WBCN 104.1 FM, is a commercial radio station based in Boston, Massachusetts. WBCN is a modern rock/active rock station that mixes music that is popular in the modern rock, alternative rock and Classic rock genres. WBCN is a CBS Radio station. Known as 'The Rock Of Boston', its two main Boston-area competitors are Album Oriented Rock/Active rock WAAF and alternative music WFNX.
Before the middle 1960s, the station played classical music exclusively. The call letters stood for the Boston Concert Network. One of the on-air personalities at that time was Ron Della Chiesa, who also served as music host and program director. Della Chiesa is still active in classical music broadcasting on WGBH.
The station slowly began to change to an 'underground' music format on the night of March 15, 1968. The first song played that evening to usher in the new format and slogan 'American Revolution' was "I Feel Free" by the rock group Cream. At first the new 'American Revolution' format was only heard during the overnight hours, but by the summer of 1968 it encompassed the entire 24 hour programming day. As a part of their new format, WBCN began supporting non-mainstream investigative reporting and such novel concepts as a show oriented toward prison inmates, health warnings about the hazards of street drugs, and live updates on the traffic problems at Woodstock.
By 1975 WBCN had gradually evolved from the underground/progressive format of the 1960s to the more mainstream album-oriented rock format popular in the 1970s. Unlike most rock stations of the era, WBCN still allowed a degree of individual DJ control of the music. Their playlist in general was more varied than many of their competitors, there was some focus on local music (also see the WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble), and the station was known nationwide for breaking acts (The Cars, 'Til Tuesday, U2) and setting trends. Oedipus (who had the first punk rock show in the country while at MIT's college station, WTBS) was hired first as a DJ in 1977, and then installed as program director (1981), and helped to break the Ramones, the Clash, the Police, and countless punk and new wave bands out of Boston.
In 1979, the station was purchased by Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio) who let go several longtime employees who they determined "non-essential." This set off a local controversy in Boston that resulted in the entire airstaff walking off the air striking in protest. During the walkout, WBCN stayed on the air with substitute DJs imported from several out-of-town Infinity sister stations. The protest got local media coverage and the attention of several well-known Boston-based music acts, including The Cars, Aerosmith, and Boston, who got behind the protest. Charles Laquidara played "Superman" by the Kinks back to back for an entire show as part of his protest. When several large advertisers pulled spots, Infinity relented, the fired staffers were rehired and the DJs went back on the air. The protest was over.
By the mid 1980s WBCN had successfully fended off a number of challengers (the hard rocking but tightly formatted WCOZ, Top 40 Hitradio WHTT, Classic Rock WZLX, among others) to become/remain the region's top rock station. Many of the DJs, particularly morning "Big Mattress" host Charles Laquidara, were now local quasi-celebrities. Laquidara had Billy West on the show on a daily basis, as well as Karlos, the first computer-generated (using Digital Equipment's DECtalk) on-air personality in radio history. The station was more commercial and "programmed" by this point but still retained some of its progressive energy and edge.
Charles Laquidara had an alter ego, Duane Ingalls Glasscock, and a dog YOOP. Many humorous episodes were told. The station had frequent political and environmental messages. After the 3 Mile Island accident, there was much lobbying by DJs to stop work on the Seabrook NH powerplant.
The station played a top ten countdown Fridays at lunchtime featuring the above bands and many others.
"Mishigaas" was a quiz/trivia show done as part of the morning show, and the losers would have to DANCE the "Funky Chicken".
By the '90s, WBCN was at a crossroads. With its audience aging, it risked becoming a classic rock focused station and losing its currency as an outlet for new music. For a long time WBCN successfully balanced new and old music (featuring the slogan "classic to cutting edge"). In the early 1990s, the station began playing the nationally syndicated Howard Stern Show but aired it in the evenings on tape delay instead of during the morning drive. This allowed them to retain their "Big Mattress" audience.
In early 1994, WBCN made its first major format adjustment since 1968. The old DJs, station IDs, and classic rock were gutted, replaced by an alternative music format featuring new, younger jocks; at the same time, the Stern show was switched to the morning. The station lost some of its longtime listeners (who migrated to the now co-owned WZLX) but quickly gained credibility among many younger people.
In the summer of 1999, WBCN moved its format away from alternative music and more toward a modern rock/active rock lean. The station by this time was playing some hard rock and Nu metal acts such as Godsmack, KoЯn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park. By the autumn of 2002 certain classic artists, such as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, and Ozzy Osbourne, were added back in the station's playlist rotation.
Much of the station's programming is now focused on talk shows (former WAAF personalities Opie & Anthony replacing David Lee Roth, who had previously replaced Howard Stern in morning Drive Time). During the autumn months, WBCN becomes more focused on sports as the station broadcasts the games of the NFL team the New England Patriots.
In early 2006, with the Howard Stern morning drive time show gone, WBCN experienced a plummet in Arbitron Ratings that the station had not observed since the late 1970s and early 1980s when it fell behind then rock format competitor WCOZ. The station has now started to air the syndicated Opie & Anthony morning drive time show. WBCN also launched The Toucher and Rich Show, a new locally produced comedy based afternoon drive time show starring Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb. The duo formerly worked together at Atlanta alternative music station WNNX.
WBCN is the flagship station of the Patriots Rock Radio Network of the which carries game broadcasts of the New England Patriots. Gil Santos, WBZ sports reporter, does play-by-play and is known as the "Voice of the New England Patriots." Gino Cappelletti, former Patriots star, provides color commentary.