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Man From Mars Productions

The Longest Trip that Never Happened
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WDRC Cherry Blossom Tour with Bacon and Fay, April 8-30, 1960

Over the decades, many radio stations have awarded listeners trips as contest prizes. Other stations have offered guided tours of distant places as incentives for listeners to spend serious money on a really good vacation. The usual setup is to send a station personality to act as host of the trip, while the listeners pay full price. Essentially the station acts as a travel agency working with middlemen partners like airlines and hotel chains. There's good money to be made all the way around.

So it came to pass that in the fall of 1959, Hartford's WDRC had just experienced its first-ever ownership change. Founder Franklin M. Doolittle sold WDRC AM (and a construction permit for an unbuilt FM station) to Buckley Broadcasting Corporation of Connecticut. The CBS Radio Network

 
 

had announced it would reduce the number of hours of programming it supplied to affiliate stations effective January first. Even as the familiar names of the 1950s left the station and went their separate ways (Harvey Olson, Lou Terri, Russ Naughton and Cal Kolby), WDRC's new general manager Victor Forker was trying to launch a fresh lineup of programming that included a two-person morning team - Bob Bacon and Dick Fay.

Now you can visit The Orient

 
 

In September 1959, Forker and his sales team partnered with Northwest Orient Airlines to create a 22-day trip from New York City to Japan exclusively for WDRC listeners. Bacon and Fay would be alongside as hosts for the trip from April 8-30, 1960. One wonders how many central Connecticut people had enough flexibility to take a three-week vacation - especially with a price tag of $1,942.07 first class ($1,523.62 tourist class) and additional dollars for an extension to the colony of Hong Kong.

WDRC Cherry Blossom Tour with Bob Bacon and Dick Fay

The slick, colorful sales brochure promised that "...we'll be recording bits of our program as we go so the folks at home can have an idea of where we all are and what we're doing and seeing." It isn't clear how many trips were sold but it became a moot point when Bacon and Fay were replaced right after the New Year's holiday with a duo new to Hartford, Kenny Reeth and Eddie King. As Kenny recalled in a 2002 interview on this website, they inherited the Japan trip and even did one remote broadcast to promote it, but the departure date of April 8 came and went. In late April, Reeth and King were let go and replaced with Ron Landry.

In this case, being on the air was no guarantee of getting in the air. WDRC's three-week paid vacation to Japan never happened.

 
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