WAQY at 102.1 was a class “B” FM which meant that it really had 50,000 watt coverage even though it ran just 17,000 watts to the antenna. It’s transmitter was in the same building with WWLP TV, on Provin Mountain in Agawam, Mass. With a height above average terrain of about 1,000 feet, WAQY had a massive signal, covering Hartford Ct. to Vermont.
With that big a signal and the fact that it was stereo FM WACKY 102 had a lot going for it. AM was a dying breed, and in 1976 no one else was playing top 40 music in the area on FM. The automated WACKY 102 had done well but with the addition of personalities and some tweaking of the format, we were poised to do very well indeed.
My first task was to assemble a staff. I raided WHYN for Johnny Micheals, a very tight top 40 jock who used a stop watch to talk up his intros. Neil Young (the “real” Neil) came from WHUC along with Jared Wilits (Superjock)-WHUC was near Hudson, New York, and was where Eric Elemendorf (Rick Kelly) had originally come from. Rick had worked for me at WCFR and joined the team. Ken Barlow, who later became a Radio Group owner did nights. And Jim Kaye (The Big Tuna) did overnights.
Then I built the control room. Ken Jones (R.I.P.) was the engineer and was the best at it that I ever knew. He was able to do anything I asked for and did it with the skinflint budget that Don and Mick gave him. We found a sliding pot board, bought two triple-decker ITC cart machines that could trip each other in a sort of crude automation (We called it “minimation”) and I had the entire control room, floor to ceiling done in a reddish shag.
Look close by Jay Christopher’s head and you can see the light bar. Huge colored lights that served as warnings-for the hot line, the WTYM automation going down and end of WACKY Carts. We put secondary tones (inaudible, although I could hear them)30 seconds before songs end then flashed them at the end. Many is the time they woke me up!
WACKY 102 was a great time in my life and will take up quite a few more chapters.