WAYNE NORMAN WINS STATE HONOR

by Matthew L. Brown, Chronicle Staff Writer

February 3, 2004

WILLIMANTIC -- A Willimantic radio personality is set to be honored by the state this afternoon.  During a 1 p. m. ceremony at WILI Radio at 720 Main Street, Lt. Gov. M. Jodi Rell will name Wayne Norman a "Connecticut Treasure."

According to Rell, Norman has been recognized not only for his long tenure on AM radio, but for his support for the city of Willimantic.

Norman "goes out of his way to promote the region," she said.

The Connecticut Treasure program was initiated by Rell, and the honor has been bestowed upon only a handful of people.

Rell said she plans to present two of the awards each month, one to an individual and one to a group.  Recipients are recognized for volunteer efforts that have improved the quality of life in their communities.

Norman's morning show has been broadcast since 1971, making it the longest continuously running daily radio show in New England.  he began broadcasting as a temporary assignment.

Norman is also the spearhead of Willimantic's annual "Cupid" award, which recognizes volunteers and others who work to promote a positive image for Willimantic.

Norman hands out the award every year, and was himself the first Willimantic "Cupid."

Norman also acts as grand marshal of Willimantic's Boom Box Parade held every year on the Fourth of July.

Rell also pointed out that Norman has broadcast University of Connecticut basketball games for the last 25 years.

"Nearly everyone in eastern Connecticut and beyond knows Wayne Norman, or at least his voice," she said.

This morning Norman said he was surprised by the honor.

"I'm awfully surprised, I never for a second thought that I would be the one who got it this year," he said.

Norman has interviewed past recipients of the award and has also interviewed Rell.  "She's been a guest on my show frequently, so she has a pretty good feel for what we do," he said.

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