New Owners, Big Changes at Former “Big D”; Classic Rock Formats Differ by Geography

At the start of this week, Westport-based Connoisseur Media became the new owners of Connecticut’s oldest radio station, WDRC, owned for the past half-century by Buckley Broadcasting. The sale also included Buckley Connecticut stations WMMW AM in Meriden, WWCO AM in Waterbury and WSNG AM in Torrington, which have been added to Connoisseur stations in New Haven and Fairfield counties, WPLR, WYBC, the Fox and Star. At WDRC, virtually within minutes, several on-air personalities, the general manager and program director became former employees. The station’s website and Facebook changed, a new logo was launched, and a station with a heritage as one of the nation’s best know music stations as rock-n-roll took root in the 1960’s adopted a tagline that read “Classic Hits of the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and More.” Veteran broadcasters Mike Stevens, ‘Rockin’ Ron Sedaille, Floyd Wright and Grahame Winters were all dropped by WDRC’s new owners this week, along with Vice President/General Manager Eric Fahnoe. con_media2_6000px

The company’s largest cluster of stations is in the Northeast, predominantly in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But Connoisseur also owns stations in markets including Billings, MT, Rapid City, SD, Witchita, KS, Omaha, NE, and Bloomington, IL.

The station’s website now lists the quartet of Kim Zachary, Mike Lapitino, Allan Lamberti, and Rob Ray as on-air talent. Lapitino has been 99.1 WPLR’s afternoon air personality; Lamberti has handled the evening hours at thwdrc_main_logoe New Haven-based station. Lamberti, who has also been on air at Connoisseur’s Fairfield County classic rock station, 95.9 FOX, was on the afternoon drive shift at WDRC-FM. Chaz & AJ, the veteran morning drive duo, are heard simultaneously on both the New Haven and Fairfield County stations.

CEO Jeffrey D. Warshaw founded Connoisseur Communications Partners, LP, in 1993. Through strategic purchases of multiple single radio stations in medium to small sized radio markets, the company grew to 39 stations (owned or operated) prior to this week’s final sale of the Connecticut stations. Allan

In May, the company also announced plans to purchase WALK-AM/FM on Long Island, where the company already owns four radio stations. Among them are some Classic Rock formatted stations, although a national study released this week suggests that what listens hear in such a format varies across the country.

A new study by the well-respected data-driven website FiveThirtyEight “found that classic rock is more than just music from a certain era, and that it changes depending on where you live. What plays in New York — a disproportionate amount of Billy Joel, for example — won’t necessarily fly in San Antonio, which prefers Mötley Crüe.” The website studied the airplay of classic rock stations in the nation’s top 30 markets for a week, and analyzed what was played.

“Classic rock is heavily influenced by region, and in ways that are unexpected. For example, Los Angeles is playing Pearl Jam, a band most popular in the 1990s, five times more frequently than the rest of the country. Boston is playing the ’70s-era Allman Brothers six times more frequently.” WDRC was not included in their review of classic rock stations in the nation’s top markets.

The website reported that “the trend steadily held” for songs “of the ’70s and through the mid-’80s,” with the 10-year period from 1973 to 1982 accounting for 57 percent of all song plays. When ‘60’s songs were played, they were predominantly from the Beatles, the study summary noted. “Classic rock peaked — by song plays — in 1973.”

The analysis also found that “the top 25 most frequently played artists — the likes of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and the Rolling Stones — together account for almost half of the spins on classic rock stations in the U.S. Another way of saying that is 5 percent of all the bands played on these stations made up nearly 50 percent of the song plays — which shows that there is at least a classic rock core.”

Staff changes are yet to be finalized, but at present Connoisseur ‘s General Manager for its stations in southern Connecticut, Kristin Okesson, will oversee the Hartford area stations. Okesson currently manages WPLR, WEZN, WFOX, and WYBC.

WDRC is considered the oldest radio station in Connecticut, begun in 1920 in New Haven by Franklin Doolittle Radio Corp., eventually relocating to Hartford (ultimately to 750 Main Street) and then to its current location at 869 Blue Hills Avenue in Bloomfield. WDRC-AM switched from a music to talk format decades ago, with WDRC-FM retaining the “Big D” style popularized in the ‘60’s and tweaked through the decades.

CPTV to Launch Third Season of Infinity Hall Live to National Audience, New Content-Rich Website

There was a time when Connecticut Public Television was most associated across the country with a purple dinosaur named Barney. Next it was the UConn women’s basketball team that became synonymous with CPTV. Now, a distinctive concert series has come to define the local network well beyond our state’s borders. Infinity Hall Live, the intimate concert series taped at historic Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, returns in July to CPTV with a new season of five episodes. This season’s line-up includes: five-time Grammy-winning blues legends The Robert Cray Band, folk/pop artist Brett Dennen and his four-piece band, alt-country rockers Deer Tick, seven-time Grammy nominee singer-songwriter Joan Osborne and the band of brothers Los Lonely Boys. infinity

Co-produced by Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) and Infinity Music Hall, the third season of the series, airing on CPTV and public television stations across the country, features a lineup of diverse artists from a wide range of musical genres – rock, folk, blues and more – appealing to fans of every taste and generation.

Nationally, over 70 percent of public television stations nationwide have broadcast Infinity Hall Live, bringing fans from all over the country inside the cozy Victorian music hall. Major markets airing the new season beginning in July will include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, Phoenix, Portland, St. Louis, Cleveland and many more. A complete list of stations is available at Executive Producer is multiple regional Emmy Award winner Jennifer Boyd.

Known for its rustic style, the intimate 300-seat Infinity Hall, built in 1883, has a unique ability to offer fans a profound and personal way to not only enjoy their favorite artists’ songs, but also listen to interviews on their creative processes. In candid pre- and post-show interviews, the performers reflect on their motivations, their inspirations, and their unique style of songwriting and playing.

In addition to the new concert programming this season, Infinity Hall Live is offering a major relaunch of its website at The website will feature more bonus content, a new design, extended interviews and videos not featured in the broadcast versions of the shows.

The new season of five episodes will be combined with 22 concerts from the previous two seasons of Infinity Hall Live and released online over the coming year for on-demand video streaming.

Every two weeks, a new concert will be released on the Infinity Hall Live website, www.ihlive.orginfinity hall website, for a limited time. The full programs will also be available for streaming online on PBS Video ( on TVs and mobile devices through the PBS apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Apple TV, Kindle Fire, Roku and Xbox.

Connecticut Public Television is one of the top presenting stations of public television programming in the U.S., with over two decades of experience producing programs that inform, educate, entertain and inspire – including a strong reputation and track record as a leader in performance programming



Foundation Seeks Loaned Funds to Launch Early Childhood Music in Hartford

A full page advertisement in The Hartford Courant recently sought individuals interested in “parking idle funds for education.”  The open request, designed to attract funds that would enable the organization to create a free early childhood music program in Hartford, came from the POTE Foundation, Inc., a Connecticut based organization committed to providing educational support and resources to youth. POTE, which is an acronym for providing opportunity though education, promotes the vision that success is achieved when opportunity meets preparation.  The organization, founded in 2007:

  • provides financial and support services to all levels of the educational process—early childhood through higher education;POTE
  • strives to develop unique programs to encourage educational excellence for youth who encounter the lack of opportunity, either because of economic or intellectual barriers; and,
  • engages the intellectual and financial resources of baby boomers along with corporate and foundation outreach.

The ad points out that POTE “has successfully provided cost free violin instruction to K and pre-K students in Connecticut,” noting that “early involvement in music enhances reading achievement and fosters and appreciation of music in the development of the child.”

It asks that interested individuals “grant an interest free term loan to provide investment income to fully fund enrollment” in the program, to be used to develop a learning facility in Hartford and provide investment income to fully fund enrollment.  “Loan principal will not be expended for either construction or operating costs,” the organization points out. And POTE emphasizes that “all funds collected from fundraising activities go to program services – there are no administrative costs for POTE activities,” according to POTE President Christopher Wolf.

In accordance with its mission statement, during the past five years, the Glastonbury-based POTE has:

  •  Enrolled 90+ pre-k and kindergarten children in Suzuki cost free violin program over five years in Windsor Locks
  • Provided major funding for 565 youth (ages 4 to 18) for inner city youth in the Waterbury Police Athletic League’s Safe Water Information Movement (SWIM) program
  • Funded after school program for middle school youth for science, math and technology in Waterbury
  • Used fees collected from consulting services, to fund $3,000 for water appreciation and nature walk for Waterbury’s West Side Middle School
  • Provided $5,000 in grant funds to Hartford Conservatory for musical instrument acquisition, maintenance and repair

POTE provided $34,000 in funding for various youth educational programs during 2012.

POTE anticipates that if they are able to move forward with the new Hartford early childhood music education program, “local jobs would be created during the development phases” and the ongoing program would “employ local musicians.”  In the event that the program does not go forward, all proceeds would be refunded.