Boston AM dial 50 years ago

Rob Landry
Wed Nov 27 09:54:18 EST 2013

According to what Dave MacNeill told me, you are correct that the move to 
classical was gradual. Dave remembered doing play-by-play for high school 
football games early in his WCRB career.

My understanding is that the move to classical was triggered by the demise 
of classical music on (WBMS? I forget) AM 1090, and unless I misremember, 
future program director, vice president, and chairman Richard L. Kaye was 
hired from there.

Another factor, I was told, was the rise of television and the consequent 
obsolescence of old-fashioned network radio. The classical format was seen 
as a safe niche for a suburban station that could never compete head to 
head with the bigger signals.

I seem to recall hearing that Richard joined in 1951 or 1952 and promptly 
began establishing WCRB's long time relationship with the BSO. He was 
behind WCRB's application for 102.5 FM, which signed on in (October?) 
1954, and the subsequent stereo broadcasts using the AM for one channel 
and the FM for the other.

I believe WBZ and WBZ-FM also did AM/FM stereo broadcasts.


On Tue, 26 Nov 2013, Donna Halper wrote:

> On 11/25/2013 11:22 PM, A Joseph Ross wrote:
>> On 11/23/2013 2:39 PM, Rob Landry wrote:
>>> Not "Concert Radio Boston", but "Charles River Broadcasting". The WCRB 
>>> call letters were original (1948) and predated the classical format, which 
>>> began in 1951.
> Actually, there's some evidence the 1951 date isn't accurate. I am looking at 
> program listings from their early days-- and in 1948-1949, they were your 
> basic Waltham-Newton AM station, with locally produced educational programs, 
> entertainment by local performers, announcers who played popular music, a 
> women's show, a jazz show, etc.  Famous local entertainers like vocal duo 
> "Hum and Strum" performed live on WCRB too.  But there's evidence that this 
> variety type of programming was phased out very gradually-- in fact, a Boston 
> Globe interview with Ted Jones in early November 1953 said he had finally 
> eliminated the last of the jazz and pop music programming, because the 
> listeners were very vocal about wanting only "good music"-- concert music, 
> semi-classical, and opera. WCRB-AM had been phasing in classical programming 
> since 1951, but the total change-over did not occur till November 8, 1953, 
> according to Jones.

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