On September 19, 1921, one of America’s oldest radio stations will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
On Friday (6/11), the 100 day countdown to a century of serving New England began for a station currently offering an all-News format, owned today by iHeartMedia.
WBZ-AM 1030, a Class A 50kw directional facility using 2 towers on the opposite of Nantasket Beach, Mass., is the station already saluting itself. This will see on-air and online vignettes recalling the most memorable moments in the station’s history.
“For a station to broadcast for 100 years is nothing short of amazing,” said Alan
Chartrand, Market President of WBZ parent iHeartMedia/Boston. “Listeners and advertisers
consistently utilize this heritage brand as evidenced by WBZ’s continued ratings and
revenue success. People lean into objective news sources to remain informed and none
has been more dependable than WBZ NewsRadio.”
Rob Sanchez, Vice President of News, Talk & Sports for iHeartMedia in Boston, added, “WBZ NewsRadio is defined by our strong, unmistakable presence in the communities we serve. As the media landscape continues to evolve, our reach has only increased as WBZ listeners have adopted streaming on smart devices and the iHeartRadio app.”
With FM accessibility via WXKS-FM 107.9 HD2, the primary listener connectivity point for WBZ remains its booming AM signal, which covers all of eastern Massachusetts; Rhode Island; southern New Hampshire; and coastal Maine. At night, WBZ’s signal expands to much of the Northeast. While a Class A, it shares that designation with a Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, radio station.
The WBZ of today features all-news programming from midnight to 8pm weekdays, and Nightside with Dan Rea from 8pm until midnight. Saturday evenings feature talk programming, while The Ric Edelman Show holds the 10am-noon Sunday slot.
WBZ is one of the original Westinghouse radio stations, and has been at its present dial position since 1941. It was a member of the NBC Blue Network, and then switched in 1942 to the Red Network. That lasted until August 1956, when a dispute over daytime programming led WBZ to take on a “MOR” music approach. At this time, legendary hosts including Dave Maynard entered the WBZ annals of history.
In the 1960s, WBZ became a Top 40 station, competing with WMEX. But, in 1969, WRKO had emerged as the market’s hit music leader. This led WBZ, even with its much bigger regional signal, to shift toward Adult Contemporary as it adopted a more Full Service approach, incorporating Sports programming and Talk shows.
In 1985, as many AMs were doing, Full Service programming gradually faded. By the time the Persian Gulf War began in 1991, all music programming was done. This resulted in WBZ becoming “Boston’s News Station.”
Meanwhile, WBZ’s ownership was still associated with the old Westinghouse, this time as a CBS Radio property with Viacom a part of its historical ownership lineage. With CBS Radio’s merger with Entercom, now Audacy, in 2017, the company opted to swap WBZ — along with a group of other stations — to iHeartMedia.