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WDRC's Rod Allen

ROD ALLEN
October 2, 1970 - July 2, 1972

 

Rod Ewing grew up in Pennsylvania, graduating from Altoona High School in 1966. He did his first show at WDRC using the name "Rod Kennedy." He was originally hired to do 10AM-4PM on WDRC FM. He took over the all-night shift on AM/FM September 26, 1971. On January 30, 1972, Rod hosted a special he wrote and co-produced, with singer John Carter, explaining the meaning of Don McLean's hit song "American Pie."

PRIOR: WVAM Altoona, PA; WAAB Worcester, MA; WFEA Manchester, NH

AFTER: KBYR and KENI, both in Anchorage, AK

TODAY: Rod has lived in Alaska for many years; see his note (9-26-09). (e-mail)

audio:  March 5, 1971
WDRC's  Mark Andrews

MARK ANDREWS
Prior to April 14, 2001 - April 2009

 

Born at Winsted Memorial Hospital, Mark graduated from The Gilbert School in 1983 then headed to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. He has led an interesting life outside of radio. He served in the U.S. Air Force (1985-89) and managed a hospital food and nutrition department. Mark's introduction to Hartford involved doing some high school football games on WDRC AM starting in 1998. He still works in a hospital setting by day and slips behind a DRC FM mic Sunday nights from 5 till 10PM to host The Sunday Night Sock Hop. He also fills in on other shifts from time to time.

PRIOR: WTOR Torrington, CT

AFTER: WJMJ Prospect, CT

TODAY: Mark joined WJMJ in September 2009; he does high school football play-by-play and fills in for other announcers (10-26-14) (e-mail)

audio:  April 20, 2003
WDRC's  Gene Anthony

GENE ANTHONY
August 14, 1960 - June, 1961

 

Eugene Anthony Hushak was born in New Britain on March 13, 1937. He attended Southingon High School and also attended Rensselaer Polytech Institute in Troy, NY. Gene was the original utility man among The Friendly Five when Big D inaugurated a contemporary format in August, 1960. In addition to regular weekend music shifts, he filled in for the regulars and worked in the news department. The year 1961 was eventful for Gene. On May 6 he was married...the next month he left WDRC for Springfield...and he enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 12, 1961.

PRIOR: WSPR Springfield, MA

AFTER: WACE Chicopee, MA; WPOP Hartford, CT; WHAY/WRCH Farmington, CT; WCCC Hartford, CT; WHNB TV Hartford, CT; WELI New Haven, CT; WNTY Southington, CT

TODAY: Gene was only 43 when he died in Southington on November 20, 1980.

 
WDRC's George B. Armstead

GEORGE B. ARMSTEAD
April 19, 1943 - October 20, 1945

 

George Brooks Armstead was born in New Haven on May 30, 1883. A 1906 graduate of Yale University, he served in France with the A.E.F. during World War I. After the Armistice, he was attached to theBritish Expeditionary Force in Egypt and Palestine, stationed in Jerusalem. In 1920 he returned to the states becoming city editor of the New Haven Journal Courier and Times-Leader. His next career stop lasted 14 years as managing editor of the The Hartford Courant, retiring in November 1940. At WDRC he was known as a news interpreter, hosting a 15-minute program Monday-Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m. In April 1945 he covered the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco. The following year he published The State Services of Connecticut under the direction of the Committee on Public Information and the House Committee on Publications of the General Assembly.

TODAY: Armstead died on March 7, 1950 in New Haven; he was 67.

 

BOB AVERY
September 1942 - prior to March 1946

 

Little is known about Bob. He was hired as America ramped up to World War II. Within days between August and September 1942, WDRC lost announcers Edwin O'Connor, Elliott Miller, Ray Barrett, and Bob Provan to the Armed Services. Bob Avery was hired as a replacement based on his experience with the station owned by The Hartford Times. In March 1946 he returned to the staff at WTHT.

PRIOR: WTHT Hartford, CT

AFTER: WTHT Hartford, CT

TODAY: ?

 
Bob Bacon at WTIC in 1952

BOB BACON
summer 1950
summer 1951
prior to August 12, 1959 - prior to January 9, 1960

 

Bob worked for WDRC several times before, during and after his time as a student at Trinity College, where he served as station manager at WRTC. The first time around he was a summer replacement announcer in 1950. He was appoined to the announcing staff for the second time in September 1951. The following month he presented a broadcast on a recent trip he had taken to Turkey. During the mid 50s Bob worked at other Hartford stations, returning to WDRC in August 1959 as half of the Bacon & Fay morning show (with Dick Fay) just before WDRC dropped CBS programming. During his days at WTIC he signed off his music show with the phrase, "This is Bob -- bringin' home the -- Bacon." During the spring of 1961 Bob did sports at WINF in Manchester, and later moved on to Boston. By the fall of 1965 Bob was waking up WINF's audience on the Breakfast with Bacon show and hosting afternoon drive. Still later he opened an advertising agency.

PRIOR: WRTC Hartford, CT; WTHT Hartford, CT; WTIC Hartford, CT

AFTER: WCOP Boston, MA; WMEX Boston, MA; WINF Manchester, CT

TODAY: ?

 
WDRC's  Joe Barbarette

JOE BARBARETTE
January, 1962 - May 18, 1968

 

A graduate of The Cambridge School of Radio & TV Class of 1955 (in New York), Joe began his career playing music in Bristol. He was hired from Buckley's co-owned Providence station as WDRC news director. He was a regular panelist of Channel 24's "Fourth Estate." While working at WDRC Joe was a freelance contributor to the Voice of America for several years. He left WDRC to become press secretary for Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd, later returning to radio. In 1965 Joe served as secretary/treasurer of the UPI Broadcasters Association of Connecticut.

PRIOR: WBIS Bristol, CT; WHIM Providence, RI

AFTER: WPOP Hartford, CT; WFTL Ft. Lauderdale, FL

TODAY: Joe retired from radio in 1977 and is in business in Gainesville, FL (2-5-00).

audio:  March 25, 1963
WDRC's  Ray Barrett

RAY BARRETT
February, 1937 - September 18, 1942

 

Born September 1, 1907, Ray lived in West Hartford and came to WDRC after teaching English and Public Speaking in New York City. He worked at other radio stations before WDRC, and worked at transcription companies and in commercial movies. He even had his own vaudeville act for three years! In May of 1941 he earned $65 a week as WDRC's Chief Announcer. His duties included hosting Music Off the Rack, from 7:00-7:45AM and 4:00-4:45PM, and copy writing. Ray left WDRC to enlist in the Army as a volunteer officer candidate in September 1942; he was replaced as chief announcer by Harvey Olson. After the war, Ray had a 23-year career with NBC until his retirement in 1967.

PRIOR:

AFTER: WEAF New York, NY; WNBC New York, NY; NBC Radio & Television, New York, NY

TODAY: Ray died on January 16, 1973 in Ft. Lauderdale; read a note from his daughter (10-19-01).

 

JACK BARRY
prior to July 15, 1944 - after September 3, 1944

 

Jack lived at the YMCA on Pearl Street in Hartford while employed at WDRC during the war. He was a staff announcer. In August 1944 he was assigned to host a 15-minute daily broadcast of news at 8:00 a.m.

PRIOR:

AFTER:

TODAY: ?

 

EMIL GILBERT GIRARD BAYEK
December 8, 1936 - June 8, 1941

 

Born in Thompsonville in 1912, Gilbert worked for several other stations before landing at WDRC in late 1936. Previously he had his own dance orchestra, wrote music and did arrangements for large orchestras. In 1941 he earned $43 a week as an announcer, so he was probably thrilled, in April, when he was awarded a $100 cash prize in a song-writing contest sponsored by Associated Music Publishers for staff members of stations that subscribed to its Recorded Program Service. Gil wrote lyrics for a song called My Love Is Gone. He was also the emcee of WDRC's "Strictly Swing Club" which boasted 13,000 members.

PRIOR: WPRO Providence, RI; WLBZ & WABI Bangor, ME; WLLH Lowell, MA; WHDH Boston, MA

AFTER: W47A Schenectady, NY

TODAY: Gil died in Rocky Hill on December 11, 1975 at the age of 63.

 
WDRC's  Sandy Beach

SANDY BEACH
January, 1965 - June 15, 1968

 

A native of Lunenberg MA, and graduate of Lunenburg High School Class of 1958, Sandy wet on to study radio at the Leland Powers School in Boston, Class of 1961. He was working as Jack Diamond at WSPR in Springfield when Charlie Parker hired him for Big D's 10AM-1PM shift. He later did 1-4PM, then noon till 3, before taking over the morning drive show after the departure of Don Wade in October, 1967. His fondness for horses (remember his palomino, Kansas City, and his later horse, Apollo?) and his romance with Susan Butterfield, a local school teacher, were frequent on-air fodder. She later became his wife. Sandy's unusual laugh was recorded as a sound effect which still turns up on the air today.

PRIOR: WRAD Radford, VA; WFBF Great Barrington, MA; WFEA Manchester, NH; WSPR Springfield, MA; WWLP TV Springfield, MA

AFTER: WKBW Buffalo, NY; WBAP Dallas, TX; KYUU San Francisco, CA; WJET Erie, PA; WMJQ Buffalo, NY; WBEN Buffalo, NY; WGR Buffalo, NY; WZTR Milwaukee, WI

TODAY: Buffalo hears plenty of Sandy Beach every day; he plays music on WWKB from 10AM till noon and talks on WBEN afternoons from 3-6PM (3-28-05) (e-mail).

audio:  December 5, 1967
WDRC's Jan Becker

JAN BECKER
1988 - sometime after July 10, 1989

 

Jan was a news reporter and anchor.

PRIOR: WPOP Hartford/WIOF Waterbury

AFTER: WTIC Hartford

TODAY: Jan does local and national voiceover work through Look Talent in San Francisco (4-18-07)(e-mail)

audio:  July 8, 1989

LEE BECKMAN
prior to July 13, 1986 - late 1986

 

Lee's voice was heard on the all-night show.

PRIOR:

AFTER:

TODAY: ?

audio:  July 13, 1986
Don Berns in 1969

DON BERNS
July-September, 1967

 

Born on August 18, 1947, the son of a West Hartford dentist ("the following is a Doctor and Mrs. Berns production...."), Donald Stuart Berns graduated from the Loomis Chaffee School in 1965 and Brown University in Providence in 1969, where he was a founder of the campus radio station. He spent the summer of 1967 on BIG D FM while a student. But his interest in WDRC started when he was in high school; he and his best friend hired Sandy Beach to emcee a dance at Fern Park in West Hartford. During the summer between high school and Brown University, he was curious to see what a radio station looked like. Sandy was on the air at 'DRC and Don watched him work "for about five minutes before some office guy threw me out for not having an appointment." It's because of that incident that Don decided to get involved with the university station. His repertoire of character voices was probably influenced by Sandy and Joey Reynolds. In Providence, he was hired by Bob DeCarlo and also worked with Jim Harrington. Known as the Doctor Trance, the Godfather of Toronto's Rave Scene, Don spent many years spinning techno music and was heavily involved in community theater. He also did nationally recognized voiceover work both in the United States and Canada.

PRIOR: WBRU Providence, RI; WICE Providence, RI

AFTER: WTRY Troy, NY; WKBW Buffalo, NY; WPHD/WYSL Buffalo, NY; KLIF Dallas, TX; KFMB San Diego, CA; WGR Buffalo, NY; WHB Kansas City, MO; WTAE Pittsburgh, PA; CFNY, CKEY, CFNY, all Toronto, ONT; CING Burlington, ONT; CIDC Toronto; Virtually Canadian Broadcast Network, Toronto, ONT; CKDX Newmarket, ONT

TODAY: On Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 Don had a minor surgical procedure at Brampton Hospital; on Sunday, March 1 he suffered a fatal heart attack at his Caledon, Ontario home. He was 67 (3-7-15).

audio:  August 26, 1967
Michael Bernz at WBMW

MICHAEL BERNZ
prior to April 18, 1987 - 1988

 

Michael's radio career began in 1975, hosting an evening AOR show in Groton.

PRIOR: WSUB A/F Groton, CT; WICH Norwich, CT; WCTY Norwich, CT

AFTER: WBMW Ledyard, CT; WWLI Providence, RI

TODAY: On June 18, 1009, Michael Bernz Cipriani passed away unexpectedly at the age of 58.

audio:  April 18, 1987
WDRC's  Jerry Bishop - June 23, 1960 (copyright George Heilpern)
Click for a 1963 article
about Jerry Bishop

JERRY BISHOP
prior to January 18, 1959 - July, 1963

 

Another charter member of The Friendly Five, Jerry started at WDRC before the switch to local programming in August, 1960. He was known on the air as "Jerry Blair" originally. This Hartford native was no stranger to WDRC because his father conducted a big band that regularly aired in the 1930s. Jerry graduated from Weaver High School, attended UCONN and earned a B.S. in Speech from Emerson College in Boston. As was common in the early sixties, Jerry did a split shift (10AM-12noon and 3-6PM), later settling into afternoon drive. Playing on the popularity of a popular "new" shopping center, his show was called "Bishop's Corner." In one memorable promotion, Jerry and Hartford Mayor DeLucco raised money for the Kiwanis by using their noses to push peanuts in front of the Old State House. The Mayor won--by a nose. Every Monday Jerry did his show from the WDRC parking lot - the Black Top Hop - featuring the newly released Swinging Sixty Survey. After moving to Hollywood, Jerry appeared in a 1973 episode of "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" on CBS TV.

PRIOR: WHUS Storrs, CT; WERS FM Boston, MA; WCCC Hartford, CT

AFTER: KLAC Los Angeles, CA; KFMB San Diego, CA; KFI Los Angeles, CA; KKDJ/KIIS Los Angeles, CA; KFMB TV San Diego, CA; KCBQ San Diego, CA; KGIL San Fernando, CA

TODAY: He still lives in California and has been the voice of the Disney Channel and TV's Judge Judy; see his note (9-25-09). (e-mail)

audio:  1962

EILEENE BLATNER
September 17, 1940 - after May 28, 1941

 

Eileene lived in Hartford and was classified as a "special announcer," appearing three times a week for which she was paid $9 a week in 1941.

PRIOR:

AFTER:

TODAY: ?

 

ELLIOTT BOOTH
1967-68

 

Elliott grew up in Greater Hartford and attended college in Boston, then the Cambridge School of Broadcasting. After a few years in radio he entered the printing, advertising, and direct mail industry. In 1967 his neighbor, WDRC news director Joe Barbarette, hired him in the news department where he spent about a year and a half.

PRIOR: WSOR Windsor, CT; WEXT West Hartford, CT; WCCC Hartford, CT

AFTER:

TODAY: Elliott is retired from the printing industry in Florida; see his note (10-10-01). (e-mail)

 
WDRC's Beth Bradley
Hear an audio update on Beth's heart condition from her DRC FM appearance on August 29, 2007

BETH BRADLEY
May 12, 1997 - October 14, 2006

 

Beth began her broadcast career in 1991 at WSNG before it was owned by Buckley Broadcasting. She started as news director at WDRC in May 1997, doing news on AM 1360 with Brad Davis and with Jerry Kristafer on 102.9 FM. From December 1997 till February, 1999 she partnered with Mark Sommers. She was then promoted as co-host of the Big D FM morning show with Mike Stevens, and since August 2005 has been co-host with John Saville. Beth took an extended leave of absence after suffering a heart attack on October 14, 2006; Connecticut radio veteran Marianne O'Hare filled in for her. Beth had a heart transplant in June 2008; read about her progress here.

PRIOR: WSNG Torrington, CT; WZBG FM Litchfield, CT; WSNG Torrington, CT; WTIC Hartford, CT

See Beth's note (7-7-14) (e-mail).

audio:  April 13, 1998

ANDY BRICKER
prior to July 13, 1986 - after March, 1992

 

A 1974 graduate of Cromwell High School, he was nicknamed "Ranger Andy" after a Hartford TV legend of the 1950s-1960s. He spent a couple of years in Middletown before moving to WDRC as news director; he still fills in on occasion.

PRIOR: WCNX Middletown, CT

AFTER:

TODAY: After leaving WDRC in 1992, Andy began producing TV commercials; he owns Brickwall Productions in Simsbury (5-24-13).

audio:  July 13, 1986

PHIL BRITTON
prior to July 15, 1981 - 1986 ?

 

Phil was primarily affiliated with WDRC AM, where he replaced Chip Donavon on the 7PM-midnight shift.

PRIOR: WPTR Albany, NY

AFTER:

TODAY: ?

audio:  November 25, 1981
WDRC's  Don Brooks

DON BROOKS
prior to April 13, 1980 - late 1982 and February, 1991 ? - summer 1999

 

Don played the hits on Big D FM his first time around; among his duties was presenting "Near The Top 30 Countdown" Saturday mornings at ten o'clock. After a stint at Channel 3, he returned in 1991 to do Sunday mornings and fill-in, which he did through the summer of 1999. Don later worked full time in the WDRC sales department. (e-mail)

PRIOR: WPTR Albany, NY

AFTER: WFSB TV Hartford, CT

audio:  April 17, 1981
Kevin Brownell

KEVIN BROWNELL
February, 1978 - January 1979
August 1980 - May 1985
May 2003 - September 2005

 

Kevin was born on November 7, 1948. He graduated from Simsbury High School in 1966 and attended the University of Rochester where he got involved with the campus radio station. He graduated from Ithaca College in 1972. Kevin's first stint in the WDRC news department was as a parttime anchor/reporter. He then spent about a year and a half at three radio stations in South Carolina in 1979-80, returning to WDRC in August 1980. He left in May 1985 for a series of news positions at Connecticut radio and TV stations. He often filled in doing news at WDRC on a parttime basis from 2003-2005.

PRIOR: WRUR A/F Rochester, NY; WTKO, Ithaca, NY; WTXL, West Springfield, MA; WDEW, Westfield, MA; WHYN, Springfield, MA

AFTER: WQSN & WTMA, both Charleston, SC; WDWQ FM St. George, SC; WATR/WWYZ Waterbury, CT; WNAQ Naugatuck, CT; WPOP Hartford, CT; WFSB TV Hartford, CT; WVIT TV West Hartford, CT

TODAY: Kevin drove a school bus for Salter's Express in Simsbury, worked with the Hole In The Wall community theater in New Britain and the Simsbury Summer Theatre for Youth; see his note (10-5-09) (e-mail).

audio:  July 25, 1981
Beth Brundage

BETH BRUNDAGE
early 1990 - December, 1990

 

Beth worked briefly in the WDRC news department. After Hartford she earned a Master's Degree at Boston University in International Relations and International Communications then worked in television news for 5 years.

PRIOR: WSUB Groton, CT

AFTER: WBOC-TV, Salisbury, MD

TODAY: Beth owns a production company that produces documentaries for PBS, Lifetime, The History Channel, and Discovery. She is also an adjunct professor at Suffolk University in Boston and American University Paris; see her note (9-19-01). (e-mail)

 

ALLEN BRYAN
before February 5, 1949 - after December 21, 1949

 

Little is known about Allen. A Billboard magazine blurb from February 5, 1949 says he filled in for WDRC's vacationing Leif Jensen. Another article from December 21 said Allen had filled in for the vacationing Russ Naughton.

PRIOR:

AFTER: WKLO Louisville, CT; WQXL Columbia, SC

TODAY: ?

 
Jim Burnes

JIM BURNES
prior to August 10, 1958 - prior to November 1960

 

Jim moved from Fairfield to work in the WDRC news department. One day he took a tape recorder and accompanied a man testing the legality of the toll on the Bulkeley bridge. The man refused to pay his quarter and was promptly arrested. Jim's recording of the exchange was featured on numerous WDRC news broadcasts. The Sunday Herald commented favorably on Burnes "setting up some 'candidate meet the press' panel shows" during the weeks leading up to the 1958 general elections. In November, 1958 he was named WDRC news manager. In November 1960 he moved into television, joining Channel 8.

PRIOR: WNAB Bridgeport, CT

AFTER: WNHC TV New Haven, CT; ABC Radio and Television, New York; WABC TV New York

TODAY: James E. Burnes died at the age of 42 on June 24, 1970. He suffered a heart attack in his Westport home; he left a wife and daughter.

 
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