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Mike Stone, WFIF “The Spirit of America” Milford CT | March, 1976

Description by contributor Pete Salant, former PD at Clear Channel Connecticut – WWYZ, WELI, WPOP and WAVZ…

Nobody can “best” Willie B/Cliff Kenyon, but I thought you might like to hear a higher quality aircheck of WFIF from March 1976. Randy West actually IS my oldest friend in radio. We met at WRNW when it was an 800 watt mono station in Mt. Kisco, NY, above a hardware store; we both had summer jobs there following our freshman year at college, Randy at City College (now City University of NY) and me at Boston University, where Howard Stern was in my class at the School of Public Communications and followed me at WRNW a couple of years later after it had moved to Briarcliff Manor, NY and went stereo. I worked for Randy at WFIF for four months during a year-long self-imposed hiatus from WAVZ.

WFIF had no presunrise operating authority, so the station signed on as early as 7:15AM in December and January. WFIF also had no transmitter remote control, as it had a “critical directional array” and had to have an operator with a first class license on duty at the transmitter. We had no air monitor, just program straight off the board, so we had to call the transmitter on the phone and confirm the carrier was on before starting the broadcast day. At that time, there was a really simple modification that could be done to the Audimax automatic gain controller at the studio to speed it up and make it sound pumpy and compressed (which it was specifically designed NOT to do!), so Randy and I did the mod one evening after signoff, and we rigged a ¼” phone jack in parallel with the phone line to the transmitter so we could aircheck off the Audimax output, the closest we could come to an actual “air” check. The Audimax’s companion peak limiter, the Volumax, lived at the transmitter, so all we were missing on these airchecks was the final peak limiting that kept the transmitter modulating at 99% negative and 125% positive peaks.

On this aircheck, you’ll hear plenty of cue burn because it is right off the board and the Audimax where you could really hear the high end just like an FM station. Randy did some of the most brilliant imaging I’ve ever heard, to this day, with absolutely NOTHING to work with but a mic, a turntable, a cart recorder and a Magnecord reel machine (when it worked). He and the legendary Tom Shovan, who was GM and salesperson (Randy sold too) figured out a niche for WFIF with “The Sound Of America” during the Bicentennial year; it was about half Country and half Pop.

I was “Mike Stone” because I didn’t really want it to be known I was working there; I believe I may have been paid “under the table,” but the statute of limitations has certainly long passed by now!

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  1. HAVING ALSO GRADUATED FROM THE WAKE AND BAKE SCHOOL OF RADIO I TOTALLY AGREE WITH PETE SALANT….ITS GREAT TO GET STONED IN THE MORNING…..WHAT A GREAT AIRCHECK.MIKE STONE ON 15/FIF…PETE SOUNDED GREAT AND THE AUDIO WAS LIKE NOTHING I EVER HEARD ON WFIF…..LEAVE IT TO RANDY AND PETE TO RIG IT UP TO SOUND AMAZING.IT WAS AN HONOR TO WORK WITH BOTH OF THOSE GUYS.WHEN IT CAME TO RADIO,AUDIO,PROCESSING ETC NOBODY DID IT BETTER…COMPARE THE REAL AUDIO OF CLIFF KENYON TO THE DOCTORED UP AUDIO OF MIKE STONE AND YOU WILL BE BLOWN AWAY…THE SOUND OF AMERICA LIKE IT NEVER SOUNDED BEFORE OR AFTER………THANKS AGAIN TO STEVE WEST FOR POSTING THIS ABSOLUTE CLASSIC AIRCHECK….GNARLY/SMOKIN/TRUCKIN..

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  2. Good golly, Miss Molly! While Pete always sounded like a million bucks, doing it for about minimum wage at a $2 station with 50 cent equipment was an amazing feat. I couldn’t be prouder than when you, Willie B., Bob Rivers (yes, that Bob Rivers) and some of the other pros who graced our air made us sound so close to legit bigtime radio. Thanks for the great work, thanks for the lifetime friendship, and thanks to airchexx.com!

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  3. This is a fascinating glimpse of WFIF’s long past! I worked there from 1987-2007. (I was downsized in Aug of 2007.) The station still is, and has been, owned by Bill Blount since 1982. The studio & offices all in one building, right there with the transmitter, at the end of Kay Ave. It’s all still there today.

    In 1996, we made some MAJOR upgrades… namely, a brand new transmitter and Orban Optimod processor. I served as the Chief Engineer for the station for over a decade, and was fully involved in all of it’s major updates. I was also the morning announcer for most of my tenure.

    I’ll never forget the night we replaced “Ol’ Bessie” the transmitter… during that time, I was the EVENING announcer, so I had just finished my shift, then we started tearing stuff apart and rewiring things. We finished right around midnight, so I was able to go on the air (legally) for equipment testing purposes.

    I went down into the studio, slapped on the cans, and opened the mic.

    “This is WFIF, Milford, testing… MAN, THIS THING SOUNDS GOOD!!!” full 5kw, right on the air! LOL! I wonder if anyone heard it? Anyway, I played a song and tweaked the processing a little, gave another station ID, shut down, thanked my helpers, locked up, and called it a night! 🙂

    Talk about making the station sound FANTASTIC?? That new transmitter & processor were, truly, a night-and-day improvement!

    It was about a year after that, that we moved the main studio upstairs and installed an AudioVault automation system. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to build it and set it all up. Compared to the old downstairs studio, the new one was absolutely AWESOME! 🙂 (Still is.)

    Thanks for the memories.

    I miss WFIF and my “family” there.

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  4. Fresh out of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting I was the vacation relief and production person, just rare rookie talent then, but Cliff (Willie B.)took a likeing to me, he was a great sounding jock long before he hit the bigs. Like they say, it was a station held together with bailing wire, actually if you’ve ever seen those “half” a mobile homes going down the highway, that was 15FIF… placed on top of an 8 foot high basement which was the studios. But Randy had it set up like a pro shop, huge format clock on the wall that you could read from 10 feet away, liner cards that kept us within striking distance of WAVZ and WCDQ the other T-40 outlet. Willie and the other jocks were the icing on the cake.

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  5. Unfortunately WFIF is far from what it used to be. There’s no music format and the station has been transformed to Christian radio. I remember listening to WFIF many years ago and it truly sounded great!!!

    I really miss WFIF(I’m not alone)

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