long, hot summer of 1967 was just underway. Hartford had endured
racial protests during the previous four summers but an escalation
of violence and mass arrests in the city's predominately North End
were just weeks away.
most of WDRC's young listeners, the summer of love
was symbolically launched on the other side of the continent. In
mid June the Monterey International Pop Festival gathered thousands
of rock and roll fans who peacefully enjoyed the likes of Simon
and Garfunkel, the Mamas and Papas, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix,
The Grateful Dead and The Who on the same stage. It was the first
large-scale, outdoor concert ever - and was remarkably tranquil.
always, WDRC program director Charlie
Parker was out in front of the trends. He dreamed up a free
outdoor concert that he could tie-in with a commercial sponsor.
An added bonus was promoting the station's studio relocation from
its Bloomfield transmitter site to plush, new studios at 750
Main Street in downtown Hartford.
was the era of Rowan & Martin's hit TV show Laugh-In.
In January, thousands flocked to Golden Gate Park in San
Francisco for a Human Be-In. Charlie dubbed his concert
an Out-In. He hoped to attract thousands of Big D
listeners to the Blue Hills Drive-In Theatre adjoining WDRC's
building at 869 Blue Hills Avenue.
magazine, August 30, 1952
Hills Drive-In was a popular attraction from 1952-74. During
the 1950s it's innovative manager, Melvin LeRoy, enticed
movie goers with such innovations as a television in the
concession lobby (1953) and a minature railroad circling
the entire grounds (1956).
2012 Google photo showing WDRC transmitter site & former
Blue Hills Drive-In Theatre
November 8, 2015 this website received the following e-mail and
cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed your website, wdrcobg.com.
I grew up at 887 Blue Hills Avenue in the shadow of the twin
towers. We listened to WDRC all the time! (on our telephone,
television, dental fillings, etc). My Dad was manager of the
Blue Hills Drive In which was right next door to WDRC. He was
given a promo which has been on reel to reel tape since the
day it was recorded. I have recently become a life member of
the Vintage Radio And Communications Museum of Ct in Windsor,
CT where I acquired an old reel to reel tape recorder. I was
amazed to hear that this old tape survived and delighted that
it did! I'm hoping that you would be interested to add it on
the way, the show mentioned in the promo never happened. At
the time, the police advised against it citing concerns about
civil unrest. Several months later, the city of Hartford (less
than a mile away), would erupt in riots after the news of Dr.
Martin Luther King's death.
regards always and keep up the great work!
Wright, North Granby, CT (e-mail)
promo sat in a box for 48 years but played back perfectly to reveal
Wade rushing through 90 seconds of copy. Concert goers would
have been treated to the Fifth Dimension and Big Al Anderson's Wildweeds,
among others. WDRC's move to 750 Main Street was accomplished
and Governor John Dempsey recorded an announcement welcoming the
station back to downtown Hartford.
for the long hot summer of '67, the wisdom of station and city officials
to cancel the free concert proved sage. From July 12-15 riots erupted
in Hartford leaving 16 police officers injured and three dozen people
in jail. The unrest was punctuated by looting, vandalism, shootings
and arson. Racial unrest continued in 1968 and there was a major
riot in September 1969.