In November 2006, former WPOP Good Guys Judge Harrigan, Jack Carney and Lee Gordon had a conversation which boiled down to a key question - to wit:

"The UofH CT Radio timeline says that in 1956, 'WPOP 1410 Hartford Broadcasts Hound Dog evenings, very early rock and roll program in Hartford.' This sounds like block-programming so I don't think it qualifies as a "Top Forty" format.

I can't find anything that definitively states exactly when the Top Forty era was born on WPOP."

So, let's take a look at history as it happened. To the right is a Hartford Times article published on July 20, 1956 announcing the purchase of WGTH (1410) by Tele-Broadcasters of Connecticut Inc. The article said the call letters would change to WPOP on August first. Why would the company pick those call letters if it didn't intend to evolve toward a pop music format?

The new owner ran newspaper ads saying WPOP would continue carrying programs from ABC, Mutual and the Yankee Network.

The schedule below appeared in The Hartford Courant on July 28, 1956. The call letters were still WGTH and the programming bears out that the station was cherry picking from the networks. For example, at 9:15 a.m. WGTH aired Don McNeill's Breakfast Club from ABC Radio. The Red Sox/Tigers game at 2:55 p.m. probably came from the Yankee Network.

Newspaper schedules a year later (August 1, 1957) list WPOP's morning show as Delzapoppin', hosted by Del Raycee. The Breakfast Club was still on at 9:15, and the Yankee Food Show aired at 11 o'clock. At 12:15 p.m. WPOP aired Top 40 Time, clearly a pop music show, followed at 1:30 by Waxworks. Top 40 music ground to a screeching halt at 6:15 when Lawrence Welk's network show aired, though Top 40 Time returned later in the evening. Most significantly, Buffalo's George Lorenz aired at 10:00 p.m. - the Hound Dog Show referred to above. There is no doubt the musical content was exclusively pop oriented.

A WPOP newspaper ad from January 5, 1958 promoted the Top 40 Show from 2:00-5:00 p.m., and the top selling LP's of the week from noon till 2:00 p.m. The ad still mentioned programs from ABC and Mutual, as well as Yankee News all day long. The Hound Dog was on Monday through Saturday from 8:30 till 10:30 p.m..

The Hartford Times - Friday, July 20, 1956
The Hartford Times - Friday, July 20, 1956

The Hartford Courant - Saturday, July 28, 1956
The Hartford Courant - Saturday, July 28, 1956

The Connecticut Sunday Herald ran a reader deejay popularity contest in January 1958. WPOP's candidates were Mike Lawless, Del Raycee, Doug The Bug Ward and Howie Burlingame (who won) for the Hartford market.

Newspaper schedules from January 1959 show that WPOP had gone almost totally with contemporary music (Howie Burlingame, Del Raycee, Bob Scott's Connecticut Ballroom, Don Blair and Mike Lawless), though the Yankee Network's mid morning Food Show was still on the air.

What does this tell us? Nothing definitive except that WPOP's move to Top 40 was gradual with clear origins in 1956. The most important piece of evidence may lie in WPOP's weekly music surveys provided to record labels and available in Connecticut radio stores. The webmaster of this site has in his possession Chart #82 dated Monday, April 14, 1958. Working backwards, it would appear that Chart #1 was issued on Monday, September 24, 1956.


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