WWUH Station History
John Ramsey, General Manager/Chief Engineer
and submissions are welcomed.
Contact: John Ramsey, WWUH
Fax 860-768-5701 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also of interest:
A new, extremely interesting time line / history of CT Radio:
"TIME LINE FOR CONNECTICUT
Foreword: Why would anyone bother to
create a written history of WWUH? Those who have volunteered at this truly
unique station will understand the answer to this question. WWUH is, and
hopefully always will be, more than just a station. Many of the thousands
of folks who have volunteered at the station over the years know what
I am talking about, and it is because of this that many consider themselves
part of the “WWUH Family”.
Over the years, I have been saving old documents for the future.
I never thought of attempting to write a historical document until I was
putting together the station’s photo albums in preparation for the 30th
anniversary in 1998. In going through the hundreds of pages, it came as
a pleasant surprise that I was able to identify a significant number of
the unlabeled photographs. It then hit me that, due to my “longevity”
at the station, I had “saved” in my mind, bits and pieces of the station’s
history that no one else might have. It was a wonderful legacy, but one
that ultimately would do no good unless I started writing down my recollections.
I welcome any corrections or suggestions.
The Early Years
Many of us affectionately call Clark Smidt (University of Hartford's
Class of ’69) the “Father of WWUH". His ideas, dedication, and leadership
made WWUH a reality and shaped its policies for many years to come. As
one of the largest college radio stations of its time: the first
in New England to broadcast in stereo, and one of the first to broadcast
24-hours a day. WWUH went on to become more than a college radio station,
serving the greater Hartford area, coining the term Public Alternative
Radio years before 'Public Radio' existed, and launching successful
careers of many who crossed its path. WWUH continues today to offer
the community different types of music, from classics to soul, in a noncommercial
environment, to provide the University of Hartford a voice, and to act
as a training ground for future broadcasters.
When Clark first developed the idea of starting a radio station
at the University of Hartford, his love of - and commitment to - radio
was already apparent with his part-time job at WBIS, a small AM station
in Bristol, CT. Years later Clark would work as Program Director of WEEI
and WBZ-FM, both in Boston, before starting his own broadcast consulting
firm and later becoming licensee of WNNR-FM in Concord, NH, which, like
WWUH, he started from scratch.
Here (with thanks to Bob Paiva’s "The Program Director's Handbook")
is the story of WWUH in Clark’s own words:
"From day one of freshman orientation I started to ask about a radio
station. I was told that people had thought about it before but that nobody
had ever followed through. There was an open frequency at 91.3, and WTIC
in Hartford had even agreed to donate a 1,000-watt FM transmitter and
$2,000. I ran all over the school drumming up support for the project,
and at the close of my freshman year, I was given the go-ahead to put
together the University of Hartford radio station. I was still doing weekends
at WBIS in Bristol, so I was considered a 'professional' and appointed
the station’s general manager with responsibilities for the station’s
"Support from the University community came from many sources:
the Operations Department helped with the technical setup, engineering
students were involved with station’s technical operations, and various
professors contributed programming material. The late William Teso, a
professor at the engineering school, and Harold Dorschug, Chief Engineer
at WTIC, was instrumental in properly completing the technical part of
the FCC application and training the students."
"It took nine months to get the application through the FCC
and on July 15, 1968, we signed-on the station with 1800 watts of effective
radiated power and the call letters: WWUH. It was later pointed out that
once you mastered saying WWUH, you could work anywhere."
"Although we couldn't accept paid commercials, we got a few
donations and pulled some fast deals for acknowledged donations. We convinced
Lipman Motors to lease a 1967 Rambler station wagon to the station for
$1 a year for use as a news car. We announced on-air that the news was
compiled through United Press International wire services and the 'mobile
team in the Lipman Motors UH news wagon.' The white vehicle with red WWUH
NEWS lettering and license plates, equipped with lights on top, was
stolen only months later."
"Prior to 1968, Louis K. Roth, a generous Regent of the University,
had told the President of the University of Hartford that he would finance
the radio station. Mr. Roth passed away before we got things rolling,
but his family still came to us with a check for $40,000. While serious
consideration was given to changing the station’s call letters to WLKR,
we instead renamed the radio station the Lewis K. Roth Memorial radio
station, and by the time I graduated in 1970, we'd built a complete stereo
radio station and still had $14,000 of Mr. Roth's grant left."
"In the beginning, we were on the air from 6:00pm to 1:30am.
We had an "easy listening" program for 45 minutes, 15 minutes of news,
and a feature called, "Hartford Tonight," where we recapped things that
were happening around town. We programmed information from 7-7:30, jazz
from 7:30 to 10, and progressive rock from 10pm through sign-off. We ran
opera on Sunday when we started broadcasting on weekends."
"For the first three weeks I had to run the control board
for every show in order to train people, but within a year we were broadcasting
24 hours a day, seven days a week. The response from the community was
Robert Skinner was the station’s first engineer, and is credited
by Clark with “making it all happen, from putting up the walls to filling
out the FCC applications to installing the wiring and the transmitter.
It would not have happened without Bob’s expertise. He practically lived
at the station the first year”.
Headlines that first year: India suffers the worst famine in 20
President Lyndon Baines Johnson asks for $1 billion in aid to the country;
Medicare begins (July 1); Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona, protecting
rights of the accused.
1967 The University of Hartford
filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
in Washington for a new educational station in West Hartford, CT, and
requested the call letters WWUH. The construction permit arrived in October
from the FCC, giving official approval to start building the station.
If the students built the station as promised, the FCC would grant them
a license to operate.
As construction began and plans were finalized, WWUH took
over rooms 328 and 330 of the Gengras Student Union, rooms originally
allocated for the campus barbershop and valet. The layout of the station's
facilities on the top floor of the Gengras Student Union was extensive
for college radio. Room 330 was subdivided into four rooms and consisted
of an on-air studio (approximately 8’ x 12’), a single small AM studio
(approximately 6’ x 6’), and a small passageway which contained the large
RCA transmitter and associated equipment. An entranceway /news room containing
the teletype/ Room 328 became a production studio. The station office
was a few doors down the hall. Soundproof walls were built around the
studios proper. Later, an engineering shop was added on the first floor.
Back to Top of Page
Major headlines in 1967: Israeli and Arab forces
battle; Six-Day War ends with Israel occupying Sinai Peninsula, Golan
Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank (June 5).; Communist China announces
explosion of its first hydrogen bomb (June 17); racial violence in Detroit;
7,000 National Guardsmen aid police after night of rioting. Similar outbreaks
in New York City's Spanish Harlem, Rochester, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala.,
and New Britain, Conn. (July 23).Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black
US Supreme Court justice (Oct. 2); astronauts Col. Virgil I. Grissom,
Col. Edward White II, and Lt. Cmdr. Roger B. Chaffee killed in fire during
test launch (Jan. 27).killed in fire during test launch (Jan. 27).
1968 As the engineering
department continued with studio construction and transmitter installation
through the first half of 1968, other members of the management team were
busy recruiting announcers. WWUH alumnus Charles Horwitz (’70) recalled:
“I clearly remember sweating the audition to be on the air (little
did I know that the station was so desperate for bodies that absolutely
everyone passed the audition except for the most grammatically challenged).
The day I opened the mail and saw my FCC License was the start of a big
change in my life. Because of my enthusiasm (and lack of any social life),
I was assigned the Friday and Saturday late nighttime slots. These rock
shows followed Mel Peppers (who used the name Maceo Woods on the air)
and his Soul Experience. As soon as Midnight arrived and I started
playing the loud stuff, the phones died and I could feel hundreds of radios
being turned off simultaneously. I quickly learned to ease into the hard
stuff by starting with a mix of blues, jazz and oldies. As Program Director
you are occasionally forced into service when someone fails to show up
for a show and one early evening classic slot stands out in my mind. I
was trying to be the epitome of culture and taste among the rubble of
the studios as they went renovation. My two best buddies, Stu Kaufman
and John Labella conspired to disrupt the solemn tone of my show by inserting
a duck call into the hole where the studio doorknob used to be. But when
Stu let out a long blast that sounded more like a fart than a duck, I
did the best I could to stifle my laughing, put on my best professional
voice and said “excuse me” as my mother has taught me to do and continued
on as if nothing had happened. After getting a record on the air I chased
both of them down the hall and down the steps to the first floor."
On July 15, 1968, Western Union delivered a very important telegram to
the station's offices on the third floor of the Gengras Student Union
building. The telegram, from the Federal Communications Commission, authorized
Program Test Authority for WWUH, giving the University of Hartford permission
to turn on their new radio station.
The students who had worked so hard for three years wasted
no time. At 4:05 PM that afternoon, after a short ceremony, they threw
a switch and WWUH went on the air for the first time as The Voice of the
University of Hartford. Family and friends of the people who had worked
so hard to put the station together, who were tuned to 91.3 at that exact
time, heard “The Star Spangled Banner” followed by “WWUH, West Hartford”
spoken by Clark Schmidt. WWUH was born!
From day one, the station was committed to providing the greater
Hartford area with professionally produced alternative programming that
was not available on the commercial stations. The 1,800-watt signal was
one of the strongest of any college station in New England, and WWUH made
its debut as the first educational station in the seven-state region to
broadcast in stereo. At sign-on, the station counted 701 albums in its
The first daily schedule ran from 4 PM to 1 AM. Even with
this abbreviated schedule, listeners started to take notice. Students
produced news and public affairs programs with an emphasis placed on alternative
news and progressive issues of concern to the immediate area were produced
and aired. Many considered the community affairs programs provocative
and even controversial, but people liked what they heard, and the University
was very happy about the positive response they were getting about their
new station. Early programming consisted of classical, folk
and jazz music, with two newscasts a day. Progressive rock also appeared
on the schedule, occupying the “graveyard shift,” which ran from midnight
to 3 AM each night. It was called “The Gothic Blimp Works,” a program
name that is still used today. WWUH's broadcast of progressive
rock music preceded the start of WHCN, which calls itself "Hartford’s
First Rock Station." The histories of WWUH and WHCN intertwine often,
starting with the fact that many WWUH rock music programmers were responsible
for changing WHCN's format from classical music to rock music.
The WWUH transmitter, affectionately known as “Mother,” was
located in Room 330 of GSU, and the antenna sat atop a 90-foot tower also
located at Gengras. The station started out broadcasting 100% of the time
in stereo at a time when many of the "major" commercial station were still
mono. The first transmitter was the RCA BTF-1, donated by WTIC where its
1,000 watts were fed in to a 3 bay Collins antenna. Even with the power
of 1,800 watts, the antenna was so low compared to the surrounding terrain
that the station covered only about a five-mile radius.
When school started that fall, students were treated to a
concert by Jefferson Airplane in the Athletic Center.
WWUH was dedicated on November 20, 1968 to the memory
of Louis K. Roth whose encouragement and generosity, and that of his
family, helped make possible the creation, expansion and continued operation
of WWUH. It was named "The Louis K. Roth Memorial Station" in a ceremony
presided over by University Chancellor Woodruff. The plaque commemorating
the dedication hung outside the air studio in the Gengras Student Union
building for 21 years. In 1989, the plaque was temporarily removed for
cleaning and then remounted outside the new air studio in the Gray Center.
Louis K. Roth (Portions of the following are from a
publication entitled “Hartford Jews 1659 – 1970 by Rabbi Morris Silverman,
c 1970, courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society.) Born in 1896,
Mr. Roth was educated at New York University and Columbia University.
He began his career in 1924 as an independent distributor of radios. In
1935 he joined Radio Corporation, Victor Division as production manager
of their electronic division. In 1944, he set up, with two partners, Radio
and Appliance Distributors in Hartford. This firm eventually became one
of the largest radio wholesalers in Connecticut. Mr. Roth was involved
in many civic and community organizations. In addition to being a trustee
of the Connecticut Opera Association, Mr. Roth was a trustee of the Julius
Hart Musical Foundation here at the University of Hartford. He also served
on various university committees and served on the Board of Regents of
the University of Hartford from 1961 to 1967.
The Hartford Times, in a May 1967 editorial said:
“In the brief span of 23 years Louis K. Roth made an indelible
mark on the civic, cultural and business life of this community. He was
a man of diverse interests, unbounded energy and willingness to give uncounted
hours to non-business activities in which he had a special interest.
“The list of the social and civic agencies with which he was identified
in lengthy. They range from those formed to help needy persons to societies
of a musical or other artistic or cultural nature.
“Mr. Roth took his community responsibilities seriously. He was
generous with his money, time and counsel whenever the call came for assistance.
Hartford will recall Louis Roth with the warmest recollection as a civic-minded
citizen of the highest quality.”
Major headlines in 1968: North Vietnamese launch the
Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War (Jan.-Feb.); American
soldiers massacre 347 civilians at My Lai (March 16). Background: Vietnam
War; President Johnson announces he will not seek or accept presidential
nomination (March 31); Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is
slain in Memphis (April 4); Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is shot and critically
wounded in Los Angeles hotel after winning California primary (June 5)
-- he dies June 6. Background: Timeline of Kennedy tragedies.
Staff: Clark Smidt - General Manager; Neil Portnoy - Program Director;
Ronnie Berger - Music Director. Special Advisor and Record Procurement:
In a January 9, 1969 memo to 'All Promotion Men and Record Distributors',
Clark Smidt wrote:
"According to the October survey of the metro Hartford area by the American
Research Bureau, WWUH-FM has an overall .6% of the total audience. And
from 7 pm to midnight, we had 3.9% of the 18-24 crowd. I know it's not
much but in October, WWUH was only three months old! Right now our
schedule is as follows:
Monday - Friday
4-7pm Easy Listening
12:30pm Progressive Rock
7 am - 7pm Rock
10 pm Progressive Rock
11am Easy Listening
7 pm Talk
7:30 pm Opera
10:30 pm Progressive Rock
"As of February 10, the new WWUH will be on the air with a
carefully prepared rock format (with Top 40, Oldies, Progressive and L.P.
cuts) from 6am to 5pm daily, and again from 10pm to 2am. Although we will
remain mostly a stereo station, MONO CUTS WILL BE USED in playing new
hits and leaning on good sides that other stations with tighter play lists
refuse to play. 5-10pm will be devoted to quality, stereo programming
with the emphasis on news features, classics, talk features and jazz.
I hope we can count on your for continued service in ALL areas, in Stereo
when possible…but if you don't have it, please send mono so we have the
record. Thanks very much."
Programming continued to expand as more and more students and faculty
became aware of, and involved with, the station as volunteers. The number
of listeners grew as well, as shown by the increasing number of calls
and letters the radio station received. Live musical performances were
a mainstay of the station's programming with many performances presented
live or prerecorded live. Recording engineer, Bob Katz, was instrumental
in making these live broadcasts sound technically superior.
Major headlines in 1969: Communist China exploded
its first hydrogen bomb (June 17); the US and USSR proposed a nuclear
nonproliferation treaty. Background: nuclear disarmament; racial violence
in Detroit; 7,000 National Guardsmen aid police after night of rioting.
Similar outbreaks in New York City's Spanish Harlem, Rochester, NY, Birmingham,
Ala., and New Britain, Conn. (July 23); Thurgood Marshall sworn in as
first black US Supreme Court justice (Oct. 2); Astronauts Col. Virgil
I. Grissom, Col. Edward White II, and Lt. Cadre. Roger B. Chaffee killed
in fire during test launch (Jan. 27).
Back to Top of Page