WWYZ Waterbury, Hartford

WWYZ/ 1979-1981 & 1984-1986

On Labor Day in 1979, I officially began my first full time radio job. I couldn't wait, a huge FM signal that could be heard in my hometown. Hartford was a market I had admired from afar. Although I had never lived there, I knew most of the cities and towns (and advertisers) in the state. And unlike the small stations I'd seen before, YZ was a part of the AM/FM/TV combo in Waturbury, CT, complete with a big lobby with dark paneling and a comfy couch that had that slept-in look. Adding to the "big time" atmosphere were pictures of the current NBC schedule on the wall. I do recall late one night when a co-worker and I decided to change some of them with pictures of CBS shows we cut out of magazines. It took a number of weeks before they were taken down.

I was hired for $165 a week to do a four hour shift. To me, salary was an afterthought. I finally had a full time air shift. I was on from 10pm-2am. Glenn O'Brien was on before me, Dave Porrello followed. Salary did play a part in our social life which comprised mostly of a few nights at the local Howard Johnson's. We became quite friendly with the waitresses so they would let us loll about in the booth, nursing free refills of coffee. We remain good friends to this day.

The station was mellow-rock, "YZ, The Natural 92," brainchild of noted programmer Bob Craig. Newly-installed program director Glen Colligan hired me on the recommendation of my college friend, Jack Becker, who had created the vacancy himself by heading to WMGK in Philadelphia, following in Bob's footsteps.

One of the first pieces of useful advice I would receive throughout my career came from then-Operations Manager Richard Lorenzo. He told me to "always be working on your craft." I still try to do that every time I go on the air.

Request lines are now open: We had a phone in the studio that was equipped with three incoming phone lines. One was designated for Waterbury and two for Hartford. We didn't take requests at the time, but calls would come in on occasion, mostly the forlorn and desolate folk who suffered from too steady a diet of Nick Drake and Aztec Two-Step. The strangest calls always came in on the Waterbury line and anyone familiar with the Brass City needs no further explanation.

Walt Pinto, Jack Kratoville, Bill Naughton, Mindy ToddOne night, I pick up the phone and the caller wants to hear "Ghosts Of Cape Horn" by Gordon Lightfoot. I explain that I'd just played the song recently and we really don't take requests. "Don't be an ass hole," was his reply. "Just play the goddamn song. You guys suck anyway." Without expletives, I tried to explain why I couldn't play the song. He became more belligerent. I was puzzled. Gordon Lightfoot has many good songs; this one wasn't to die for. "Why do you want to hear this song so bad" I asked? "Because I'm making a tape for my girlfriend so we don't have to hear your stupid voices in between." I'm really angry now, but I still hold my tongue. "You know, it's illegal to tape songs on the radio" was my curt reply. "F*ck you - you're an ass hole" was all I heard as I slammed the phone on the receiver.

A week later, I'm on the air and "Ghosts Of Cape Horn" is playing on the turntable. I'm reminded of that idiotic caller. Within moments the line starts blinking. It couldn't be. "Hello YZ," I answer. "Hey ass hole, I'm taping the song right now and there isn't anything you can do about it!" He was laughing out loud. I thought about things for a second. I wanted to curse him out, but he might call the station the next day and complain I was rude. Things like that happen. I watched the Gordon Lightfoot LP spin around the turntable knowing it was out of my hands. Or was it? With the phone still in one hand, I brought my thumb to the edge of the spinning turntable. I pressed softly at first, and then applied just enough pressure to bring the speed down to about 12 rpm - causing Gordon to briefly sound like a dying Darth Vader. "Oops," I said into the phone over his streaming profanities. "I hope you and your lady friend enjoy the tape!"

In June 2001, YZ held a 25 year reunion of the original "laid back and mellow" gang.
Here's a picture of the air personalities who attended.
YZ, Naturally
Click for enlargement
Left to right: Jack Becker, Jack Kratoville, Dave Porrello, Bob Craig, Glenn O'Brien, Glen Colligan

In July 2011, we got together again for a 35 year reunion at Dom's Brickhouse in Prospect, CT.
Here's a picture of the air personalities who attended.

YZ, Naturally
Click for enlargement
Left to right: Jack Becker, Bob Craig, Glenn O'Brien, Dave Porrello, Larry Rifkin, Mark Gilmore (CE), Glen Colligan, Jack Kratoville
(not shown) Ed Kelly.
Click for more photos here.


on to WWHB

back to the top
back to jack jr. home page.
back to kratoville.com