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About Good Company 14 WILI AM

Broadcasting at 1400 on the AM dial at a power of 1000 watts, 24
hours a day Good Company 14 WILI AM hosts extensive local news,
sports and weather programming.

14 WILI AM is affiliates with:
    •        ABC-Entertainment Radio Network
    •        Connecticut Radio Network
    •        Uconn Radio Network
    •        World Champion Boston Red Sox Radio Network

The Construction of the WILI Radio Station

Three French-Canadian businessmen from Central Falls, RI worked with engineer
Donald Howe, to tune into the frequency of 1400 at a non-directional 250 watts.
Making competition tough, a competing applicant, Robert Mensel, of Willimantic
had proposed a daytime only station at 500 watts on 1430 kHz. However the
winning the bid, engineered by Donald Howe won the businessmen the application
and WILI took flight onto the airwaves in 1957.

On Saturday, October 5, 1957, WILI went on the air for the first time. To celebrate
their launch they held an invitation only party at Willimantic's Capital Theater.

Bought & Sold & Under New Ownership - The Rice Family

In May of 1959, Herbert C. Rice bought WILI. During those days, the music format
included contemporary 45's with big band oldies from the 1930's and '40s. Herb
Rice took the principle position of General Manager and also sold advertising.
Robert Rice, his brother, took the principle position of Sales Manager. Herb's wife,
Ethel Rice, handled billing and ran the office.  

The History of Herbert C. Rice

Herbert Rice was originally from Great Britain. He emigrated to Canada when he
was 20. Moving to Boston from Canada, he was the son of a builder and worked in
doing what he knew best, painting houses.
In the 1920's, he entered a theater tent and found a young woman rehearsing
lines. After watching her for awhile, he stood up and said, "No, no, no! You must
say it with more expression for people to believe you. You've got to sell it!" To his
surprise, the director in the tent invited him to show the young woman how "to do
it". Herb stepped forward showing the woman how to better read her lines and was
asked to stay on as an assistant. The theater tent he was in is now known as the
Cape Cod Music Theater and the young woman he had helped coach was a
struggling actress named Bette Davis.

Buffalo Broadcasting was the meeting place for Herb and Ethel Kreppel. After they
married, they worked to continue their broadcasting careers together. Ethel
introduced her husband Herb to an old high school friend. Liking his wife's friends
talents, Herb used his new  friend in many of his radio shows. The man Herb
introduced to radio branched off on his own and went on to a television career.
Best known as Buffalo Bob Smith, the once newbie to radio had his own show
called "Howdy Doody".

After leaving Buffalo, Herb Rice, in 1945 became the Assistant to the President of
the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Rice joined the Mutual Broadcasting
System in New York as Director of Production. He held the position of Vice
President of network programs. In 1956 he went on to direct  film program
development for RKO-Tele-Radio.

Herbert Rice wrote and directed many radio dramas and serials. Bobby Bensen
and the B-BAR-B Riders is one of Herb's most infamous drama serials. Writing
with a flair, Rice created an exaggerated big mouth braggart to play the character
of his ranch hand. Hours of auditions later, Herb chose a young actor for his
character. This actor was named Don Knotts. Rice gave him his first broadcast
job as the character known as "Windy Wales". Knotts took to his role so well that
the character stuck with him throughout his career.

Before buying WILI, Herb Rice owned and managed KVNI in Coeur-d'Alene Idaho.
Ethel Rice, his wife, was a veteran broadcaster and winner of the General Electric
National Prize for her excellence in  writing creative advertising copy.

14 WILI AM Current History

As WILI entered the 1970's the station evolved from a Top 40 station to "AM
MONO ROCK!".  14 WILI AM enjoyed a large college audience from UConn and
ECSU. Cutting from best-selling albums was popular and the WILI AM DJs dove
three and four cuts deep into many albums including Paul McCartney, Boz
Scaggs, Carole King and Fleetwood Mac.

In 1977 live conversations with meteorologists began with Norm MacDonald.
However live weather reports began long before '77.  In the late 1960's, a club of
UConn students with an interest in weather formed The Southern New England
Weather Service. Dating  WILI's first on-air forecasts to 1969. One of the first on-
air forecasters...   was a UConn student named Wayne Norman.    

WILI changed to a "full service" adult contemporary format in 1985 offering
"Today's hits and yesterday's favorites".

Making history has always been part of WILI's past, so in 1986 when no marching
band could be found for Windham's Memorial Day Parade... WILI birthed the idea
of the Boom Box Parade for its 4th of July celebration.  A short 5 weeks later,
Windham/Willimantic residents and surrounding towns tuned their radios/boom
boxes, LOUDLY, to 14 WILI AM and listened to marching band music at their first
Boom Box Parade.

In the mid 1980s, WILI outgrew its 948 Main Street studios and moved on
Columbus Day 1987 to their new state of the art facilities at 720 Main Street.

A Favorite of Connecticut - 14 WILI AM Today

Over the years WILI has served local residents, surrounding towns and Eastern
Connecticut as THE source for up-to-date news, weather and talk radio.  Beloved
by all, WILI has grown gracefully and successfully and is a very well-known radio
station and local favorite source for ALL that's Eastern Connecticut.

Today, 14 WILI AM is known state-wide as having the longest continuously
running morning show in N
ew England and hosted by Wayne Norman, who began
his career at WILI in 1969 as one of WILI's first weather forecasters.  
Connecticut's morning show icon, Wayne Norman, quickly moved from student
to doing afternoons in 1970... then "temporarily" Wayne took over the
morning show on November 1, 1971. Wayne Norman is also known as the color
analyst for University of Connecticut  basketball and football broadcasts since
1979. Through his hard work and dedication, Wayne Norman was named a
"Connecticut Treasure" in 2004 by then-Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell.

With an eye on growth and further development, Hall Communications bought
WILI in September 2005. Hall Communications along with the current Rice family,
that still runs and operates WILI, have pledged to keep WILI in tact as a
community-oriented, locally operated station.

If running an incredibly successful radio station isn't busy enough, 14 WILI AM
teamed up with the Mohegan Sun to create The Rays of Sunshine.  The Rays of
Sunshine is way for residents to thank special individuals who always seem to
manage to find time to help other people. Nominations are mailed to Wayne, who
is the host for acceptance interviews and works to publicize the tribute paid to
these special folks.

Everyday 14 WILI AM gives listeners a chance to win prizes including UConn
tickets, theater tickets and other great fun prizes. The WILI/McDonalds Birthday
Club is another way WILI works to give to its community. Each day a list of
people having birthdays is read on the air. One birthday celebrant is drawn for a
free meal at the Mansfield McDonalds.  Every Saturday, all the week's entries are
drawn from for a weekly grand prize. A family meal for four at McDonalds!

With such a rich history and commitment to community, it's no wonder why the
Boom Box Parade is the largest parade of its kind in the world.  Visited by the top
news stations, shown on TV all over Connecticut, and heralded as the Unique
People's Parade, the Boom Box Parade is infamous for how the Nutmeg State
celebrates Independence Day!

After 50 years on air, WILI celebrated its milestone 50th anniversary with an entire
week of alumni interviews on its morning show hosted by Wayne Norman.  As
proud as the radio station was the WILI team and founders were about to find out
just how big of an impact their station and dedication ran. Making it clear that
pride runs deep throughout the entire state, Governor Jodi Rell proclaimed
October 5, 2007 as WILI-AM RADIO DAY in the state of Connecticut!!
To learn more about the rich history of 14 WILI AM, please visit their
website at:
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