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WATR 1320 AM: A Little Piece of History on the Air

By Elisha Neubauer

In Waterbury, Connecticut, you can still hear a little piece of history on the radio. Crafted from a long line of hard work, perseverance, and dedication, the local Waterbury radio station, WATR, was created by a man named Harold Thomas. Thomas first found his love of radio as a young boy, when in his early teens he converted a WWI Navy radio set into a makeshift broadcasting system.

The rest, they say, is history.

Since then, Thomas built a radio empire which became a family owned and operated conglomerate. Over the years, the family sold quite a few of the stations owned under the Thomas umbrella, but WATR 1320 AM has remained under the control of Thomas's two grandsons.

Today, the station is known for its Golden Oldies, but covers news and talk shows, as well. "WATR 1320 AM is a full-service, community-based, and community-minded radio station, which has been serving the Greater Waterbury area communities for 82 years," states Tom Chute, General Manager and Morning Host. Current shows include the popular morning program 'Tom Chute and You,' which Chute explains has been on since 1985.

"Also on WATR there is the 'Coffee Break' talk show hosted since 1963 by host Barbara Davitt, followed by 'Talk of the Town', an issue-oriented local talk program hosted by well-known former CPTV personality Larry Rifkin," Chute details. On weekends, the station airs national talk shows from the FOX Network alongside a sampler of oldies music shows.

As one of the first stations on the air in the Connecticut area, and even the country, WATR is very proud of its history. "WATR has been on the air since 1934, and is still locally owned and operated by the Thomas/Gilmore family," Chute tells us. "Their goal is keep local, independently-owned radio broadcasting on the air and very active in the Waterbury area."

They're seeking to accomplish this goal by utilizing many media platforms, including streaming live twenty-four hours a day on their website,, and by making the show available on the popular listening app, TUNE IN.

The radio station remembers its dues, ensuring that they focus on community-related events and issues, as well. "WATR is very committed to the communities we serve, often featuring insights and interviews showcasing the local issues, personalities, newsmakers and community organizations," states Chute. "We also feature local news, and local scholastic sports broadcasts featuring area high school football and basketball teams."

Chute goes on, explaining how their radio personalities donate their time, whether by just making appearances or actually emceeing at local area events. "We have joined many committees and boards, and the station and it's personalities have won numerous awards for community service," he says.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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