Symphony Sid on WHEE and Ken Malden

Sat May 16 06:35:55 EDT 2009

I remember visiting what, by then, had become WILD's studios in that
hotel, which I think was called The Somerset. It was on the tiver side
of Comm Ave a block or so west of Mass Ave. The building may stand to
this day, though probably under a different name. On both sides of
Comm Ave in that area, there were other buildings that, from the
street, resembled the Somerset (ornate scroll-work; maybe even
gargoyles). The visit would have taken place while I was a grad
student across the river at MIT. (That would make it sometime between
May '56 and May '58). It was after Bartell Media's (WOKY, KCBQ) brief
fling at operating WILD.

When I visited, WILD was under the ownership of (or was being LMAed
from Bartell by) a guy named Nelson Noble, who brought in Bill
Marlowe, Stan Richards, and Joe Smith as the air staff. Ken Malden may
still have been with the station, doing news in AM drive, some weekend
shifts, and maybe also the short shift between the end of Smith's show
at 6:00PM and sunset in the summer. I walked in in the late morning
when Richards was on duty, apparently alone, at the station. He had
left WORL (950) on the other side of Kenmore Sq to join WILD's, umm,
Noble (and short-lived) experiment. The expeiment was a commercial
flop but the station sounded great to these ears.

In any event, WHEE/WBMS/WILD had apparently moved within the Somerset
building from the studios Russ described to a penthouse on the roof.
The Somerset was a low building--only four or five stories, plus the
penthouse, as I recall. Also, as I recall, the elevator did not drop
me off inside the penthouse, but rather in a small structure on the
roof near the penthouse. I had to go outside, on the roof and walk
maybe 50' to the penthouse. I do recall, however, that it was a sunny
day and Richard's studio was filled with sunlight, so the penthouse,
which was not visible from the street, probably did have good-sized

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Russ Butler" <>
To: <>; "Dan Strassberg"
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 11:49 PM
Subject: Symphony Sid on WHEE and Ken Malden

> Dan is right, Sid was on WHEE as a jazz deejay from a hotel on
> Commonwealth Avenue studios (bay windows with long drapes [for
> soundproofing from traffic?] that overlooked Com Ave on the second
> floor) a bit ostentatious for a radio studio.
> The hotel was just down from Kenmore Square (forgot the name). The
> WHEE turntables and console were in the corner of the large hotel
> room with high ceilings, a bay window was behind the deejay's chair.
> I can still picture the setting of my visit in the 1950's.   It
> almost exactly resembled the WRUL studios in the red brickstone
> building on Com Ave near the Boston Gardens (with the Swan Boats).
> Sid used to ID the station as "We are - - -W-H-E-E-E-E-E in Boston"
> just for fun, of course.  He was a clerk at a symphony music record
> store in NYC where he introduced rock and roll records to
> customers - hence, the "Symphony Sid, Classy Kid" moniker for Sid
> Torin.  Wikipedia has this posted about Sid Torin (he didn't
> announce symphony broadcasts):
> Ken Malden did follow Sid's shift on WHEE, as I remember, playing a
> popular music format on the daytime station. WBMS dropped classical
> music on April 27, 1950.  WHEE did not play classical music at
> 1090AM in the early-50's, that was the format exclusively for WCRB
> 1330AM  ("The Charles River Broadcasting Company") WBCN-FM (Boston's
> Classical Network) until WGBH went on the air and WXHR-FM on Mt.
> Zion were added classical music to the dial.
> Thanks for some great shows, Ken, our prayers are with you on your
> voyage.  =Russ Butler

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list