There were two milestones in radio broadcasting during the past 12 months that connected to the career of on-air personality and Hartford native Rusty Potz. Last week, Potz’ former radio home, WCCC in Hartford, was sold to new owners who abruptly ended the station’s decades-long rock-n-roll format. It was in the early ‘70’s that Potz was a leading DJ at the Hartford station, which later that decade featured a DJ named Howard Stern. Potz was well known in Hartford, moving on, like Stern, to new opportunities. That’s where the other milestone draws attention. Potz didn’t move too far – to radio station WLNG in Sag Harbor on Long Island. And he has been there ever since – from 1975 though the station’s 50th anniversary celebration last year, and continues on the air six days a week.
As WCCC has slipped away, WLNG is going strong. The station’s oldies format, local news coverage, and community orientation has loyal listeners in high places, as was evident in March this year.
The Sag Harbor Express reported this spring that WLNG was the prime topic of conversation on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Mr. Fallon asked Mr. Joel to join him in crashing Sag Harbor’s oldies station WLNG 92.1 and the singer, a longtime resident of Sag Harbor, enthusiastically agreed, the newspaper reported. The celebrities plugged the small station in front of a nationwide audience—over four million— resulting in a flood of listeners and website traffic for WLNG.
“We’re a nostalgia station,” Potz told the Sag Harbor Express last year. He is the executive vice president and has been with the station for 38 years. “We’re a part of people’s lives… People like a station that’s familiar. They want to know what they can expect. The oldies we play, we have just about every hit that ever came out.”
Potz earned his degree from the University of Hartford, and has been in radio since 1963 - on 20 different radio stations, most of them in Hartford, New Haven, and Springfield, MA. At one time, he worked at four stations simultaneously.
In 1967, at WPOP Rusty's show was the top rated evening show in Connecticut, his station biography reports. In 1969 WAVZ in New Haven received the TV-RADIO MIRROR award for Rusty's show as the top show on the east coast. Rusty was the program director at WCCC in Hartford for many years, including the years when the station featured the "All Request Radio" format, and came to WLNG on September 1, 1975.
The history of WCCC counted numerous broadcasters who went on to enduring careers. Howard Stern is perhaps the best known nationally. But for listeners in Eastern Long Island, Rusty Potz remains a household name.
An additional Connecticut connection was apparent recently. One of Potz’ guests on his WLNG program last month was former Channel 8 newscaster and ESPN broadcaster George Grande. Both were quite prominent on the Connecticut broadcast scene in the ‘70’s. Grande hosted the first edition of SportsCenter on ESPN in 1979, going on to a sportscasting career in New York, Cincinnati and as host of the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony for more than two decades.