Clarifying the early history of Hartford FM

Scott Fybush
Sun Dec 5 22:54:46 EST 2021

I sat down with the history cards to try to get it all straight in my 
mind, and it turns out some of what I've thought was true in the past 
actually wasn't accurate.

Here's what the history cards tell us:

The station now known as WHCN on 105.9 is in fact the direct descendant 
of the Doolittle/Armstrong experimental W1XPW on Meriden Mountain. The 
history cards do not cover experimental operation, so they don't give us 
the exact timeline of the very earliest broadcasts up there. The 
earliest records they provide are of the applications for commercial 
operation, which were first made Dec. 4, 1940 for 46.5 mc. Power wasn't 
specified back then, but rather coverage area of 6100 square miles. 
Special authority (we'd now call it STA) was granted 5/1/41 for 
commercial operation on 46.5, rebroadcasting W2XMN from Alpine and W1XOJ 
from Asnebumskit.

Now known as W65H, the station was granted a license to cover for 
commercial operation on March 16, 1943. On 3/29/46, by now as WDRC-FM, 
it was granted permission to begin simulcasting on 106.3, which was then 
moved to 94.3 and then 93.7 in 1947 once the FM dial was reallocated on 
the 88-108 band.

Wait - 93.7? Yes, and that's where a lot of the confusion comes in. In 
1956, WDRC sold WDRC-FM to General Broadcasting Corp., which renamed the 
station WFMQ. On 4/24/57, General applied to move WFMQ from 93.7 to 
105.9 and to change the licensee name to the Concert Network. The calls 
changed to WHCN, I think sometime before the move to 105.9 on 12/22/58.

The history of 105.9 isn't very complicated after that - it's been WHCN 
ever since, with Concert Network selling to Beck-Ross in 1970 and 
eventually to what became today's iHeart. It's the oldest 
continuously-operating FM station in New England and possibly in the US.

So why the confusion? Because what also happened in 1958 was that on 
2/26/58, General Broadcasting applied for a *new* station on 93.7 in 
Hartford, which was granted 11/25/58 and filed for a license to cover on 
12/31/58. This new 93.7, which replaced WFMQ, was called... WFNQ. It was 
sold a few years later to South Church, which ran it noncommercially as 
WSCH. Later, it was WLAE, WLVH and eventually today's WZMX.

Many histories of WZMX trace *it* back to W1XPW and Doolittle, but that 
turns out not to be true - the current 93.7 license is a new one issued 
in 1958. And no, I have no idea why General and Concert Network went 
through their weird dance of moving one license to a different frequency 
instead of just getting a new license on 105.9.

But wait - it gets even more complicated. Sometimes, you see claims that 
the station that's now WDRC-FM on 102.9 is the descendant of W1XPW. Not 
so! After WHCN sold the original W1XPW/WHCN-FM 93.7 in 1956, it applied 
for its own new FM license on 11/5/58. That was the 102.9 facility, for 
which a license to cover was filed 5/17/1960. While it certainly shares 
history with the original WDRC-FM, it's a different license.

I guess now I need to go do a dive into the Broadcasting archives to 
find out why that weird 93.7/105.9 shuffle happened in 1958... stay tuned!


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