benevolence of WTIC (who graciously provided them with a transmitter, for free!), the station was put on the air at 4:05 p.m. on July 15, 1968.  In November of that year, the station was dedicated in the memory of the late Louis K. Roth, who had been a regent of the University and a philanthropist, who had earmarked $40,000 for the new station.  This money kept the station on the air for its first three or four years.

The Roth Family’s generosity towards WWUH is commemorated for posterity in a bronze plaque mounted prominently on the wall next the station’s Air Studio in the Harry Jack Gray Center on campus. The plaque reads:

“The Louis K. Roth Memorial Station. WWUH Radio.  Dedicated on November 23, 1968 to the memory of Louis K. Roth, regent of the University, 1961 – 1967.  An outstanding civic leader and philanthropist, Mr. Roth believed deeply in young men and women. His encouragement and generosity, and that of his family, helped make possible the creation, expansion and continued operation of WWUH.”

WWUH began broadcasting in a time remembered for political turmoil and social revolt.  This feeling of revolt was very strongly felt by students in general and certainly by the students at the University of Hartford.  Although the school newspaper was very out-spoken at the time, WWUH was set in a slightly more conservative mind frame, concentrating more on high quality programming (much of which did reflect the issues of the time), than on being controversial.

The seventies saw numerous changes at the station. By 1972, the station’s endowment from the Roth family was gone and it was evident that the funding that the University was able to provide would not be enough to sustain the station’s growing operations.  As a result, the station conducted it’s first on-air fund drive, the “Marathon”, in April 1973.  Roughly $10,000 was raised from listeners and precedence was set: Marathon was to become an annual tradition. Indeed, more than just a tradition, Marathon would become vital to WWUH’s existence! Later that same year, WWUH also succeeded in realizing another of its dreams when, on August 17, 1973, the Federal Communications Commission approved the station’s request to move its transmitter from the UH campus to one of WTIC’s towers on Avon Mountain.  With this move, WWUH’s service area was expanded greatly, reaching out more than 20 miles in all directions.

Jazz, Opera, Classical and Bluegrass programs on WWUH (to name just a few) started gaining popularity in the mid-seventies, and many of the wonderful ethnic music programs that are heard on WWUH today got their start on the station during this time period as well.  These specialty programs served to draw listeners to 91.3, many of who quickly discovered other unique programs on WWUH.

By the mid-to-late seventies, the station had begun to establish itself as one of the more professional college stations in the area.  High quality, on-the-air programming became even more of a priority  to many of those in charge who strongly felt that WWUH could, and should give area commercial stations “a run for their money”.  Unfortunately, some truly alternative, unexplored areas of music went un-addressed while much of the station’s programming energies went into producing rock shows that were tailored to resemble that of the stations in the upper part of the dial, sans commercials. Some felt that the station wasn’t being true to it’s “Public Alternative Radio” philosophy and a rift began to develop in the station’s staff and volunteer management team with one group supporting the status quo while the other group wanting to see the station’s programming reflect more of the original “alternative” programming philosophy.

It wasn’t until 1979/80 and a tense managerial election that WWUH once again began to move back in the direction of alternative programming. Our rock shows began featuring music that was much less mainstream, and many new forms of music were heard in Hartford for the first time thanks to WWUH.

Although WWUH had been able to achieve a semblance of a 24/7 broadcasting schedule in September of 1974, when “Off The Blimps” (now the “All Night Show”) was created to fill the previously dead spot following the Gothic Blimp Works from 3-6 am every night (a remarkable feat considering that all WWUH programmers are volunteers!), most months saw at least a couple of hours of dead air when no one could be found to do a show.  It wasn’t until 1985 that the station’s staff made a firm commitment to keep WWUH on the air all the time, a commitment that has not been broken in the ensuing 18 years!

The early to mid-eighties were less turbulent years in the station history, thanks in part to the wonderful amount of listener support that the station received and to a university administration that seemed to fully appreciate what the station was trying to do.  However, the station’s programming was anything but static.  While many show formats changed frequently as programmers tried to keep pace with the emergence of many new musical genres, including Urban and New Wave, certain aspects of the station’s programming became more solidified:  FM on Toast, previously a morning rock show had transformed itself gradually into a folk/acoustic music slot in the early eighties (thanks in part to the efforts of the late Bill Domler).  The final hold out, Tuesday FM on Toast (a.k.a. “Folk Off”) changed from a hardcore rock show to a folk show in December 1984.  In the rock department, The Midday Fuse and Afternoon Roll programs were combined to form “Synthesis” in 1981.  Public Affairs programming, always an important part of the stations programming line-up, was greatly expanded in the mid-eighties.  WWUH also aired hundreds of hours of jazz live on the air from the Monday Night Jazz Series from Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

          In 1985, the WWUH staff realized that the station had grown to such an extent that finding and electing a student volunteer to serve as station manager would no longer be possible.  Listener, staff and university expectations required a manager who could provide the time and skills necessary to maintain the station’s high quality operation. I was lucky enough to be hired as General Manager in the fall of 1985.

          1989 saw the station move into new, state-of-the-art studios in the Gray Center that greatly expanded our ability to produce alternative music and public affairs programming.

The ‘90’s were good to WWUH in many ways. The station released a dozen CDs during the decade to promote new music, and the highly successful Folk Next Door concert series started in 1990. Live music once again could be heard on the WWUH airwaves, including a number of concerts from Bushnell Park, Hall High School, Real Art Ways and other local venues.  Several new public affairs programs came on the air in response to the conservative political climate of the time, some fueled at least in part by the war in the Middle East.

In 1994, we installed a new antenna on Avon Mountain that greatly improved our signal, and in 1996 we started webcasting (we were the second station in the state to do so).  The webcasts allowed our programming to be heard, for the first time, outside of our regular FM listening area in Southern New England!   Volunteers programmers, who quickly got used to getting phone calls from listeners in Manchester, CT and Springfield, MA were thrilled to receive emails from as far away as Poland, New Zealand and Japan!

The expansion of our signal coincided roughly with the start of what many call the “corporate takeover” of commercial radio in the US. These two things resulted in a significant growth in WWUH listenership!  Many people called to say that they were being driven away from commercial radio and were thrilled to find a station where the music still mattered!

The last couple of years have shown greater student involvement in the station, and the station has renewed it’s commitment to being an independent, alternative voice, something that is especially important now that so many stations are owned by so few corporations.  Our Public Affairs program address issues that the mainstream media ignore, and our music program reflect the vast wealth of music totally ignored by commercial radio.

What does the future hold for WWUH?  It’s hard to predict. There are many possible challenges, including satellite radio, terrestrial digital radio, possible spectrum fees or auctions and copywrite issues relating to webcasting to name just a few.  I can assure you that the University of Hartford and the station’s staff are committed to continuing the tradition of programming excellence you have come to expect on WWUH.

WWUH turned thirty-five in July, and we would like you to help celebrate the station’s 35th year by attending an Open House on Wednesday evening, October 29, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.  I invite you to stop by, have some refreshments, tour the station and meet some of the people you hear on WWUH each day.

 

                                                         

  On Saturday evening, November 15, 2003, over one hundred people got together to celebrate WWUH's 35th Anniversary. The party was held in the University of Hartford's 1877 Club directly above the WWUH studios in the Harry Jack Gray Center on the university's West Hartford campus.
     The evening festivities kicked off when WWUH founder Clark Smidt took the podium. Clark, who is now a radio programming consultant, was a student in 1968 when WWUH first went on the air and was the person responsible for spearheading the radio station project at U of H. He was able to pull together a large group of students who would become the people who actually put WWUH on the air. Clark, who was the station's first General Manager, spoke for twenty minutes about what it was like to be involved with the "birth" of a radio station, and mentioned how proud he was with the way the station had turned out.
     The night's next speaker was WWUH's current station manager and Chief Engineer, John Ramsey. John spoke about WWUH's history of excellence and the wonderful legacy that Clark and the thousands of volunteers who have kept the station on the air over the years have left. "Who would have thought in 1968, when the station first went on the air, that localism would be all but gone from the radio dial 35 years later, and the public's trust of the electronic media would be at an all time low."
     Steve Berian (class of 1979) followed John at the lectern and, along with Clark Smidt, announced the creation of a WWUH Scholarship Fund that will help ensure the future of the station.
     Susan Mullis, the station's current Development Director, presented John Ramsey with a plaque honoring him for twenty five years of service as WWUH's Chief Engineer.
     Over sixty present and former staff members were present for the event, including four former WWUH General Managers: Clark Schmidt ('69), Judy Corcoran ('73), Patty Kurlychek ('80) and Dale Maine ('81).
     On the occasion of the station's 35th anniversary, July 15, 2003, former WWUH staffers were asked to share their recollections:

Former WWUH Announcers Recall "The good ol' Days"
by Chuck Obuchowski

WWUH radio changed my life. Go ahead, call me a crazy brainwashed fool, but truth is, this radio station - or more precisely - the individuals who have broadcast at 91.3 MHz over the past 30 years - have had a profound influence on my appreciation of all sorts of music, most notably the idiom commonly referred to as "jazz."
     I have been a fan of radio since I was 10; by the time I reached high school age, the redundant playlists of top-40 commercial stations were beginning to bore me. So I began tuning in to the left end of the dial (remember, this was the pre-digital era... we still had dials then), checking out provocative new sonic realms whenever possible. Tuning to 91.3 FM became a nightly ritual. I completed many a homework assignment while being serenaded by Accent on Jazz. What a treat all these years later to share reminiscences with some of my favorite announcers from bygone days!
     Special thanks also to longtime Accent host Maurice Robinson and Program Director emeritus Sue Terry for their written recollections. WWUH has been blessed since 1968 with many dedicated, knowledgeable jazz volunteers; Maurice, Peter Michaelson, Doug Maine, Terry Weichand and Stuart Feldman have each been with the station over 20 years. Every ‘UH announcer is allowed complete freedom to choose the music they play over the airwaves; therefore our listeners are presented with 10 unique takes on the jazz spectrum each and every week. We are very proud of our long-standing commitment to provide the area with quality jazz programming, artist interviews, live broadcasts and our Jazzline service (860-768-5267). Jazz in the Wilde and Sounds of Hartford are two live recordings made in recent years which attest to the wonderful creative variety of musicianship in our region, and to the key role which WWUH has played in bringing the music to the attention of listeners everywhere.
     Any survey of WWUH jazz history would be incomplete without mention of Mort Fega. Mort was already a veteran DJ when he joined our staff in 1976, having been a major voice on New York City radio stations for well over a decade. His bopster slang and staunch commitment to straightahead swing during fusion’s heyday made him a distinctive figure on the Greater Hartford jazz scene.
     "I’m a confirmed bebopper," he laughs. Mort is not shy when recalling his impact on the station’s jazz block. "I brought a rich life experience with me," he proudly proclaims. Indeed, at time when most ‘UH broadcasters were students, Mort was literally a pro; besides his Big Apple experiences, he also worked at commercial radio stations in West Hartford (WMLB) and Manchester (WINF). Among his fans was Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, then President of the University of Hartford, who had grooved to Mort’s shows while a student at Columbia University.
     Mort’s in-your-face style was not for everyone. He admits to "kind of a contrived arrogance" regarding his refusal to take listener requests: "If people liked what I played, solid." He relied primarily on his own voluminous record collection for material to play on the air. Despite his detractors, Mort actually did two shows a week for some time, one on Saturday afternoons and one Tuesday evenings. Fega and his wife have long since retired to Florida, but he still fondly remembers his ‘UH years. "The station did a great deal for me," he recalls.
     Mort’s New York connections undoubtedly helped him persuade a number of noted improvisers to play Hartford’s 880 Club. The DJ produced concerts at the 880 by Chico Hamilton, Tal Farlow and Lee Konitz, among others. He also emceed shows at Paul Brown’s popular Monday Night Bushnell Park Jazz Series, many of which were - and continue - to be broadcast live during July and August.
     Mike Crispino was also involved with many of the Monday Night shows during these years. His tenure at WWUH was from 1977-81. Mike is still involved in broadcasting, although, as many are aware, he moved to television long ago; first with Connecticut’s Channel 30, and for the past six years as a commentator and play-by-play announcer for the MSG Sports Network.
     Mike had gotten his first taste of radio during his college days on Long Island; he chose to come to ‘UH when he returned to his Connecticut roots, determined to ultimately pursue a career in communications. He cites his broadcasting experiences in West Hartford as an important stepping stone, but just as importantly as a time for ample musical education and enjoyment.
     "The thing that sticks out in my mind is being able to talk with these jazz giants - the best in the business." Among Mike’s happiest ‘UH memories are his saxophone jams with fellow announcer Peter Michaelson and the interviews he conducted with Bill Evans and Toots Thielemans.
     Crispino’s frequent partner-in-crime at the outset was onetime WWUH Program Director Roger Stauss. The two collaborated on an interview series known as Conversations; subjects for the half-hour program included Elvin Jones and Eddie Jefferson. "At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of what we were doing," he admits. The pair also did a "morning comedy rock show" as part of the station’s FM on Toast block; Roger points out only half-jokingly that this program was a precursor to the team-DJ approach which currently dominates morning FM programming on the commercial airwaves ... another example of WWUH in the broadcasting vanguard!
     Roger joined the ‘UH staff in 1971 while a University of Hartford student. He started out as a pre-med major, but once he’d had a taste of radio he switched to communications. "WWUH was my first and most important professional experience," Roger attests from his home in Vermont, where he now runs Noteworthy Recording Studios and Shiretown Records. He recalls how, during his tenure as PD, "one of the big pushes was to get the station on the air consistently." Perhaps our listeners take our 24/7 schedule for granted nowadays, but it was thanks to the efforts of folks like Roger Stauss that the station has achieved such a fine reputation within the region.
     Another 91.3 1970’s jazz alum, Mark Smith, sums up his experiences at ‘UH in a way which will resonate with many other former and current volunteers.
     "I’ll always treasure the creativity and experimentation we were allowed ... and all the camaraderie and relationships I built ... above it all, it was lots of fun!" says the former Development Director. Mark was a U of H student when he joined the station. "It was the first time in my life I got a taste of what it was like to run something, to have that challenge and that control," he continues, adding that his stint at WWUH allowed him to hone the management skills he now uses daily in his computer software career.
     Mark claims "I didn’t know anything about jazz when I started ... I was exposed to a whole new world." In retrospect, he views his naiveté as a plus, since it bolstered his urge to experiment with different combinations of songs and artists; one of his trademarks was playing two pieces of music simultaneously ... ah, those were the days....
     Mark’s favorite WWUH anecdote may give our listeners some idea of the lengths our volunteer staff has been known to go, in its quest to give the area the finest jazz on the airwaves. The year was 1978, WWUH had begun broadcasting live jazz events from the 880 Club and Bushnell Park. On a nasty February night, the Pat Metheny Group was scheduled to perform at Hartford’s now-defunct Mad Murphy’s Pub. Mark and John Ramsey loaded up a station wagon with broadcast equipment and set off for the club. Unfortunately for the two intrepid travelers, Storm Larry had arrived to wreak its havoc upon an unsuspecting state. Three hours later, they arrived at their destination, which under normal weather conditions should have taken about 20 minutes! Needless to say, the band never made it to the gig, nor did any patrons. Mark and John ended up spending the night sleeping at Murphy’s and lugging the equipment back to the station the next day. "We were the only car on the road," Mark remembers; the governor had closed down Connecticut’s roads in the storm’s aftermath!
     More recently, WWUH has collaborated with the Beanery Bistro in Windsor to produce outdoor jazz concerts, and with the Connecticut Jazz Confederation to present the New England Jazz Ensemble on our West Hartford campus. The station has also begun to annually broadcast an evening of the acclaimed Hall High School Pops & Jazz series. We look forward to bringing the Jim Cifelli New York Nonet to Wilde Auditorium October 9 - and to working with the University of Hartford’s Hartt School to produce a major concert and recording next year. The ‘UH jazz department also has a new association with the Gavin Report, which will assure improved CD service - in other words, even more variety on the airwaves at 91.3 FM. Our commitment to bringing listeners the finest jazz available remains as strong as ever. Thanks to all of you who tune in every week; to those who provide us with feedback and moral support; and to everyone who shares our passion for this splendid music.

UH Jazz: B.C.D.
by Sue Terry former Program Director and Jazz Host

  I was introduced to WWUH while in my second year at Hartt. Chris Watson was on a recruiting drive for the station, and he figured what better place to look for radio announcers than a music school. I started hanging out at the station and soon caught the radio bug, from which I have not yet recovered, thank God. My first job at ‘UH was taping frayed album covers. This was back in 1978 B.C.D (before CD’s). I gazed with admiration at the "senior" announcers like the legendary Burrito, who sadly, is with us no more.
     I studied the FCC manual and passed the test for my license (which you needed in those days, before radio deregulation), and soon began my first weekly All Night Show on Tuesday from 3-6 AM, eventually graduating to Morning Jazz, and even acting as Program Director for a short time.
     My tenure at ‘UH lasted till I left Hartford for New York in 1982. It’s great to see that several of my former colleagues are still working at the station. Sometimes I dream at night that I’m back in the air studio doing my show. Chuck Obuchowski says that maybe we can make my dream come true during this 30th anniversary celebration. Hey, I’m ready!

Note: Sue Terry is a highly-regarded saxophonist and flutist who has worked extensively with the likes of Clifford Jordan and Charli Persip. She and her husband, keyboardist John di Martino were among the participants on ‘UH’s Jazz in the Wilde recording.

WWUH: 30 Years of Influence from Public Alternative Radio
By "Country Crash" Jim Douglas, UH Radio Bluegrass Host 1978-1987

    My first experience with 91.3 FM was May 1969. A classmate, Jack Chamberlain told me that he was going to do a radio show over U.Ha's radio station after school. "A ninth grader on the radio? C'mon!" But I listened to Chamberlain in the afternoon and was hooked. I got to hear "Nick Danger" by the Firesign Theater in its entirety. As time progressed, UH-FM became my station of choice, (although, like John Ramsey, I too listened to Isadore Spitz and Dexter Peebles over WRTC Sunday nights and actually won a free ticket.") As time progressed, I got to meet staffers at marathon functions and concerts; folks like Clem Infante, Ray White, Roger Stauss, Micki McClusky, Marcia Simon (for whom I did an audition tape in 1974) and many others. In the fall of 1977, I was working in a West Hartford restaurant, when the manager introduced me to a new hire, Paul McGuinness. I recognized his voice and asked him "Were you on FM on Toast this morning?" Paul exclaimed "Wow, a fan; this is super!" Over time Paul introduced me to Steve Nichols and Walt Miskin. He convinced me to audition for Walter who cleared me to begin on "Evening Dinner Classics" after getting my third class ticket. On my first night on the air I received a lot of encouragement from Paul, Jim Fifield (the "Burrito" now deceased) and Steve Nichols. Within a few weeks I was doing Wednesday All Nights and Tuesday Evening Dinner Classics, when Burrito was going to give up Saturday Bluegrass. I had been a fan of the Bluegrass program since "Cowboy" Bob Gross. With Walter's blessing I took over the show and began the process that has culminated into the program enjoyed today. During my tenure, the program was eventually expanded to four hours. "Live Radio Boogie" was begun to broadcast live bands before a studio audience, to replicate the era of live radio from which the music was born. I even managed several interviews with the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe which were shared over the air. These days two friends, Kevin Lynch and Steve Brechter, have taken the challenge to "Keep it pure," as Monroe once told me to do.
     I wish to extend my congratulations to WWUH on their 30th Anniversary. May good fortune continue to smile upon their mission to be a beacon of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. God bless you always.

Ode to WWUH
by Maurice Robinson

Since October 1976, I have maintained a creative improvisational jazz format at WWUH. This station in its 30 years has allowed persons such as myself to find a home, and to help, in our own ways, to educate the listener to different ways of hearing whatever genre of music we program.
     Within the jazz format, I’ve watched WWUH broadcast live jazz from Bushnell Park and other Hartford sites. If has also aired wonderful syndicated programs such as the Miles Davis series and NEFA’s Jazz Portraits, plus the myriad interviews conducted formally and informally almost weekly.
     Some of my fondest and more intriguing memories include the innovative jazz series done in our old Gengras Campus Center studios during the late 1970’s, which included the very expressive pianist Don Pullen in a solo context - also spoken-word artist Jayne Cortez with her very electric blues band, the Fire Spitters.
     In our archives from the Monday Night Bushnell Park Jazz Series and the old Peace Train concerts, there are tapes of deceased masters like Bill Evans, Dexter Gordan and Stephane Grappelli.
     I would probably need a past life regression to remember it all, but - to sum it up - we’re here to stay, and me, maybe another 22.

Note: Maurice Robertson is one of the region’s finest jazz photographers. His work can be viewed regularly in New England Jazz News.

 

More Station Tid-Bits or What WWUH did for Love
by Doug Maine, Friday Accent on Jazz Host

For at least four people who’ve done shows on WWUH, the station has had a more personal impact than for most, even if they’re not as involved as they once were. That’s because they’re happily married to people who were fellow volunteers at WWUH.
     Jim Bolan had been doing shows at WWUH for a number of years before Donna Giddings joined the staff. In fact, his brother Thom had preceded him on the station, and the Bolans had grown up in the same West Hartford neighborhood as John Ramsey, WWUH’s longtime station manager and chief engineer.
     Giddings was working odd hours and, "I remember I wanted to do something with people other than whom I worked. She recalled, "Everyone was friendly...It certainly enhanced my social life."
     Being at WWUH had other, longer-term benefits, as well. "I became acting business manager, and it was through that that I got my job at Arteffects.   Joanne Bilota (a former station volunteer) was doing job recruiting and called the station and asked if anybody would be interested in doing light accounting," said Giddings. "Because of the radio station, I got a job, I got a husband, and I got a wealth of knowledge about jazz."
     "I didn’t even want to do a show, but Bill Yousman and Rob Rosenthal encouraged me to do a demo tape," she said. She ended up hosting Thursday Morning Jazz from 1983-1994. Bolan hosted various programs during his years at the station and had the unenvious assignment of replacing the legendary and popular Mort Fega on Tuesday evening Accent of Jazz after Fega left the station. "It was a difficult transition, to put it diplomatically," he said. "I probably got angry phone calls for a good five to six weeks afterward. Usually I got them when I played things like Chico Freeman or David Murray, not even (something so radical as) Cecil Taylor."
     Bolan’s most vivid memory is a chilly one. "Once when I did Tuesday nights, they had to fumigate the Gengras Student Union," where the station was located until fall 1989. As a result UH had to broadcast taped programs from an unheated closet off the building’s patio. " I couldn’t get up to the station to record a show during the week, so Doug Maine taped the show, and I came up and played the tapes. It was probably the coldest night of the winter. To make matters worse, he referred to me on the tape as ’Thom’ Bolan."(opps.)
     Now living downstate, Giddings and Bolan continue to do occasional jazz fill-ins.
     Another marriage fostered by WWUH was of "Mark Time" and "Carole Clock." At least that’s what Mark Rinas and the then Carole Brosseau called themselves on air, borrowing the names from a Firesign Theatre record.
     Mark Rinas had already been doing shows at WWUH for a year or so when he met Carole, a U of H student, at a WWUH Pub Night on campus in the fall of 1980.
     "I was kind of interested in the station once I started learning about it," Carole Rinas said, "I met a lot of fun, interesting people. I ended up hanging around the station sometimes."
     One night, when former UH-staffer Jeff Becker was doing the Gothic Blimp Works, "he got stuck (for ideas of what to play) and I said, ‘pull Chick Corea’." Carole Rinas remembered.
     Eventually, the one tune built into an entire set of music and she had learned how to cue records. When the last song was ending, Becker and Mark Rinas dared her to go on-air and announce the music. "The music went so great," said Mark Rinas. "Then we just opened up the mic and made her talk."
     She and Mark did shows individually and together. In fact, they were both among the first Synthesis show hosts after Midday Fuse and Afternoon Roll were consolidated, creating time for public affairs at noon. A highlight was getting backstage to interview Frank Zappa before a concert in Hartford.
     The Rinases were pulled away from the station by "worldly obligations," but still listen and think about getting involved again. For them and Bolan and Giddings, it was the mix of people at WWUH that made their involvement enjoyable.
     "Once I got so involved with the radio station, I was amazed that such a wide variety of personality types were brought together," said Giddings.
     Bolan added, "You have people come to the station for diverse reasons, certainly, you would meet a wider range of people than you would, at least I did, in other social situations."
     And in a couple of happy cases, that diverse group of people included partners for life.

 

Area Jazz Festivals Help WWUH Celebrate our 30th Anniversary
Station joins forces with the Litchfield Jazz Frestival & Bushnell Park series
by Chuck Obuchowski

WWUH will once again be broadcasting the Monday Night Bushnell Park series during the months of July and August. And thanks to series founder Paul Brown, one evening - July 27 - will be designated "WWUH Night." We hope to have a special presence in the park that night, as we celebrate our long-standing collaboration with this marvelous free series, now in its 31st year of operation. Please come out to join in the fun, and meet all your friendly ‘UH broadcasters! Stay tuned for a complete listing of all the Monday concerts as soon as it becomes available, or call the Jazzline at 860-768-5267.
     The third annual Litchfield Jazz Festival (which, by the way, is being dedicated to the memory of Thomas Chapin, who was a lifelong friend of WWUH) takes place August 7-9 at the Goshen Fairgrounds on Rt. 63 in Goshen, CT. Jazz fans who pick up our signal in Torrington via WAPJ (89.9 FM) will have a special opportunity that weekend to mingle with ‘UH announcers. The Litchfield Fest features three days of great jazz and blues; among the featured performers are Tito Puente, T.S. Monk, John Scofield, Stanley Turrentine, Roomful of Blues and West Hartford native Brad Mehldau. For more details, call 860-567-4162 or check our their website:
www.litchfield.com. Stay tuned to WWUH for artist interviews, updated info and giveaways.

 

A Brief History of (About Thirty Years) Time
By Kevin "Moondog" O'Toole

"Sure," I said, "I’ll write a history of rock at the station in the thirtieth anniversary issue."
     BWAAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!
     No, seriously.
     Actually, I’ve been combing through ye olde stash of vintage station program guides going back over 26 years, and they revealed some interesting little tidbits.
     Well, to begin with: FM On Toast began as an early morning rock show.
     Hard to believe, but it’s true. The station’s centerpiece for folk was not always such. It was morning rock, with no folk this side of Bob Dylan.
     During the 70’s much of the station’s rock programming was geared as "auditions" for our then on-air-talent, and musically, there was little difference between the rock programming here and that on WHCN, WPLR or WCCC at the time. As a matter of fact, one FM On Toast write-up mentioned continued and failed attempts by the then hosts to get Don Imus on the phone.
     Oh, what wacky pranksters.
     There also (brace yourself) was no Synthesis then. Instead, there were Recess Rock and Afternoon Roll which ran ninety to a hundred or so minutes longer. Back then, hosts floated freely between all shows, including the then established Gothic Blimp Works, and the less frequently scheduled Off the Blimps or Gothic Annex (later the All Night Show).
     And how about that name, Gothic Blimp Works? The origins of that name go back to the late 1960’s, when it was the name of the comics insert in the "underground" (remember that name?) newspaper "The East Village Other." Rent the movie "Crumb," and you’ll see one or two of R. Crumbs covers for it flash by.
     Throughout the seventies, however, there were some rock DJ’s who still held a torch for the more creative aspects of radio. One such we know of was Mark Persky, whose show entitled God Presents Adam and Eve’s Cavalcade of mutated by 1977 into The Greatest Show From Earth, which still runs today thanks to Dave DeMaw (regular host 1978-85) and The Voice of Delorenzoid (1985-present).
     Some of the other long running WWUH 70’s stalwarts included: Jim Shanahan, Roger Stauss, Ray White, Maceo Woods (soul host from 1972-1980), Bob Smolen, John Klepsak, Steve Foss, Bob Thompson, Nay Nassar (hosting Sounds of the City, an early version of Street Corner Serenade), Ray White, Burrito, "Wild" Wayne Jones (starting The Rock and Roll Memory Machine in 1977)
     In the very early 1980’s, the executive committee of WWUH changed, in what was a highly contested election to determine the future of WWUH. With the hotly contested election of Patty Kurlychek as General Manager came a new dedication to a different WWUH. And to make that difference real, the Synthesis (as it had evolved by 1981 or so), Gothics and All Night slots were dedicated to rock and musically free form programming ( or, perhaps more accurately, musically format free). With the early eighties came names like Andy Taylor (the longest running Synthesis host, still on Tuesday’s from 1 PM to 4 PM), Michael Clare (owner of the late lamented Capitol Record Shop), Psychedelic Susan, (later of Ambience fame) bringing back psychedelia before it was trendy, Mark DeLorenzo (later Delorenzoid of GSFE), Reynolds Onderdonk (like Andy Taylor also a WRTC host), Bill Yousman, Rob Banks, Steve Burke, Janet "Planet" (a long running host on Thursday Synthesis until the early 90’s).
     The musically free form spirit continued through the eighties on WWUH, thanks in part to these remembered names:
     Stuart "Mad Daddy" Werner (one of the more raucous shows and show hosts in our history); Lee "Flea" Courtney (with his show, eventually titled "No Family Values" in our Friday Gothics slot - a balm in the third Regan/Bush conservative term); Rich "DJ Dick" Dittman (later with Tim Costa as "Two Hillbillies," they busted house music on the Hartford radio scene); Dave Zaluda (often, but not always, host of Wednesday or Friday Synthesis over the years, he still plays new sounds All Night Wednesday); Mark Melnick (not only master of beats, but of loud raucous music later known as Grunge. (By who I don’t know...); Jim Valentino and Mike McGarry (co-hosts of "The War Zone" home to much metal, and other loud fast hybrids); and Grant Miller (his "Mouthful of Paint" was a fantastic format-free show).
     Then, in 1988, came the man who would change everything.
     That November, came....
     Moondog!
     (Pause for non-existent "oohs" and "ahhs" and a short gag from the editor).
     OK, well, maybe it wasn’t that big a deal, but that’s when I started, originally taking over for the Thursday All Night Show from the Polka Madness guys.
     By 1988, a number of the Gothics and All Nights were given over to shows having nothing to do with rock (nothing much, anyway). For instance. Lloyd Weir has been the reggae host of Saturday’s Gothic Blimp Works for over a decade now. In that format-free spirit, the Synths, Goths and have often been open to reggae, hip-hop, R&B, blues, jazz, folk and world.
     It’s a programming concept that continues through today.
     Continuing a dedication to African American based music forms other than jazz, blues or rock on WWUH over the years, have been hosts like Maurice Robinson (technically a "jazz" host, I know, but he calls it "Accent on Creative Music"), Art Barlow, Art Green, Terrell Dickson, Anthony Price, Pretlow Harris,(Spreadlove), Technique Specialist, as well as Steve Williams and Synthesis host Matt (Sly).
     Meanwhile, with the nineties, the rock hasn’t subsided: Sunday Gothic’s saw the arrival of "Captain" Jon Scott in 1988 with a mix of blues, rock, folk and more; the 801’ s "Twist and Rut" show (as it came to be called) gave us a few years of programming dedicated to great rock; Vicki Aubin busted some new bands on us on Synthesis from 1991 to 1994 or so; Don T. And Way Out Willie blasted our eardrums in those early to mid nineties; Joan Holliday began "The Happy Club’ on Synthesis, and hasn’t stopped smiling since; and the elusive Jim Locker threw together sounds on "Radio For...," with a special passion of rock in the spirit of Patti Smith and Gang of Four.
     Did I mention Mike Ringland’s "Evening Peal?", or Bora? or Chris’s "Frith & Inle?"
     Well suffice it to say, I really couldn’t do much more with this article than drop some old names and perhaps introduce you to newer ones. Does this tell you the history of rock and free-form programming at WWUH? Only a little. The rest of the story is there, on the radio. It’s on "Synthesis" (Monday-Friday, one to four PM), the ‘"Gothic Blimp Works" (nightly, midnight to three AM) and the "All Night Show" (likewise nightly from three to six AM). It’s on "Street Corner Serenade" (Saturday one to three PM) and the "Rock and Roll Memory Machine" (second longest running rock show behind Gothics, Sunday six to eight PM). And it’s still there on "The Greatest Show From Earth" (Sunday nine to midnight).
     Me? I’m Moondog. Friday Gothics. I work the night shift.

A Birds Eye View
by John Ramsey

WWUH was formulated in 1966 by a small group of University of Hartford students under the leadership of student Clark Smidt. This group convinced their fellow students and the school administration that the University should have its own radio station. Once given the go ahead, they soon learned that starting a new radio station was a formidable task which required detailed engineering studies, a license from the FCC, the raising of funds and building of studios.
     With the help of the school faculty, the "Clark Smidt" group requested and received a substantial grant from the family of the late Louis K. Roth and the donation of a transmitter from WTIC radio. After two years of hard work, WWUH became a reality and signed on the air at 4:05 PM on the afternoon of July 15, 1968.
     WWUH was the first stereo educational station in New England, and one of the strongest in the region. In those early years, WWUH’s studios, transmitter and antenna were located in and on top of the Gengras Student Union, where the studios remained for the next 21 years.
     WWUH was the first station in Connecticut to broadcast daily a "progressive rock" program, from 12 midnight til 3 AM called "The Gothic Blimp Works" which you can still hear to this day. In the first 18 months of broadcasting, the station’s dedicated volunteer staff expanded the broadcast schedule from 6 hours a day in 1968 to 24 hours a day in 1970. Listeners to the station during those early years were able to hear an eclectic mix of progressive rock, jazz, folk and classical music, as well as news and public affairs programs.
     Over the years, the station programming and technical facilities grew. By moving the transmitter from the campus location to high atop Avon mountain, the station was able to greatly extend its broadcasting reach. In 1989 the studios and offices were moved from the third floor of the Gengras Student Union to the east wing of the Harry Jack Gray Center. The new facilities included space for additional studios and a recording control room which has facilitated many live broadcasts, concerts and our CD recordings.
     Currently, WWUH has a reputation for being one of the top jazz, folk and alternative rock stations in the country. The station has developed an outstanding lineup of weekly musical programming, including approximately 26 hours of classical, 19 hours of folk and bluegrass, 30 hours of jazz, 9 hours of oldies, 65 hours of alternative broadcasts including: progressive rock, urban, Indian, West Indian, reggae, Italian, Spanish, Lithuanian, blues, polka, world and ambient music. In addition WWUH continues to offer an interesting mix of public affairs and news programs, recently adding a dish to receive Pacifica programming via satellite for rebroadcast.
     Today, WWUH studios are filled with state-of-the art broadcast equipment - better than that of many commercial stations in Connecticut. Record and compact disc libraries hold over 77,000 titles, one of the largest in the country. WWUH announcers, numbering over 70, are all highly motivated and well trained volunteers committed to broadcasting the best music programming and spoken word in alternative radio. The WWUH listening audience is furiously loyal as we witness each year at fundraising time when the station always manages to exceed its financial goals.
     From the beginning of WWUH’s broadcasting start in 1968 to the present, the station’s mission has been to serve the public and the University of Hartford through the continuous broadcast of quality, non-commercial, alternative music and public affairs programming while adhering to the rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.
     As we look back on these years of broadcasting and celebrate this 30 year milestone, we are confident of our ability to provide many more years of quality broadcasting for the enjoyment of our listening audience as well as our staff and station management
30th Anniversary
     In the summer of 1998 WWUH celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary! While I usually write about the station in this column I was encouraged to get a little more personal in this anniversary issue by my staff, so here goes:
     I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with the station since its early days, and I can still remember visiting the station for the first time: It was late `68 or early '69, only months after the station first signed on. I saw an article about the University of Hartford’s new FM station in the local newspaper and having been fascinated with radio for quite some time, asked my father (who was always interested in finding positive things for his fourteen year old son to do) to take me over to the campus for a visit. WWUH was the first radio station I had ever seen, and I was simply amazed by what I saw. At that time, WWUH was shoe horned into the corner of the top floor of the Gengras Student Union, in a space that had been earmarked for the campus valet and barber shop! Everything about the station seemed incredibly interesting to me: The station's large transmitter humming away in the corner of the room, the "huge" record collection of close to 700 albums, the complex studio equipment (including an electronic gadget that turned mono records into stereo for air play). And then there was the music. From what I recall, the station's programming was as alternative then as it is now- an eclectic mix of progressive rock, folk, Jazz, soul, ethnic, and classical music. It was on 91.3 that I first heard Quicksilver Messenger Service, Ray Stevens, and Fairport Convention. "Turn Your Radio On" by Ray Stevens seemed to be one of the most popular songs played on the station around that time.
     I can’t imagine what the college student who gave me the tour thought of this inquisitive (and probably quite obnoxious) teenager asking all sorts of questions about broadcasting, but I know that I was thoroughly impressed by the volunteer nature of the station's staff; and the uniqueness of its programming.
      During the next few years my radio dial rarely left the 91.3 position (although I must admit that I would occasionally tune to 89.3 to hear the "Spitz and Peebles Show" on WRTC). The more I listened to WWUH, the more I was hooked on "Public Alternative Radio". One of my friends and neighbors, Barbara Spear, started attending UH and joined the WWUH staff, and she encouraged me to volunteer at the station. I honestly didn't think the station's staff, who were busy trying to run the station while carrying a full course load as full time students, didn't quite know what to do with this quiet fifteen year old. Since I had an interest in electronics, I was assigned to cleaning up the station's engineering shop, which was a small room in the basement piled to the ceiling with all sorts of wonderful (to me) parts and equipment.
     By this time the station had expanded in Gengras: in addition to the two studios the had an office on the third floor, which contained all of the normal office furnishings, plus one very unusual item: a gigantic safe, painted bright orange! To this day I don't know where the safe came from, or what it was for. I do know that the station was struggling to stay on the air during those early years, with many of the problems facing them that face any new organization, with financial woes probably heading the list.
     One December afternoon in 1970, someone in the programming department found out that I had my FCC Third Class License, and asked me to do a four hour program on Christmas Day. I was extremely flattered at the time, and accepted immediately. I now realize the truth behind the offer. I would probably be the only "warm body" with a license stupid enough to volunteer to do a show on Christmas Day. Just to be sure, they preprogrammed the show with me by picking out the albums for me to play in advance.
     Yes, I have that first show on tape somewhere. No, you won't be hearing it on the air during our anniversary celebration programming this summer. No way.
     They must have liked how I sounded during that show, or they must have been pretty desperate for announcers. In any case, I wound up doing fill-ins for the next year or so about once a week. I worked with some great programmers, and learned a lot about how the station operated.
     I drifted away from the station for a few years while I was on the road doing sound for various bands, but returned to the station in the Summer of '73 just after the station moved its transmitter from the campus to the top of Avon Mountain. This move caused the station to be off the air for a few weeks, and when 91.3 again came alive with a much stronger signal, I called in to congratulate them. Roger Stauss, who was Program Director at the time, took my call and invited me to come by for a tour. I arrived around four in the afternoon and after talking with Roger for about ten minutes, he asked me to fill in on the air for him as he had to go to work! Needless to say, I said yes, and it wasn't long before I was able to land two weekly shifts,The Sunday night and the Tuesday night Gothic Blimp Works.
      The Gothics at that time ran from midnight to at least two am, when the announcer could either sign off the station or stay on the air for as long as they wanted. Most of us would stay on until at least 3 am or so, and a few brave souls would stay on until the morning show started at 6 am. One cold Tuesday night I was about to sign the station off at 3 am when a wonderful young woman by the name of Clem walked into the studio and announced that she was here to do the All Night Show. It was dedicated individuals such as Clem Infante who allowed WWUH to adopt a 24 hour a day schedule, something that was unheard of in college radio at the time. It is that same level of dedication that still keeps the station on 24/7.
     I left the station for the second time in late 1974 when my sound career was forcing me to miss too many of my scheduled shifts. I wouldn't return until 1977, but I kept in contact with the station both by listening and by talking with Mark Smith, a close friend who had joined the station at my suggestion and quickly snagged a coveted Morning Jazz slot in addition to becoming the station's Business Manager. Mark kept me abreast of what was happening behind the scenes, and convinced me to rejoin the staff in the summer of 1977, which was a time of extreme turmoil at WWUH. Simply put, a number of staff members felt that the station had started to drift away from its alternative roots, and that the station was beginning to sound too commercial, but that's the topic of another time.
     In 1978, I was voted in as the station's Chief Engineer, filling the void left by Jim McGivern's departure for a full time gig with WTIC radio's engineering department. I also did some afternoon rock programming, hosting an "Afternoon Roll" program through the name change to "Midday Fuse" and finally ended up doing the Tuesday "Synthesis" for a number of years.
     In 1986 I was hired as the station's first paid General Manager, a position I have held ever since. I'm not kidding when I say that it is the best job in the world.

 

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