David Wilkinson wrote and
produced “The Broadcaster at 40”. There was a three-hour program on
Wednesday night of the anniversary week and on Monday, Tuesday,
Thursday and Friday each night was scheduled a one-hour program, each
program exploring ten years of TIC history.
summary is courtesy of listener
Notes from “The Broadcaster at 40” – Program 3. The Third Decade –
The 1945 WTIC-Hartford Courant Mile O’ Dimes
campaign exceeded its goal by 2-1/8 miles with a total of $64, 071.80.
On April 12, at 5:45 p. m., WTIC was airing the NBC
network children’s serial, “Front Page Farrell.” A short time after the
day’s episode began, came a bulletin that President Franklin D.
Roosevelt had died at Warm Springs in Georgia. Many special programs
were broadcast, and WTIC presented many symphonic works appropriate to
a period of national mourning.
On April 16, 1945, the new President of the United
States, Harry S. Truman, addressed the Congress. A short time later, a
meeting was convened in San Francisco and from the gathering, came the
organization known as the United Nations.
On May 7, 1945, the voice of NBC reporter James
Stephenson (sp?) interrupted regular broadcasting.
“An Associated Press bulletin just received from
Reims, France, reports that Germany surrendered unconditionally to the
Western Allies and Russia at 2:41 this morning, French time. That would
be 8:41 a. m., Eastern War Time. However, there has been no official
announcement by the Allied Supreme headquarters or from any of the
Allied capitals. This is expected at any time, however, and will
doubtlessly come simultaneously from London, Washington and Moscow.”
In Hartford, Mayor William Mortensen spoke to a
community jubilant with the excitement of V-E Day and, on the network,
H. V. Kaltenborn commented on the victory.
Back on the home front, an intensive WTIC Farm
Safety Campaign won the station the prestigious National Safety
Council’s first annual Farm Safety Week Contest.
The war in the Pacific came to a swift end in August
with the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. On the 6th,WTIC’s foreign affairs analyst, Prof. Andre
Schenker interviewed Conrad Bacon (sp?) of Middletown, a graduate of
Northeastern University who, at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee plant, had
worked on the development of the new weapon.
Japan offered to surrender, but with the proviso
that the country would be allowed to keep Emperor Hirohito as monarch
and spiritual leader. Announcers Bernard Mullins and Bob Steele
interviewed Hartford area residents from Main Street, near the Old
State House and the Isle of Safety. Opinions were on both sides of the
issue whether to allow the stipulation or to continue prosecuting the
war until Japan surrendered unconditionally. One thing all agreed upon
was the desire for the war to come to an end as soon as possible, but
only with complete victory.
On the evening of August 14, NBC interrupted
programming, and newscaster Morgan Beatty reported from the network’s
Washington DC newsroom. Exactly four minutes earlier, the men and women
of the news corps were called from the paper-littered press room in the
West Wing into President Truman’s private office.
In those days, there were no direct broadcast lines
enabling a reporter to go on the air. An individual had either to speak
to the newscaster, who then would repeat the information, while another
ran to a pickup point at the White House gate or in nearby Lafayette
Park. Or, the reporter would make the made dash to one of the two
locations himself. Ralph Howard Peterson was the NBC representative. At
the conclusion of the press conference, Peterson spoke to Harkness on a
private telephone circuit.
“Just a moment: ladies and gentlemen, the President
has just announced full acceptance of the unconditional surrender terms
submitted to us by the Japanese.” More information about the surrender,
including the appointment of Gen. MacArthur as Allied Supreme
Commander, came from the network.
Then came the sound of the WTIC hourly “V for
Victory” tone – three dots and a dash, followed by the voice of
announcer Bernard Mullins, who said, “Ladies and gentlemen, from the
studios of WTIC in Hartford, we are proud to present on this great day
of victory, the Governor of the State of Connecticut, Raymond E.
His Excellency addressed listeners in a talk that
paid tribute to those who had given so much, had sacrificed so much,
even their very lives.
Local and statewide coverage continued and announcer
Mullins switched to his colleagues Floyd Richards and Ross Miller,
located at a “remote corner” near Main, Asylum and Pearl Streets.
Hartford began the readjustment to peacetime living
and prepared to welcome thousands of returning GI’s back into civilian
On September 2, 1945, opera fans received a special
treat when the first edition of “Your Box at the Opera” aired. Hosted
by Robert E. Smith, the program was a regular feature on WTIC until
Fire brought grief to the Hartford community on
Christmas Eve, as flames burst forth from the Niles Street Hospital.
Ironically, just two weeks before the blaze, WTIC General Manager Paul
Morency had issued a memorandum, calling on the station’s staff to “let
your ingenuity and imagination run riot,” for a year-long presentation
of fire-safety plans.
1946 saw the station embark on a major fire-safety
campaign, which brought national recognition and
In July, Frank Atwood, former assistant director of publications at the
University of Connecticut, joined WTIC as Farm Program Director.
Besides the Farmer’s Digest program, he continued to conduct the weekly
Farm and Home Forum.
Also in July, WTIC broadcast the description in the
Connecticut River of LST-732, a Navy ship to be used as headquarters
for Hartford units of the Naval Reserve.
In March, WTIC’s first staff pianist, returned to
the airwaves that year. Hired in 1925, she now hosted a program
introduced by staff announcer Bob Tyrol, “…a good day to enjoy piano
moods in ‘Songs of Acadia,’ with Laura Gaudet.”
In 1946, WTIC was honored by NBC Radio, as the
network observed its twenty-fifth anniversary. Through the facilities
of NBC, listeners heard President Harry Truman address the opening
session of the United Nations on October 23rd.
Preparations were under way at the station’s Avon
transmitting site for a new 50,000 watt transmitter, in 1947. WTIC
celebrated 22 years of broadcasting on February 10. Woman’s Radio
Bazaar hostess Betty Pattee and announcer Floyd Richards interviewed
Walter Johnson, the first announcer hired by the station and then
assistant general manager, and assistant chief engineer Herman Taylor,
who had been with WTIC since before the station signed on in 1925.
Mr. Johnson, who joined the station few days after
the February 1925 sign-on, recounted WTIC’s early women’s program,
“Shopping With Susan”, hosted by a Mrs. Patterson of West Hartford. He
told of the time he received a phone call from Mrs. Patterson, saying
she would not be able to broadcast next day due to illness. He took
home some cookbooks, magazines and so on, and wrote a half-hour
program. At the time, the station did not require program material to
be prepared and on file a week in advance, so Walter Johnson was
“Susan” for a day.
Mr. Taylor recalled a night when due to a snowstorm
talent failed to show for a program. He and another staff member, Bert
Wood, entertained with Mr. Taylor playing the mandolin. Mr. Johnson
observed it was a throwback to Taylor’s seafaring days.
Live music programs were still being produced at
WTIC in 1947. Ed Anderson announced a program featuring Rudy Martin and
his orchestra, and later teamed with the station’s new director of
women’s activities, Jean Colbert, a former network actress who joined
the station that year.
On August 4th, 1947, WTIC listeners first heard an
enthusiastic “Yes!” to the question, “Is there a dreamer in the house?
Well, then, let’s dream of a ‘Cinderella Weekend’.” Announcers Bob
Tyrol and Floyd Richards then welcomed the studio and radio audience to
the first broadcast of “Cinderella Weekend…from the air-conditioned
Orchid Room from Ryan’s (Restaurant), 33 Pearl Street, right in the
heart of Hartford.”
The WTIC listening audience also heard for the first
time November 8th, “It’s smart to Mind Your Manners,” with host Allen
Ludden and announcer Bruce Kern. The program, designed to emphasize
good manners among young people, was later heard over the NBC Radio
Network. It earned a number of awards and was cited by Governor John
Lodge for public service to the community.
A Connecticut landmark reappeared on December 1,
1947. The Travelers Beacon brightened the city with the installation of
powerful new lamps.
In 1948, WTIC initiated a program to help farm youth
in Southern New England. Developed by General Manager Paul Morency and
Farm Program Director Frank Atwood, The WTIC Farm Youth Program made it
possible for boys and girls on farms or in the country, to buy
livestock, either dairy or beef breed. As the price of an animal was
beyond the means of many, the program gave interest-free loans that
came due when the animal was about two-and-a-half years old. Over the
years, the Farm Youth Program gave many a young person get the needed
start for a career in farming or in other areas of agriculture.
The station no longer employed a regular staff of
musicians in November 1948, but it was still interested in the
furtherance of good music in the community. A gift of $30,000 was
pledged to the Symphony Society of Greater Hartford to help finance the
Hartford Symphony Orchestra, thus stimulating the interest in music and
music appreciation, and creating an incentive in promising young
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra made its network
radio debut on Saturday, January 4, 1950, in a broadcast from the
Bushnell Memorial. The broadcast represented the second program in the
1950 “Pioneers of Music” series on NBC. Moshe Paranov conducted the
orchestra in this program before an audience of junior high and private
school students from the area.
Leonard Patricelli wrote and produced “Songs from
New England Colleges,” sponsored by the Monsanto company of Boston. Bob
Tyrol announced the program, which was engineered by Al Jackson and ran
for four years. Averaging 23 visits each winter to colleges and
universities around New England, the trio had some harrowing
experiences, leaving for their destinations in snowstorms or returning
in icing conditions. The program’s season lasted from October through
March or April.
1950 got off to an auspicious start, when the Mile
O’ Dimes collected $86,724.40, a new record of over nine miles of
One of broadcasting’s highest awards came to the
station when on May 4, 1950, WTIC was the recipient of a George Foster
Peabody citation, naming “Mind Your Manners” as the most outstanding
program in the nation for young people. Another award came to the “Mind
Your Manners” program, with the presentation of a first place award in
the Fourteenth Annual American Exhibition of Education Radio Programs,
conducted by Ohio State University.
Yet another award, a Freedom Foundation honor medal,
was presented to WTIC in 1951, primarily as a result of the station’s
1950 Election Night broadcasting, plus its consistent endeavor to
encourage the public to exercise the right to vote. Other broadcasts
which were considered in the awarding of the medal, were “Yale
Interprets the News,” “Your Senator from Connecticut,” and the weekly
United Nations feature in the “Radio Bazaar.
1951 found American GI’s in Korea. Southern New England’s 43rd Division
was called up to active duty. The WTIC Special Events department set up
equipment and Ed Anderson broadcast by transcription from the Morgan
Street siding, the departure of Connecticut elements of the 43rd to
Camp Pickett, Virginia.
Working on a tip from NBC, WTIC stayed on the air
past normal signoff on the night of Wednesday, April 10, 1951, to bring
Southern New England the first word of Gen. MacArthur’s dismissal.
Early next morning, Bob Steele was on the street with a portable tape
recorder getting views of the man on the street.
It was a big step from the streets of Hartford to
the brick surface that comprises the famed oval track known as the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Bob made it on May 25, (when your
writer was an old man of six days old – and temporarily residing a few
miles south of the Brickyard, in or near Camp Atterbury), to preview
the 1951 Speedway classic and feedback interviews with drivers like
After four years, eight months on the air,
Cinderella Weekend bowed from the WTIC lineup, on May 1, 1953. In its
time, 1,460 shows had been broadcast, with 146,000 people in the studio
audience, and 578 people had received expense-paid weekends in New York
On June 9, 1953, skies in Worcester, Massachusetts
grew dark and dumped heavy rain and hail on the city. From the clouds
emerged the black funnel of a tornado. A WTIC Special Events crew sped
to the scene. Announcer Bob Tyrol, engineer Fred Edwards, program
manager Leonard Patricelli and news director Tom Eaton were on the
scene all night. Arriving back at the studios at six the next morning,
they put together a special report, made up of recordings done during
the long night.
On June 25, 1954, WTIC microphones were at Bushnell
Memorial Hall, when Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts delivered
the Connecticut State Democratic Convention’s keynote address.
Hurricanes Edna and Carol breezed through Southern
New England in 1954, presenting addition challenges to the station’s
Special Events crew. And it was in September that plans were announced
to begin taking weather information from the newly-formed Travelers
Weather Research Center.
A few years earlier, in 1945, WTIC listeners heard
Prof. Andre Schenker interview Conrad Bacon about his experiences
working on the atomic bomb. Questioned about the practical application
of atomic power for other than weapons, such as for the purpose of
providing the power to take a vessel across the ocean, Mr. Bacon was
optimistic that it would become reality in a few years.
In 1954, that belief became reality when, at
Groton’s Electric Boat shipyard, the nuclear submarine Nautilus was
christened by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. As the traditional bottle of
champagne was presented to the bow, and the boat slid down the ways,
its launch was described from the banks of the Thames River by WTIC’s
Bob Tyrol, a not-so-old Coast Guard alumnus. (This writer, a
three-year-old in the arms of his grandfather - who worked on the sub -
recalls watching the black-hulled sub sliding down into the