W79AI, Channel 79 (NBC)
Torrington, Connecticut (1971-1987)
Owned by Viacom
What is left of Torrington, CT's Channel 79 (W79AI)
The story about W79AI, Channel 79 in Torrington, CT is truly fascinating. First, let's hear from Jim Schultz, an Engineer at WINE/WRKI-FM in the Danbury, CT area. "Thought I'd pass along a quick story about CH 79 in Torrington, CT. I
passing by the old transmitter hut this Spring and since there were no
leaves on the trees and brush that has overgrown the site, the old NBC
logo and CHANNEL 79 lettering on the building were visible (although
faded). I had to have a look inside that building!! I parked my van by
side of the road and wandered over to the small block building. The
open (the roof was pretty much non existant), but the UHF translator
still there, plugged into a 120 volt outlet.....(the service to the
had been disconnected years ago).....the feedlines for the TX & RX
were still connected to the antennas that were on the ground, covered
and soil. Looks like when they "pulled the plug" they never went back.
Someone took the tower that was there years ago, but everything else
pretty much as they left it.............. The translator, although
was mice ridden and soaked with many years of rainwater. I'm sure only
radio (broadcasting) nut like myself would feel as I did.....kinda sad
part of broadcasting's history was just abandoned to rot....."
Now, let's hear from Bob Allison (WB1GCM), an engineer at Channel 30/WVIT in New Britain, CT. Bob wrote to our webpage's guestbook about three years ago. "I've been with 30 for 21 years and was the last person to service our CH 79 translator in late 1986. It was a 100 watt pep job on the outskirt of Torrington that hardly made it to downtown. It only had a few viewers that depended on it, one being the Ch 30 transmitter engineer's mother. We couldn't even see it from the studio here in West Hartford. It had an audio oscillator tied to the carrier...as the video level changed, the audio freq changed with the osc. This was fed down a phone line to our main studio. As a master control op, one had to turn up a monitor speaker every hour to make sure we could hear the tone (still on the air)".
Originally, Channel 79 (W79AI) in Torrington, Connecticut was a full-time repeater of WHNB-TV (now WVIT) Channel 30/New Britain, CT. It provided local and NBC network programming to people in the Greater Torrington area who otherwise would be unable to receive Channel 30's broadcasts. Cable, plus a much powerful Channel 30 pretty much did in Channel 79. Toward the end of Channel 79's lifetime, only a handful of people depended upon W79AI's signal. The cost of running it, was hardly worth the expense. I must say that I was surprised that they left the unit intact and forgotten for years. As a piece of UHF history, I would have gladly taken the unit for posterity. Oh, well. -Editor
History written by Peter Q. George, with information provided by Bob Allison (WB1GCM). Bob is the in-house historian of WVIT/Channel 30 in New Britain, CT., and further information was provided by Jim Schultz, Engineer at WINE-Danbury, CT/WRKI(FM)- Brookfield, CT.. Photo was provided by Paul R. Bourque (N1SFE). We thank everyone for providing the info regarding the late, W79AI.- Editor