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Man From Mars Productions

Growing Up Parker
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  In August 2007, Kathy (Parker) Morgan and Steve Parker reflected about what it was like being the children of Patty and Charlie Parker, who met and married while working at WDRC.

Charles R. Parker was born in Hartford but he grew up at the end of the green in Old Wethersfield. His middle name was Roy, after his father. An only child, Charlie's mother died when he was very young. He must have been born with a radio gene.

Steve: "When he'd come home from school at the end of the day he'd take the newspaper and go upstairs and take the shade off the lamp and read the news into the light bulb like it was a microphone. When he got up to a hundred watts he knew it was time to be in radio."

Charlie always wanted to be a sailor so, he enlisted in The U.S. Navy during World War II.

WDRC's Charlie Parker during his days in the U.S. Navy
Charles R. Parker
Anne "Patty" Welch and Charlie Parker on their wedding day in October 1945
Anne M. Welch becomes
Mrs. Charles R. Parker.

Steve: "He could do Morse Code. He could do the fastest presentation of the points of the compass you've ever heard in your life. He was a real radio guy."

Charlie received a medical discharge from the Navy because of back problems; he found himself living at Hartford's YMCA and interviewing for a job at a tobacco shop. One day he went to 750 Main Street and asked for a tour of WDRC's facilities; the receptionist who showed him around was Anne M. Welch, who also did part-time announcing on an afternoon advice-type show. In March 1944 Charlie was hired as an engineer.

Anne was known on-air as "Patty," a name she earned because her ready sense of humor meant she often giggled. A fellow staff member called her a Silly Patty and the nickname stuck.

On June 7, 1945, WDRC announcer Larry Colton announced Patty and Charlie's engagement during his afternoon Music Off The Record program. They were married on October 20. Charlie's best man was fellow announcer Dean Luce.

Mr. & Mrs. Parker continued to work at WDRC for several years. They settled in Newington and daughter Kathy was born in 1952; Steve followed in 1955.

In late October 1958 station manager Walter B. Haase promoted Harvey Olson to vice president. In turn, Charlie was promoted from production manager to program manager, replacing Olson. Charlie was at the helm as WDRC began divorcing itself from the CBS Radio Network, instituting a personality-driven, popular music format.

Kathy (Parker) Morgan has fond memories of visiting her Dad's office at 869 Blue Hills Avenue as a very little girl. He would take her into the music library and find duplicate records, saying, "wouldn't you like to have this one?" It was about then the Parker kids started to realize their Dad's job was a lot more fun than most of their friends' fathers.


June 7, 1945 - label of the recording featuring Charlie Parker and Patty Welch's engagement announcement on WDRC's Music Off The Record program
June 7, 1945 - label on the recording featuring Charlie
Parker and Patty Welch's engagement announcement
on WDRC's "Music Off The Record" program

WDRC production manager Charlie Parker explains the finer points of tape recording to a group of high school students, circa 1950
WDRC production manager Charlie Parker
explains the finer points of tape recording to
a group of high school students, circa 1950.

Kathy: "When our Mom originally got sick we were young, like 9 and 6. She fell ill at the beach on vacation. So we had to go live with my aunt in West Hartford. My Mom had to stay in the hospital in New London - they couldn't move her. When Dad got out of work, he'd go to New London every night. So it was really tough and he really missed us terribly. When she got well enough to come home, we moved home. But she passed away about a year and a half later. By then I was 11."

Patty Parker was only 43 when she died of a heart attack on February 19, 1964. It was right after the Beatles had caused such a huge sensation on the Ed Sullivan show - and it was at the height of WDRC's success. Kathy remembers spending the afternoon of her mother's funeral at a friend's house listening to Beatles' records.

WDRC staff picnic in 1960
WDRC staff picnic in 1960. Back row (l-r:) news editor Bud Steele, news director George Freeman, long time traffic director
Phil Steben & general manager Buck Forker. Front row (l-r:) program director Charlie Parker, Ethelyn Hearny, Naomi Stein,
wife of news editor Mike Stein (front), unknown woman at rear, and (far right) Patty Parker. (photo courtesy of Mike Stein)

Steve: "The radio station was our life support at that particular time. We got really, really lifted and brought into the world of Radio Fun at the same time she was leaving us. The radio station was like the family."

It wasn't easy, but Charlie Parker vowed to keep his family together and he made it a point to involve his children in the radio station.

Kathy: "We had a series of housekeepers/cleaning ladies, one after the other. We were miserable. They were stealing things, bringing people over for parties. So finally I said, 'I can watch Steve and learn how to cook'."

Steve: "He used to take Kathy and I and we'd go on listening trips. It might just be down to Waterbury, or Springfield. Once we went on a week-long trip throughout New England and stayed in hotels."

WDRC's Charlie Parker
Get in the car - we're going on
a field trip!

Kathy: "And we had to be quiet in the car. We'd drive and drive and we could talk during the songs but the minute the guy came back on...SSSHHH...and he'd turn it up and we would just drive around listening to all these different voices."

Steve: "He would always listen to everybody's aircheck that came in. That used to be how he'd clean his office. He'd work on the desk and I'd be on the reel-to-reel and be putting on all the airchecks that came in."

Kathy: "He'd bring 'em home, too. He played them for us quite often. I was in love with Dick McDonough. I loved his personality, the quality of his voice. I think it was the voice quality he looked for."

Steve: "There was a certain warmth that he looked for. There was a certain richness that he looked for. There really was a certain Big D sound. Some guys could really be good, but it wasn't the Big D sound."
 
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