Old South Church Meeting

Donna Halper dlh@donnahalper.com
Wed Jan 6 12:51:36 EST 2010

At 07:02 AM 1/6/2010, Dan.Strassberg wrote:
>The Boston station that was on 1470 pre-NARBA (3/31/1941) was WMEX.
>Who knows what WMEX was airing in those days? (Donna?)

But of course.  WMEX was actually the result of 
the Poté Brothers (William, the more disreputable 
of the two, and Al-- by all accounts a pretty 
good guy with a long history as a radio engineer) 
pulling a fast one on the FCC in 1934.  The 
previous administration, the FRC (Federal Radio 
Commission) had taken WLOE off the air-- that was 
the first station of the Potés, run mostly by 
Bill.  The FRC ruled that there were numerous 
financial irregularities, and after a long 
battle, WLOE finally left the air in 1933.  But 
nobody was gonna keep Bill Poté off the air-- he 
found some backers, put their names on the 
application, and suddenly in October 1934, the 
new WMEX, owned by the "Northern Corporation", 
appeared.  It was sometimes in the Hotel Manger 
(long gone) in the North Station area, and then 
sometime in the late 30s, moved to Brookline 
Avenue.  The format was what you would expect of 
a small 1930s or 1940s station-- a little bit of 
everything, from big bands, to shopping shows, to 
religion, to jazz to whatever else somebody 
wanted to do.  Don Kent got his start there, as 
did Nat Hentoff.  Bill Poté was famous for not 
paying people-- he "allowed them" to work there 
and get experience... for free of course. And 
yes, WMEX was moved to 1510 after NARBA moved all 
kinds of stations-- WMEX moved on 29 March 1941.

Dan wrote--
>  I don't think
>the station had a consistent format until the Richmonds bought it (out
>of bankruptcy) and flipped it to Top 40 in 1957.

True indeed.  The Richmond Brothers did buy it in 
mid 1957 and gradually shifted it to the top-40 
format.  Mac had been involved in an advertising 
agency in Philly, if I recall correctly, and he 
also owned WPGC in Washington DC.  (When top 40 
ruled, two of the big ones in the DC area were 
WPGC, and Baltimore's WCAO-- they were jokingly 
referred to as "The Pig" and "The Cow."

>Dan also wrote--
>Anyhow, AFAIK, WBMS didn't arrive until shortly after World War II. By
>then, WMEX had been on 1510 for at least four years.

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!!!  Dan's got 
the trifecta.  WBMS was licensed in 1946, by the 
Templetone Corporation, a radio manufacturer; at 
one point, I believe Templetone also operated an 
FM in Boston very briefly, because the company 
sold FM radios.  But by 1948, Templetone was 
having financial woes, and WBMS was sold to the 
Friendly Group.  It went dark. and then, I 
believe it changed ownership yet again.  It was 
at that point, circa 1948, when it did a 
classical format for a while, then gave it up in 
April 1950, but then went back to it. WBMS also 
changed very very briefly in 1951 to the best 
call letters for a top 40-- although top 40 had 
not yet been invented-- WHEE.  WBMS got back its 
original calls around 1952 and if I recall, that 
is when they went back to classical. At one 
point, they used the slogan "WBMS-- world's best music station."

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