Behind The Scenes at WBCN's Last Broadcast [Video]
“WBCN: The Last Broadcast” captures the station’s final hours at 104.1. Bradley Jay, Oedipus, Juanita and a handful of staffers give WBCN its final sendoff at the CBS Radio studios in Brighton, playing the music and telling the stories of The Rock of Boston.
Working at ‘BCN was a highlight of my career. It was the first off-air job I ever took in radio. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work for the iconic radio station that launched bands like U2, The Ramones and The Police in America. I listened 24/7 while going to Curry College as bands like Green Day and Nirvana were about to break. Howard Stern was on at night. Charles Laquidara was the host of The Big Mattress in the morning. WBCN seemed untouchable. It was as much a part of Boston as the Red Sox, the Freedom Trail and clam chowder. But as rock radio began to fragment and the corporate culture began to suck the life out of radio in the late 1990s, WBCN lost its edge and significance.
An hour before he went on the air, I asked Bradley if I could film the show, never thinking he’d say yes. Part of me wanted to shoot it to document an important moment in radio. But the selfish part of me just wanted to be in the room. I took the job at CBS Boston so I could be a part of the WBCN story. Unfortunately, I came in during the final chapter. I’ve always compared my time at WBCN to walking into a bar 10 minutes after last call. The alcohol was gone, everyone had left, the party was over, and the guys in cheap suits were about to come in and push everyone toward the door.
We’ve put the video up on YouTube several times, but it keeps getting deleted due to the use of music, but I found this original edit that I put on WBCN.com before the site was taken down and merged with the WZLX web site. The editing and second camera work that joined in during the final hour was done by WBCN’s Production Director Roger Moore. I gave Roger a general idea of what I wanted… he turned it into a masterpiece. At times, it’s rambling and raw, and I considered asking him to clean it up. But then I realized… that mentality was what killed WBCN.
**Unfortunately CBS has removed the video. Parts can be seen on YouTube, however most uploads have been deleted or muted because of the music used in the video.**
I have the weird honor of being the last voice on WBCN or the first voice on “Mix 104.1” depending how you look at it. As I was shooting the final moments of the broadcast, we realized we were running late and the WBCN Legal ID wouldn’t actually be legal. As of midnight, the station became WBMX so the pre-recorded ID that John Reilly produced wouldn’t suffice. Bradley didn’t want to go back on. So I volunteered to read the new station ID. That’s me you see in the photo waiting to go on. I had Roger edit this out of the video, but if you’ve heard the audio from that night, that’s my disappointed monotone voice you hear after the fake static saying “WBMX Boston.”
Be sure to grab Carter Alan’s book Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN. While Carter and I disagree about when WBCN’s demise began, he’s a brilliant writer and a great person. I was fortunate to work with Carter at WZLX for two years. It was always fun to hang out in his office and hear him talk about BCN in its prime.
I had high hopes for WBCN even after it went “off the air.” I was excited because CBS kept the station alive online and on HD radio. I saw a chance for WBCN to become underground, cool and relevant again since the station wouldn’t be under the corporate microscope. I met with Tony Berardini to give him some ideas, like replaying “Boston Emissions” (which moved to WZLX), having college interns come in and run the station, and showcasing local music to get the Boston band scene behind the new online WBCN.
Unfortunately there was just nobody left in the building with the time to keep the momentum going. I transferred to the Tampa market. Sam Kopper is doing a throwback to the early BCN days with “WBCN Free Form Rock” – but it’s never caught on because it’s geared toward the pre-Oedipus audience. The station’s fans from the 80s-2011 are left with an unhosted iPod shuffle version of WBCN at 98.5-HD2. HD Radio was a failed experiment. But as the internet server begins to replace the FM transmitter, hopefully WBCN will rise from the ashes as Oedipus described in the video above. If not, Adam 12 is doing a damn good job with Radio BDC.