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WTCC DJ has spent 35 years spinning the hits

Date: 8/15/2012

By Lori Szepelak

SPRINGFIELD — Bob Belniak and a host of music aficionados provide a "labor of love" each day over the air waves of The Community's Choice, WTCC, 90.7 FM.

Belniak, of Agawam, has been a rock 'n' roll and doo wop host for 35 years at the station on the campus of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). He started his 36th year as a volunteer host on July 10.

WTCC is owned by STCC and is on the air 24 hours a day with all local volunteer hosts. WTCC is heard throughout most of Western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut, as well as over the Internet.

"It's definitely a labor of love because we all volunteer," said Belniak during a recent early evening interview at the studio at One Armory Square. The tight-knit studio is located down a hall of Garvey Hall, one of the former buildings of the old Springfield Armory.

Belniak noted that the studio has been a welcome home for sharing his passion of 50's and 60's music, "pre-Beatles."

"I have primarily stuck with the music of the rock 'n' roll, doo wop and a cappella from the 50's and 60's," he said, adding he also plays a lot of "obscure music that did not make the charts for many reasons."

Belniak started on Saturday nights with Pete Best in 1977 and then moved to Tuesday nights alone in 1980 and has remained in that time slot ever since.

Belniak recounted his younger days growing up in the Brightwood section of Springfield, noting "We spent our days and evenings in Calhoun Park, making and playing music."

Belniak added that the music he grew up with — along with most of his radio audience — was vocal group harmony.

"Vocal group harmony is four or five voices blending together to hear a musical form of harmonizing," he said. "My favorite group of all time is the Cadillacs from New York. They put out a ton of material and I just love everything they ever recorded — great lyrics, super harmony and a tremendous stage appeal."

Belniak's three-hour program, the "Roots of Rock & Roll," airs every other week on Tuesdays starting at 9 p.m. His program alternates with "Cruisin' with BeachBob Bob Mankus."

His theme song, "We're Gonna Rock & Roll," kicks off the evening, followed by a tried and true formula of "up tempo numbers" to lead off the evening, followed by a rundown of what he is planning for the three-hour set. Belniak also features an a cappella number, followed by a rockabilly song and then a vocal ballad. A concert calendar review, an R & B Revue, and segments titled "News You Can Use" and "Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll" rounds out his programming.

"The request line is always open at 736-2781 and is always busy," he said.

Belniak is a retired wine and spirits salesperson and now concentrates his energies on the radio show and the New England Doo Wop Society shows which he co-founded with Gary Jones.

As his 36th year unfolds, Belniak looks forward to sharing his love of music with others for years to come.

"I enjoy playing the music and giving out information, and at times, free tickets to oldies concerts," he said.

In addition to Belniak's show, WTCC's current programming includes a wide variety of music, as well as talk shows focusing on local issues. There are ethnic programs, including Greek, Portuguese, Italian, Caribbean, Polish, Native American, and several Latino programs. Music ranges from jazz to gospel, as well as country/bluegrass, rock, blues, oldies, Motown, classical, reggae, clubhouse dance, hip hop and salsa.

"I have learned that listeners still enjoy hearing the Top 40 hits from the past, now, more than ever before," he said. "This music refuses to die."