I get to go on the radio often enough so it’s a treat – seldom enough that it’s not a pain in the ass. This was my morning to sit in with Diane Smith on WTIC.
I’ve known Diane since I came to Connecticut. She used to report and anchor at our TV station. That she’s not still there is a major shame – but I think she’s happy in radio, where she’s half the morning team on WTIC.
WTIC is one of the last of the blowtorch 50,000 watt AM stations. It is an AM station that still has an audience. That’s a rarity all by itself.
There was a time, not too long ago, when WTIC had the highest rated morning show in the country with Bob Steele. The show itself was an anachronism – something that could never be restarted today. But, Bob had the most important ingredient for a successful morning show – longevity!
My alarm was set for 4:15, but as I wrote in an earlier post, I couldn’t sleep. By 4:45 I was out of the house and on my way to Farmington.
Any time I’ve gone online for directions to WTIC I’m give a route through the next town to my north. It’s a trip full of stop lights and traffic. But at this time of day… well, I just headed north.
The first Dunkin’ Donuts was closed, but as I approached a second I could see lights on and cars in the lot. I parked, got out, and found the door locked. The folks sitting there in their cars knew what I’d find, but kept their silence. I don’t quite get that.
I didn’t think I had time to wait, so I headed north again.
A few minutes later I drove by a health club – also not open and with cars in the lot. This time there were people standing in front of the entrance. Just standing there, aimlessly, at 4:55 AM.
I guess it’s wonderful when people want to exercise and be healthy and fit. Waking up before 5:00 to do that seems troublesome… and then to be kept waiting. Isn’t that just a little cruel?
WTIC is in a low rise brick building in an office park in Farmington, not far from Robertson Airport. The building itself is the poster child for nondescript. There’s nothing that sets this building apart. It’s not pretty. It’s not ugly. It’s just sort of there.
WTIC is part of Infinity’s group of stations in Hartford. They’re all clustered together on the ground floor.
The WTIC studio is quite functional and very nice. Diane sat behind the console, where her partner normally sits and I sat facing her. Along the edge of the studio were microphones and room for more guests to sit in.
Off to the side, and behind, are other control rooms used for production and news. The place was pretty busy Monday morning.
Being an old line AM radio station there’s plenty of service in the morning. The station features a full newsroom – a real newsroom staffed by actual adults! Wow! There just aren’t too many of those left (Newsrooms that is – there are plenty of adults). Our show also had a sports reporter and meteorologist.
I knew most of the people there, though not that well. Everyone was friendly. Everyone was nice. Everyone on our show was a pro who could easily move to a larger market, if they could find a station that still had news and service features.
If there’s one problem with the morning show, it’s that there’s too much service!
Between news, sports, traffic, weather and commercials, Diane and I were hardly on for the first few hours. Even when we did appear, it was a disjointed few minutes of banter before… more news, weather, sports and commercials.
There were a few interviews planned. The one I was looking forward to the most was with Senator Joe Lieberman. The New London Sub Base has been slated for closing and there was lots to talk about.
Interviewing newsmakers on real subjects is something I seldom get to do at the TV station. It was a welcome change and I wonder how Senator Lieberman felt, since he mostly knows me as the somewhat hyper, off center, weatherman?
It was really a lot of fun. Television is a much more powerful medium than radio, but on the radio you have the freedom to speak your mind. I tried to be careful and not to be a partisan, but there’s a lot more I can say – and I did.
10:00 AM came much too soon.
I went around and said goodbye and tried to plant the seed that next time, maybe I could fill in on WTIC FM. I was looking for that one more chance to be a ‘jock’ like I was 25 years ago.