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WDRC's 1927 letterhead
June 1927 letterhead

During the years Franklin Doolittle owned WDRC, his company was careful not to use the word first as a promotional point. Until the original Doolittle FM station was born in 1939 (and that legitimately was a first), the station relied heavily on the phrase Pioneer Broadcasting Station of Connecticut. That was an accurate statement and did not imply WDRC was the first radio station in the state.

In late 1936 a promotional booklet distributed by the station used the phrase the oldest station in Connecticut. That was, and is, an accurate statement.

A 1939 ad for the new W1XPW proclaimed it was the first regular broadcaster to utilize the Armstrong FM system - again, an accurate statement.

It wasn't until a Hartford Courant article published on October 3, 1944 that the station was awarded status to which it wasn't entitled: "...WDRC opened a station in New Haven, and in so doing it became the first commercial enterprise of its kind in the state." That was especially mystifying since The Courant itself was licensed to operate commercial land station WDAK June 1, 1922 - six months before Doolittle got his license (obviously WDAK's shelf life was short).

But Doolittle Radio Corporation succumbed to temptation in its unsuccessful 1947 FCC application for a television license.

WDRC's 1947 TV application

The section was labeled inaccurately, though the highlighted body copy about being the oldest Connecticut station was correct.

The sale of WDRC to the Buckley-Jaegar Broadcasting Corporation in 1959 seems to be when history was permanently rewritten. The ad pictured on the right ran in Hartford newspapers on August 17, 1960.

audio: November 1964 Throughout the early 1960s Big D programs were punctuated with a Jim Nettleton stager that introduced various Winner's Circle hit records: And now, WDRC, first on the air in Connecticut presents a song that was first in the air..."

Additional Courant articles on October 7, 1962 and July 16, 1967 repeat the first claim; it is unclear whether they were station press releases or enterprise articles by the newspaper staff.

In recent years the tagline Connecticut's FIRST radio station has appeared in print and on-air. While any institution that has survived 99 years is worthy of admiration, being the oldest still doesn't mean being first!

1966 WDRC letterhead
1966 letterhead
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