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audio: montage of WDRC year-end promos & stagers montage of WDRC year-end promos & stagers
(Jerry Bishop, Jim Nettleton, Aaron Shepard, Lee Vogel, Dick Robinson, John Rode, Dick McDonough, Bob DeCarlo)

For many years New Year's Eve was the most exciting night of the year for WDRC listeners. The station unveiled its annual Top 100 Best Sellers of the Year and a party atmosphere prevailed. In the early 1960s the #1 song of the year wasn't played at midnight; the deejay simply took a couple of minutes to celebrate the arrival of the new year, then returned to the countdown until the usual 1:00 a.m. signoff. In those days the length of most records was about two minutes so it was possible to play 20 hits per hour. As song lengths increased to 3-4 minutes in the early 1970s, the annual countdown started earlier and earlier and it was difficult to play 100 songs by midnight.

Simulcasting on AM/FM was standard until the summer of 1967, but the nighttime program was simulcast until the stations went 24 hours a day on New Year's Day 1970. In the following years WDRC FM's Top 100 show featured less talk by the announcers and open encouragement of listeners to tape record their favorite songs in stereo. By 1981 WDRC AM had become a virtual oldies station so the notion of the best-selling pop songs of the year was no longer valid. In 1986 WDRC FM joined the oldies ranks and a 300-song Solid Gold Hit Parade became a weekend-long promotion. By 1992 that concept had morphed into a Solid Gold 300 list.

While the countdown is a thing of the past, we are happy to present these New Year's recollections - from the collections of Robert J. Lord, Dan Siemasko, Dave Overson and Ed Brouder.

 
DATE
DESCRIPTION
 
#1 SONG
 
  1960 No recording available. WDRC made the switch to pop music on August 18, 1960. The first nighttime personality in the new format was Jim Raynor, who probably conducted the festivities on that Saturday New Year's Eve.
E
  Theme From "A Summer Place" - Percy Faith  
  1961 No recording available. December 31st was a Sunday night so presumably Jim Raynor put aside some of the usual public affairs programs for the musical countdown.
E
  Michael - The Highwaymen
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1961)
 
  1962 No recording available. The usual program from 8:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. was Raynor Shines, so presumably Jim did the honors once again.
E
  Stranger on the Shore - Acker Bilk
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1962)
 
  1963 audio: December 31, 1963 It's just seconds before midnight and Jim Raynor's trusty sidekick, Lance the Raynorbird, reports from Times Square. The whole thing is rather anti-climactic as Jim segues into the midnight newscast.
E
  I Love You Because - Al Martino
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1963)
 
  1964 audio: December 31, 1964 At 11:55 p.m. Dick Robinson is only at #35 on the countdown! As the new year approaches he goes to the phone to connect with his friends, Dave & Adele, at a phone booth in Times Square. Then it's off to the phones, the midnight newscast, and back to the Top 100. Long John Wade stayed on the air all night to complete the countdown.
E
  Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1964)
 
  1965 No recording available. Presumably Dick Robinson presided again, although on Friday nights he usually appeared live at his KofC record hop in South Windsor...probably not on this night, though. Once again, Big D kept the transmitter humming all night as Long John Wade repeated the Top 100.
E
  Wooly Bully - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1965)
 
  1966 audio: December 31, 1966 Midnight is almost here and Dick Robinson scrambles to get a phone call from Rick Shaw in New York's Times Square. The ball falls, the chime gongs and Big D's Don 'Juan' Wade stops in to say hello before Miss Switzerland gives Dickie a New Year's kiss! It's 1967 by the time we hear the #1 song for 1966 - both the fake one and the real one. Long John Wade didn't stay on all night; he left for Philadelphia almost two months earlier.
E
  When A Man Loves A Woman - Percy Sledge
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1966)
 
  1967 audio: December 31, 1967 Dick Robinson is on the air on a Sunday night - his fourth WDRC New Year's Eve. We hear songs #2 and #1, then a brief sound effects sequence at midnight and some phone callers who didn't like the #1 choice. Bradley Field takes over to keep the countdown rolling all night.
E
  I'm A Believer - Monkees
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1967)
 
  1968 audio: December 31, 1968 Starting with Ken Griffin on New Year's Eve '68, WDRC began dressing up the transition from one year to the next. John Rode's voice is heard introducing the #1 song for 1961 followed by the #1 song for 1968. At midnight the clock tower gongs 12 times, then Bradley Field arrives to continue counting down Hartford's Top 100 tunes all night.
E
  Hey Jude/Revolution - Beatles
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1968)
 
  1969 audio: December 31, 1969 Ken Griffin does the honors again as the #2 song concludes. He slows down to reflect on Big D's past (though his math is way off) and is visited by Scotty Morgan and his wife, Charlotte, while Dik Haddad stands by to launch his new all-night show. Naturally things get a little out of control as midnight approaches. Charlie Parker introduces a special Countown For Peace, followed by a Dan Siemasko production piece (voiced by Dick McDonough & Scotty Morgan) recalling the #1 song for 1960. Finally we hear the #1 song for 1969!
E
 

Honky Tonk Women - Rolling Stones
(Hartford's Best Selling Sixty of 1969)

 
  1970

audio: December 31, 1970 WDRC continued the tradition of producing an elaborate piece to air just before midnight. Production engineer Dan Siemasko remastered the 1969 short segments recalling each previous year's #1 songs into a longer piece recalling the #1 songs of the past decade.
audio: January 1, 1971 This is the first year there were two countdowns - one each on WDRC AM (Joe Hager) and FM (Scotty Morgan). We hear Joe coming out of Siemasko's production and introducing #1 for 1970 followed by Jim Harrington (and their wives) impatiently waiting for board engineer Brian Morgan to uncork a bottle of bubbly.
E

  Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head - B.J. Thomas
(Hartford's Official Top Hundred Heavies For 1970)
 
  1971 audio: December 31, 1971 The top tunes of this year were counted down on AM by Joe Hager and FM Pete Ross (who had only joined the stations 13 days earlier). This New Year's Eve was special because it kicked off both stations' 50th anniversary celebration with a Dan Siemasko piece called Big D - Fifty Years of Broadcasting History. This recording is from Big D FM so we hear Rod Allen start the countdown all over again on his all-night show.
E
  Joy to the World - Three Dog Night
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1971)
 
  1972 audio: WDRC promo for 1972 New Year's Eve Countdown Listen to this promo. It claims Gary DeGraide will host the AM New Year's Eve countdown, while Mike Holland will do likewise on FM. It didn't quite happen that way. December 31st fell on a Sunday; Gary and Mike were usually on the air opposite each other from 4:00-8:00 p.m. This year WDRC dropped the 8:00 p.m. repeat of American Top 40 and the hour of public affairs programming at 11. Gary started the countdown on AM/FM at 4:00 and Mike took over at 9 o'clock.
audio: December 31, 1972 Just before midnight Mike played a re-edit of Dan Siemasko's 50th anniversary piece from the previous December; this studio-quality version contained news updates from the previous 12 months.
audio: December 31, 1972 After playing the #1 song, Mike aired a montage of greetings from listeners followed by the sign-on of Barry Grant's all-night show.
E
  American Pie - Don McLean
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1972)
 
  1973 audio: December 31, 1973 Dave Overson had replaced Dan Siemasko as WDRC's Production Director. He produced this montage of the year's major news events which led up to the #1 song for the year.
audio: December 31, 1973 Mike Holland again hosted New Year's Eve on AM (Otis hosted the FM countdown) and he prepared a montage of listener telephone greetings that were played just after midnight. By this time Mike had a tradition of saying goodnight to his girlfriend, Karen, who would respond on tape. As Ed Mitchell separated the AM/FM simulcast he also said goodnight to Karen, too, launching the FM all-night show!
E
  Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree - Tony Orlando & Dawn
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1973)
 
  1974 No recording available.   The Way We Were - Barbra Streisand
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1974)
 
  1975 No recording available. Dave Overson produced a piece to welcome the New Year called Predictions 1976. Charlie Parker provided the voiceover and the news inserts were recorded by reporters Lon Landis, Joe Connolly and Walt Dibble.
E
  Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain & Tennille
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1975)
 
  1976 audio: December 31, 1976 Dave Overson produced another of his New Year's Eve production pieces to air just before midnight. This one was called Calendar Countdown 1976 and featured the voices of Charlie Parker and news staffers Walt Dibble, Pam Cross and Lon Landis. The voice of "number one" just before the #1 song belongs to Kris Kane, who was the morning drive hosts for only six months in late '76 and early '77.
E
  Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1976)
 
  1977 audio: December 31, 1977 We have no recording of John Larrabee hosting the countdown but we do have Dave Overson's 1977 year-end production piece recalling the top news stories of the year. It was narrated by news director Steve Martin and was about the last thing he did before leaving WDRC at the end of December.
E
  You Light Up My Life - Debby Boone
(Hartford's Best Selling Songs For 1977)
 
  1978 No recording available. It's unknown who hosted the countdowns on AM or FM. John Larrabee left the station in November 1978 so it wasn't him.
E
  You Needed Me - Anne Murray
(Hartford's Best Selling Somgs For 1978)
 
  1999 audio: New Year's Eve 1999 Glenn O'Brien is counting down down the Top 103 Songs of the Century on WDRC FM. There's no problem with Y2K compliance as he plays Kenny G's Auld Lang Syne Millenium Mix, then welcomes the arrival of 2000.      

 
WDRC Music Survey - December 26, 1969
Music survey - December 26, 1969 featuring autographs of
Al Gates, Bill Drake, Ken Griffin, Walt Dibble, Dick McDonough,
Robert Michael Walker, Scotty Morgan, Pat Sheehan, Kent Clark,
Joe Sherwood & Joe Hager.
WDRC FM Music Survey - week ending December 26, 1980
Music survey - December 26, 1980 featuring autographs of
Steve Skipp, Susannah Young, Don Brooks, Paul Roberts,
Brad Davis & Larry Wells
 
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