September 26 - October 3, 2002
Talcott Mountain, Connecticut
(This feature originally appeared on Tower Site of the
Week January 17, 2001; we're happy to present it here again in
honor of the 45th anniversary of the debut of channel 3, WTIC-TV
[now WFSB], on September 23, 1957.)
Welcome to Avon Mountain, about 10 miles west of downtown
Hartford! This site may well be the oldest transmitting facility
in constant use in New England, though the players here have
changed somewhat over the decades.
This site (commonly referred to as "Talcott Mountain,"
though that's actually a bit to the north, on the other side
of US 44) was first put into broadcast service back in 1929 by
The RCA 50,000 watt transmitter that fired up from Avon on
August 2, 1929 replaced a 500 watt facility that had operated
from the roof of a building on Grove Street in Hartford owned
by WTIC's parent company, Travelers Insurance. At the time, WTIC
operated on 1060 kHz, sharing time with Baltimore's WBAL on the
channel. In 1934, WTIC moved down the dial to 1040, sharing the
channel with Dallas' KRLD. (I suspect, but don't know with any
certainty, that this would be when the two-tower directional
array here was built.)
The big frequency
shift of 1941 gave WTIC a channel of its own: 1080 kHz, where
the station has operated ever since.
Non-directional by day, WTIC switches to directional mode
at Dallas sunset to protect KRLD, which shares the 1080 frequency.
Not shown here -- simply because I don't have a still picture
of it -- is the transmitter building at the site. It's the original
1929 structure, a massive brick building that could be mistaken
for a church or a school if not for all the towers surrounding
(You can see the building at Mike Fitzpatrick's NECRAT
site, which also has close-ups of the TV and FM antennas here,
as well as many more tower pictures for aficionados. Click on
"Tower Pictures" and "Hartford Area" to get
to his WTIC shots.)
The AM station is just one of the attractions at the Avon
site. FM radio was next here, with the 1940 debut of W1XSO. The
station moved to commercial operation on 45.3 MHz on December
15, 1941 as W53H, then became WTIC-FM two years later. The move
to the 88-108 MHz FM band a few years later sent WTIC-FM to 93.5
(though it never actually used that channel), then to its current
96.5 MHz frequency, where it has operated since 1948. (Was the
Avon site used for WTIC's early FM operations? Again, I don't
know with any certainty.)
What I do know
is that TV came to Avon Mountain on September 23, 1957, with
the debut of WTIC-TV (Channel 3) from the tower shown to the
WTIC had been fighting for a TV allocation for more than a
decade. While it could have had a UHF channel any time it wanted
one, Travelers held out for a VHF channel, persuading the FCC
to move channel 3 from New London to Hartford in the process.
The arrival of WTIC-TV on the scene spelled trouble for a
neighbor across Deercliff Road. Channel 18 had been operating
from a tower just across the street for several years, first
as WGTH-TV and then as WHCT. That tower, though not shown here,
still stands and is still home to channel 18, which was recently
reborn under the WUVN calls and will soon be a Univision affiliate.
WTIC-TV and WTIC-AM/FM were sold to separate owners in the
early seventies, with the TV side becoming WFSB, the calls it
has used ever since.
Two more stations
also use the WTIC/WFSB facilities on Avon Mountain. Look carefully
at the tower on the left side of the the picture at the top of
the frame, and you'll see a UHF antenna. That belongs to Connecticut
Public TV's flagship station, WEDH Channel 24, which has been
there since its debut in the early seventies. The WTIC-FM antenna's
two bays are just below the WEDH antenna, almost impossible to
see in this photo. The more visible set of two bays below that
belong to the University of Hartford's WWUH (91.3), and are also
available for used as a backup antenna for WTIC-FM.
The pictures shown here were taken in 1995, before the latest
arrival on Avon Mountain. WFSB-DT operates on channel 33 from
this site, and will eventually be joined by WEDH-DT on channel
One more neighbor, also not shown here, is a few miles north
on Deercliff Road. WCCC-FM (106.9) has used Talcott Mountain
for decades; it was joined by WCCC(AM) (now WTMI) on 1290 from
the same tower a few years ago.
the picture at the top? It's one of the more than a dozen
Tower Site images featured in the 2003 Tower Site Calendar, coming
this fall from Tower Site of the Week and fybush.com.
If you liked last year's edition, you'll love this one: higher-quality
images (in addition to Avon Mountain, this year's edition includes
Providence's WHJJ; Mount Mansfield, Vermont; Buffalo's WBEN;
KOMA in Oklahoma City; the legendary WSM, Nashville and many
more), more dates in radio history, a convenient hole for hanging
- and we'll even make sure all the dates fall on the right days!
This year's calendar will go to press in late October, and
if you order now, you'll have yours in hand by mid-November,
in plenty of time for the holidays. And this year, you can order
with your Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express by using
the handy link below!
Better yet, here's an incentive to make your 2003 NERW/Site
of the Week subscription pledge a little early: support NERW/fybush.com
at the $60 level or higher, and you'll get this lovely calendar
for free! How can you go wrong? (Click here
to visit our Support page, where you can make your NERW contribution
with a major credit card...)
You can also order by mail; just send a check for $16
per calendar (NYS residents add 8% sales tax), shipping included,
to Scott Fybush, 92 Bonnie Brae Ave., Rochester
Thanks for your support!