The End of Era: WMMM Concludes Commercial Broadcasting
Like most small businesses in the tough Connecticut economy, the Grahams felt the pinch of trying to survive. The lease renewal contract on the tower site forced the Grahams into purchasing the Willard Road property at a very high price. The cost of maintaining studios on Westport's Main Street also became a cost prohibited luxury. WMMM secured studio and office space in the Escotel Cellular building in Norwalk. Escotel Cellular, who had been a advertiser with WMMM when the Grahams first purchased the station, were able to offer the needed space for a reasonable cost. The station went through severe staff reductions as well as leased-time programming. Even with all this, the station struggled to stay afloat while attempting to combat a negative cash flow.
Once again, Robert "Red" Graham demonstrated why he's affectionately known as "The Charitable Emcee." The Grahams donated WMMM to WSHU Radio, the NPR station belonging to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Even with the small cash payment to offset some newer equipment, the deal represented the largest-ever donation to WSHU. George Lombardi, WSHU station manager, said the target date of late November 1997 will bring the station back on the air with news/talk programming from National Public Radio. WMMM actually returned to the air in January of 1998, relaying the majority of its programming from WSHU's Long Island outlet WSUF-FM.
September 15, 1997 was the final day that WMMM operated as part of Minuteman Broadcasting. The last morning show featured Mark Graham talking with past employees, listeners and friends (both in studio and over the phone) reminiscing about the many years of WMMM. At 10:01am, co-owner, general manager and morning man Mark Graham said his final words and then signed off the station with "... you heard the count down, it's over."
The final straw came to the 1260 KHz frequency in March of 2000 when Sacred Heart University changed the call letters from WMMM to WSHU-AM. While this was originally proposed at the time the station changed hands, it wasn't acted upon until then. It looks like the legacy of Westport's WMMM is now only a memory to those who remember it .... and those who have read about it here.
Pictured right is station co-owner, vice president and morning man Mark Graham on the final broadcast for WMMM-AM 1260. Many friends as well as current and former station staff members showed up and called in to express their best wishes to Mark. Even long time friend and former "Speaking Of Music" co-host José Feliciano called in while on tour in Chile.