Last week, we showed you the WPMZ 1110 and WRIB 1220 facilities, and this week we move north to the other AM station Craig maintains in the Providence market. AM 550 in Pawtucket came to life in 1950 as WPAW, a little community station - but it achieved perhaps its greatest fame in the sixties and seventies as WGNG, a rocking top-40 station back in the days when top 40 lived on the lesser AM signals in any given market. From this little building down in a valley off John Street near Central Falls came some of the best radio Rhode Island's ever produced.
Around 1980, WGNG dropped the top 40 (an inevitable move, given the rise of FM) and went oldies, riding the "Golden Great" wave for a few years. After that, 550 picked up the WICE calls that were dropped by Providence's AM 1290 (another classic AM top-40) and ran with them for more than a decade. When we visited in early 1996, 550 had recently become WPNW, doing business radio as a relay of what was then WBNW 590 up in Boston; it would later reclaim the WICE calls, then another classic Rhode Island call, WLKW, and finally would flip to today's format, Radio Disney, under new calls WDDZ.
WDDZ's studios aren't here anymore, and in fact most of the building that we saw in 1996 is gone, too. Station owner AAA Entertainment tore down the two-story office addition that had been there since the seventies (the part with the hipped roof in the picture above), revealing once again the original front of the 1950-vintage building, complete with that nifty brick detailing in front (and leaving a big concrete pad in front of the old building, too.)
Inside, the building has seen much better days. The old studio is still there, but it's been visited by rodents and squirrels and whatnot, and it's no longer functional. The rest of the building is, well, worse. Only the transmitter room is still fully functioning, and back there we find an old RCA and a newer Harris, along with the Disney satellite downlink and the automation gear that runs the format. At some point, WDDZ may tear down this old building completely - but now, at least, you can say you saw it when.
A few housekeeping notes before we finish up this week: due to our hectic summer travel schedule, we're "Tower Site of Every Other Week" for the next few weeks. We'll be back to weekly updates after Labor Day (and the exciting National Radio Club Convention, being held right here in western New York - why not come?), and in the meantime you can catch up on past favorites by searching our Index page. If you want to see more pictures of this site, you're in luck - Garrett Wollman was along for this tour, and his page on the Boston Radio Archives has even more images than you see here. And if you haven't heard, we're in the midst of our Summer Pledge Drive here on fybush.com, and we could really use your help right now - visit our support page for all the details. See you in two weeks!
Huge thanks to Craig Healy for his gracious hospitality during our visit!
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