Music Till Dawn on WEEI

Donna Halper
Sun Feb 24 17:31:39 EST 2008

At 04:50 PM 2/24/2008, wrote:
>I have a question that has puzzled me for years. How the heck did WNAC
>wind up with such a lousy dial position and signal? They got shafted
>being sent to 1260. Did Shepherd have problems with Washington?

True that.  Shepard and the FCC did not get along. (For those not 
familiar with the late great John Shepard 3rd, he is a forgotten 
pioneer of broadcasting... I don't know if Garrett put up my new and 
revised history of his achievements, but they go on for pages and 
pages)... Shepard and the FCC had a love-hate relationship.  Shepard 
believed very strongly in law and order-- the concept of justice, not 
the TV show-- and he was by all accounts a conservative 
Republican.  But when it came to the FCC, he often disliked the way 
they used their power.  Conversely, the FCC thought Shepard was a 
pain in the butt-- he was outspoken and frequently complained about 
what he felt were excessive and arbitrary rules and regulations that 
favoured the big networks (NBC and CBS) at the expense of the "little 
guy".  The so-called Mayflower Decision was ostensibly about making 
sure stations were neutral about politics, but it was really a way to 
get back at Shepard-- long story, better told some other time.

Anyway, before the FCC came along in 1934, there was the FRC (Federal 
Radio Commission), created by the Radio Act of 1927.  The members 
were mostly big corporate guys, and they didn't seem to like Shepard 
much either.  (In fairness, people who knew him said he could be 
really annoying-- arrogant, tactless, impatient.  BUT he was 
passionately committed to local broadcasting, including local news 
and local music.  He was remarkably egalitarian for his era, putting 
women into executive positions, hiring black musicians as early as 
1922, putting a rabbi and synagogue services on the air, and fighting 
for radio's right to get press credentials and cover news like the 
newspapers did.)  The FRC didn't do WNAC any favours by giving the 
station such a poor dial position, while giving NBC's stations much 
of what they wanted, and removing 123 popular community stations from 
the air for no apparent reason-- not surprising though.  They were 
pro-NBC, pro-GE, pro-CBS, and not big fans of local broadcasters whom 
they perceived as constantly complaining.  Shepard fought the poor 
dial position for years, but to no avail.  It didn't change till 
after he died.  That's one reason he started the Yankee network and 
the Colonial Network-- to try to get his programming on stations with 
better dial positions and more powerful signals.

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