Q: A signature promotion for WDRC in the 1960s
was the Secret Sound contest. People used to
paralyze the SNETELCo phone lines trying to identify
the mystery sound but the jackpot was usually 20 bucks
or something small. Were some of the guesses pretty
much from left field?
Yes, that was a beauty. I remember recording the sound
of a golf club striking a ball out in back of the building
for one of the contests.
Many of the guesses provided some of the funniest material
we ever had. The entire series of contests
that Charlie developed were ear-catching - Fun Dial,
Fun Word, etc. They were all classics. And even
though the payouts were relatively small, 20 or 30 bucks
in those days was a decent amount of coin.
You were probably on the air the day JFK was assassinated.
What do you remember about that chaotic weekend? I know
you narrated a special tribute to the President written
A: Yes, I was - a day and a moment I'll never forget.
There was no one around except me, Joe
Barbarette in the newsroom and my engineer, so I
took it upon myself to go off format and play soft music.
Nearly the entire staff was called in and we worked
until the wee hours collecting and delivering news.
I remember that tribute well. Charlie was, in addition
to all things mentioned earlier, an extremely moving
Ron Landry, Jim Nettleton, Sandy Beach, Long John Wade and
Q: It's hard to imagine today that FM was still the weak sister.
To your recollection was everything on DRC simulcast
during your stay, or did they ever split special programs
on the FM?
I believe so - I don't recall any special shows on the FM.
But then again, FM was such an after thought in those days
that we never paid much attention to it.
DRC had a huge playlist by today's standards (The
Swinging Sixty). How much input did the air personalities
A bit, but not a lot. Bertha and Charlie made the decisions.
Tell us something we don't know about Bertha
Since I don't know what you do know about Bertha, that's a
tough one. Aside from being one of the most respected Music
Directors in the country, she was a real friend to us all.
It was she who carefully made up our record boxes for the
hops and helped us in every way she could. One interesting
item is that Bertha was very tight with some of Philadelphia's
prime music movers and shakers, like Tony Mammarella at Swan,
Harold Lipsius at Universal Distributors and others - so we
played at lot of Philly hits in those days that became Hartford
and subsequently New England hits. One result was that when
I went to Philly I already knew a lot about Philly music.
In those days I don't think stations did the amount of remote
broadcasts that are common today. Personalities had another
vehicle to become known to the listener - record hops.
There were some great hops in those days. I remember doing
one for quite awhile in Coventry and another at the Middletown
Armory. Those things really drew crowds in those days. We
almost always had a band with us. As I recall, the rate when
I first went to DRC was a princely $50. But of course,
the dollar went a lot farther back then. Remotes were awkward,
given the bulkness of equipment in those days. I remember
doing live broadcasts back in Waterbury - we did the Sacred
Heart High School basketball games. Al Vestro was the play
by play guy and I did the engineering, color commentary and
commercials. All this while balancing a huge Collins combo
amp on my lap in the middle of the stands - no broadcast booths
then. By the end of each game I thought I'd lost my lap -
total numbness. That damn thing must have weighed 50 or 60
In September 1964 Dick
Robinson opened the Connecticut School of Broadcasting
at the Hotel America. If I recall, you and Long
John took over much of the early load because Dickie was
on the bench with throat problems.
Yes, Dick had a very severe bout with strep throat at the
time, so we taught the first class.