New Norwich station takes spot on AM dial

Norwich - There's a new radio station in town, but it won't be competing with any of the big commercial entities, National Public Radio, or even local college stations.

"If it's going on in Norwich, it's going on Norwich 1700," station operator Kevin Harkins says on one of the promotional sound bites on AM-1700, Norwich Heritage Information Radio.

Harkins, who has been a ham radio operator since 1981, has wanted for years to launch one of the low-powered broadcast stations allowed by the Federal Communications Commission. He studied the rules and regulations for "micro broadcasting" under Part 15, Section 219 of the FCC code and read about equipment he would need.

Harkins purchased a 100-milowatt transmitter for $600, and he and a friend installed a 40-foot antenna at his home. He now broadcasts 24 hours a day on an AM radio frequency not licensed to any stations in the area.

He recorded a 45-minute CD and promotes upcoming local events, gives brief biographies of local historic figures and describes local attractions.

The recording this week featured an interview with Norwich City Historian Dale Plummer talking about escaped slave James L. Smith and his experiences in Norwich. Harkins described the scenic and historic Uncas Leap at Yantic Falls area.

He also gives contact information for the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, describes the Norwichtown Green and the First Congregational Church. He includes a segment on the recently restored Cathedral of St. Patrick and promotes the Leffingwell House Museum and Otis Library.

Harkins includes a segment he calls "Voices," which features interviews he has done with clients at the Southeast Connecticut Community Center of the Blind in New London.

"It's something that I'm not going to make a lot of money on," he said. "I'm not running it as a business or a nonprofit. It's just me."

The station can be heard from the downtown area to the Norwichtown Green area, along Interstate 395 to about Exit 80 - Harkins describes the attractions at each of the interstate's Norwich exit - and has a weak signal at the Rose City Senior Center on Mahan Drive.

Harkins is looking for events to promote on the station, including tourism events, walking tours, church suppers or yard sales, museum openings and exhibits. To submit items, call (641) 715-3900, ext. 59635, or email items to

If you listen

WHAT: Norwich Heritage Information Radio

WHERE: AM 1700, in area of Norwichtown, Chelsea Parade, Norwich

WHEN: 24-hour low-powered station promoting local events, tourist attractions, nonprofit services.

To provide information, call (641) 715-3900, ext. 59635, or email

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