Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
After more than 20 years of doing this column, and thus over 1000 (!) Tower Site of the Week installments, we sometimes end up revisiting sites we’ve seen in the past.
Sometimes it’s to update a site where a lot has changed – and sometimes, it’s just to visit an old friend. In the fall of 2021, our stop along the coast in Bath, Maine was decidedly the latter. We’ve been proud to call Bob Bittner a friend for decades now, going back to his purchase of AM 740 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he just marked the 30th anniversary of his relaunch as WJIB on August 4, 1992.
We spent a lot of time in the 1990s in Bob’s Cambridge studio, swapping radio tales (and co-hosting his old “Let’s Talk About Radio” show) and watching him slowly expand his radio empire to include stations in Worcester and Manchester, New Hampshire. Those stations are gone now, but in 1997 Bob acquired WJTO in Bath, making this lovely coastal spot his new home base. (We showed it to you here in the summer of 2005.)
As anyone who’s ever listened to any of Bob’s stations knows, these are some of the most uniquely programmed outlets anywhere in the country, playing an immense variety of soft AC, standards and whatever else strikes Bob’s fancy, run entirely by Bob from right here in this building that once housed not only WJTO but its sister FM station, WKRH (105.9, now WBCI under different ownership.)
It’s a lot of building for just one guy, but Bob has it filled with lots of interesting stuff – a tiny portion of his huge license plate collection in the lobby, along with bumper stickers and program guides going back to the early days of WJIB and WJTO; a massive record collection that fills several rooms; memorabilia from other stations Bob has owned or worked at; and two studios that mostly house the automation that runs his three-station simulcast, which includes WJTO, WJIB and WBAS on Cape Cod. (Two more Bittner stations, WLAM in Lewiston and WLVP in Portland, run similar formats from automation at their transmitter sites.)
A small room off the record library houses Bob’s current transmitters for both WJTO’s big daytime AM signal and its newer translator, W287DD (105.3), which serves the immediate Bath area from the top of the AM tower. (Fybush Media was delighted to handle some of the engineering work for that signal and two other Bittner translators a few years back.)
After hanging out with Bob for a while, we were fortunate to be able to join in one of his frequent get-togethers with fellow radio owners and veterans, so from here, we were off to a long outdoor lunch and chat before heading back down the coast toward Boston, with a promise that we won’t let another 17 years go by before another stop up here in Bath.
2023 IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK…
The 2023 Tower Site Calendar is in pre-production at the moment. We will be taking early-bird orders very soon!
While you’re waiting, we have some great books about broadcasting in our store.
Please browse our other items, too!
And don’t miss a big batch of Maine IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: WHEB, Portsmouth NH