Tag Archives: WDRC

The Big Dump At The Big D

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It was expected and it was one of the first orders of business as Westport-based Media Connoisseur officially became the new owners of several former Buckley Family- owned stations including WDRC.

See the story here.

Do You Remember “Big D” Boomers?

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As you may or may not know, Buckley owned WDRC is being sold in a few weeks.

I defy any CT baby boomer not to remember the WDRC/WPOP war days, when all you could hear on car radios and transistors at the beaches were those two stations, when heading to the Bushnell meant the Big D Big Show and when every pj party included calls to the late night deejays who were more than happy to play your requests and chat a bit.

Am looking for those memories please. could you email me at fillo@courant.com and share? Many thanks.

Buckley Sells WDRC And CT Stations To Connoisseur

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One of state’s oldest and most well-known “oldies” radio stations has a new owner.

The family owned Buckley Broadcasting is selling its 57-year-old Bloomfield-based WDRC AM and FM stations to Westport-based Connoisseur Media.

Staff was notified of the sale Wednesday morning by Buckley president and CEO Joe Bilotta.

Bilotta Joseph Buckley Radio

Joe Bilotta

“For over a half of a century Buckley Broadcasting has been the steward of one of the most recognized and respected call letters in broadcasting,” Bilotta wrote in an email to staff before meeting with them in Bloomfield Wednesday. “After much reflection and discussion, the Board of Trustees has decided that the reality of the evolving competitive landscape, and our sincere desire to see this historic brand continue, are cause for a change in the ownership of our Connecticut properties.” he continued. “With this acquisition, Connoisseur will be the leading radio broadcaster in the State of Connecticut and they are very excited to have the Buckley stations as part of their growing company.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Closing of the transaction is subject to FCC consent and other customary closing conditions, Bilotta said.

Other Buckley stations in Connecticut that are part of the sale are WMMW AM, Meriden,  WWC0 AM, Waterbury,  and WSNG AM in Torrington.


Jeff Warshaw

Connoisseur, founded in 2004 by president/CEO Jeff Warshaw and Mike Driscoll, owns 36 radio stations across the country including WPLR, WYBC, the Fox and Star in Milford, Connecticut.

“We are incredibly gratified and proud to take over these legendary stations,” said Warshaw. “We have no major changes planned in any way right now and are looking forward to getting in there and meeting everyone,” he said. “I think we have demonstrated our commitment to Connecticut and will be there for the long haul.”

Rumors of the sale of Buckley’s Connecticut stations began surfacing shortly after it sold its stellar New York station, WOR Radio, to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in August, 2012. Buckley also owns several radio stations in California.

“All businesses have lifecycles, and the radio industry certainly has seen its share of change in recent years,” Bilotta said in a press release issued Wednesday. “ Our decision to negotiate with, and eventually sell WDRC to Connoisseur, gives our audience, advertisers and employees access to the considerable resources of this multi-dimensional media and entertainment company.”

“Connoisseur Media is a well-respected and positively positioned radio operator,” said Buckley vice president and general manager Eric Fahnoe after meeting with staff. “Their posture in operating their properties leads the industry and we are looking forward to becoming part of a company that will now cover the New Haven and Hartford markets and become the largest radio operator in Connecticut.”

Programming and staffing is expected to continue as is until the closing is completed in June.

WDRC AM, is considered the oldest radio station in Connecticut, begun in 1920 in New Haven by Franklin Doolittle of Doolittle Radio Corporation (WDRC.) The FM station began broadcasting in the 1930s after Doolittle moved the operation to Hartford.

Buckley Broadcasting became part owners in 1957, eventually taking over the entire station in 1959. WDRC established itself over the years as a primarily “oldies” station featuring songs from the 1950s to 1990s.

At one time, the station also sponsored regular, live “Big D Big Show”  concerts at the Bushnell spotlighting then-trending performers including Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Bobby Vinton, Three Dog Night, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Rascals and Gene Pitney. Its published  “Big D Big Sound Survey” tracked record sales in the Greater Hartford area each week.

WDRC AM, dubbed “The Talk of Connecticut,” features talk shows with local hosts including Brad Davis as well as several  syndicated shows. Current FM personalities include Ron Sedaille, Mike Stevens,  Kim Zachary and Floyd Wright.


Also A Birthday Boy, WDRC Brad Davis

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bradpartyAnd last but not least, WDRC personality Brad Davis turned 80 a couple of weeks ago and he was feted at Westchester Country Club in  Delray, Florida by near and dear friends from Newport, Connecticut and Florida including Art and Lena Aiello.

And setting the party mood was a former DRC’r, Dick Robinson, head of the CT. School of Broadcasting, and a guy who just launched a new radio station in Florida sd hr prepares for his own celebration of 60 years in the business.

But back to Brad.

“I have everything I want in life,” said Davis, a former television reporter and show host who eventually landed on the air with his own morning show on WDRC-AM. “But there is one thing I would still like to do,” the former U.S. Marine  mentioned while attending Haney’s party. “I’d like to skydive once.”


Robinson Remembers The Fab Four 50 Years Ago In NYC

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BeatlesAs the world prepares to mark the weekend’s 50th anniversary of the Beatles visit to New York City and appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” one former well-known Connecticut disc jockey is remembering it better than most of us.

Former WDRC personality and founder/chairman of the Ct School of Broadcasting, Dick “Dicky” Robinson (on the right holding microphone) , was one of a handful of select broadcasters invited to attend the Beatles’ press conference at the St. George Hotel in New York in 1964.

After the press conference, he also met privately with the Fab Four. Also shown in the picture taken that day are Ed Sullivan and his recording crew, Movie Tone News reps, and Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, shown in the photo’s background.

Food/Wine And The Grapevine At Mohegan Sun WineFest

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winefest5Oh yes, there was fine food ranging from cilantro Gremolata skirt steak and smoked lamb belly bacon  to fried chicken and lamb bourguignon,  and fine wines from Francis Coppola, J Lohr, Moet and Signorello at the 11th annual Mohegan Sun WineFest .

And there were celebrity chefs who were more like celebrity couples this year, with the well-known cooking personalities showing off their significant others at the three-day food and winefest1wine extravaganza.

Among the well-known peeps to see at Saturday’s sold-out Celebrity Chef Dine Around were Food Network’s Robert Irvine and wife Gail Kim (aka wrestler and fitness model La Felina), pastry chef and Sandra Bullock sis Gisine Bullock-Prado and husband, Ray Prado, and Terrance Brennan and girlfriend, Judy Lipton.

“This is a great event,” said Irvine. “It is one of my favorites and the people at Mohegan make it so easy for us,” said the “Restaurant: Impossible” host who was serving up Hudson Valley duck with preserved confit and py lentils.

Thewinefest2 (2) casino was more than hopping as crowds headed to ballroom and VIP areas for bourbon tastings, grand tastings, the dine around  and elite cru tastings, all providing the chance to break the dreaded winter cabin fever and get out of the frigid cold.

“It certainly is nicer in here,” said celebrity chef Donatella Arpaia, one of the event veterans who not only provided a cooking demonstration but also served up her signature meatballs at the dine around later in the day. “I think I have been part of this for eight or nine years and it’s one of the better ones I do participate in,” said Arpaia, one of several of the celebrity chefs who are veterans of the annual food and dining extravaganza.

Among the many celebrity chefs at the event were Kim Canteenwalla, who had a secret to share, He is planning a restaurant in West Hartford.

“We are still working on it but I have always wanted a place there,” said Cateenwalla, well-winefest3 (2)known for developing food and beverage venues at five-star resorts and co-founder of Blau & Associates.  His wife, Elizabeth Blau, hails from West Hartford, but that was all Cateenwalla wanted to share.

“It will be an American cuisine-themed restaurant but I can’t say anything else yet,” he grinned as he went back to preparing his charred octopus with roasted fingerling potatoes.

A not-so-secret secret making the grapevine was that very outgoing WFSB personality Scot Haney is turning 50 soon and is planning a very public celebration.

Haney is holding a birthday party on March 1 at Glastonbury Hills Country Club where he will turn twinefest12he landmark birthday into a fundraiser for the Chanel 3 kids Camp.

Among the special guests at the event will be WDRC radio personality Brad Davis who coincidentally, is also celebrating a landmark birthday around the same time. Davis will be in Florida celebrating his 80th birthday but plans to fly back for an overnighter to help Haney raise money for the good cause.

And speaking of radio personalities,  WTIC 96.5 FM radio personality Gary Craig was doing a bit of glowing at the dine around and it had nothing to do with the hundreds of wines being served.

It was apparently because he made the “pool.”

See Craig, who seriously dabbles in art and acting when not on the air, appears in the blockbuster “American Hustle” with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale.

And while his spoken lines are on the editing room floor, his appearance as a mobster in a bar scene is intact and he found out he is eligible for residuals when the Oscar-nominated film goes DVD.

“Make sure you watch the bar scene when you see the movie,” he advised. “You can’t miss me.”



Savage Takes Over For WDRC Jones, Nalepa For WFSB Stepanova

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savageAs the year ends, some more changes in faces and voices on local tv and radio.

WDRC-AM “TALK of Connecticut ” afternoon slot will be filled  with the popular syndicated program, “Michael Savage’s Savage Nation.” Savage’s program will air 3 to 6 p.m. daily, the time slot that had been filled by Mary Jones and her show.  Jones retired from the station last week.

Savage announced in the fall that his  top-rated show was moving from the evening to the  prime afternoon-drive slot beginning in January.

“Savage’s move to prime time allows us to give The TALK of Connecticut’s many Savage fans their “Champion of the Right” at a more convenient time,” said WDRC program director Grahame Winters.

And on tv, a new traffic reporter at WFSB.

Nicole Nalepa, who was an anchor/reporter at WWLP in Springfield, has taken over the morning chores of former traffic and features reporter Olessa Stepanova. Stepanova left last week for a new job at WCVB in Boston.


WDRC’s Mary Jones Retiring This Month

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jones (2)WDRC 1360 AM fans please sadly note.

Your afternoon shot of sweetness, positive thinking and motivation delivered by the curly-haired Mary Jones will end on Dec. 23.

Jones, the popular, upbeat afternoon program host at the Bloomfield-based station is retiring in two weeks.

“Life is too short,” said the 62-year-old former public relations/marketing professional, who, with husband Morgan, recently purchased a place on the Gulf Coast in Florida. “We had talked about it for so long, bought the condo a few months ago and it’s time to enjoy,” she said. “It’s very bittersweet for me to be leaving but like I said, life is too short. It’s a big decision but a very exciting one.”

Jones’s 10-year career at WDRC included developing her own “The Mary Jones Show” and then sharing another, “Leatherneck and Lace,” with fellow radio show host Brad Davis as part of the station’s “Talk of Connecticut”  collection. Jones was  laid off from the station in 2008 and then brought back for a morning slot, eventually  being moved to the prime time afternoon drive period. Known for her “monthly challenges,” “Girls Night Out” dinners and optimistic program topics, Jones announced her retirement on her show Monday.

“I will miss it all,” said Jones. “I loved doing it.”

Jones said she and her husband will divide their time between their Florida and Connecticut homes.

Staff was advised of the retirement just prior to her show.

“It is with bittersweet feelings that I write to inform you that Mary Jones will be retiring from Buckley Radio.” emailed Eric Fahnoe, Buckley Broadcasting vice president and general manager. “I’m thrilled for Mary as she begins the next chapter of her life and I’m greatly appreciative of all the hard work and professionalism she demonstrated while working with us,” he added. “Mary said to me, “life is an adventure,” and I know we all will wish her well in retirement, her future endeavors or whatever comes next.”

Fahnoe said plans are still being finalized regarding new afternoon programming for that time slot.

(On a personal note, best wishes to Mary on her retirement and new life. She was one of the first people I met when I took over the Java column in 2006 and since then has become a cherished friend for so many reasons. Wishing her and her husband a wonderful retirement together. They are a surely couple that deserve it all. )

IEA Shines Bright At STARS Gala

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

It was 44 years ago when Sister Helen Dowd of the Sisters of St. Joseph decided a school for children with autism and similar disabilities needed a school to meet their needs. And so the Intensive Education Academy was begun, a private, non-profit, non-sectarian, state approved school for learning disabled children in grades K though 12.

And on Saturday, its success over more than four decades was celebrated at the annual “STARS, An Evening of Celebration” gala and fundraiser.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

“It is always wonderful to see the turnout and how many people support us,” said Sister Dowd. “We worried when we lost five or six of our best supporters last year but then eight new ones came on board. You have to just trust that things will work out.”

Veteran radio personality Brad Davis, along with WFSB personality Scot Haney once again shared   emcee and auction duties at the gala held at Tumble Brook Country Club in Bloomfield.

“I remember how Brad first started helping us,” recalled Sister Dowd. “The school’s auxiliary was looking for a speaker for its tea and asked Brad,” she said. “He said ‘yes’ and then he was with us forever.”

It’s Official! Kristafer At Catholic WJMJ!

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wjmjJava spilled yesterday but now it’s official. 

Former WDRC personality Jerrry Kristafer, who found himself  out of a job a few weeks ago, has put on a new headset with WJMJ, a Catholic radio station in Prospect. He will be the morning show host of a program that will connect the listeners to “a variety of songs and shared experiences culled from Kristafer’s 44 years on the air.” 

Here’s the official release from the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of Radio and Television.  

“Longtime radio morning star Jerry Kristafer is joining WJMJ, the FM station operated by the Archdiocese of Hartford since 1976. At 88.9 on the dial, Hartford’s WJMJ broadcasts to northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts and is also distributed around the world through streaming audio on the Internet.

 Jerry Kristafer will host mornings on WJMJ, from 5:30 to 10 a.m. starting Monday November 4, playing a unique mix of uplifting music and motivational messages, connecting to listeners with a variety of songs and shared experiences culled from Kristafer’s 44 years on the air.

“This is a new and completely different mix for me,” notes Kristafer. “I’ve done talk-radio and all kinds of music formats, so this show is going to make use of all that experience. We’ll have a great time each morning. I’m looking forward to re-connecting with loyal listeners and making new friends, too.”

 WJMJ is a non-commercial station, run by the Archdiocese’s Office of Radio and Television, headed by Father John Gatzak in a mission to serve the community through inspiration, education and public involvement.”

Kristafer replaces Bruce Stevens who recenlty left the station.

“I have known Jerry since our days together at KC101,” said Gatzak, who had a show on that station many years ago. “When Bruce left last month we began looking for someone and got well over 50 resumes from across the country and it so happened that at that time, Jerry was looking for a new position.”

“The music format will stay the same,” said Gatzak about Kristafer’s show. “And we hope Jerry will bring his own unique  personality to the show. “ 

Coincidently, Kristafer will be joining a couple of other former DRC’ers  at the station, Glenn Colligan and Dave Nagel.