WBCN and The American Revolution

“It’s been a decade since WBCN rode Boston’s airwaves. In mass media terms, that’s an eternity. Today, if you tune to its old spot on the FM dial, you’ll hear a ‘hot contemporary adult’ format, Mix 104.1, a world away from what once was. For many years — anywhere from 1968 to 2009, depending on when you lived here and tuned in — 104.1 meant rock and WBCN. … But the formative years are the focus of producer/director Bill Lichtenstein in his two-hour documentary, ‘WBCN and The American Revolution.’ The film, 10 years in the making, screens Saturday, April 27 at the Somerville Theatre, the Centerpiece Spotlight Documentary at the Independent Film Festival Boston. … He processed the numbers — 250,000 college students and 84 colleges in metro Boston — and responded with a free-form maelstrom of music and chatter. Soon to go 24/7, it was peopled by amateur DJs who’d been at Boston area college stations. They chose their music and were encouraged to ruminate. It was a radical concept. … Because they were playing in town — not because any record company booked it or WBCN promoted it — Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman dropped by the station and had a two-hour on-air jam. No one thought to record the session. WBCN was at the forefront of a national radio format evolution. Stations like KSAN in San Francisco and WNEW in New York had adopted similar formats. They later spread across the land, variously called ‘progressive’ radio and, then, over time, the more restrictive ‘AOR’ — or album-oriented rock. While the creation and the no-roadmap development of WBCN is the focus of the documentary, Lichtenstein’s intent is to also show how the station’s music and politics were very much woven into the turbulent tenor of the times. WBCN’s motto was, indeed, ‘The American Revolution.’ When WBCN launched, there was the hard rock of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, but also the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Chicago riots at the Democratic convention, the Vietnam War and the raging protests in the streets. News, initially non-existent, became an integral part of the station’s identify, especially under Danny Schechter, who opted for the designation of ‘news dissector’ over ‘news director.’ … WBCN news was often news delivered with a liberal bent and activist sensibility. ‘A different point of view,’ said left-wing MIT professor Noam Chomsky, succinctly. ‘A unique and courageous voice.’ …”
‘WBCN And The American Revolution’ Cements The Radio Station’s Place In Music History
WBCN and The American Revolution (Video)
PBS: WBCN and The American Revolution (Video)

An on-air control board in WBCN’s main studio in Boston in 1970.

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This entry was posted in 1968 DNC, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Music, Noam Chomsky, Phil Ochs, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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