WMEX (AM)

WMEX (1510 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station licensed to serve the Boston media market. The station was silent from late June 2017 to November 7, 2019, when it returned to the air with the new city of license of Quincy, Massachusetts. The station first began broadcasting in 1934 as WMEX, and after using various call signs since 1978, regained the original WMEX call sign on November 17, 2014.

WMEX
WMEX 1510 logo.jpg
CityQuincy, Massachusetts
Broadcast areaGreater Boston
Frequency1510 kHz
Branding1510 WMEX
SloganThe Greatest Hits
Programming
FormatFull service oldies
Ownership
OwnerEd Perry
(Marshfield Broadcasting Co., Inc.)
WBMS, WATD-FM
History
First air date
October 18, 1934[1]
Former call signs
WMEX (1934–1978)
WITS (1978–1983)
WMRE (1983–1987)
WSSH (1987–1989)
WKKU (1989–1990)
WSSH (1990–1995)
WNRB (1995–2001)
WSZE (February 2001)
WWZN (2001–2012)
WUFC (2012–2014)
Former frequencies
1500 kHz (1934–1940)
1470 kHz (1940–1941)
Call sign meaning
W MEXico
Technical information
Facility ID12789
ClassD
Power10,000 watts (daytime)
2,000 watts (critical hours)
100 watts (nighttime)
Transmitter coordinates
42°16′25.00″N 71°02′30.00″W / 42.2736111°N 71.0416667°W / 42.2736111; -71.0416667 (WMEX)Coordinates: 42°16′25.00″N 71°02′30.00″W / 42.2736111°N 71.0416667°W / 42.2736111; -71.0416667 (WMEX)
Links
WebcastListen live
Website1510 WMEX

WMEX formerly operated with the maximum power allowed by the Federal Communications Commission, 50,000 watts, but it used a highly directional antenna to protect Class A, 50,000-watt, WLAC in Nashville (which also protected WMEX). It has a license for 10,000 watts daytime, 2,000 watts critical hours, & 100 watts nighttime signal.

HistoryEdit

Early yearsEdit

WMEX was founded in 1934 by Bill and Al Pote, with studios in the Hotel Manger, and was originally on 1500 kHz with 500 watts daytime, 100 watts nighttime.[2] It broadcast from a transmitter site on Powder Horn Hill in Chelsea, and later (1940–1981) from a site off West Squantum Road in Quincy, near the then-WNAC/WAAB (now WBIX) site in the Neponset River Valley. The station made its debut on October 18, 1934.[3] On April 5, 1936, WMEX moved its studio and offices to 70 Brookline Ave.[4]

After several unsuccessful attempts to move to 1470 with a power upgrade to 5,000 watts, WMEX finally made the move (and power increase) in 1941,[5] just in time for the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement to move to its last frequency, 1510 kHz. Throughout this period, WMEX operated as an independent (non-network) station with a program schedule filled with such programs as live music remotes, horse racing, and ethnic programming.

One early WMEX star was future Fenway Park and Boston Garden organist John Kiley, who in 1941 broadcast three daily programs.[6] One of them was titled Letter-Quest, on which listeners would write to Kiley in care of the station, requesting songs. The letter would be read by announcer Jay McMaster (who remained at WMEX into the top-40 era), followed by Kiley playing the requested song.

In the 1940s, jazz critic Nat Hentoff got his start as a jazz deejay at WMEX.[7]

In the early 1950s, Nat Hentoff announced many live jazz radio broadcasts over WMEX from the Storyville nightclub at the Hotel Buckminster. Many audio recordings from these sessions are still available, including those by Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

The top-40 eraEdit

In 1957, the New England Radio Corporation sold WMEX to the Richmond brothers. Max Richmond, one of the brothers, changed the format of WMEX to a rock-and-roll-dominant pop-music format (one of the first in the nation) and hired popular disc jockey Arnie Ginsburg away from smaller station WBOS (now WUNR). The hit format lasted from 1957 until March 1975. Max Richmond was reportedly a challenge to work for, with his alleged micromanaging and abrasive personality, yet none can deny his uncanny ability to spot DJ talent, and to keep his station—despite a poor nighttime signal in many suburban locations—a major player and innovator for many years.[20][21][22]

Among Max Richmond's innovations was the hiring of Jerry Williams in 1957 to conduct a nighttime telephone talk show, with the caller's voice heard on the air, a revolutionary concept in the late 1950s. With the weekday-only Williams show beginning at 10:00 pm (after much of the young rock-and-roll audience was in bed), Richmond was able to expand the appeal of his station to the adult community in the late-night hours. Malcolm X was a favorite guest of Williams, and many WMEX broadcasts featuring Williams and Malcolm X survive. Larry Glick (who was to become a Boston radio talk show legend) was hired by WMEX to host a show that aired after the Jerry Williams Show (1965-1967). Larry's show steered clear of controversy and was more focused on "having a good time" while taping into Boston's well-known humor side. When the Beatles broke in the USA, WMEX played virtually every Beatles song available and fueled the already rabid Boston fans. In the early 1960s, personality Arnie (WooWoo) Ginsburg hosted a Sunday night oldies show, one of the first in the nation to feature early pioneer rock and rhythm and blues recordings in a specialty show on a top-rated radio station.

In the late 1960s, WMEX received a power upgrade to 50,000 watts daytime, still with 5,000 watts at night. Station engineers had to constantly adjust the phasing network as tides in the Neponset River would play havoc with the station's directional pattern. However, the saltwater marsh area provided the station with an excellent coastal signal. While the night signal could not be heard clearly inland at many Boston suburban locations (especially in the growing and affluent western and southwestern suburbs), the station's nighttime transmissions were heard very clearly across the water to the Boston city neighborhoods and the working class North Shore areas. The saltwater path nighttime transmissions reached up to Nova Scotia and Labrador, gaining the station an audience in those areas, as well.

WITS: Information, talk and sportsEdit

By the late 1960s, WMEX was facing tough competition in the top-40 format from WRKO, which featured a tight playlist, a more "suburban oriented" sound, and a 50,000 watt day and night signal which was heard clearly in all suburbs. However, under the programming of Dick Summer and later, John Garabedian, WMEX countered with an expanded playlist featuring some "progressive rock" album cuts.[23] The station was one of the first two major market stations along with its sister, WPGC in Washington, DC, to pick up American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and broke "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart nationally. WMEX shot back up in the ratings and actually beat WRKO in a few demographics and time periods, but it was a temporary and final victory for the station.

In November 1971, owner Max Richmond died and FM radio began to overtake AM stations for music listening. WMEX decided to abandon top-40 hits in 1975. It briefly ran a middle of the road music format with some talk programming. Then WMEX captured the broadcast rights to Boston Red Sox baseball beginning with the 1975 playoffs. That led to WMEX becoming an all-talk station in 1976. In 1978, to better promote its talk format and sports coverage, the station changed call letters to WITS ("We're Information, Talk and Sports").

Adding the Boston Bruins hockey team in the 1978-79 season boosted WITS's sports profile, but the station came in for considerable criticism after the 1978 baseball season when it fired the popular Red Sox commentary duo of Ned Martin and Jim Woods. Although Martin was able to continue broadcasting the Red Sox on television, Woods never again broadcast the team's games on a regular basis.

Long a 5,000-watt station, WMEX/WITS in the 1970s had a daytime power boost to 50,000 watts, with nighttime power remaining at 5,000 watts, a less-than-perfect signal in parts of the Boston area, especially at night. 1520 WKBW (now WWKB), with 50,000 watts in Buffalo, New York, right next door to WMEX on the dial, all but buried the weaker 5,000-watt WMEX after dark in the western Boston suburbs (such as Wellesley). On the other side of WMEX was an equally strong signal from 1500 WTOP (now WFED) in Washington, which, together with WKBW, put the squeeze on WMEX's signal at night. In 1981, WITS moved its transmitter to Waltham and was able to boost power to 50,000 watts day and night. While some areas did get an improved signal, others did not, especially at night. Not long afterward, WITS's owner at the time, Mariner Communications, suffered financial problems. The station lost the Red Sox and Bruins and had to abandon its talk format.

1983–2017: Multiple formatsEdit

 
WWZN's logo as "1510 the Zone", used from the fall of 2002 until December 2008

WITS flipped to an adult standards format under the call sign WMRE "The Memory Station", but was not successful.[24] Other formats quickly followed, one after another. Among them were a return to talk (featuring Morgan White Jr. and Bob Katzen), soft adult contemporary (as WSSH), country music (as WKKU), a return to soft adult contemporary (WSSH again), and as WNRB, brokered religious programming and then Spanish-language programming. It eventually settled on an all-sports format with the call letters WWZN. Most WWZN programming came from the One-On-One Sports Network, and from One-On-One's successor, Sporting News Radio (today SB Nation Radio). For a time, sports hosts such as Sean McDonough, Ryen Russillo, and Eddie Andelman were all heard on WWZN.

During this time, Paul Allen's Rose City Broadcasting held the license. Allen also owned Sporting News Radio and The Sporting News magazine. For a few years, WWZN had the local radio broadcasts of the Boston Celtics basketball team, but the station did not renew the deal when it expired at the end of the 2004–2005 season.

Prior to the station's sale, WWZN started to rely on time-brokered infomercials in addition to programming from Sporting News Radio. On May 31, 2007, Blackstrap Broadcasting completed its purchase of both this station and WSNR in the New York City area (licensed to Newark, New Jersey). In the fall of 2007, WWZN moved from Burlington, Massachusetts, to brand new studios overlooking the ocean at Marina Bay in Quincy.

 
WUFC's logo from 2012 to 2013 during its NBC Sports Radio affiliation

From 2008 until 2012, the station aired progressive talk shows as brokered time including a local show hosted by Jeff Santos. The station then changed its call letters to WUFC and returned to a sports format as an affiliate of NBC Sports Radio from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. weekdays, with a local show, "The Bawstin Diehards", from 10:00 a.m. to Noon. Yahoo! Sports Radio (the successor to Sporting News Radio) aired at other times. The NBC Sports Radio affiliation lasted until late 2013, when Yahoo! took over NBC's hours. In June 2014, the station began airing a libertarian talk radio format. On November 17, 2014, the station reverted to its original call sign, WMEX. The change coincided with the move of The Howie Carr Show to the station from WRKO.[25] Carr's show returned to WRKO on March 16, 2015.

 
WMEX logo from November 17, 2014, to June 30, 2017

Programs on WMEX in early 2015 included Boston Herald Radio, The Glenn Beck Program, Michael Savage, The Sean Hannity Show, and Alex Jones. A Saturday-night oldies show debuted on March 28, 2015, hosted by Jim Callahan and Chris Porter, which was followed by Classic Rewind with Jimmy Jay. The program featured music from the classic WMEX rock-and-roll years, along with original station jingles from the era.

On June 2, 2015, WMEX shuffled its line-up. Renegade Radio moved to the mornings, followed by Emmy-winning journalist Joe Shortsleeve with The Shortsleeve Report, radio hall-of-famer and ex-Howie Carr producer Sandy Shack followed, then came former WTKK and WRKO host Michele McPhee. Syndicated shows such as The Capitol Hill Show with Tim Constantine and Michael Savage rounded out the lineup. Premiere Networks, which syndicates Hannity and Beck, also offered The Rush Limbaugh Show to WMEX after the show's longtime Boston affiliate, WRKO, announced its plan to drop the show, WMEX openly refused to carry the show, which prompted Premiere parent company iHeartMedia to take Limbaugh (as well as Hannity and Beck) to a lower-powered, co-owned-and-operated station, WKOX (1430).

On June 23, 2015, WMEX announced that Daly XXL Communications would be purchasing the station from Blackstrap for $175,000, pending FCC approval, which was granted in September 2015. The sale was completed on September 10, 2015.[26] On December 28, 2015, the station announced a new noontime show hosted by Nancy "Sandy" Shack, longtime producer of The Howie Carr Show, to begin on January 4, 2016. McPhee left the station on June 2, 2017, replaced by live airing of the Michael Savage show.

WMEX goes silentEdit

During June 2017, talk programming during the evening hours was replaced by local oldies music shows, but in the final days, rumors began circulating that the station would be going off the air on June 30, 2017.[27] The lease on their transmitter site in Waltham was due to expire. On the June 29, 2017, edition of an evening music show hosted by Jimmy Jay, the station confirmed that it was going to leave the air at 6:00 p.m. the following evening. On June 30, 2017, the hosts of the Renegade Radio morning show did a special second broadcast from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., pre-empting the syndicated Michael Savage show. The station then went silent.[28] The Waltham towers were dismantled in May 2018.[29]

In the interim, the station applied to the FCC for special temporary authority (STA) to remain silent until a new owner or funding was found. Based on its date of sign-off, it needed to return by June 30, 2018, in order to remain fully licensed under FCC regulations disallowing a station from remaining silent and licensed for more than 365 days.

WMEX returns to the airEdit

On December 18, 2017, Ed Perry, owner of WATD-FM in Marshfield, announced that he would acquire WMEX for $125,000, with the intention of returning the station to the air with local news and sports for the area south of Boston.[30] The paperwork was filed with the FCC in January 2018, the WMEX call letters were not initially included in the deal.[31] The FCC approved the license transfer to Ed Perry's Marshfield Broadcasting on March 9, 2018,[32] the sale was completed on March 17.[33]

On June 6, 2018, the station was approved to diplex its signal from the broadcast tower of WBIX (1260) just south of Boston (right down the street from the station's 1940–1981 transmitter site) to temporarily broadcast daytime only at a power of 1,000 watts.[29] On June 15, 2018, WMEX applied to permanently diplex with WBIX, with a proposed daytime power of 10,000 watts and nighttime power of 100 watts, along with a city of license change to Quincy.[34] WMEX commenced on-air testing on the weekend of June 30, 2018, simulcasting WATD-FM, to keep its license alive; it intended to resume regular broadcasting in the fall of 2018 with oldies and South Shore-based news and sports. On July 3, 2018, the station applied for an STA to increase its temporary daytime power to 2,000 watts and implement the 100-watt nighttime signal.[35] WMEX went silent on November 10, 2018, after losing its Internet feed from WATD-FM; in addition, the station's transmitter was in the process of being moved to Brockton sister station WATD (now WBMS).[36]

The station did testing and a simulcast of WATD in mid-October 2019. Owner Ed Perry told the New England Radio Stations Facebook group that he intended to start original programming of South Shore-based news and sports as well as oldies by March 9, 2020.[37] On that day, an update advised that the station was simulcasting WATD, with plans to add its own programming and live internet streaming starting in April 2020. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the date was pushed back to May 18, 2020. On that day just after 9 a.m., DJ Larry Justice debuted with the first song being "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night.[38]

WMEX features oldies music from MeTV-FM overnight and a Sunday morning talk and variety show hosted by comedian and impressionist Gary Leavitt.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Halper, Donna; Wollman, Garrett. "The Eastern Massachusetts Radio Timeline: the 1930s". The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  2. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1936 page 54
  3. ^ Greene, Lloyd (October 18, 1934). "WMEX Makes Its Debut". The Boston Daily Globe.
  4. ^ "Station Dedicates New Brookline-Av Home". The Boston Daily Globe. April 6, 1936.
  5. ^ WMEX History
  6. ^ Boston Post, July 7, 1941
  7. ^ Nat Hentoff
  8. ^ "Storyville Records Archives". The Troy Street Observer.
  9. ^ "Storyville -- All Categories (LP, CD)". Dusty Groove : Chicago's Online Record Store.
  10. ^ Losin, Peter. "Charlie Parker Session Details (March 10, 1953), Storyville, Boston MA, WHDH radio broadcast". Peter Losin.
  11. ^ Dave Brubeck Quartet: Complete Storyville Broadcasts amazon.com
  12. ^ "Guest Column: Hub Cats of Jazz". Jazz Collector.
  13. ^ "Ella Fitzgerald - Feb 7, 1953" – via Wolfgang's Vault.
  14. ^ "Stan Getz at Storyville Vols. I and II (1951)". Foresight and afterthought. Jan 2, 2018.
  15. ^ Billie Holiday: Complete Storyville Broadcasts amazon.com
  16. ^ https://catalog.berklee.edu/eg/opac/record/10279
  17. ^ "Gerry Mulligan Quartet - Recorded In Boston At Storyville". Discogs.
  18. ^ "Charlie Parker - Complete Storyville Performances". Blue Sounds.
  19. ^ "Listen to Herb: Herb Pomeroy Jazz Collection". MIT Libraries.
  20. ^ WMEX Good Guys Music Survey 1965
  21. ^ WMEX Good Guys Music Survey 1966
  22. ^ WMEX Good Guys Music Survey 1966
  23. ^ WMEX 1971 Music Survey
  24. ^ Radio & Records January 9, 1987
  25. ^ "Howie Carr moving up the dial to WMEX 1510 AM". Boston Herald. November 15, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  26. ^ "Consummation Notice". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. September 10, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  27. ^ Radio Insight message board, retrieved June 29, 2017
  28. ^ "Imported Letter". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  29. ^ a b https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101785220&formid=911&fac_num=12789 FCC Application For Special Temporary Authority
  30. ^ Dwinell, Joe (December 19, 2017). "Sale gives Quincy's WMEX a fresh start". Boston Herald. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  31. ^ https://radioinsight.com/headlines/122516/station-sales-week-1-19-pair-boston-ams-sold/
  32. ^ "Broadcast Actions" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  33. ^ "Consummation Notice". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. March 17, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  34. ^ "APPLICATION FOR CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR COMMERCIAL BROADCAST STATION". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. June 15, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  35. ^ "Engineering STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  36. ^ "Notification of Suspension of Operations / Request for Silent STA". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. November 15, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  37. ^ It's July Where's WMEX
  38. ^ "NEW ENGLAND RADIO STATIONS". Facebook. March 9, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2020.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit



Preceded by
850 WHDH
1947–1975
Radio Home of the
Boston Red Sox
1976–1982
(as WMEX/WITS)
Succeeded by
99.1 WPLM-FM/680 WRKO
1983–1994