In 1972, WWPT-FM — located on the Staples High School campus — became an official radio station.
Last weekend, WWPT snagged 8 honors — including 3 gold medals, and a bronze as the 3rd best high school station in the country — at the annual Drury Awards for Excellence ceremony in Chicago.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 90.3 will play music, interview former staff members about their good times at the station, and air 2 live concerts.
But the station’s history goes back even further than the Nixon era. In 1959 Staples student Stu Soroka and his friends rigged a 100
megawatt milliwatt AM transmitter. They called it “The Radio Voice of Westport’s Youth.” Soroka went on to become a noted WOR-TV meteorologist.
In the summer of 1961, the original WWPT operated from a studio donated by the YMCA. A “news room” at the Town Crier headquarters around the corner was manned by a young Gordon Joseloff.
Just 100 megawatts — 1/10 of a watt — it was heard basically only at Compo Beach (at 1160 AM). Yet it also managed to reach Long Island. An article in the New York Times brought FCC attention, and a mid-summer shutdown.
Joseloff went on to become a Moscow correspondent for CBS News — and later, Westport’s 1st selectman.
In 1969, Keith Satter and other students involved with WMMM — Westport’s local station — started a 640 AM station at Staples. It was believed to be the 1st ever for a Connecticut high school. The broadcast could be heard throughout campus and, in the summer, at Compo Beach.
Their call letters were WSRB, for Staples Radio Broadcasting. (Or, perhaps, Sherman R. Betts, the Board of Ed business manager who signed the necessary documents.)
In the early ’70s Clif Mills, Carmine Moffa and former WICC chief engineer Ralph Winquist helped prepare an application for a 300-watt station at 90.3 FM. The antenna was located at the former Nike Site on Bayberry Lane, near the current Rolnick Observatory. The rest is broadcasting history.
Much went on in those days. The studios that moved from a former underground storage closet, to a legit place near the main office, to some very well-equipped digs today in the Media Lab.
As with any high school endeavor, there are countless stories to be told by those who enjoyed — and survived — those years. You can hear the less X-rated ones — along with plenty of great music — this Saturday at 90.3.
Or just click here.
Kudos to the Drury Award winners:
- 1st place: Hannah Foley and Arin Meyers, best newscast; Justin Gallanty, best public affairs program; Jim Honeycutt’s audio class and David Roth’s theater class, best radio drama.
- 2nd place: Jim Honeycutt’s audio class and David Roth’s theater class, 2nd best radio drama; Justin Gallanty and Aaron Hendel, 2nd best sports play by play; Adam Dulsky and Aaron Hendel, 2nd best sports play by play.
- 3rd place: WWPT-FM, 3rd best station in the country (advisor, Mike Zito); Marla Friedson, 3rd best public affairs program.