The World-Famous Tower Site Calendar 2007

May 25, 2007

Connecticut's WDZK 1550 and WKND 1480

We're recovering from a double whammy this week - the 15-episode Tower Site of the Week marathon that was "Big Trip 2006," and the just-concluded nine-day adventure across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska we're calling "Medium Trip 2007," which you'll see featured in some detail here on Site of the Week in months to come.

So this week and next, we're offering a couple of shorter Site of the Week installments drawn from our journey to the Connecticut Broadcasters Association convention last October in Hartford, at which we presented our "Tower Sites I've Known and Photographed" slide show. (We'll come to your broadcasters' convention or SBE meeting, too - just drop us a line...)

This week's transmitters are found along that stretch of I-91 that extends north of Hartford to the Massachusetts state line, and our first stop is at a station whose signal covers only that area, with no appreciable coverage in Hartford or in Springfield, Mass. to the north. WKND (1480 Windsor) was dropped in here quite late in the game, signing on in 1961 (as WSOR) from the same three-tower array off Bloomfield Avenue it still calls home today.

Even with its meager signal (500 watts directional, daytime only), 1480 found success in the late sixties when it changed calls to WKND and took on the area's first urban format, which it continued to use for more than a quarter-century. For most of that time, its studios were in a shopping strip in Windsor, though for a time the news department actually operated from the tiny transmitter building.

A visit to the building today finds an old CCA transmitter that serves as the aux, with a Harris MW-1 as the main, and a site that's much cleaner now than it was when we last drove past a decade or so earlier and found the towers sitting unfenced and the whole area looking all but abandoned.

(And one more note before we move on - when we were there in October, 1480 had been WNEZ for a few years, having swapped calls with 1230 in Manchester; it's since swapped back to the WKND calls, and returned to an urban format from Spanish.)

Our next stop on this rapidly-clearing afternoon is just a couple of miles to the west, behind a farmhouse south of Blue Hills Avenue. What's now WDZK (1550 Bloomfield) began life as an even later addition to the dial than WSOR/WKND, but has had far better luck at upgrading its signal over the years.

WEXT signed on at 1550 from West Hartford in 1964 as a 1000-watt daytimer playing country, and was later known as WMLB and WGAB (for a talk format) before leaving West Hartford in 1986 and moving to its current 5000-watt day/2400-watt night facility. Over the next two decades, 1550 did religion (as WLVX) and Italian (as WRDM) before becoming a Radio Disney affiliate, and eventually an owned-and-operated station, under its present WDZK calls.

Our host this day, John Ramsey, had the opportunity to design the building and site to his specifications, and it's a nice facility indeed, with a Kintronics phasor, a Continental aux transmitter and a Harris Gates Five as the main. The four towers in line directly behind the transmitter building are the night array; by day, WDZK uses three towers - the one right behind the transmitter building (common to both arrays) and two more that stretch off into the distance to the right-center of the photo above.

When we continue our Connecticut tour next week, we'll show you a much older Hartford signal, Buckley's WDRC (1360). See you in a week!

Thanks to John Ramsey for the tours of WKND and WDZK!

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