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(WMEX @ 70 Brookline St. 1955)
WMEX ~ Yesterday & Today
Founded in 1934 as WMEX by Bill and Al Pote, the station was originally on 1500 kHz, with 500 watts day, 100 watts night from a transmitter site off West Squantum Road in Quincy, near the then-WNAC/WAAB (now WMKI) site in the Neponset River valley. After several unsuccessful attempts to move to 1470 with a power upgrade to 5,000 watts, WMEX finally made the move (with power increase) in 1941, just in time for NARBA to move that channel to its current frequency, 1510 kHz. Throughout this period, WMEX operated as an independent (non-network) station with a program schedule filled with everything from live music remotes to ethnic programming. In the early 1950s, the station featured some notable jazz programming, and the recording of a WMEX originated Billie Holiday remote broadcast from a Boston club survives.
In 1957, the Pote family 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 Arnie Ginsburg, whose nightly rock and roll broadcasts on WBOS (now WUNR) were very popular. The format lasted from 1957 until March, 1975. Max Richmond was reportedly a challenge to work for, with his alleged micro-managing and abrasive personality, yet there is no denying his uncanny ability to spot deejay talent, and to keep his station--despite a poor nighttime signal in many suburban locations--a major player and innovator for many years.
Among Max Richmond's innovations was the hiring of Jerry Williams to conduct a nighttime telephone talk show, with the caller heard on the air, a revolutionary concept in the late 1950s. With the weekday-only Williams show beginning at 10 PM (after many of the young rock and roll audience was in bed), Richmond shrewdly 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. When the Beatles broke in the USA, WMEX was at the forefront, playing virtually every Beatles song available and fueling the already rabid Boston fans. In the early 1960s, main personality Arnie (WooWoo) Ginsburg began his 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.
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 salt-water marsh area provided the station with an excellent coastal signal. While the night signal could not be heard clearly inland to 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 salt water to the Boston city neighborhoods and the working class North Shore areas, which gave the station's programming a more gritty, earthy sound. The salt-water path nighttime transmissions kept going right up to Nova Scotia and Labrador, gaining the station an audience in those areas as well.
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" polish, and a 50,000 watt day and night signal which was heard clearly in all suburbs. However, under the programming of John Garabedian, WMEX countered with an expanded playlist featuring some "progressive rock" album cuts. 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 venerable station. Shortly thereafter, Max Richmond died, and FM radios became more common, especially in cars where WMEX was getting the FM audience who didn't have an FM car radio yet. WMEX decided to abandon top-40 in 1975. Although briefly a MOR station with some talk programming, WMEX captured the broadcast rights to the Boston Red Sox beginning with the 1975 playoffs and became 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' 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 TV, 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 output of 50,000 watts and a nighttime power of 5,000 watts, which led to a less-than-perfect signal in parts of the Boston area, especially at night. WKBW, with 50,000 watts, right next door to WMEX on the dial, at 1520 from Buffalo, New York, and directional straight at Massachusetts, all but buried the weaker 5,000-watt WMEX after dark, in the western Boston suburbs (like Wellesley). On the other side of WMEX, was an equally strong signal from a Washington, DC station (then WTOP), which, together with WKBW, would really put the squeeze on WMEX's signal at night. One would really have to "eke out" the 1510 signal, in the face of these 50 kW blowtorches. In 1981, the station moved its transmitter to Waltham and was able to boost power to 50,000 watts day and night. But while some areas did get an improved signal, especially at night, other areas did not. In 2002 WMEX came back on in Rochester, New Hampshire on the FM dial at 106.5FM until June of 2008 until that frequency was sold to a Christian Group. Under the direction of Gary James who was the Station Manager and Gene Vallee the Marketing Manager for WMEX 106.5 the station hosted a top oldies format for nearly 6 years. ( Above Information taken from Wikipedia Encyclopedia)
WMEX has now entered the age of modern technology and has got a new look as it enters the 21st Century but is commited to continue to bring its listeners the best music ever created from the 50's, 60's and 70's. Those were the years when music was at its best. The station is now called WMEXRADIO.COM and is spear headed by Gary James & Gene Vallee who with their many years of experience in the broadcast industry are commited to provide a top quality product to the people that they serve, you the listener and the advertisers. WMEXRADIO.COM made its debut on January 1, 2009 with the WMEXRADIO.COM website.
(For more history on Boston Radio go to our Sales ~ Public Service ~ Links)
The Mojo Men were an American rock band based in San Francisco. Formed in 1965, the group underwent several name and personnel changes until their 1969 breakup. Their highest-charting Billboard Hot 100 single was "Sit Down, I Think I Love You", which peaked at number 36 in 1967. Click on their picture to hear their hit song and Their WMEX promo!