The fall semester began on a high note. With the new carrier current system operational, we had a larger audience, and consequently were able to attract more new members. Membership grew to almost thirty people. Among the new recruits was a transfer student named Bob Mallery. Bob was a Navy vet with an extensive background in electronics. He would become our first in-house engineer, and would prove to be invaluable in the years to come. Although he initially did a few shows, his main interests seemed to be outside the realm of on-air talent. He seemed happiest with a cup of coffee and a schematic of a piece of equipment; always able to coax just a little more out of a machine that should have stopped working years ago.
With more people eager to do air slots, the station expanded its hours of operation. We were now on from 10:00am to 10:00pm. The record library had grown to a point where people could specialize in the types of music they liked. Folks still brought in their own records, but WSCT now had shows specifically devoted to rock, jazz, classical, show tunes, top 40, R&B (back then it was called "soul music") and just about everything in between. Those people who had little desire to be music jocks became the News department, and they started producing their own programs and public affairs broadcasts.
The station added an AP teletype machine (one of those big, clacky monsters). The production capabilities mushroomed with the addition of a Studer-Revox tape deck. WSCT looked and sounded like a real radio station in every sense of the word, with the exception that nobody outside the college walls could hear us.
WSCT had grown exponentially in every year of it’s existence. The staff felt there was nowhere to go but up. Phase two of Bob’s master plan was complete. With another budget increase, the dream of FM couldn’t be that far away, could it?
Money (That’s what I want)
As it turned out, yes, it would be a while. 1971 saw the State of Connecticut enter a recession, and with it, Governor Thomas Meskill put a freeze on all funding to Connecticut State colleges. This hit Wesconn especially hard, and for a while the proposed Westside campus plans were in jeopardy. Dr Ruth Haas saved that project, but there still wasn’t enough money to go around. When the time came to secure funding for the next year, all the campus organizations had to bite their share of the bullet. WSCT found their budget slashed to $3700.00 for the 1971-72 school year.
Another major development took place at semester’s end when elections were held for next year’s officers. When the votes were tallied, Bob Wilson was no longer General Manager of the Campus Broadcast Association. In his place were Les Andrews and Ed Westby. Why Bob stepped aside is open for discussion. Maybe he wanted to concentrate on finishing his degree. Perhaps he felt he had guided WSCT as far as he could, and it was time for new blood. Whatever the reasoning, he left behind a solid organization, and in appreciation of his efforts and commitment, Bob Wilson was elected the first Life Member of WSCT.
It’s A Brand New Day
The fall semester commenced with another upsurge in membership. Along with being one of the campus’ most active organizations, WSCT was now one of the largest. The station expanded their hours of operation yet again. We now broadcast from 7:00am to 11:00pm weekdays, and from 8:00am-11:00pm on weekends. 11:00pm was when the Student Union closed for the night.
On the air, specialty shops were organized so you could know when to hear a particular kind of music. Top 40 was popular during "dinner drive time" and classical music went over well on Sunday mornings. Les and Ed did try at one point to institute a format, so that the sound of the station could be a little more homogenized during the rest of the time, but given the free-spirit nature of most of the air staff, it was doomed to failure. WSCT had access to Wesconn’s own weather station (run by Dr Mel Goldstein), so our forecasts were better than those coming over the AP wire. Despite our high morale, and our faith in ourselves, we still had to prove our worth to the student body in general. To quote Rodney Dangerfield, we still "didn’t get no respect", but that was about to change.
In February of 1972, Ralph Nader was scheduled to speak at Ives auditorium. The event sold out quickly (this was back when folks were actually interested in what Ralph had to say), and a large group of people had to be turned away. Bob Mallery had run a phone line over to Ives Hall earlier (to broadcast a music concert), and the station was able to invite the overflow crowd to come listen to Ralph’s speech from the lounges of Memorial Hall. It was a huge success, and WSCT won over a lot of people who finally saw a useful purpose for the station.
Later that semester, during Spring Weekend, WSCT sponsored a 1950’s-style "sock hop" in the snack bar. Tom "Z" Zarecki spun 45’s and emceed, while a ragtag bunch of WSCT-ers played a live set of songs. "Danny & the Distributor Caps consisted of Bruce Anderson, Pete Ochs, Dave Szemczek, Bob Faubel & yours truly. After our four song set, Danny & the DC’s rocketed to obscurity.
Another side project of the station was the formation of a softball team. The WSCT Mudsharks (named in honor of a Frank Zappa song) took any and all comers for a game of charity softball. We probably raised more welts than money, and after a few good thrashings, we decided our place was behind the microphone, not home plate.
While all these fun and games were going on, Ed & Les were back at the ranch quietly navigating the bureaucratic maze of running the station and trying to secure funding for the push to FM. It was obvious that SGA funding alone wouldn’t get the job done, and those damn Mudsharks weren’t going to be much help. They came up with an idea that was both daring and brilliant. They proposed a campus referendum whereby a $3.00 per student/per semester surcharge would fund the push for FM. To our amazement, the administration agreed to it, and on April 7th, the referendum was held. Had the station generated enough good will, and proved their worth to make it work?
When the votes were tallied, the answer was a resounding "Yes". Coupled with an SGA allocation of $4160.00, it was on to Phase Three.
At the end of the school year, both Ed Westby and Bob Wilson graduated. Ed was elected the second Life member, and Les took over the entire GM duties. The station shut down operations over the summer, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done.
So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star
On June 12th, 1972, WSCT filed its application with the FCC for a construction permit to build a 10-watt FM station on the Wesconn campus. Les and Bob Mallery had gone over the reams of paperwork involved, making sure all the I’s were dotted and the t’s crossed. Anyone who has ever dealt with a federal bureaucracy knows the headaches involved with such processes.
The station continued to upgrade itself. Before classes commenced, some walls were shifted around to make better use of space, the AP teletype was enclosed to cut down on it’s noise, and a new control board was installed in the main studio. We added another new turntable and another cart machine. The old air board was exiled to the production room, but not before Bob Mallery completely gutted it and rebuilt it by hand.
As the fall term started, membership grew to almost 50 people. The station started to broadcast home football and basketball games. We may still have been a dinky carrier current radio club, but we had the look, feel, and sound that we felt could match up with anyone, including our "competition", UB station WPKN. Everyone felt that FM was close, and our esprit could not have been higher.
On November 17th, we got the word that our construction permit was approved, so Bob and Les started to order equipment. As each piece came in, Bob spent many hours in the attic of Old Main getting it hooked up and calibrated, sometimes in the wee hours (much to the chagrin of campus security).
In December WSCT was chosen by the Associated Press to provide audio feeds of the Apollo 17 moon mission to other stations in Connecticut. It was a great honor, and only a few minor glitches occurred , due mostly with scheduling people and the fact that anything that happened after 11:00 pm had to wait until Memorial Hall opened in the morning.
You Know My Name (look up the number)
Part of the juggernaut in going FM was dealing with all the federal regulations. One of those regulations stipulated that we had to notify every other radio station within a 35-mile radius of our intentions, providing them with a chance to voice any objections to our application. As it turned out, Stamford CT radio station WSTC had a problem with our call letters. Even though we had nothing in common with that station, and probably wouldn’t steal any listeners, WSCT was a little too close for their comfort.
Fortunately we had already prepared a list of alternatives. Among the considerations were WXCI, WCSU, WDBY, and WDNB. I believe it was Evans Travis who came up with WXCI, it being the roman numerals for 91 (our proposed frequency being 91.7). Nobody had any objections to that, and immediately we became WXCI, making all that old WSCT letterhead a collector’s item.
Hello, It’s Me
February 28th, 1973 was a day like most others. Rob Abbett (aka Rabbett) was doing his midday show, and a few people were hanging out I the front office (the station was always a good place to hang out). The phone rang a little before noon; it was Western Union saying they had a telegram for us from Washington DC. Pete Oths and Evans Travis grabbed their coats and ran for the door. Word spread like jelly on a hot sandwich, and by the time they returned, most of the staff had assembled in the office. Bob Mallery waded through the eager mob and began warming up the equipment. Before the last switch was thrown he went over to Old Main to be at the transmitter "just in case". Tom Zarecki made the final click and at 12:30 pm, Rabbett announced," Good afternoon. This is radio station WXCI beginning its first broadcast day."
There was hugging, there was kissing, there was all kinds of behavior going on in the place. Once Rob had ushered us into FM reality, several people took off to drive around town to see how we sounded. Those of us who didn’t have cars just hung around, savoring the moment. It had taken three and a half years, countless hours, and dozens of people to make this day a reality. I hoped Bob Wilson, wherever he was, was listening.
And The Beat Goes On
There were a couple of pieces of unfinished business to account for. At the end of the 1973 school year the SGA allocated WXCI a budget of $7,130.00, partially due to the fact that several members of the station got themselves elected to the SGA. (If ya can’t beat ‘em….) The station continued to upgrade its facilities and equipment.
Dr Michael Erlich replaced Dr Henderson as faculty advisor. Dr Erlich continued the "lessez-faire" policy of Dr Henderson, for which everyone was grateful.
The following is a partial list of WSCT/WXCI members from 1969-73 in absolutely no particular order. If a name is misspelled, I’m sorry, but you know who you are. There are probably dozens of people I can’t recall, and I hope they speak up and get their due.
Bob Wilson, Gail Doyle, Sandy Brown,
Tom Taradine, Gloria Marisciullo, Steve Brooks,
Sally Hyatt, John Hudson, Peter Oths (Ochs)
Ron Guertler, Chris Sadowski, Dave Syzemczek
Sandy Fleig, Bob Mallery, Evans Travis
Stan Mingo, Mimi Mallery, Al Carty
Roberta Flagg, Sharon Balcolm, Kevin Hogan
Alphonse Ranaudo, Jim Williams, Tom Zarecki
Kevin Cleary, Rich Doepper, Kathi Van Arts Dalen
Al Leonard, Mike Levesque, MaryBeth Marcinkoski
Laurie Mc Callum, Ed Westby, Sue O’Brien
Al Bruhn, Karen Kalenauskas, Greg Loehr
Carl Weitz, Donovan Quarmby, Reif Andersen
John Roberson, Larry Tuttle, Tony Toscano
Jim Hathaway, Al Blackman, Lou Santostephano
Les Andrews, Lynn Roth, Joel Rabinowitz
Al Gervais, Darlene Lewis, Dennis Martin
Chris Langrock, Rob Abbett, Don Kappell
"Icy"?, Dennis Boskello, Pam Ballwig
Cindy Pesente, Bruce Anderson, Peter Faass
Steve Kalb, Mark Williams, Jan Jagush
Dr Harvey Henderson, Dr Michael Erlich
My thanks to: Bruce Anderson, who jogged my memory on more than one occasion, my wife Betsy, Helen Masterson & Cindy Sturm, who inspired me to get this whole mess into a cohesive story, and the members past, present, and future of WXCI.