The Boston Radio Dial: WBOS(FM)

Who, What, Where

Community: Brookline
Frequency: 92.9 MHz
Class: B
Ownership: Greater Boston Radio, Inc.
(Greater Media)
Studio: 55 Wm. T. Morrissey Blvd.
Dorchester, MA 02125-3315
Main transmitter: Prudential Tower
800 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02199
Backup transmitter: ATC Newton (FM-128)
1165 Chestnut St.
Newton, MA 02464-1308
Phones:
Receptionist +1 617 822 9600
Requests +1 617 931 1111
Format:
Main Classic alternative
Web site: wbos.com

Technical Parameters

WBOS transmits at 92.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 18.5 kW (analogue) from the Prudential Tower lower master antenna. The antenna, a four-bay ERI COGWHEEL 1084-4CP-SP, is a non-directional, circularly-polarized, four-around panel antenna located 224 meters (735 feet) above average terrain (247 m above sea level), on the roof of the Prudential Tower in Boston's Back Bay. It is shared with sister stations WTKK and WROR-FM, and an auxiliary facility for WMJX (which is in full-time use as a digital-only antenna).

WBOS is also licensed for a 1.35-kW backup at the American Tower Newton (“FM-128”) facility, where it shares a master antenna system with WBZ-FM and WJMN, plus backups for WTKK, WKLB-FM, WROR-FM, WMJX, and WXKS-FM.

WBOS transmits a digital signal using iBiquity Digital Corp.'s “HD Radio” system.

Station History

The 92.9 frequency in Boston was initially occupied by WBZ-FM, which moved there during the 1947-48 shift from the old (44-50 MHz) FM band to the current band. Westinghouse discontinued operation of most of its FM stations in the mid-1950s, and the editors have seen no evidence that the original WBZ-FM operated after the 31 August 1954 hurricane that demolished the WBZ-TV tower from which the FM station operated.

For most of the rest of the 1950s, the 92.9 frequency sat vacant. It was reactivated around 1958 as WBOS-FM, licensed to Brookline as the FM sister station to WBOS(AM) 1600. (Ironically, the WBOS call letters had themselves belonged to Westinghouse in the 1940s, on the shortwave sister station to WBZ). The WBOS stations were owned by Herbert Hoffman's Champion Broadcasting Systems, which programmed both of them with leased-time ethnic offerings. WBOS-FM operated with 50 kW from an antenna mounted on one of the WBOS(AM) towers on Saw Mill Brook Parkway in Newton.

During the 1960s, WBOS-FM broke from the AM sporadically to air beautiful music programming. In the mid-70s, WBOS(AM) changed calls to WUNR and the stations completely split their programming, with the FM side becoming Boston's first disco station in 1977-1978. In 1979, WXKS-FM came on with a disco format and quickly overtook WBOS in the ratings, which eventually forced WBOS to an adult contemporary format instead.

In 1983, WBOS changed formats again, this time becoming a country station. In December 1984, Hoffman sold WBOS to Sconnix Broadcasting, which had recently sold WCOZ(FM). WBOS stayed with the country format but moved from WUNR's studios (by then located at 160 North Washington Street in the North End) to 313 Congress Street.

The next big change in WBOS's identity came in 1988, when the station was sold to Seattle-based Ackerley Media, better known as a billboard operator than as a broadcast company. In 1989, WBOS dropped country music for a New Age-y AC format, which soon metamorphosed into something closely resembling Adult Alternative, albeit with a mainstream bent. (Explaining WBOS's format during the '90s has always been something of a challenge; explaining its ratings is easier, since they've never moved beyond the middle of the pack since dropping country music.)

WBOS also moved studio locations with the start of the new decade, taking over the ground floor of 1200 Soldiers Field Road, just across the parking lot, ironically enough, from the WBZ studios where the story of 92.9 began all those years ago.

In 1992, WBOS was sold to Herb McCord's Granum Communications, which purchased WSSH-FM Lowell and moved it into the WBOS building the following year. In 1996, Infinity purchased Granum for $410 million, linking WBOS and WOAZ (the former WSSH-FM) with Boston's WBCN and WZLX. Soon afterward, Infinity was itself purchased by CBS, putting the new mega-group over the ownership limit, a situation that was solved by trading WBOS and WOAZ to Greater Media for CBS' WMMR Philadelphia. In yet another bit of WBZ-related irony, the deal united both former WBZ-FMs, since Greater's WMJX (106.7) was the second incarnation of WBZ-FM until 1981.

In the meantime, founding PD Tom Sandman had departed WBOS, replaced by Jim Herron in 1993, and later by George Taylor Morris, one of several WZLX veterans brought on board in 1996-97 in the hope of making WBOS a more personality-driven station. (Another WZLX/WBCN veteran, Ken Shelton, was replaced as morning host by former WBZ-TV anchor Robin Young in 1998).

In late 1998, Greater Media consolidated WBOS and WOAZ with its other Boston operations in a new facility at 55 Morrissey Blvd. on Dorchester's “Media Row”. Early in 2000, WBOS moved its transmitter to the Prudential Tower, joining its sisters WTKK, WROR-FM, and WMJX, thereby trading better reception in the downtown office buildings for coverage of out-of-market suburban fringe areas.

In 2006, WBOS added an HD2 subchannel, programming a softer AAA format as “The Over Easy Cafe”.

On February 1, 2008, WBOS dumped its long-time AAA format and entire air staff and switched to a jockless “classic alternative” format.

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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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