The Boston Radio Dial: WBIX(AM)

Who, What, Where

Community: Natick
Frequency: 1060 kHz
Class: B
Ownership: WBIX Corp.
(Alexander Langer)
Studio: 100 Mount Wayte Ave.
Framingham, MA 01702-5794
Day transmitter: 100 Mount Wayte Ave.
Framingham, MA 01702-5794
Night transmitter: Sewell Rd.
Ashland, MA 01721-2026
Format: Talk
Networks: Fox News Radio
Dow Jones

Technical Parameters

WBIX operates during the day from both of the WKOX 1200 towers at 100 Mount Wayte Ave. in Framingham, on the banks of the Sudbury River across from the former town incinerator, with 40 kW except during critical hours, when the licensed power is 22 kW. WBIX operates at night from the five-tower WAMG 890 site at the end of Sewell Rd. in Ashland (which had originally been constructed for 1060 in a previous incarnation; see below) with 2.5 kW. WBIX's patterns protect co-channel KYW Philadelphia.

Station History

The long and winding road that leads to today's WBIX began in October 1969 in the western suburb of Natick. John Garabedian and several partners signed WGTR on the air at 1060 as a 1,000-watt daytimer, the community's first radio station. From its studios at 251 Oak Street, and later at 24 West Central Street, WGTR was a model small-town station. For more than a decade, it supplied the MetroWest area with local news and music.

As the seventies ended, Garabedian and the Home Service Broadcasting Company began thinking big. WGTR applied for, and was granted, 25 kW by day and 2500 Watts at night from a new five-tower site in nearby Ashland. Garabedian added an FM station on Nantucket, WGTF 93.5 (the ancestor of today's WRZE 96.3), and applied for a construction permit for TV channel 66.

WGTR was ambitious in the programming department as well, trying an all-news format for several years. As Garabedian's attention turned to the TV venture, which debuted in 1983 as WVJV, an early music-video channel, WGTR began to play second fiddle.

Management of the AM station was leased out to an operator from Texas, who changed the call letters to WSTD, for “STarDust”, running the station off the then-new Stardust satellite programming service.

In 1983, local talk host Pat Whitley took over management of the station, returning it to talk as WTTP. After a brief stint with mostly local hosts, WTTP joined forces with ABC's Talkradio service for another few years before that service went out of business.

Satellite Radio Network (Boston SRN) took over in 1987, renaming the station WBIV, changing the format to religion, and moving the studios to 1105 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston. The 1060 signal remained hampered by problems with the directional pattern from Ashland, though, and for most of its existence operated under a special temporary authority with half-power. (From the time the high-powered signal signed on 1981 until it went silent more than 15 years later, no license to cover was ever issued for the construction permit.) At night, KYW dominated the 1060 frequency, while in the late afternoon CJRP from Quebec City was often heard better than the Natick station in much of Boston. What's more, a dial spot only 30 kHz from blowtorch WBZ caused additional problems the station struggled for years to rectify.

After several years with Spanish-language religious programming, SRN traded its 1060 facility to Family Radio of Oakland, California for that group's unbuilt construction permit for WBMA 890 in Dedham. In October 1994, SRN put 890 on the air during the day from the Ashland site, remaining on 1060 at night. On November 3, 1994, 1060 went silent. Many thought it would be last anyone would hear of the frequency.

The second life of 1060 began in late 1995, when Alexander Langer of Florida bought the WBIV license from Family for $50,000. For the next year, Langer worked his way through a series of applications at the FCC, clearing the Peterborough, N.H. 1050 signal out of Natick's way (see the WSRO history for details) and examining several possible transmiitter sites for a new high-powered 1060 signal.

With the FCC's clock ticking towards license revocation of dark signals in February 1997, Langer hurried the station back on the air from the WKOX transmitter site in Framingham. On February 6, the station came back to life, once again a 1000-watt daytimer.

The new calls were WJLT, “J-Light”, with Great Commission Broadcasting LMA'ing the signal as a religious outlet. WJLT lasted just under three years on 1060 before moving to 650 in late January 2000.

On January 24, 2000, 1060 began operating with 40 kW by day and 22 kW critical hours—and with a well-known set of Boston calls: WMEX.

The new WMEX was a talk station, offering as its stars market veterans Gene Burns and Jerry Williams, along with former WRKO star Marjorie Clapprood and Upton Bell, a holdover from talk predecessor WRPT 650.

WMEX also offered listeners a morning business block from the Boston Business Journal. While Williams and Clapprood departed the station before the year was out, the new WMEX continues to operate as a Boston talk station from new studios near North Station. In January, 2001, WMEX was leased by Boston financial planners Brad and Bonnie Bleidt on weekdays for an all-business format under new callsign WBIX. In 2003, the Bleidts agreed with Langer to convert their lease of the station to a purchase, for $10 million, with $7.3 million of the price financed by Langer. The Bleidts took control of WBIX in January, 2004.

Also in 2003, the FCC granted a construction permit for WBIX to return to night operation, from its original transmitter site in Ashland, with 2.5 kW of power, which Brad Bleidt took on as his own personal project, into which he sank hundreds of thousands of dollars before finally receiving a license in November of 2004. Meanwhile, the Bleidts had arranged to sell the station, to one Chris Egan, son of EMC Corporation founder Richard Egan. The sale was never consummated.

A few days after receiving WBIX's nighttime license, Brad Bleidt attempted to commit suicide. In a recorded confession sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bleidt admitted to having stolen from his clients nearly all of the millions of dollars he had plowed into the station. All of Bleidt's personal and corporate assets were frozen by court order, and the station was placed into receivership. Egan quickly agreed to cancel his purchase of the station to allow the courts maximum flexibility in recovering whatever proceeds they could for Bleidt's victims. The court-appointed receiver, David Vicinzano, quickly LMA'ed the station back to Langer.

When Vicinzano was unable to find a third-party purchaser who would assume or repay Bleidt's debt to Langer, Langer agreed to repurchase the station for $1.5 million, and cancel the $7.3 million note.

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This station profile was written by the editors of The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. We have no relationship with the station; please send any comments or questions about their programming directly to the station. Network connectivity courtesy of MIT CSAIL.

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