Man From Mars Productions
August 2007, Kathy (Parker) Morgan and Steve Parker reflected
about what it was like being the children of Patty
Parker, who met and married while working at WDRC.
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.
"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."
always wanted to be a sailor so, he enlisted in The U.S. Navy
during World War II.
M. Welch becomes
Mrs. Charles R. Parker.
"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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
(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 on the
featuring Charlie Parker and Patty
announcement on WDRC's
"Music Off The Record" program
production manager Charlie Parker explains the finer points
tape recording to a group of high
school students, February 1953.
"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."
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.
"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."
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)
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
"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'."
"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."
Get in the car - we're
going on a field trip!
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."