As teenagers go, the DJs of WTIT were usually good kids. We never got arrested, into fights, or stole shit. Best of all, we weren’t boring, either. This story could have had a very different outcome had just one DJ not kept his head. In the sixties and early seventies, Hartford had a minor league football team. The first was the Hartford Charter Oaks and they were actually owned by Bouncing Billy’s family. They never won much, but we’d go with our families when we were younger (Billy was actually on the bench as a water boy.)
By the time we were old enough to drive, the Oaks were gone and replaced by the Hartford Knights. The Knights had almost the same team, coach and such, but moved down to a lower pro-league. The result was the team never lost. After they kept winning championships we all got collectively bored and Hartford has not had a pro football team since. The games got so boring we tried to find things to amuse ourselves.
On this particular night the stands were wrapped in red, white & blue bunting. Galloping Gary, Killer Joe, Johnnie Walker, Bouncing Billy and I all were there and we all smoked cigarettes. We started a game when the cigarette was almost gone, “Who could set the bunting on fire?”
This was not even an “almost good idea”. I don’t remember who won, but Johnnie Walker jumped up and put out the smoldering bunting. He was yelling at us about being assholes, and of course he was right. He had kept asking us to stop before the smoldering. As he put out our stupid prank, we started sing the “Smokey the Bear” song. Johnnie got a nickname that night. Nope, not Smokey, he became “Mom”.
Had Johnnie not been there we probably would have both gotten arrested and thrown out for life. A life ban would not have been a long period of time, because the team folded within a year. I doubt if Johnnie ever appreciated being called “Mom”, but anytime after that day when he told us to knock something off, we listened. We even sang “Smokey the Bear” at him, even if fire was not involved.
But, I know it was a good thing that he was around. We would have hated to start this website with people saying, “WTIT Tape Radio. Didn’t those guys burn down Dillon Stadium?” We much prefer the current reaction. “WTIT Tape Radio. What the hell is that?” See, as with a lot of things, it is really all in the perspective.