Symphony Sid on WHEE and Ken Malden

Donna Halper
Sat May 16 14:31:15 EDT 2009

At 06:35 AM 5/16/2009, Dan.Strassberg wrote:
>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.

Well, let's go back a few years, since we originally began discussing 
Ken Malden and Symphony Sid.  In mid 1953, Sid was doing a late night 
shift on WCOP (1150 AM), while Malden was doing afternoon drive on 
WVDA (1260 AM). At that time, WCOP (which had originally been at the 
Hotel Copley), was at 485 Boylston,  and I believe that WVDA was 
still at 275 Tremont (Hotel Bradford).  I found this out years later, 
of course, but at the time it was happening, I didn't know any of 
it-- I was very young, and my folks only listened to WHDH-- they were 
big fans of Ken and Bill ("Ken Wilson at the organ, Bill Green at the 
piano!"), Bob Clayton's Boston Ballroom, Fred B. Cole, Ray Dorey; and 
over on WBZ, they liked Bob and Ray.  So, those were the 
personalities I remember from my earliest childhood.  I don't think I 
ever heard Symphony Sid at that time, even though he had long since 
established quite a name for himself...

By 1956, WBMS had moved from the Hotel Shelton, which was near Boston 
University, I believe, over to the Hotel Somerset, as Dan accurately 
recalls.  The station remained at the Somerset for years-- I visited 
it (as WILD) in the early 1980s and it was still there, prior to when 
then-owner Ken Nash moved the studios to Roxbury.  Anyway, WBMS was 
sold to Bartell Broadcasting and then re-named WILD in early 
September 1957, according to the Trades and local newspaper 
reports.  Ken Malden ended up working at WILD, in fact, doing airwork 
and promotion.

And Vice Diehm exited the Boston scene in late 1957.  WVDA was sold 
to Air Trails Broadcasting, which then changed the call letters to 
WEZE in early December of that year.

As for the many versions of how Symphony Sid got his name, one 
version told by the black newspapers in 1940 was that he was a sharp 
dresser, and one of his first sponsors was a clothing store which did 
call him "Symphony Sid, the Classy Kid"-- why the "Symphony" 
name?  Well, Russ is correct that Sid never was on a classical 
station, nor did he sell classical records at that time, so perhaps 
it just sounded alliterative (two words beginning with S) or perhaps 
"symphony" was a word that was meant to evoke "class" or being 
"upscale", given that he was called the "classy kid" on the air (in 
addition to the "jiving kid" and the "swinging kid")...   

More information about the Boston-Radio-Interest mailing list