WTIC Alumni Site

      In Memory of and Designed by Bill Clede

 

BROADCASTER'S BUGLE

As funds allow, a newsletter has been published to announce planned reunions and report on previous ones. Below are excerpts from previous newsletters and more recent reports.

1999 Reunion Report
1997 Reunion report
Brad Davis Celebrates His 40th
WTIC moves

1999 Reunion Report

There was a reunion on October 2,1999 at the Holiday Inn in Rocky Hill, same as in 1997. The short two-year interval was because 1999 was the 25th anniversary of the split. Sherm Tarr wrote a report and used it in the Hartford Courant.

Broadcast Memories? WTIC Alumni Have Them

By SHERMAN TARR
�The Hartford Courant, January 9, 2000. Reprinted with permission.

Old TV reporters never die, their videotapes just fade away.
  That paraphrase of a famous military saying occurred to me while watching the recent nationally televised memorial service for six Worcester firemen who died tragically in a fire in that Massachusetts city. I had sought out my copy of a report I had done for WFSB-TV in September 1974 covering the funeral of Hartford fireman Thomas Fischer, 39, who died when the roof of a burning building fell while he was inside.
  I found that the 25-year-old videotape had deteriorated and could barely be watched. 
  Other reports on the tape also broke up while being viewed. So all I have left of that last year of my TV reporting are memories ... and the friends I worked with for 15 years, mostly when what became WFSB was a combined operation known as WTIC-AM-FM-TV3.
  But what friends they were, and are!
  Skilled veteran talents, technicians and support staff who served southern New England with locally produced programming for WTIC radio, which first broadcast in 1925, and Channel 3, which began televising in 1957. We developed strong bonds in a high-pressure business with crazy schedules.
  So, in the 25 years since the Travelers Insurance Companies (the basis for the WTIC call letters) sold the TV and radio operations to separate buyers, more than 100 "alumni" of the old WTIC have gathered at a local restaurant or hotel every two or three years for a reunion.
  They are unlike most reunions, because they involve people who worked together at the venerable station for most if not all of their professional lives - for some that was 30 to 40 years - a length of service that pales in comparison to four years of high school or college. This aspect has given the gatherings a spirit unmatched by other reunions I've been to, and because they reach back in time, the events have recently attracted people who worked there 50 or 60 years ago.
  From announcers to engineers to secretaries, they eagerly gather to chat about old times. Of course they lament about the current state of broadcasting, with its violence-dominated and celebrity-saturated news and the proliferation of syndicated and satellite-delivered programming, which has no local content and little if any relevance to local interests.
  Many readers would have felt at home during the 25th reunion in Rocky Hill in October of the "old" WTIC staffers. Al Terzi, still anchoring WFSB newscasts, led the group in recalling comrades who had died since the last gathering and eliciting updates of what alumni are now doing. Others known to many readers were on hand: announcers and personalities Bob Ellsworth, Dick Bertel, Bill Clede, Bill Hennessey, Floyd Richards, Norm Peters, Paul Sutton and Jim Thompson.
  There also were some real old-timers from the '30s, '40s and '50s, such as Phil Becker, Jack Lennhoff, Robert Bacon and a sprightly Gerard Miclette, known as "Slim Coxx", a member of the "Downhomers" band, which played live music coast-to-coast on WTIC from 1947 to 1951. He died at age 84 two weeks after the reunion. Past gatherings have drawn such WTIC talent as Bob Steele, Ed Anderson, Brad Davis, Ray Rice and Doug Webster.
  Weatherman Jim MacDonald was there, along with veteran newsmen Larrye deBear, Ralph Eno, Bill Mill and me. Previous events drew such familiar reporters as Joe Crowley, Dewey Dow, Bill Flower, Bob Killian, John Sablon (now with WVIT) and Kenn Venit.
  The camaraderie is shared by family members, too. Betty Miller, widow of talent Ross Miller and a former on-the-air personality herself, was there with her son, as was Jean Smith, recent widow of Ken Smith who headed television programming.
  On forms filled out before the reunion, comments were upbeat about time spent working at WTIC. Retired TV engineer Dick Oeser recalled "the opportunity to work with a great group of people who became lifetime friends and also to have pioneered local television with a highly respected company." Mary Howarth Cass, who worked as a script writer from 1940 to 1953, wrote, "I worked at the best time. It was like a family. I never wanted to stay home from work." Former continuity director Jim Hopkins (1950 to 1955) recalled "trying to trip up Bob Steele, who always read live copy cold" (without rehearsing).
  Throughout the reunions, "war" stories are told by people who put their faces and voices before the public, often during programs where not everything went as planned. This was most often likely to happen during sports: the Yale-Harvard regattas, University of Connecticut athletic events and the Insurance City Open golf tournament, which later became the Greater Hartford Open.
  As I look back on my broadcast news career, I think of the very first time I went on the air "live" while a student at the University of Missouri. I did a 30-minute newscast and farm market report on a commercial radio station, KFRU in Columbia, whose call letters I later learned stood for "Knowledge Flows Round Us."
  What a great mission statement for a broadcast communications service! Maybe the old WTIC'ers can chat about that at their next reunion.
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Brad Davis' 40th

May, 1999 -- Brad Davis celebrated his 40th year in broadcasting.
  Mike Kintner of O'Neal & Prelle and Doug Evans, executive director of the Bushnell, cooked up a surprise party on Feb. 8. Brad, who began his broadcasting career with "The Milk Show" on Channel 3, went to the Bushnell to salute seven major donors to the theater. Instead, Brad and wife Rosanna found 200 friends yelling, "Surprise".
  Former governor Bill O'Neill and wife Nikki don't agree with much of what Davis says but they never miss his morning show on WDRC. Governor John Rowland and wife Patty were at the party and took part in a video, a hilarious history of "the man, the myth, the milk." Hartford Superior Court Judge Art Spada was wearing a tie that said "Guilty" and "I Call My First Witness."
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WTIC is moving

May, 1999 -- After 73 years in downtown Hartford, beginning when Calvin Coolidge was president, WTIC Radio is moving out. The 70 employees of WTIC AM and FM are moving to new facilities in Farmington. The new building at 10 Executive Drive is already home to WRCH-FM and WCMX-FM, All four stations are owned by CBS Radio Inc./Hartford.    Hartford Mayor Mike Peters said WTIC belongs in Hartford. "What're they going to say `WTIC Farmington'? That's silly," Mayor Peters said.
  WTIC first went on the air February 10, 1925 broadcasting classical music from a studio on the sixth floor of the Travelers Building on Grove Street, across from Travelers Tower. The station manager and announcer wore tuxedos to work every night. When Coolidge was inaugurated on March 4, 1925, WTIC was part of the first coast-to-coast hookup to broadcast such an event.
  The Station moved to Broadcast House at Constitution Plaza on 1961. In October 1974, WTIC Radio moved to the Gold Building at the corner of Main and Pearl. WTIC's lease at the Gold Building was due to run out the end of 1999. General Manager Suzanne McDonald said the Farmington space opened unexpectedly when another tenant decided to leave. WTIC is now "NewsTalk 1080". WTIC FM is a modern adult contemporary station.
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1997 Reunion a Howling Success

January, 1998 -- No question. There will be another reunion. Everyone on the committee was flooded with compliments about the 1997 WTIC Alumni Reunion. With latecomers, six more showed up than were registered when the head count was given to the hotel, but there were six no-shows. Arnold Dean had to cancel due to the death of his sister-in-law, so the final count was 130 persons total.
  Five alumni came from Florida for the event, three from Massachusetts, two from Maryland, and one each from Indiana and Rhode Island. It looked like the one from farthest away was Lu Holcomb from Los Angeles, California, but honors go to Ray McDonald who now calls Maui, Hawaii home. Names of those who sent regrets were read.
  To start the evening, Bill Hennessey selected on-air personalities to do "man on the street" interviews with the people around their tables. Among the interviewers were Dick Bertel, Bill Clede, Brad Davis, Floyd Richards, and Al Terzi. Everyone had a minute or two of mike time.
  It worked well. Ron Delisa of D&K Sound, son of former music librarian John Delisa, provided the sound system with three wireless microphones. But any system needs engineering, capably provided by John Reno.
  CIGNA (Jim Stewart) and Travelers (John Reno) supplied the video system with a projection TV. A montage of photographs was shown over a musical sound track. Doug Webster's "New Announcer Introduction to Broadcast Plaza" was played behind video scenes of the relocation from Broadcast House to the Gold Building (pix supplied by Dave Kaplan).
  Ed Anderson, who just turned 80, said one word typifies the old WTIC, "camaraderie". He waxed eloquently until he said, "My wife just told me to wrap it up." The house broke up.
  Owen Martin, former film editor and now a landscape artist in Jacksonville, Florida, presented an original watercolor to Jim Stewart for being his mentor in his early days.
  The camaraderie of the WTIC family attracted widows of deceased alumni. Among them were Lois (Jack) Guckin, Marie (Paul) Kuntz, Betty (Ross) Miller, and Virginia (Bob) Tyrol.
  It was a time for reminiscing and bringing up wonderful old memories.
  The table of memorabilia attracted a lot of attention. Much of the material sent or brought in for display was retained for future reference. Brian Hartnett volunteered to be WTIC Alumni Reunion historian. He gathered materials and will store it for the next reunion.

 

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