Another nice double shot of FM radio from the Boston area from 1971 and 1973.
The first clip features the fantastic free form powerhouse WBCN FM with a set of mostly blues and R&B tinged music. Things get started with a great instrumental by a group called Demon Fuzz. The set ends with the album version of the Beach Boy’s Help Me Rhonda. The clip is from April 1971. All the announcers on the station were music fans with stellar taste and this set is no exception. . Please help me ID the DJ on this and several other clips that I have uploaded.
The second clip is from WVBF FM (Electronic Mama) from the summer of 1973 and features DJ Ron Robin. The station began as WKOX FM and was an early FM Top 40 pioneer in 1969. The outlet was owned by Richard M Fairbanks when the call letters switched to WVBF in 1971. The call letters stood for Welcome Virginia Brown Fairbanks in tribute to the owners wife.
WVBF was a Top 40/AOR hybrid during 1971-73 and reported into Billboard magazine’s album rock airplay list as the Boston representative around 1972. This list consisted of submissions from mostly progressive rock stations around the country which submitted their weekly new additions. This song selection on this particular set is mostly top 40 as that side of the format began to gain ascendancy and eventually the station became full time Top 40.
Here’s another alternate version of Help Me Rhonda with Dennis Wilson on Lead
The first aircheck features Pete Griffin on CHUM FM from the summer of 1975. You will also hear a bit of Geets Romo as Warren Downs.
Things were tightening at the station and David Marsden had left a few months earlier directly due to that. See article below. David Pritchard was still at the station and he retained some semblance of control over some of the music played. You will hear him on two ads, one where he takes a poke at “two guffaws”( Pete and Geets) promoting stereo equipment. Plus one of his ads for the famous El Macambo club.
The breaking point for me around this time was one morning when I actually heard Mandy by Barry Manilow on the station. I was peeved and on the phone. I think I spoke to David Pritchard and he told me things will be fine. Not sure if he meant his eventual move to CFNY and more freedom.
I was so upset at the tightening format that I started to keep an occasional log of the tunes played and I have to add that things actually did get better for a while and I logged everything from Howlin’ Wolf to Brian Eno being played on the station after the great tightening. Some nice listening was still to be had like hearing the Move’s version of Tom Paxton’s Last Thing on My Mind. I kept the logs for reassurance that things were not all downhill and they actually were not at least during 1975/76.
The format was in transition. Eric Anderson and the light Jazz of Hubert Laws as heard on this aircheck were throwbacks to the free form days but over-all the morning show was quite mainstream at this time. We have to remember that rock was heading in a safer direction. Think about the difference between The Jefferson Airplane and The Jefferson Starship or the Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac compared the the Buckingham Nicks version.
The tape suffers from a few drop offs but sounds Ok considering it was recorded on slow speed.
The second aircheck features Dani Elwell and an unknown DJ on CKFM from December 1985. This is from a Saturday night show where they played dance music. Though more pop orientated than CFNY FM there was some overlap with the music played on NY at the time. A lot of synths and drum machines verging on disco at times.
I have more tape from both of these air checks that I will upload in the future . I have transcribed the article pictured below so you can read it clearly and as I mention above the format did get tight but it also loosened somewhat before taking a complete commercial turn by 1977. I did not save the date of the article but I think it’s from March 1975 and comes from The Globe and Mail newspaper.
Hip David Marsden Leaving CHUM-FM
By Robert Martin
David Marsden, CHUM FM’s 6 to 10 PM disc jockey and one of Toronto’s more original radio personalities, has left the station to devote time to his production business.
Marsden runs Lip Service Studio Productions Ltd, a company that makes radio commercials. He is also developing a syndicated radio show which he hopes to market coast to coast.
His on-air personality was that of the weird but hip music freak who talked in an intimate hush as though he was whispering in the listener’s ear. The music he played matched that personality – weird, hip and usually on the avant-garde fringes of rock.
That style has made him the odd man out lately at CHUM FM, where progressive music has all but been eliminated from the station’s programming. In the past few months the station has replaced obscure and experimental music chosen by the disk jockeys with a comparatively tight play list heavily loaded with current hits and golden oldies. CHUM FM now sounds like it’s sister station CHUM AM, except it has fewer commercials.
Marsden said he didn’t leave the station because his creative freedom had been limited. He described it as a very amicable separation. I can’t have negative thoughts ( about CHUM FM) because they’re attempting to muster a larger portion of the . audience. It’ll probably work but I don’t agree with it.
The departure was not spur of the moment. He had been thinking about it for three or four months. The new Canadian Radio-Television Commission’s regulations were a factor. The new regulations permit FM stations to use up to 25 % of their programming in syndicated formats.