For many hard rock music fans in Connecticut and western Mass, the only station worth listening to was “The Rock” 106.9 FM WCCC. This legendary radio station provided the soundtrack to many local teens’ lives and even spawned the career of Howard Stern.
The station was sold off in 2014 and ceased broadcasting locally programmed music after 54 years, but longtime DJs Mike Karolyi and Stephen Wayne talk to Executive Producer Tony Dunne. Join them as they turn the dial back on the stereo to listen to the heyday of WCCC.
This story originally aired on February 22, 2017. Find more stories of western Mass places that are “gone but not forgotten” here.
Read the Full Transcript:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: For many hard rock music fans in Connecticut and Western Mass, the only station worth listening to was the Rock 106.9 FM, WCCC.
This legendary radio station provided the soundtrack to many local lives and spawned the career of one Howard Stern.
The station was sold off in 2014 and ceased broadcasting locally programed music after 54 years. But, longtime DJs Mike Karolyi and Stephen Wayne talked to executive producer Tony Dunne and turn the dial back on the stereo to listen to the heyday of WCCC.
Mike Karolyi, Former WCCC Disc Jockey: Growing up in Connecticut, we loved Rock, and there were two main rock stations out of Hartford back in the day, and it was WHCN and WCCC.
Stephen Wayne, Former WCCC Disc Jockey: And one of the first encounters I had with WCCC was Frankenstein by Edgar Winter. And I said: “I am down with that.”
Voice of Howard Stern: This station was the station everybody listened to, especially even people from New York and from Boston, because when you went back and forth, when you drove, you listen to WCCC.
Mike Karolyi: You could always count on us. We were always there. No matter where you were at in your life, you always could put on 106.9 and hear somebody very familiar to you.
It was a great place for these kind of extra special personalities to hone their craft and really become stars. Going back to Howard Stern, of course.
Voice of Howard Stern: And what a rich history. You’d go in and you meet these great guys who are all trying to find themselves in radio, guys like Peter Cole and Brian Battles.
And, but they were just – it was it was a place where young broadcasters could learn and you could make your way.
Mike Karolyi: So there’s Howard Stern, but in my time at WCCC, there was Rick and Suds, but there was also the little guy, Lynch, the legendary little guy. He was a huge personality when I first started.
John Osterlind and I started at CCC at about the same time, and John was this guy that would break all the radio rules.
You know, more recently, Jay Raven was a huge personality out of WCCC.
And of course, Stephen Wayne, you know, he was on every Saturday night and you could hear him whether you had the radio on or not.
Stephen Wayne: This would be divorce.
And dear old dad, Ozzie Osborne.
This is still more on Rock radio, the world headquarters of Rock.
Mike Karolyi: Stephen is just one of these larger than life characters.
Stephen Wayne: I’ve had a great run in the 25 years I’ve been doing this. I’ve met every rock star known to man.
Mike Karolyi: And he’s just high energy. The listeners love him, so a lot of personalities over the years have come out of that radio station for sure.
There were so many things about WCCC or the rock that became characters themselves.
Even things like our building that we broadcast out of.
Stephen Wayne: It was kind of like a mullet. You know, your your business in the front party in the back.
Well, the radio station was business during the day and at night on the weekends it was a party.
Mike Karolyi: We nicknamed it the Asylum because we were on Asylum Avenue in Hartford.
Stephen Wayne: I know if we had shows going on at certain points, one of the Hummers would come pulling up the driveway and rock stars would get out of it and we put them on the air.
So there was always something going on at the asylum.
We were we were cooking 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mike Karolyi: It is Karolyi broadcasting from Studio three C.
One thing we always tried to do at WCCC was be a companion to whomever may be listening.
We would involve our lives in our on air broadcasting.
I would talk about the birth of my son.
I would call my ex wife and crank her up on the phone, which people really seem to like.
Stephen Wayne: I mean, I lost my father, walked across the street. He was at Saint Francis Hospital, walked across the street, went on the air that Saturday night.
I mean, so those types of experiences.
Mike Karolyi: And I think that the listeners really got invested in that.
They get invested in the different personalities.
And we we stayed around because why would you want to work anywhere else?
It was great.
Stephen Wayne: We weren’t people in radio to be in radio.
We were people to be in WCCC because of the music that we were playing, because we believed in the music.
Mike Karolyi: And then our owner decided he just had enough and he was moving forward by selling the radio station.
Stephen Wayne: Knowing that our family were all the listeners, the thousands of listeners that we had.
They were going to be without something that meant as much to them as it meant to us.
So it was that was really hard to get by.
Mike Karolyi: To our owner’s credit at WCCC, he did give me an opportunity to say goodbye, which you don’t get to do in radio.
We think we were one of you.
We are one of you.
When we go to concerts, we go because we’re a fan, just like you are.
And I don’t know how I’m ever going to top this, but somehow I will.
Stephen Wayne: I mean, not having a job, you can move on from that. But losing your family, like you said, and we lost our family, that was hard to take.
That was really hard to take.
Mike Karolyi: As all of us in this room and everybody who’s ever put on a WCCC t shirt or attended one of our events.
It’s time for us to walk.