The Boston Radio Dial: WODS(FM)

Who, What, Where

Community: Boston
Frequency: 103.3 MHz
Class: B
Ownership: CBS Radio East, Inc.
(CBS Corp. [NYSE: CBS]/Sumner Redstone)
Studio: 83 Leo M. Birmingham Parkway
Brighton, MA 02135-1154
Transmitter: ATC Newton (FM-128)
1165 Chestnut St.
Newton, MA 02464-1308
Phones:
Studio +1 617 931 1033
Office +1 617 787 7500
Format:
Main CHR “Amp Radio”
HD2 Classic hits (automated version of old main format)
Web site: cbslocal.com

Technical Parameters

WODS transmits on 103.3 MHz at an effective radiated power of 16 kW from a four-bay Jampro antenna, model JSCP-4, at 270 meters (886 feet) above average terrain, 315 m above sea level, on the American Tower Newton (“FM-128”) tower. WODS is licensed for a 7.8-kW backup facility at the same site, 258 m AAT.

WODS uses the iBiquity “HD Radio” in-band, on-channel digital radio system.

Station History

Today's WODS started life in 1948 as WEEI-FM. Like most of the FM radio stations of the day, WEEI-FM simply rebroadcast the same programming of its sister AM station (WEEI 590). When originally constructed, WEEI-FM transmitted from one of the WEEI(AM) towers; the station would sign on at 2:00 in the afternoon, and sign off late at night. WEEI-FM stayed in simulcast mode until the FCC in 1964 required stations to break out of simulcast for at least half the program day.

In 1965, CBS dealt with the simulcast issue by introducing a new format at all of its FM stations, called “The Young Sound”. “The Young Sound” was a pleasing blend of popular standards from such notables like Johnny Mathis, Trini Lopez and Dean Martin interspersed with some of the more contemporary sounds of the day such as The Fifth Dimension, Ruby and the Romantics, and the Beach Boys. Most announcing came via tape from WCBS-FM in New York. It was common place from the announcer to say “On ‘The Young Sound’ from CBS-FM, we heard...”. The station was totally automated with local breaks from the voice of WEEI-FM, Dick Provo.

The Medford transmitter site was inadequate for WEEI-FM's future needs. In 1973, the new Needham site entered service with the announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen, WEEI-FM will pause for a moment so that we may put our new 50,000-watt Needham transmitter on the air. Please stand by...”. (It wasn't actually 50 kW.) To the listener it was like night and day. The signal was solid, especially for those who lived in the outlying suburbs outside of Route 128. In succeeding years, WEEI-FM provided several versions of soft-contemporary no-clutter music under monikers such as “Music You Can Turn To at FM 103”, “Musicradio, WEEI-FM” and of course the very popular “Soft Rock 103” that went live in the late 1970's.

1982 brought a big change for WEEI-FM. The soft sounds that personified 103.3 FM were slowly being edged out in favor of the new music of CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio). It was done very gradually; the idea was to avoid alienating the audience that kept WEEI-FM so popular, but to also bring in a new younger audience that was not being served adequately. Slowly, more high-energy jingles were introduced with “HitRadio 103 FM” being used to identify the station in lieu of WEEI-FM.

When WEEI(AM) was sold to the Helen Broadcasting in 1983, FCC rules did not then permit the FM station to keep its callsign. So, in February of that year, WEEI-FM became “Power 103” WHTT. The CHR format lasted three years until the Summer of 1986 when WHTT became WMRQ “Q-103”, “Boston's Quality Rock”. It was a “hipper” version of the Adult Contemporary music found on WMJX and WSSH but without the “sleepy” chatter. WMRQ was to be very short-lived, however.

In September, 1987, CBS imported its extraordinarily successful oldies format from WCBS-FM in New York, and WMRQ became “Oldies 103” WODS. Since that time, WODS has been one of the few consistent ratings performers in the market, pulling a steady 4 to 5 rating in book after book after book.

After CBS was purchased by Westinghouse in 1996, WODS moved from its own studios on Winter St. in Downtown Crossing to the newly-renovated WBZ/WBZ-TV complex on Soldiers Field Road. Since that time, the new CBS and Infinity, and then the new-new CBS and American Radio, have each announced and completed mergers, all of which left WODS unaffected.

As the 21st century began, the changing demographics of the oldies format kept CBS programmers busy at WODS and elsewhere, trying to freshen up the sound to attract a new generation of listeners. The “O word” was out. (“Listeners do not like to be reminded that they are getting old”.) By this time, the playlist had drifted significantly into the '70s, leading to slogans like “the greatest hits of the '60s and '70s”.

When CBS later merged with Viacom, WSBK-TV moved out of its long-time home on Birmingham Parkway to share facilities with WBZ. After the old building was renovated for radio, WODS made the half-mile trek to its current studio facility. In 2005, WBCN moved in with Oldies on Birmingham Parkway, and in 2007, WZLX joined them.

In 2003, longtime Boston DJ Dale Dorman joined the WODS morning show after losing the afternoon slot he had occupied at WXKS-FM since the debut of “Kiss 108” in 1979.

When ”HD Radio” was implemented on WODS's transmitter in late 2008, two multicast services were added: an automated soft AC on the HD2, and a simulcast of sister station WBZ on HD3. On August 11, 2009, as a part of format changes that sent “Mix 98.5” to 104.1, the HD3 moved to 98.5, now WBZ-FM.

With no fanfare, Dorman left his morning-drive slot at WODS after his September 12, 2008 show, making weekend appearances for a short time and then retiring completely in October 2009. WODS briefly experimented with former WBZ-TV sports anchor Bob Lobel in that slot before settling on veteran Boston DJ Karen Blake. Blake was paired with Chris Zito from 2008 to 2010, and then with John Laurenti beginning in late 2011. By then, the rest of the station's airstaff included longtime midday staple Paula Street, veteran J.J. Wright in afternoons, and specialty hosts Jay Gordon (“Elvis Only”) and Barry Scott (“Lost 45s”).

At noon on June 28, 2012, CBS replaced classic hits with top-40, using the same “AMP Radio” branding the company has successfully used in Dallas and Los Angeles. The WODS classic-hits airstaff was allowed to say goodbye, closing out with “Fun Fun Fun” by the Beach Boys (the first song played on WODS in 1987) and “Last Dance” by Donna Summer. The classic hits format moved to 103.3-HD2, replacing “The Cove”.

History written in part by Peter George.

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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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