WCCC Says Goodbye To Classic Rock

It was a celebration with a lot of its signature on-air raucousness and rockin' rather than a subdued wake Friday as WCCC FM 106.9 bid adieu to decades of hard and classic rock fans, with help from a host of guests including "shock jock" Howard Stern, who got his first big break at the local radio station in the 1970s.

"I don't know what to say," said the outspoken radio, movie and TV star who was one of a host of guests who called in during the "Celebration of WCCC" goodbye show Friday afternoon with outgoing program director and on-air personality Mike Karolyi. "It feels weird, I don't know what to say except I am grateful for how kind Hartford was to me when I was at the station," said Stern.

Marlin Broadcasting, which has owned WCCC since 1998, has, according to staff members who asked not to be identified, sold the station to California-based Educational Media Foundation, whose radio stations feature contemporary Christian music.

Marlin Broadcasting head Woody Tanger would only say that a confidentiality agreement prevented him from saying anything, and Educational Media CEO Mike Novak, who could not be reached directly, chose to say through a staff member, only that he would be out of town until Monday.

At 5:05 p.m. however, when the rock format had finished, the station switched over advertising "positive and encouraging K-Love" music and playing Matthew West's "Do Something'' as the first selection. K-Love is one of Educational Media Foundation's radio networks.

And although there was no official release as of late afternoon Friday, social media and on-air comments made it clear that the station, which was known originally for its hard rock and softened "classic rock" in recent years, was counting down the hours.

"It was my pivotal moment in my career and that's the sad part" said Stern during the half hour long phone interview with radio staff. "The station has such a rich history but I guess it's a matter of economics."

WCCC began as an AM station in 1947, adding FM in 1959. It was originally owned by entrepreneur, businessman and Hartford jewelry giant Bill Savitt and his brother.

Past on-air personalities and supporters including Sebastian, Mike Picozzi, Jonny Promo, Craig Matthews, Amy the Tree Hugger and Stephen Wayne as well as longtime on-air contributors including concert promoter Jim Koplik, joined current on-air personalities in the upbeat, and often irreverent, trip down memory lane during the final program. The five hours included interviews, stories about former owner Cy Dresner, lots of reminiscing including a round of "The Ouija Game" and a mix of the hard rock the station was best known for including "Poison Sex'' by Tool and Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba."

"It's a sad day for broadcasting history," said Joe Sebastian who worked at the station nine different times beginning in 1972. "I was planning on a possible 10th time but that's not happening now."

Word of the sale had been rumored for months, with reports leaking out about the imminent end of the station on Wednesday as staff was notified that they were out of jobs.

Afternoon's "Miss Klonk" posted on her personal Facebook page "10 years gone" as friends responded to both comments, lamenting the end of yet another Hartford radio tradition.

Karolyi also posted his job loss on Facebook Wednesday evening writing "and then there were none," with dozens of followers immediately lamenting the station's sale.

"as of Friday 5pm #WCCC will cease 2 exist. #success was plentiful in all but economics the pst 2 yrs" was the Twitter post from on-air personality J. Raven.

"Say it ain't so," and "an end of an era" reflected the tone of most of the comments that began quickly appearing on Facebook shortly after word got out about the dismissals. on Friday, a new Facebook page called WCCC-the Rock Years was opened.

The sale comes just weeks after another major radio station in the Hartford Area, WDRC, was sold by Buckley Broadcasting to Connoisseur Media.

A year ago, devoted fans of WCCC were more than upset when Marlin added "old rock" to its signature "new rock" format. Longtime listeners were so upset that they held protest rallies and began a Facebook page titled "Save the Rock: CT Radio" in hopes the station would return to its signature format.

"Since the very early 1970's, WCCC Radio was always known for its progressive rock playlist and strong on-air personality talent," said Cy Dresner's son, Ron Dresner, a former program and promotions director. "We always tried to do things a little differently to get a little more attention and promote the artists and music we would play on-air. From playing one song over and over again for three days straight in the early '70s to a "Hell With Shell" campaign with Howard Stern in the late '70s to the thousands of concert promotions at the former Hartford Civic Center and Lake Compounce in the 1980s to the Sebastian & Diane on-air pranks and beginnings of Grunge rock in the early 1990s," he said. "This ownership and format change is definitely a reflection of the massive change that hit the radio industry really starting a decade ago."

"I love everyone I ever worked with, the listeners, the bands we worked with, man this is heavy," said Karolyi as he and others could be heard trying not to cry on air. "It's time for us to walk," he said as Pantera's "Walk" became the final song for the rock station.

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